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

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


GuotingGuo


3/12/2013


Introduction

After 911 terror attacked, the terrorism studies has expanded to become a field withits own dedicated journals, research centres, leading scholars and experts,canon of published works, research funding opportunities, conferences,seminars, and study programmes. AsJackson(2008:377) noted that a new book on terrorism appears nearly every sixhours, while peer-reviewed papers have increased by approximately 300%. Between1968 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 1,732recorded incidents worldwide, and five years later the annual figure had risento 6,659. (Qvortrup2012:503) However,states terror which have killed, tortured, and intimidated hundreds of millionsof people over the past century (Rummel 1994, Sluka 2000b), and many statescontinue 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 regularlyemploy extensive state torture, extra-judicial killings, disappearances,collective punishments, and daily forms of violent intimidation to terroriseopponents and enforce compliance to state rule(Jackson 2008:385). According tothe experts of terrorism, the causes of terrorism are diversity includingsocial, economic, political, religious, ideologies, cultural, ethnical factors.Some scholars believe the dictatorship states are less terrorism thandemocratic countries. Eubank and Weinberg (2001) and Lai (2007) suggest thatmore democratic countries generate substantially more terrorist activity,arguing that autocratic regimes are better prepared to suppress opposition. Myargument is that the reason of the dictatorship states appear less terrorattack, not because their political system are better than democracy, but forthemselves become state terrorism which overwhelming any non-state group’s anydemand 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 whichneed pay more attention.

I.             Thedefinition of terrorism

Manyscholars has made various definition of terrorism, majority of them are innarrow sense which except state as actor. Bruce Hoffman(1998:43) argues thatterrorism involves violence ‘perpetrated by a subnational group or non-stateentity’. Ehrlich and Liu (2002) defined terrorism as actions carried out bymilitarily-weak sub-or trans-national groups from developing nations to gainpolitical ends through violence against private citizens or public property ofmilitarily-powerful developed nations. Enders and Sandler (2006: 3) define thatterrorism ‘is the premeditated use or threat to use violence by individuals orsub-national groups in order to obtain a political or social objective throughthe 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 forindirect political and psychological consequences by a group aiming to takepolitical power. Pete Lentini(2008) suggested that the terrorism is a sub-stategroup or individual uses or threatens to use violence against innocent peopleor non-combatants or even property to effect political change and achievepolitical goals by creating an atmosphere of fear.

Althoughvary in some elements, all above definitions have a common factor, that terrorismis perpetrated by non-state actors; in fact these definitions are highlyinfluenced by the US State Department’s definition of terrorism, whichconceives of terrorism as ‘premeditated, politically motivated violenceperpetuated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestineagents, usually intended to influence an audience’[1]. Accordingto these definitions, the essential elements of terrorism are: (a) using orthreat use of violence; (b) by individuals or groups; (c) toward innocent civilians;(d) for political or social reason; (e) by instilling fear and terror.

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

II.          Majorcauses of terrorism

Thecauses 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 andeconomic causes of terrorism. Relative deprivation often measured as economicinequality and a low level of economic income has often been blamed forincreased levels in the incidence of terrorist attacks.  However, there is evidence to suggest thatthese causes do not account for the occurrence of terrorist incidents inWestern Europe.

According to Matt Haunstrup Qvortrup (2012: 505), the  Major causes of contemporary transnationalterrorism including inequality and social strains of transitional developments(Lake 2002); political repression (Hefez 2003); the cultural clash betweenWestern and Islamist values (Huntington 1996), the pro-Israeli stance of US(Pape 2005) The fourth wave of international terrorism rooted in Islamistideologies (Snow 1996) leftist terrorism traditionally used a nationalliberation framework.[2]

