25 April 2007

Terrorism 1793-2007

Image: An anarchist 'czar' bomb.   We are grateful to a Mr J Reid of the Home Office (of whose passing Mr Reid has already informed us) for alerting the As A Dodo editorial board to the end of Terrorism, which he assures us cannot possibly survive the birth of the Home Office's offspring, The Ministry of Love The Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism.

Terrorism was born in 1793 in France, the younger brother of the famously attractive triplets Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité who at the time were the toast of the land thanks to their stirring performance during the ongoing French Revolution. Though it was later to set out on its own, Terrorism's early years were spent in close proximity to the state, ousting its elder sisters from the national bosom in the hope that false arrests, conviction on the flimsiest of evidence and a surveillance society could be nurtured in their place. Arm in arm with Citizen Robespierre and Madame Guillotine it wandered up and down France, stirring fear in the hearts of all it met and a desire to hide among all it didn't (a role today played by itinerant Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and Chuggers). It was not long, however, before Terrorism (unlike the aforementioned Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and Chuggers) tired of such behaviour.

It was at this time that Terrorism turned to philosophy, just as so many young people in France still do to this day. Thanks to the work of Immanuel Kant, Terrorism came to mean a pessimistic view of the destiny of mankind, in which guise it was swiftly seized upon by anarchists such as Bakhunin as a means of bringing down the state and providing Joseph Conrad with plots, as well as being seized on by the inhabitants of assorted colonial outposts as a means of ridding themselves of their various Imperial oppressors (and in the case of TE Lawrence, a really good excuse for mucking around on camels in a keffiyeh).

Soon Terrorism came to mean the use of the threat of violence to put people in a permanent state of fear, and was distinguishable from the behaviour of parents after catching their offspring playing with matches, really scary teachers discovering that one somehow hasn't quite managed to complete that extra tricky piece of homework they set and Governments eager to pass a few more laws by the fact that the people carrying it out usually had an indifference to the sanctity of human life combined with a different accent and/or political philosophy and/or religion to whoever was calling them "terrorists".

From the latter part of the 20th Century, Terrorism came to be a significant force in global politics, filling millions across the globe with fear, causing the death of thousands upon thousands and inflicting numerous episodes of 24 upon the world. Where once people merely had the prospect of nuclear annihilation to keep them awake at night, now they had the possibility of being shot, gassed tortured or blown up (either by the terorrists or by Jack Bauer) as they went about their daily business to keep them from the arms of Morpheus. Few, apart from some very disturbed people with uniform fetishes and/or a worrying belief that this year's most vital accessory was a semtex bandolier, could be happy about such a situation. Yet not even this was enough for Terrorism which, it turned out, had long regretted its decision to turn away from the ways of its youth and whose attention-seeking and destructive behaviour had merely been an attempt to return to the bosom of the state, where it could go back once more to practices such as placing the populace in a permanent state of fear, imprisoning the citizenry without trial, indulging in constant surveillance of the public at large and abrogating the liberty of the people.

Happily, we are told that Terrorism's time is now over. We are assured by John Reid, the father of The Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, that his new offspring's "faster, brighter and more agile response" to Terrorism gives us the brightest prospect of putting an end to this dreadful scourge... and if that fails it can simply put Terrorism out of business by doing much of its work for it.

Terrorism will be buried in an undisclosed location by men in balaclavas. It is survived by freedom fighters, jihadis, rebel/freedom/liberation movements, militants, fedayeen, guerillas, paramilitaries, mujahadeen, participants in armed struggle and assorted other nutters in quasi-military dress who think the best way of resolving a dispute is to bomb the hell out of something (as opposed to those of the same opinion without balaclavas, who are often in government).