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Old May 7th, 2011, 01:42 PM   #1
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Is Terrorism a Form of Pure Evil?

[SIZE=4][FONT=&quot] So, let me pose some timely ethical-philosophical questions that might seem to many to be regular no-brainers. Was Osama bin Laden utterly and definitively ?evil?? Was the abominable atrocity of 9/11 an expression of ?evil? beyond the moral pale for decent human beings? And is ?terrorism? per se ?evil??

[SIZE=4][FONT=&quot]The simple answer to the above questions is of course yes. That is, the answer is yes in the simple sense that the violence, loss, and pain that bin Laden and other ?terrorists? have inflicted on the lives of innocent people is heinously cruel and contrary to the supreme ethical axiom of the sacredness of life. So much for the questions above for now, I really just wanted to get them out of the way, I?ll get back to them again later but I?d like to cut now to the chase of a more knotty ethical-philosophical problem.
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Namely, I?d like to think critically about whether it?s morally right-minded to pick out and stand pat with the kind of questions I?ve just posed and answered, the kind of questions many people right now are asking and reducing to simple moralistic answers.

[SIZE=4][FONT=&quot]Huh?! Well, since the assassination of bin Laden many of us have been asking the question Was he, and are those of his terrorist ilk, quite simply and categorically evil? And is it therefore morally justified to harbor hatred for them, and to expediently exterminate them when the opportunity presents, without any compunction and without due process or respect for their human rights? Which is to say that thanks to current events we?ve been provoked to think about the fundamental ethical question of the nature of ?evil?, and of how ?good? people should respond to it.
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[SIZE=4][FONT=&quot]Unfortunately, and predictably, however, many of us seem to be approaching these quite deep questions in a rather superficially and self-righteously selective fashion. What I mean to say is that we?re not really exploring them in a critical and enlightenment-seeking way at all; rather, we?re blatantly begging the question of evil. That is, we?re framing our questions about evil with a black & white reductiveness that turns them into leading questions, leading questions that lead us right to the self-satisfying answers we desire.

[SIZE=4][FONT=&quot]We mechanically ask Was bin Laden evil? with a complacently one-sided simplicity that makes it a foregone conclusion that nice Western middle-class people are the preeminent paragons of moral goodness with the divine right to define our enemies as pure evil. For all sanctimonious intents and purposes we pare down the question of evil to the point that it?s partisan, devoid of complexity, and virtually rhetorical. Indeed, we turn it into a mere shell of the heady, profound, and self-critical question it should be, because the sorry truth be told a great many of us are far more interested in self-validation than sincere philosophical reflection that might knock us off our moral high horse.

[SIZE=4][FONT=&quot]When someone does try to add some philosophical multi-dimensionality to the problem of evil, when one tries to look at it with an approach that isn?t closed-mindedly holier-than-thou, the brickbat of ?moral relativism? and the epithet of ?situational ethics? start flying. Even worse, he who would inquire into the nature of good & evil too questioningly and thereby threaten to take away his neighbor?s unexamined sense of entitlement to harshly judge his enemies is liable to libeled as a sympathizer with evil.
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Well, I?ll accept these risks and ask again the questions I led with, this time trying to tease out a bit more ethical complexity. Was Osama bin Laden purely evil in the broader context of the evils visited upon the Third World by globalization, aka the West?s modern form of economic, political, and cultural imperialism? Was Osama more evil when he fought the West than when he fought the West?s Cold War foe, the Soviet Union? That is, are we being morally relativistic when we deem him an evil terrorist for violently hating us, and a praiseworthy ?freedom fighter? when he directed the same violent xenophobia at the commies? Are bin Laden?s ?terrorist? brethren all morally inferior to the men and women in our armed forces who often take part in wars (terrorism on a massive scale) that lack moral justification every bit as much as the attack on 9/11? In other words, is it really righteous of us to be piously black & white in our morality when we judge our enemies, and to make excuses for our own society and its military personnel when it comes to the terror and death we perpetrate? Doesn?t our duplicitous double standard belie our definition of evil?
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Come on here, aren?t the hypocrisy and injustices of the self-proclaimed ?good guys? usually more relevant than we?d like to admit to our understanding and assessment of the evil of the ?bad guys?? Which is to say, isn?t justice, or the lack thereof, a pivotal moral issue, one that frequently and fundamentally factors into the real-world nature of ?evil?? I.e., doesn?t the justice factor in many cases significantly change the face of evil? And doesn?t it often transfigure what at a cursory glance appears to be pure and unilateral evil into a transpersonal bigger picture that we all have a hand in drawing together? Sure, this cosmically composite big picture of evil that we all co-create remains as ugly as ever, but not as clear-cut and not one that depicts us somewhere up on a saintly plane above reproach. By all rights it should force a soul-searching reevaluation of our basic concept of evil, and the convenient way we tend to morally pigeonhole our adversaries.