Manyscholars recently pay much attention to study the relationship between the ethnicfaction and terrorism. For instance, Kurrild-Klitgaard et al. (2006)report a weak, but nevertheless positive relationship between terroristactivity and the ethnic, linguistic, and religious fractionalization ofcountries on the receiving end of terrorist attacks. Enders and Sandler( 2006:76)suggest that heightened ethnic tensions in a country generally increase thenumber of transnational terrorist attacks by citizens of that country; and poorercountries also spawn more terrorists. Basuchoudhary & Shughart (2010:66)observed that ethnically polarized countries are more likely to be plagued bycivil war and other domestic violence. The unleashing of ethnic and religiousseparatism in the Middle East and Central Asia in the wake of the colonialpowers’ withdrawal from the scene and the collapse of the Soviet Union arecentral to the understanding of modern terrorist activity. But the fact of theDemocratic Republic of the Congo – a hotbed of ethnic tensions – has noreported transnational terrorist incidents; while ethnic-tension-free Greecehad 110 transnational terrorist events between 1982 and 1997. This suggeststhat a correlation between ethnic tensions and terrorism is plausible. (Endersand Sandler, 2006:79)  

Thelogic of the ethnic tension cause terrorism is base on that human nature. Mankindare both social and political animal. For the survival of the species hashinged on the evolution of cooperative interaction amongst rationallyself-interested individuals and the strongest of mankind’s interpersonal bondsare nurtured by ties of blood. Kinship fosters trust, loyalty and adherence toother behavioral norms that help control free-riding. Amartya Sen (2006)emphasizes that while identification with a particular group can facilitatewithin-group cooperation , ‘excessive’ identification can also lead tointer-group conflict. Thus, while groups promote the creation of ‘socialcapital’ that allows their members to coexist peacefully, trading networks toemerge, and public goods to be produced, the asymmetrical relationships betweeninsiders and outsiders can lead to polarization and violent confrontation.

Suchinter-group tensions may find expression in transnational terrorist activity.(Basuchoudhary & Shughart 2010:65)
Fromhistorical evidence, it is clearly established that states are the productionof the ethnic conflicts not as Lenin argue as the production of class struggle.Esteban and Ray (1994) conclude that ethnic polarization is greatest when asociety is divided into two groups of similar size. This assumption alsodemonstrated by the separated the Soviet Union where Russian populationpossesses 43% of the whole union. Many Chinese scholars anxious when theCommunist party regime collapsed, the Tibet and other ethnic minority peoplealso will separate from China. However, Han ethnic possesses 93% population ofChina, and all ethnic minority put together only possesses 7%; thus from theethnic factor alone, it seems not possible occurs what happened in Russian infuture China.

Another much important element of terrorism is radicalideology. Thereare very significant differences between the future utopias envisaged byanarchists, Marxists, nationalists, and Islamists. Mark Sedgwick( 2007:99)noted that a radical ideology is indisputably an essential ingredient inproducing terrorism, and a terrorist without ideological (or religious, orreligious-ideological) motivationwould, by most definitions, be eitheran ordinary criminal or mentally ill. And an ideologythat was notradical could hardly justify terrorism. Jonathan Fine(2010:284) complain that despitethe increase in fundamentalist Muslim suicide terrorism in general and theevents of 9/11 in particular, the Western world simply refuses to accept that aculture has evolved which does not have the same theological perceptions of lifeand death, which in fact encourages and takes a positive approach to death.Such denial only increases the sheer political, psychological impact offundamental religious terrorism which has already been multiplied by theperpetrator’s success in achieving a fearless attitude towards death and aprestige of invincibility among their supporters.

Howevercompare with either religious or culture factors, the radical politicalideology is the most disaster maker. According to the Marxism and Leninism andthe theory of the dictatorship of proletariat, once established more thanninety communist parties in the world, among which about twenty-eight set upthe Dictatorship of proletariat regime in name, the Communist party’stotalitarian dictatorship in essence.

