I actually recall the first incident. It was a hijacking of a plane, by a single hijacker, who wanted to go to Cuba. I believe the year was in 1961 and it changed the whole idea of warfare. Prior to this incident, this skyjacking, military forces had confronted each other on battlefields, in the air, or on the water, in and around for example, Europe, Korea, the Middle East, or Vietnam. Take the Palestinians for instance. It didn’t take them long to understand that confrontation with the Israelis on traditional battlefields using traditional methods of warfare was an exercise in futility. The result was the birth of the PLO and later, Hamas.
With the passage of time terrorist activity has increased all over the world. It seems we are not safe anymore. Whether we are running a marathon in Boston, attending the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972 or in Atlanta in 1996, going to school in Connecticut, or shopping in an upscale mall in Kenya we can be victimized by a terrorist attack anytime, anywhere.
Terrorists appear to come in all shapes and sizes although it seems that recently Islamic terrorists have come to the forefront. All those committing terrorist acts do have one thing in common – they are definitely misguided. Karl Marx discussed how the capitalist system alienates people from their real selves and therefore from recognizing their true enemies. It’s the syndrome where the alienated man comes home from selling his labour to his boss so that his boss can profit. This working man, feeling oppressed by the system, takes it out by screaming at his wife, who in return yells at their kid, who gives his younger sibling shit, with the latter in turn kicking the poor innocent dog. Islamic and other terrorists are misguided to the extent that they have no idea who their real enemies are. These enemies, the middle and upper classes love when people fight each other rather than turning their anger against their real enemies, their true exploiters. Whether the reasons for these conflicts are religious, racial or cultural in nature, these scraps take the heat off the ruling classes. No wonder Marx referred to religion as “the opiate of the people”.
What did Marx mean by this? It’s quite simple, actually. Instead of our focus being where it belongs (see above), we go to our church, mosque or synagogue and pray to God to help us, to relieve our pain and to “deliver us from evil” in the words of the Lord’s Prayer. According to Marx, religion acts to sedate people, to remove from them the ability to understand what is really happening, and thus also to distract them from picking up a gun and participating in the revolution which would aim to overthrow the capitalist system and to establish a better and much more egalitarian society.
As long as we remain divided, we cannot win and the capitalist class is aware if this.
Terrorists, in addition to being totally alienated and misguided are desperate. How else can one explain their belief, in the case of Islamists anyway, that a suicide bomber will be rewarded with virgins in the afterlife? Desperate youth made that way by the economic situation in which they find themselves. Instead of going to school and educating themselves regarding true economic and political conditions in this life, they engage in bellicose activities with their eyes on the next. Rather than spending their time getting an education, they throw rocks at soldiers, plant bombs at a marathon, shoot up a mall in Africa killing at least fifty innocent people, and take part in military-like exercises, readying themselves for I don’t know what.
The more I think about it and the more I see and read, the more convinced I become that Marx’s antagonistic dialectic is in play. (For background on dialectical materialism, feel free to peruse my JuicyLessons #’s 5, 6, and 7.) We can only hope and pray that the ultimate synthesis, combining all the positive and productive elements of the theses, antitheses, and syntheses which preceded and contributed to it arrives soon. But it won’t. Not soon enough; and in the meantime the killing of innocent victims goes on, and the needless shedding of innocent blood continues.