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Injustice as the root of terrorism: Social political and economic fact

Injustice as the root of terrorism: Social political and economic factors








   After 911 terror attacked, the terrorism studies has expanded to become a field with its own dedicated journals, research centres, leading scholars and experts, canon of published works, research funding opportunities, conferences, seminars, and study programmes. As Jackson(2008:377) noted that a new book on terrorism appears nearly every six hours, while peer-reviewed papers have increased by approximately 300%. Between 1968 and 2003, there were more than 6100 transnational terrorist attacks, causing more than 36000 deaths and injuries. (Robison,Kristopher and Jenkins 2006:1) In 2001 alone there were 1,732 recorded incidents worldwide, and five years later the annual figure had risen to 6,659. (Qvortrup2012:503) However, states terror which have killed, tortured, and intimidated hundreds of millions of people over the past century (Rummel 1994, Sluka 2000b), and many states continue to do so today in places like Colombia, Haiti, Algeria, Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Uzbekistan, Kashmir, Palestine, Chechnya, Tibet, North Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sudan, and China. Many of these states regularly employ extensive state torture, extra-judicial killings, disappearances, collective punishments, and daily forms of violent intimidation to terrorise opponents and enforce compliance to state rule(Jackson 2008:385). According to the experts of terrorism, the causes of terrorism are diversity including social, economic, political, religious, ideologies, cultural, ethnical factors. Some scholars believe the dictatorship states are less terrorism than democratic countries. Eubank and Weinberg (2001) and Lai (2007) suggest that more democratic countries generate substantially more terrorist activity, arguing that autocratic regimes are better prepared to suppress opposition. My argument is that the reason of the dictatorship states appear less terror attack, not because their political system are better than democracy, but for themselves become state terrorism which overwhelming any non-state group’s any demand for justice, and politics and economics connect with each other closely, political freedom and rights always company with economical freedom; therefore, the political injustice might be one of the important roots of terrorism which need pay more attention.


   I. The definition of terrorism


   Many scholars has made various definition of terrorism, majority of them are in narrow sense which except state as actor. Bruce Hoffman(1998:43) argues that terrorism involves violence ‘perpetrated by a subnational group or non-state entity’. Ehrlich and Liu (2002) defined terrorism as actions carried out by militarily-weak sub-or trans-national groups from developing nations to gain political ends through violence against private citizens or public property of militarily-powerful developed nations. Enders and Sandler (2006: 3) define that terrorism ‘is the premeditated use or threat to use violence by individuals or sub-national groups in order to obtain a political or social objective through the intimidation of a large audience beyond that of the immediate victims.’ Sedgwick(2007:110) noted that the important characteristic of terrorism is the use of violence for indirect political and psychological consequences by a group aiming to take political power. Pete Lentini(2008) suggested that the terrorism is a sub-state group or individual uses or threatens to use violence against innocent people or non-combatants or even property to effect political change and achieve political goals by creating an atmosphere of fear.

   Although vary in some elements, all above definitions have a common factor, that terrorism is perpetrated by non-state actors; in fact these definitions are highly influenced by the US State Department’s definition of terrorism, which conceives of terrorism as ‘premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetuated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience’ . According to these definitions, the essential elements of terrorism are: (a) using or threat use of violence; (b) by individuals or groups; (c) toward innocent civilians; (d) for political or social reason; (e) by instilling fear and terror.

   The fundamental nature of terrorism is use violence attack innocents for political purposes. Since who are actors, whether individual or a group or a state, do not change the nature of terrorism at all. Thus, it does not make sense to exclusion of state as the subject of terrorism. Richard Jackson(2008:383) argues that if terrorism refers to violence directed towards or threatened against civilians which is designed to instil terror or intimidate a population for political reasons, then broader definition should include state-sponsored terrorism and state terrorism – a broadly consensual definition of terrorism in the literature (Raphael 2007) . Therefore, for justice and fairness, the terrorism can be concisely defined as “using violence direct attack on innocents for political purposes”.


   II. Major causes of terrorism


   The causes of terrorism are very complicate involving many factors such as social, political, economic, ideological, religious, cultural, ethnic etc. Traditionally, studies of political violence and terrorism have focused on the social and economic causes of terrorism. Relative deprivation often measured as economic inequality and a low level of economic income has often been blamed for increased levels in the incidence of terrorist attacks. However, there is evidence to suggest that these causes do not account for the occurrence of terrorist incidents in Western Europe. According to Matt Haunstrup Qvortrup (2012: 505), the Major causes of contemporary transnational terrorism including inequality and social strains of transitional developments (Lake 2002); political repression (Hefez 2003); the cultural clash between Western and Islamist values (Huntington 1996), the pro-Israeli stance of US (Pape 2005) The fourth wave of international terrorism rooted in Islamist ideologies (Snow 1996) leftist terrorism traditionally used a national liberation framework.

   Many scholars recently pay much attention to study the relationship between the ethnic faction and terrorism. For instance, Kurrild-Klitgaard et al. (2006) report a weak, but nevertheless positive relationship between terrorist activity and the ethnic, linguistic, and religious fractionalization of countries on the receiving end of terrorist attacks. Enders and Sandler( 2006:76) suggest that heightened ethnic tensions in a country generally increase the number of transnational terrorist attacks by citizens of that country; and poorer countries also spawn more terrorists. Basuchoudhary & Shughart (2010:66) observed that ethnically polarized countries are more likely to be plagued by civil war and other domestic violence. The unleashing of ethnic and religious separatism in the Middle East and Central Asia in the wake of the colonial powers’ withdrawal from the scene and the collapse of the Soviet Union are central to the understanding of modern terrorist activity. But the fact of the Democratic Republic of the Congo – a hotbed of ethnic tensions – has no reported transnational terrorist incidents; while ethnic-tension-free Greece had 110 transnational terrorist events between 1982 and 1997. This suggests that a correlation between ethnic tensions and terrorism is plausible. (Enders and Sandler, 2006:79)

   The logic of the ethnic tension cause terrorism is base on that human nature. Mankind are both social and political animal. For the survival of the species has hinged on the evolution of cooperative interaction amongst rationally self-interested individuals and the strongest of mankind’s interpersonal bonds are nurtured by ties of blood. Kinship fosters trust, loyalty and adherence to other behavioral norms that help control free-riding. Amartya Sen (2006) emphasizes that while identification with a particular group can facilitate within-group cooperation , ‘excessive’ identification can also lead to inter-group conflict. Thus, while groups promote the creation of ‘social capital’ that allows their members to coexist peacefully, trading networks to emerge, and public goods to be produced, the asymmetrical relationships between insiders and outsiders can lead to polarization and violent confrontation. Such inter-group tensions may find expression in transnational terrorist activity. (Basuchoudhary & Shughart 2010:65)

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