Stateas actors of terrorism is supposed that regularly employ extensive statetorture, extra-judicial killings, disappearances, collective punishments, anddaily forms of violent intimidation to terrorize opponents and enforcecompliance to state rule. Unequivocal evidences proved that these communist parties’regimes are not only totalitarian dictatorship, but also state terrorism,according to Stephane Courtois,et al(1999:1-23), emphases that the campaign ofthe communism in the world directed caused more than 150 million people  being killed, or torture to death, and underChinese CCP regime alone, during 1949 and 1979, overpass 80 million Chinesepeople lost their live due to killing, torture, and other horrible terror. [3]  

Whether Chinese Communist party regime constitutes as state terrorism, I would like toshow what have done the CCP’s regime, except to my personal suffered under theCCP regime, Even Chinese Human rights lawyers who are experts and practiceshave no legal guarantee human rights, the natural assumption can be premise howcommon Chinese can has such right as human rights. For instance, Chinese humanrights lawyers  have been repeatedlysince 2003 up to date: (1)100%harassed, warmed, intimated and threaten, monitored, keep under surveillance, following lawyer and their familymember whenever they go;(2)beingforced search, seized and confiscated, summoned, interrogated;(3)deniednecessary medical care, travel restricted, barred from speaking to the press,warned intimated and threated not to grant any media interviews, and forcedexiled to abroad, (4)43%being deprived of their livelihood(denied client access, license to practicelaw would not be renewed, refused registration of professional licence, licensesuspended, revoked licence, disbarment,),(5)16%being kidnapped, abducted, enforceddisappearance, taken into secret detention;(6)31%physicalabuse, assaulted, attacked, beaten, starving, tortured (electric shocks togenitals, electrified baton) ;(7)20%being arbitrarily detained, arrested,under soft detention , under house arrested, imprisoned, put into jail andlabour camp.[4]

III.       Politicalor economical injustice as the root of terrorism

Manystudy show that both political and economic injustices play a key role as theroot of terrorism. Wilkinson (1986: 39) argues that there is little moraljustification for violence as a means of expressing political demands in aliberal democracy where the civil rights of minorities are protected and thepersonal safety of members of minority groups is not in question. Even ifethnic tensions might be a flashpoint, and civil rights and liberties, possiblyreduce the risk of civil conflict. Basuchoudhary and Shughart (2010) find thatmore liberal political institutions have tended to discourage transnationalterrorism production only since the end of the Cold War. Matt Haunstrup Qvotrup(2012:504) suggested that the low representation with proportional representationand first past-the-post in electoral system in political policy and decisionmaking increase terrorism. The domestic terrorism is a result of politicalsystems that do not allow all their citizens to gain influence onmatters that they consider to be of vital importance. He claims that there is avery strong correlation between having a proportional electoral system(either STV or list PR) and having a political system that is associated withconsensus government, which, in turn, is correlated with lower levels ofterrorism.(Qvortrup 513) There is a distinguish cause between domesticterrorism and transnational terrorism; formal the social, economic, politicalhave more influence, later the ethnic, religious and culture as well aspolitical factor play more role.

Endersand Sandler(2006:69) claims that there is little evidence that political andcivil rights – freedom of expression, of assembly, of the press, democraticelections, - are by themselves sufficient to overcome the terrorism-producingeffects of ethnic tensions. They argue that economic freedoms seem to reducethe probability of terrorist attacks originating in ethnically tense countries(66);property rights are more important than civil rights in explaining terrorism’scountries of origin: transnational terrorism tends to find more fertile groundwhere the economic liberties of the people are limited than where it is theirpolitical liberties that are limited. There is a causal link between liberaleconomic processes and peace between nations, but that liberal politics is onlycorrelated with peace. Terrorism arises less from a ‘clash of civilizations’ or‘clash of cultures’ than it does from the absence of market-friendlyinstitutions. (67) they find (1) absence of political rights and civilliberties in a country has no impact on the number of terrorist attacksperpetrated by citizens of that country; (2) liberal political institutionshave become more important in reducing the number of terrorist attacksoriginating from a country since the end of the Cold War; ( 77) (3)low levelsof ethnic tensions and high levels of income significantly reduce the numbersof terrorist attacks originating in a country; (4) Political freedom( politicalrights and civil liberties) is insignificant in these new specifications, butinstitutions thatenhance economic freedom in a country evidentlymitigate the effect of ethnic tensions on thenumber of terrorist actsoriginating from that country; ( 81) (5) spawn terrorism is picking up the effects of the absence of economicliberties rather than of political freedoms. Holding free elections and havinga functioning government does not have any effect on the likelihood ofterrorist attacks originating from a country. Therefore,  Enders and Sandler (2006:83) concluded thatilliberal political institutions do not explain terrorist events.
However, as Krieger and Meierrieks (2011:11) havesummarized that several studies find that economic deprivation leads toterrorism. But most of them do not properly control for institutional settings.Once institutions are taken into consideration, the terror-amplifying effect ofpoor economic conditions becomes less important. Accounting for economic andinstitutional development, several studies find that more liberal anddemocratic countries are significantly less likely to produce transnationalterrorism, but that there is no independent causal effect of income onterrorism. Basuchoudhary and Shughart (2010) find that higher levels ofeconomic freedom reduce the production of terrorism. However, Kurrild-Klitgaard et al. (2006) control for the impact of a variety of economicinstitutions and find no significant association between them and the genesisof terrorism. Burgoon (2006) finds that welfare policies significantlydiscourage terrorist activity. Freytag et al. (2008) finds that governmentexpenditures are to some extent associated with a reduction in terrorism.