[SIZE=4][FONT=&quot]No, I?m not saying that there?s only the morally commutual big picture, that there?s no such thing as true evil and personal responsibility. There most certainly is such a thing as evil. What exactly is evil, evil qua evil? Evil is simply one?s choice to reject, and to do something that opposes the creativity, beauty, and sacredness of existence. The view I?m expressing here, then, is not the amoralist view that evil is a mere illusion that doesn?t exist; rather, the view I?m expressing is the critical view that pure evil is a simplistic and smug-making notion that seldom if ever really exists, that no one ever really makes a pure and unmitigated choice to reject and oppose the good. ?No man is an island?, the wrongful choice that individuals make to commit evil, the culpable choice that they make inwardly, in their own hearts and minds, is always shaped by external circumstances of some kind. Whether it?s the home a ?bad guy? grew up in, the socioeconomic environment he was born into, the waves of history he finds his life swept up in, or what have you, the choice for evil is never contextless.

[SIZE=4][FONT=&quot]In the case of ?terrorists?, the larger, extenuating context they must be viewed in is the imperialism, inequities, and injustice meted out to the disenfranchised masses of the modern world order. From the blighted boroughs of New York to the brutal slums of Bangkok, a sinful imbalance of economic and political clout is leading many onto the path of violence, in one form or another. Whether it?s the domestic imperialism of the corporatocracy directed at the poor of our own inner cities, i.e. the increasingly appalling asymmetry of wealth and power in our own society, and the way it drives young people into criminal gangs and a life of predatory violence; or the neocolonialism and exploitation practiced overseas by the affluent nations, and the way it impels aggrieved campesinos and lumpenproletarians to take up arms and take on the role of guerrillas and terrorists, in either case the poverty and privation, inhumaneness and injustice endemic to the current world system breeds evils.

[SIZE=4][FONT=&quot]The world?s evils are not merely the product of the sick and twisted minds of the likes of Osama bin Laden, they?re underlyingly engendered by a cruel status quo that poisons people?s character and degenerates their humanity ? on both ends of the politico-economic food chain. ?Tis the vicious circle of evil that the greedy behavior of the ruling class debases them into a predacious, parasitic pox upon the house of man, whose underprivileged habitants in turn are infected with a vexation of spirit that can turn them to the dark side. The ranks of al-Qaeda and Hamas are full of average Joes (or Yusefs) whose powerlessness, poverty-strickenness, disgruntlement, and rankling desire to retaliate is the direct result of the depraved indifference that?s been shown for their human worth and dignity by the governmental and plutocratic powers that be.
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Alas, being morally right-minded and righteous does not mean self-servingly glossing over this existential reality, and exclusively and judgmentally focusing on the badness of those whom you fear; it does not mean glibly dismissing the reasons for their actions as mere excuses; and it does not mean denying our assailants the same excuses we so generously give to our own leaders and warriors.

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[SIZE=4][FONT=&quot] [COLOR=Green]The conclusion is located directly below
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Old May 7th, 2011, 01:46 PM   #2
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Is Terrorism a Form of Pure Evil

[SIZE=4][FONT=&quot]Conclusion

[SIZE=4][FONT=&quot]But, of course, we really do apply an ethically lame double standard. When our elected officials, who are more in service to the leisured fat cats than the laboring little guy, instigate a war that benefits the billionaire boy’s club at the expense of some other country’s “collateral damage”; when our troops, in robotlike fashion, go off to slaughter their fellow humans in a morally unjustifiable, mercenary invasion/occupation, do we hold them to the same unforgiving and stringent standard of personal responsibility? Hardly. We rationalize that soldiers have to follow orders, that they don’t get to pick and choose the wars they fight, and that they have noble intentions, blah, blah, blah. And although we’re a bit more cynical about our politicians nowadays, we still give them some slight benefit of the doubt as to their motives and stop short of condemning them as flat-out evil.

[SIZE=4][FONT=&quot] The way our casuistic moral reasoning works for us really is quite speciously hypocritical indeed. For instance, we don’t wish to give a nanosecond of thought to the twistedly idealistic intentions of a bin Laden, but we maintain that the patriotic motivations of American air force pilots who bomb and incendiarize civilians absolves them of their crimes against life!

[SIZE=4][FONT=&quot] To sum up then, if we honestly believe that those who engage in murder and mayhem in our name, that “our” killers deserve to be handed moral alibis and cop-outs galore, then perhaps on closer and more fair-minded examination we would find that “terrorists”, that “their” killers deserve similar moral alibis, that “terrorism” is by no means pure evil.

[SIZE=4][FONT=&quot] In truth, although it might be hard-to-swallow truth, terrorists are merely bringing back to us some of the pain we’ve wantonly wreaked on the Third World, merely bringing the fight for freedom from Western greed and exploitation home to us. And, if we don’t consider the pilots of the Enola Gay to be fiendish evildoers for bringing the war home to Japan, incinerating and irradiating thousands of innocent children by dropping A-bombs on them, that is; if we don’t regard the RAF and U.S. pilots who carpet bombed Dresden to be vile villains, etc., well, then “terrorists” have a right to the same easygoing verdict of not guilty, not guilty of being evil.

