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Debates & Discourse


Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr


Fumigating Terrorist Ideas Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr. Terrorism is like pornography. It crops up stronger than ever if you try to drive it underground. People will get tired of terrorism sooner than you can imagine quite like in the case of pornography. Of course, the issue is much more complicated than letting a bad idea run out of steam. Terrorism poses special problems because the people who believe in the idea of terrorism will go out and kill other people. There is a need to resort to the use of force to counter those who use force. The general argument is that you might kill a terrorist, but you have not killed the idea of terrorism, and that the idea is more dangerous than the person who kills and dies for the idea. It is an attractive intellectual argument, which opens up whole new ways of approaching the problem. First, you have to define terrorism, finds its dialectical opposite and see what emerges as the third of the dialectical triad. It is purely a thought experiment, which has nothing much to do with the real world of terrorism.   It is being suggested that Islamic terrorism is but a pretext for the United States to continue its imperialist rampage in the global arena. If there was no Islamic terrorism it would have had to be invented because the Americans cannot hope to live in enemy-less vacuum. Many like ex-Trotskyite Tariq Ali feel that Islamic terrorism is laughable, and that there is a deeper conspiracy on the part of those who are raising alarm over the spectre of Islamic terrorism. Others have argued that in late 19th and early 20th centuries, anarchists had indulged in acts of terrorism and violence, and the political powers of the day. But anarchism faded away, and it did not really bring down the roof of civilization as we know it. The argument is extended: ‘Islamic terrorism is a mere lip of some local distrubance, and it will soon subside. Therefore, Islamic terrorism should not be seen as a civilizational issue. The anarchist analogy appears to be much more convincing than the ‘imperialist conspiracy of the Americans’.   But terrorism has its spin-offs in films, books, art, or plain propaganda. Governments are often apprehensive of films, books and art on terrorism or whatever they fear and hate at the moment than propaganda itself. Of course, propaganda in the ...


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