Politicalinjustice is one of the important roots of terrorism. Wherever exist politicalinjustice and repression, if no way to release or rescue it, it would bepromoting terrorism sooner or later; either is non-state or state terrorism,although much more chance is state terrorism. For political powers in essence isa very rare and invaluable resource, which closely connection with theinterests. Competition for these scarce interests wound inevitably producedisputes, to resolve the disputes, either through peaceful agreement andcompromise or court’s judgment; when neither agreement nor judgment available,when justice has gone, the only choose is force and violence. Human societyexperienced long historical life-death fighting for political powers and itsinterests through violence and war, thus, in some sense, human history is ahistory of war; According to the Black Book of Communismrevealed unequivocal tremendous evidences and facts, we can safely concludedthat all communism regimes are not only totalitarian dictatorship in politicalinstitution, but also state terrorism, have been committed huge number ofterrorism, although few non-state group or individual terrorism.  If without political freedom and rights, thereal economic freedom and justice is impossible to survive. For example,post-Maoism China, under the policy of so-called reform and open, in economicalsphere appear much free than before; however social wealth polarize toextremely injustice situation, 0.4% richest persons possesses 71% wealthproperty of whole China, among this richest persons 90% are the sons anddaughters of the senior official of the CCP regime. Five hundred family ofsenior officials of the CCP have controlled whole China’s economics under suchextravagant injustice condition, China in fact turn into a living volcano whichmay burst out at any time in the near future, and the violence struggle forpolitical power will inevitable, for totalitarian dictatorship regime itself isthe utmost state terrorism.

IV.       conclusion

Justiceis the most important value of all human society, whenever and wherever lackingit, if through peaceful agreement could not reach compromise, by legalprocedure cannot obtain compensation, the dispute often eventually turn toviolence. Thus, until the justice either political and economic or socialreally established, there is impossible to eliminate terrorism. The nature ofthe terrorism is use violence attack innocent with political purpose, eitherstate or non-state group and individual can be terrorists. The causes ofterrorism are extremely complicate involving social, political, economic,ideological, religious, cultural elements. My argument is that the injustice isthe most important root of terrorism. For political power cannot divide witheither economic interests or ideology, as the scarce and most invaluableresource, human being have been struggling for it for tenth centuries, mainlythrough violence and war, until 18 century after created liberal representativeconstitutional democratic republican, a political institutions which offer allcompetitor for political powers a peaceful mean, free and fairness publicelection by vote to decide who, when and how to governance of government andlaw-making, policy-making.  

