Terrorism

Paul Prescod paul@prescod.net
Thu, 10 Jan 2002 16:16:56 -0800


Owen Byrne wrote:
> 
>...
> 
> The British army fired into crowds of innocent bystanders. They put people in prison
> for life that they knew were innocent. They gave free rein (in the early days) to
> UDF targetting of Catholic women and children.
> 
> I don't really see how a violent reaction to that (after all other actions were exhausted).
> is terrorism. Hell, it was self-defense.

You're trying to turn this into a moral argument. I didn't say that
terrorism is always immoral. I didn't say that terrorism and
self-defense are always distinct.

Sometimes a person stands between you and your goal. Typically they are
a resource (like a soldier or politician) that makes the other side
stronger. If you are a non-governmental actor and you kill them because
you want to take power, you are a revolutionary. Revolutionaries *kill
people between them and their goal of statehood*. The person could
disappear quietly and it would be okay with the revolutionary.

Sometimes there is a third party that doesn't stand between you and your
goal. If you are a non-governmental actor and you kill them to "send a
message" of fear to somebody else (usually a government), then you are a
terrorist. Terrorism is fear mongering *as a form of communication*. If
the world doesn't know about the terrorist act then it will have failed.

 Paul Prescod