Why We Did It : Thoughts on A Terrorist Manifesto (iv)

1. What do we consider to be the relationship, if any, between terror and revolution?

Charm: Historically the two have been linked. However, terror in history was always linked to movements, whereas today it seems “random.” School shootings of which there are several (e.g. Columbine, Virginia Tech., Marc Lepine in Montreal, etc.) seem to epitomize the acts of random violence that masquerade as terror. Also, the phenomena of road rage also correlates to the disintegration of mobilized and organized collective rage into individual “atomized” forms of violence. The only exception to the phenomena of terror in the form of atomized violence is the state-funded “war on terror,” and the so-called religious terror — two highly organized efforts.

L.N.: Movements hearken back to the “dream of an ‘infinitely demanding’ anarchic politics”. “Atomized” violence — Charm has put this perfectly — does not achieve anything other than the creation of spectacles. These random, seemingly purposeless convulsions are isolated and put in their place, and the act of controlling them is likewise a spectacle. Atomized violence can be seen as the death throes of more organized revolutionary movements.

To what degree do you believe that the aesthetic of terror attracts people to its “higher causes”?

L.N. Very strongly. The character himself gives states that “religious terrorism was the ultimate rebellion and transgression”. He of course does not believe in any higher cause, but likes how the aesthetics set him apart. I do feel, however, that aesthetics will not be enough to sustain the “higher causes” in the long run.

Charm: Jihadi Cool and Not Your Father’s Taliban … these are two articles which describe the opposite sides of the aesthetics of terrorism and their supposed “higher causes.” The former article is to be taken seriously, the latter is humorous, but still onto something. I would actually call the “higher causes” of terrorism lost causes, and I think that our narrator acknowledges them as such by rejecting religion as the basis for his actions.

12. What are the alternatives to terrorism, if any?

L.N. There are alternatives, I believe. There have to be. I don’t see terrorism, at least in its current manifestation, as effective. The destruction of innocents is not justified by the “higher causes” of terrorism, especially considering that for reasons already cited, positive outcomes are unlikely to be achieved by terrorist actions.

Charm: I think that non-violence can only achieve so much — which is to say: very little. Perhaps assassinations would be effective, but this would only attack the place-holder of power, not the institution of power itself. Sabotage is a method of terror which does not necessarily involve injuring people or the taking of life. For example, when a “democratic election” is held, the polling station could be sabotaged in order to subvert the regime of “tyranny of the majority.”

The one form of “non-violent resistance” that I would advocate is the Bartleby style of passivity. The only problem with this approach to changing the social structure is that it relies on waiting for change, not actively creating change — or, perhaps, by actively waiting for change to happen. Kafka’s parable on Christ is here instructive: waiting for the resurrection will only ensure that it comes a day too late.


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