Puremilitary action will never eliminate terrorism; however strong a state may be,however advance army a state have, however harsh punishment may be, it isimpossible to defeat terrorism totally; by the contrary, it only nourishingmore hate and inspire much stronger struggle passion. Even if Al Qaeda isdefeated, other terrorist groups and other Ben Laden will easily arise underthis electrical information time. If the fundamental root of terrorism isinjustice, especially in political, economic, and social sphere, then do bestand most sincerely to establish domestic and international justice should bethe best policy to dealing with the international terrorism issue. To thosehistorical injustice victim countries or nations such as formal colonialstates, highly industrialize Western states should help them develop their economics,education, social and political etc,  topromote mutual understand and respect; to those still under totalitariandictatorship regimes ruling countries, liberal democratic Western countries cando a lots to help those slaved people, through help them to end thetotalitarian regimes as soon as possible. To deal with any terrorist groupssuch as Al Qaeda,  it must be combinedwith diplomatic, political, economic, psychological, and humanitarian efforts,while find out what is the real root of their hate and terrorism, and try bestto eliminate such root. As long as military actions remain the primary responseto terrorism, then the precipitating, exacerbating, and maintenance causes ofterrorism will remain and terrorism will continue.






Reference

Basuchoudhary, Atin & Shughart,William F. (2010)ON ETHNIC CONFLICT AND THE ORIGINS OF TRANSNATIONAL TERRORISM, Defence andPeace Economics, 21:1

Burgess, M.(2003). Terrorism: Problems of definition. Available from www.cdi.org/program/issue/index.cfm

Ehrlich,Paul R. Liu,Jianguo(2002) Some Roots ofTerrorism.Population and Environment

Enders, W. andSandler, T. (2006) The Political Economy of Terrorism. Cambridge and NewYork: Cambridge University Press

Fine, Jonathan(2010) Political and Philological Origins of the Term ‘Terrorism’ from theAncient Near East to Our Times, Middle Eastern Studies, 46:2.

Hoffman,B., 1998. Inside terrorism. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Jackson, Richard(2008) The ghosts of state terror: knowledge, politics and terrorism studies, CriticalStudies on Terrorism,Vol. 1, No. 3

Krieger ,Tim and Meierrieks, Daniel(2011) What causes terrorism? Public Choice 147: 3–27

Lentini, Pete. (2008) Understanding and combatingterrorism: Definitions, origins and strategies. Australian Journal of PoliticalScience, 43:1, 133-140.

Sedgwick,Mark (2007) Inspiration and the Originsof Global Waves of Terrorism.

Qvortrup, Matt Haunstrup(2012) Terrorism and Political Science, BJPIR: VOL 14.

Raphael, S., 2007.Putting the state back in: the orthodox definition of terrorism and thecritical need to address state terrorism. Paper presented at the BritishInternational Studies Association (BISA) Annual Conference, University ofCambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Robison,KristopherK. Crenshaw, Edward M.and Jenkins, J.Craig(2006) Ideologies of Violence: TheSocial Origins of Islanist and leftist Transnational Terrorism.

Rummel,R., 1994. Death by government. Piscataway, NJ: Transaction.

Sluka, J.,2000b. Introduction: State terror and anthropology. In: J. Sluka, ed. Deathsquad: an anthropology of state terror. Philadelphia, PA: University ofPennsylvania Press.

Sedgwick, Mark(2007) Inspiration and the Origins ofGlobal Waves of Terrorism, Studies in the Conflict & Terrorism,Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.



[1] the United States Department of State in Title 22 of the UnitedStates Code, Section 2656f(d)

[2] DavidRapoport identified four waves of global terror: the anarchist wave of the1890s, the anti-colonial wave of the period after World War II, the leftistwave of the 1970s, and the religious wave of today. See Rapoport, DavidC.(2004) “The Four Waves of Modern Terrorism,” in Attacking Terrorism:Elements of a Grand Strategy, Audrey Cronin and James Ludes, eds.(Georgetown University Press), pp. 46–73.

[3] Courtois, Stephane etal(1999) The Black Book of Communism: Crimes Terror Repression, Translated byJonathan Murphy and Mark Kramer, Harvard University Press.

[4] Guo, Guoting (2011) Fromthe Encounter of Human RightsLawyers Struggles to Analysis the True Situation of China’s Human Rights (lecture speech at university of Victoria law school)



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