How do you prevent terrorist attacks?

A slightly emotional analysis of two popular philosophies by Ben Weiss 2004

There are, in recent popular imagination, two primary reactions to "terrorism". This term must be quoted, in part because each of these opposing reactions, or philosophies, has it's own definition of precisely what terrorism is.

1. Competition: Have a war on terrorism.

Those who believe that the correct reaction to terrorism is a war on terror -we might call them, "republicans"- see terrorism as any violent act by people who don't speak the same language as themselves perpetrated upon those who do. To these people, the world is divided into "us" and "them" and it is most important in life to kill, torture, wound or otherwise take resources away from "them" (whoever "them" happens to be) so there is more for "us".

These pure hearted simple-minded beings are thoroughly aware of the world as full of competitions. They see any potential difference of skin color, language, sexual preference or difference of ideology from their own as a threat. That is why they espouse such ideas as "you're either with us or against us" and "it is treasonous to speak ill of the government" even if the government is composed of morons.

They like the idea of war because in a war, life is very simple and uncomplicated. There is an "us" and a "them" and you get an instant excuse to do anything you want to "them". Many of these otherwise friendly persons maintain their open hearted demeanors by manifesting their harshest aggression against live persons, so long as such persons aren't a member of the "us" group.

These kind of persons therefore sometimes require a war in order to allow themselves to burn off their own every-day aggression.

Since these persons naturally think of everything in terms of competition, they see absolutely nothing wrong at all about building factories to be run by slaves or killing thousands of innocent persons in the surrounding regions of their factories to maximize profits by saving money on safety equipment. Such persons see no trouble in paying lobbiests to influence politicians to pass laws to make specific goods and services illegal, just so they can turn around and make much bigger profits off the illegal distribution of those products and services than if such laws did not exist.

Of course, not every person who prefers competition to cooperation or who is a republican would have no moral qualms with such actions, but those who are most likely to be comfortable with such behavior seem to most often also be those with such beliefs.

So, liking war and power and preferring competition to cooperation, these persons are often those who make the most money. Since they believe in competition, they see nothing wrong with other people dying or living in poverty in order -for example- to drive around in a bigger car.

2. Cooperation: Reframe from being a terrorist or creating new terrorists.

Those who believe that all humans share the same planet and are therefore each part of the larger organism are often naively unaware of the competitive nature of certain kinds of conflicts. They feel that since we are all part of the same organism, it makes no sense to increase oneself at the expense of another; we must all experience wealth for all of us to be wealthy. We might call these, "Democrats".

In this model of the world, the correct reaction to terrorism is the same kind of justice required to be administered upon the corporate robber-barons who are largely responsible for the poverty conditions of so many people that choose therefore to become terrorists.

In this view, terrorists are made when one group of people begin killing, torturing or otherwise systematically withholding vital resources from another group until those left alive in the second group become so angry and disenfranchised that they see terror on persons in the first group as just.

That is, if you kill a woman's husband, child and maim and/or torture her siblings and parents and force them all to live in constant fear, she will become a terrorist as a logical reaction to what has been done to her. This is not to say that all people will react this way, but enough will in a society that we can say with reasonable certainty that it is not an abhorrent or unusual emotional reaction. And yes, of course, after she has chosen to become a terrorist, a police-like action to identify her and immobilize, imprison or rehabilitate her would be an appropriate reaction.

So if a region has a source of great wealth such as arid land or oil, it will naturally attract those who seek money and power including a large number of persons whose preference is for competition over cooperation. And if, after a number of years (several generations, in fact) you find that the persons who were originally living there have become more angry, hostile and willing to perform terrorist acts, the obvious conclusion is that not enough of the wealth produced by the region is being shared with those who live there.

Hmmm.. At this point, I want to talk about how competition breeds capitalism and a closed and secret police-state society whereas cooperation breeds socialism and an open and democratic society... I'll have to think about it all some more...