[SIZE=4][FONT=&quot] In their minds they too are fighting a just war, a war of self-defense. And no, they are not the least bit delusional about this. In the era of colonialism we, the wicked WASPs of the West, mighty and manifestly-destined whitey, openly dominated the populations of the LDCs (less developed countries), and today we continue to do so on the down-low. They, the “terrorists” do not simply do bad things because of their senseless and sinister inner badness, they have plenty of real provocation, if not justification.

[SIZE=4][FONT=&quot] Sure, some “terrorists” are out-and-out fanatics, but this doesn’t alter the fact that our bloodsucking corporate elite has incurred their wrath for us. When our minds reflect upon the evil of terrorism we need to include the globalizing upper crust of our own society in the equation. Being intellectually honest and moral people mandates this.

[SIZE=4][FONT=&quot] No doubt life would be easier and feel more cozily safe if the people of the Third World were all Uncle Toms, but they do have the moral right to be Nat Turners. When the rebellious slave Nat Turner rose up and killed whites who had been treating his people like animals, he was not evil incarnate, he was viewed as a terrifying evil incarnate by overseers, but he was just a human being pushed beyond the limits of decency. Likewise, so-called “terrorists” are merely the afflicted and abused fellaheen and peons under the boot heel of First World hegemony, lethally lashing out at the source of their grievances. I don’t endorse or advocate their use of homicidal violence, but neither can I dismiss it as unreasonable and pure evil.

[FONT=&quot][SIZE=4] What of evil then? Evil is an aspect of life, after all, and life, to borrow an analogy from quantum physics, comes not merely in individual particles but in waves as well (it depends on the perception of the observer – you might call this moral complementarity). Of course we all know that evil pops up in the behavior of individuals, but it’s also diffused throughout the waves of life and history, not isolatedly concentrated in the criminals and terrorists we love to hate. The upshot is that ethically speaking there are no lone gunmen in the universe. No, the evildoing of malevolent miscreants such as Osama bin Laden does not cut them off from humanity; rather, it’s inseparable from the history we’ve all helped to create. Being a person of moral integrity means owning up to this, not merely damning bin Laden and his type to hell as absolute evil.



Last edited by charleslb; May 7th, 2011 at 01:51 PM.
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Old July 5th, 2011, 07:48 AM   #3
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I don't believe in 'evil'. The use of violence is more often successful than not, but it has heavy future psychological costs. The power-people normally set it up so that only 'terrorism' (as defined by them) can possibly work, which is a pity - but they do sometimes learn. The appalling example of Ireland made the English capitalists much less bloody-minded about (some) later challenges, for instance.
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Old August 12th, 2011, 10:52 AM   #4
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Terrorism that is spreading among the youth is what making me very uncomfortable. Hope this evil thought doesn't make it's mark in generations to come
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Old August 12th, 2011, 12:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tutorworldonline View Post
Terrorism that is spreading among the youth is what making me very uncomfortable. Hope this evil thought doesn't make it's mark in generations to come
I am afraid the worst is yet to come.
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Old August 12th, 2011, 02:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tutorworldonline View Post
Terrorism that is spreading among the youth is what making me very uncomfortable. Hope this evil thought doesn't make it's mark in generations to come
The youth are easily convinced. This is nothing new unfortunately.
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Old August 13th, 2011, 07:31 AM   #7
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terrorism is not a pure form of evil, it is just a consequence of being evil. it is the situation of anomie which is the pure form of evil.
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Old August 21st, 2011, 07:38 AM   #8
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i am afraid about my future and my next Generation
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Old August 21st, 2011, 07:48 AM   #9
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i am afraid about my future and my next Generation
I don't worry about my generation. But the next couple of generations are in trouble on many fronts.
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Old September 4th, 2011, 10:24 PM   #10
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Yes, it really is.. Because God doesn't told us humans to kill or kidnap innocent people just to get our own interest in life.
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Old October 2nd, 2017, 01:56 PM   #11
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'

Well, if terrorism is a form of pure evil, then the ringleaders of the Terrorist Insurrection of 1776 were wholeheartedly practicing a Form of Pure Evil.
.
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Old October 2nd, 2017, 02:13 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by numan View Post
'

Well, if terrorism is a form of pure evil, then the ringleaders of the Terrorist Insurrection of 1776 were wholeheartedly practicing a Form of Pure Evil.
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Rebellion is not terrorism, which is why the two have different names.

Terrorism requires the use of terror and is generally directed at unsuspecting civilian innocents.
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Old October 2nd, 2017, 02:33 PM   #13
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Terrorism requires the use of terror and is generally directed at unsuspecting civilian innocents.
Which is what happened during the Terrorist Insurrection against the good and orderly government of the Mother Country.
.
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Old October 3rd, 2017, 12:56 PM   #14
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You seem to be reduced to only one "answer" to all questions, Auffie.

I hope it is not an early? sign of alzheimers.
.
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