by Paul David Collins ©, 2002
The following is an edited extract from The Hidden Face of Terrorism: The Dark Side of Social Engineering, From Antiquity to September 11, by Paul David Collins.
In our modern world, discomforting truths are usually discarded in favour of fictions. One such fiction is the idea that terrorists are disenfranchised dissidents who independently generate the wealth and resources necessary for their heinous acts. Such is the contention of Professor Mark Juergensmeyer. In his article, “Understanding the New Terrorism”, he says that modern terrorism “appears pointless since it does not lead directly to any strategic goal” (p. 158).
Juergensmeyer arrives at this conclusion because he restricts his examination to the visible perpetrators, whose motives may be, in fact, irrational. However, he does not examine the patrons of terrorism. Given the exceptional subtlety and discretion of terrorism’s shadowy sponsors, Professor Juergensmeyer may just be oblivious to their existence. On the other hand, he could simply be parroting his fellow academicians in order to maintain the status quo.
Whatever the case may be, this contention seems to be the overall view held by the orthodoxy of academia. With such a view vigorously promulgated by the arbiters of the dominant national paradigm, few can recognise those shady individuals who stand to profit from terrorist acts.
To understand terrorism, one must discard the view that arbitrarily characterises it as “a resort to violence or a threat of violence on the part of a group seeking to accomplish a purpose against the opposition of constituted authority” (Adler, Mueller & Laufer, p. 309). Such an impotent notion is predicated upon the hopelessly flawed accidentalist perspective of history. It relegates terrorism, which is the product of conscious effort and design, to the realm of circumstantial spontaneity. In other words, a contrived act suddenly becomes an inexplicable social phenomenon.