Civil Resistance and Cosmetic Treatment of Terrorism

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Author, Date of the post, WMO Conflict Insight, Title of the post,  ISSN: 2628-6998, 

Scenario: Berlin, December 19th, 2016 – It is a wonderful pre-christmas evening, with a clear sky, lots of stars, and a bit fresh. A family meets with a bunch of children in front of a movie theatre in order to celebrate the 12th birthday of their beloved son. The friends welcome each other with a bright smile, laughter, and full of enthusiasm. As happy as they entered to see the film, that happy they spent their time, and left again. Their parents were waiting and the gifts were exchange. The music of the christmas market filled the air, and one of the fathers thought it would be great to spend some time there with the boys. But it was late, almost eight o’clock, and everybody left … Ten minutes later, being back home, it was shared on the news that the christmas market, turned out being the target of a terrorist attack. Berlin, December 20th, 2016.

Impressions: Still a block to walk to the christmas market, a strange atmosphere, lots of people in the area, silence – silence all over, christmas market closed, police, press, cameras, people crying, rushing photographers, silence – silence all over … Berlin, December 25th, 2016 – People gather at the Christmas Market at night in order to protest in collectivity against strategic instabilization of society by global terrorist attacks.

Civil Resistance and Cosmetic Treatment of Terrorism: Ladies and Gentlemen, in order to start this reflection, I would like to state that my thoughts and best wishes are with the victims of terrorists attacks, social and individual abuse, and strategic violence, not on a local level only but on a global one.

Our current epoch of globalization and worldwide media information range makes us face challenges that we possibly were not prepared to deal with. Communication, obviously a central pillar of our life in this century, creates immense benefits but also causes difficulties, namely by offering a multitude of ways that may be used for organized abuse – such as spreading fake news on purpose, and using virtual communication services for raising fear and mobilizing copycats that follow calls of radicalized groups. The monopoly of mass media channels suffered a take-over by individual bloggers, and committed individuals who work for ‚good‘ or ‚bad‘, while such definition is up to each of us. According to the mass of headlines and content that we have to deal with, I would like to name a few that recently crossed our news lines, such as: German Foreign Minister, Frau Von der Leien, supports Nigeria with items for counter terrorist actions valuing 4.200.000,- Euro; Police Brigades, Undercover Units, and Special Forces work day and night to prevent extremist activities, and to enable mankind to cherish a balanced life.

Obviously, all three of these actions are important to us, forming part of a civil society. The question that comes to my mind is if such projects really prevent us from future attacks by radicalized individuals or groups. Personally, I think such reactions by our governmental authorities do not catch up with the level of attention that terrorism demands. It may be a public visual and well to share content that intends to make us feel more safe. To me, it is a cosmetic treatment of terrorism at the most superficial level possible. And it is a shame that state authorities sell us the idea that this is the best way to counter extremist attacks.

If we break down terrorism to what it may be in its inner core, we may note that it is basically an act of communication. Yes, communication realized by one or more specific group(s) that follow up on non-noted or well-ignored interests by a national or the international community. I guess it is surprising to one or the other of you to hear that such ways of communication are not totally alien to the international diplomatic forces. Diplomatic services often communicate in a very similar way for example by atomic tests, by financing weapon industry, or even by certain ways that cause a destabilization nations. Lots of actions that take place on our globe are critical but still within a legal environment because often they are not communicated in public, such as putting financial pressure on countries by cutting off trade agreements. From the point on, when we look behind the curtain of mass media, we can discover which parties supports each other, and who works on different levels attempting to achieve similar goals.

What I ask you to reflect on is the complex ability of misleading us by biased information. Terrorism, as we know it today, is definetely not fought on a superficial level. And this is a fact that every politician, sociologist, and psychologist may confirm. It all starts with a confession, namely the confession that confirms that needs and interests of social groups were ignored. As time went by, such movements manifested and became strategically radicalized by supporters who have an financial interest in initiating an escalated or armed conflict and in sustaining such. The only suitable and sustainable way of countering terrorism may be to prevent it in future. How this may take place? Well, not with weapons at all, but by investing in teacher’s skills, in educating social workers, in culture – arts and sports. It is about avoiding people to become outsiders of the community, it is about investing time – and more than any thing else: It is about Critical Thinking. As José Marti said: It is the first task of every human to think properly. May Critical Thinking be our contribution towards Civil Resistance. Resistance against mass abuse by strategic misleading information channels. Be aware that we have the power to avoid consuming such media. If we stand up for this, all misleading data will stay parked in the orbit.

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5 Responses

  1. States setting standards for violent communication and protecting their monopoly on violence.
    Interesting parallels. Thank you for this reflection.

    1. Dear Marina,

      thank you for your feedback. When I look at Nature, I do not see terms like Conflict and Terrorism. I only see a constantly changing environment that re-balances itself in an ongoing process. Animals and plants act within their environment in specific ways and their environment reacts in a corresponding way. The impulse that is directed back to the initial aggressor can be of a supportive or distressing character. Correspondingly, it is a question of how the aggressor can deal with the impulse that is given back. Building a bridge to the article, I see states communicating with each other, as well as states communicating with their citizens in a similar way. I was raised believing that the state protects the proper citizens. Now, we might want to share the opinion that a state is just another makrocosm that subsists itself by strategic actions towards other states or citizens. What I want to say is that in human history, it was only a question of time when such a re-balancing action or re-action took place. Societies may have suffered abuse for many years and decades, but there was always a moment when a counter action was born. As far as I see, this counter action was already initiated and many people worldwide follow this movement. Critical Thinking on all levels of life may be a good starting point.

      Best regards, Daniel

  2. This article provides great insight into our current world. I hope it will be shared on as many social media and academic sites as possible Daniel.

  3. Pr.Erdmann, I wish to thank you for the period of engagement during my course, that initiated my connect with this topic. It is an interesting piece and I wish to join you in sharing my thoughts with victims of terrorist attacks, especially the victims of Boko Haram attacks in the northeast of Nigeria. The fast-growing age of globalisation has influenced the media in unprecedented ways and created an unregulated space. The governments of the world have continued to seize control of the hegemony, selling the idea of a one size fits all on terrorism. The narrative is authoritatively biased and the perspectives are narrowed. There is a need to re-open the dialogue for a broad spectrum of debates, that would include all who can affect change if it would ‘counter-terrorism and prevent it in the future’.

    1. Dear Stephen,

      thank you for your thoughts and perspectives. I remember our conversations very well and I was suprised to hear so many details and additionally a lot of background information that never reached the newspapers in Europe. The information that you were able to deliver were pretty disturbing and put the content of the northeast of Nigeria into a totally new frame. In order to let our members know about our findings, I would be glad to see you joining a research project on this topic at our institute, and to have you as a speaker at our next WMO Round Table Online Conference.

      Best Regards, Daniel Erdmann

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