On September 11, 2001, the international revolution arrived decisively on Americaʼs shores. It has now become incorporated, however uncritically, into that countryʼs conscience collective.
Among the primary objectives of an any social construction (agency in copresence) must be the heuristic reorientations of faith-based ideologies, through a solidarity and collaboration between conscious sociologists and religionists, contributing to a peaceable, but expeditious, emancipation of the less-powerful nations of the world from the stranglehold of oppressor nations. Yet, in formulating this perspective, it might be preferable if we eliminated the word terrorism, along with other grand referentials and less-than-useful essentialisms, from our vocabularies altogether.
Assessed in the context of methodological nominalist framework, to assume an isomorphism between similarly designated classes of phenomena, such as terrorism and counterterrorism, and reliable descriptions or understandings of their variances and commonalities attests to an engagement in the fallacy of naming and to an avoidance of critical thinking. There is, for instance, merely a superficial resemblance between the Palestinian freedom fighters, struggling for their nationhood, and their fancied comrades-in-arms, the al-Qa`ída1 (Qa`ídat al-Jihad2) suicide hijackers, at odds with certain colonial and hegemonic policies.
Nonetheless, for simplicityʼs sake, I will partially bow to convention by pluralizing the terms. The terrorisms will here be broadly defined as spectrums of oppressive violence, physical or otherwise, by political economic power elites against persons or their properties. The counterterrorisms, or terrorisms of the weak, will likewise be liberally outlined as politically motivated forms of violence against terrorist nations and institutions. In both cases, a substantial proportion of the targets will be civilians.
We must never fear the social facts of our age. Let us rather seek to explain those facts in a manner consistent with our continuing quest for human liberation.
While the thirty-year-long drift of a multitude of left-wing activists into a postradical accommodationism with the capitalist intelligentsia demands a strident refutation, the purpose of this paper is explication, not a condemnation of aging former activists. Let us then proceed on a course which will address the many diseases of power in our societies. (Michel Foucaultʼs afterward in Dreyfus, Hubert L. and Rabinow, Paul. 1982. Michel Foucault: beyond Structualism and Hermeneutics. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Page 209. Foucault gave Nazism and Stanlinism as examples.)
Dialectical metaRealism™, the critical realist orientation explored here, proposes a revolutionary praxis and methodology for eliminating colonialism, hegemony, and other oppressive, but culturally or historically specific, narratives - institutional, ideational, etc. Marxism is redacted into a critical realism.
From the standpoint of this revised framework, the coexistence of an engaged revolutionary metatheory, expressive of religious or spiritual commitment, with a dynamically grounded radical sociological theory, averse to global capitalism and to the terrorisms, is posited. The requisite distinction lies in the juxtaposition of value and fact.
Methodologically, the religions and the sciences must operate within their own proper spheres of authority, while respecting the otherʼs core competencies. The alternative would be the propagation of contemporary social scientific versions of such monstrosities as Auguste Comteʼs Religion of Humanity and Felix Adlerʼs Ethical Culture (making religion scientific), on the one hand, or Creation Science and ꞌIslāmic science (making science religious), on the other.
The radicalism of this perspective is its axiological and teleological, not scientific and propositional, program for transformative social action via an engaged revolutionary populism. In other words, while the metatheoretical values and direction for this orientation come, properly, from one or more of the religions, not from the social sciences, its theoretical foundations originate in the social sciences, not in the religions.
Etymologically, the English, radical, comes from the Latin, radix, meaning root. Sociologists, including those specializing in religious studies, should recognize that the roots of the counterterrorisms are firmly planted in the soils of terrorist oppressions.
Given that the metatheory of Dialectical metaRealism is inevitably ensconced in the specific religious or spiritual hermeneutic of the individual sociologist, a reflexive sociology must be among its integral components. Thus, Dialectical metaRealism can be both socially transformative and intensely personal.
A significant mode of reflexive praxis is voice. Inclusive forms of discourse as are socially, politically, and economically emancipatory are advocated. Accordingly, free speech must refer exclusively to such modes of self-expression which are fundamentally free of socially subjugating content, do not promote false consciousness, and, above all, advocate a universal freedom from all forms of oppression. Societies should educate their members to rigorously avoid establishmentarian language which champions the enslavement of others.
Only particulars exist. Combinations of particulars are structurizations, rules, categories, or universals. We define universals as meaningful, contextualized, and volitionally relative structurizations of particulars defined as having similar attributes. Such universals are grounded in the relative wills of human particularities in interaction.
Among the assumptions of Dialectical metaRealism is that a social structure is constructed, not in some fanciful generalized Platonic quiddity or naive realism, but in the historical preexistence of a structure to a present-day human population and its artifacts, and that it is experienced, indirectly, through material metaphors.
Since no society or group can be divorced from its structural progenitors, all social construction must be regarded as reconstruction. Consequently, volitional constructions, rather than being universal, are always specific to single, analytical social contexts.
The word, jihad, is Arabic for struggle, not for holy war. Many ꞌIslāmic moderates have situated its significance in the wrestling with oneʼs nafs, the multiple planes of the lower nature or ego, and in an exertion for human equity and peace. From their standpoint, only jihads which are purposefully defensive, of oneʼs own or another religious community, should be sanctioned on the battlefield.
Likewise, the translation of the Hebrew (ultimately, Lurianic Kabbalistic) term, tikkun olam, is repairing the world. Through its reinterpretation by the Jewish Renewal Movement, it has become a clarion call for environmental custodianship and social justice.
Militant religious counterterrorisms are rarely tolerated by state acorts within the international community. Indeed, could one reasonably dismiss the transparently imperialist objectives of various Western nations, the terrorisms of state, a reaction to the new international revolution being waged against them, might even be somewhat justifiable.
In pondering this subject, however, our primary focus should be on the a priori elements in the terrorisms and religious counterterrorisms, not on their violent consequences. Ergo, a new global struggle must be fought by religionists of conscience along at least four fronts:
The continuing battle between the capitalist West and ꞌIslāmist militias reflects a geopolitical clash of materialisms and fascistic chauvinisms. Furthermore, the foundational economic materialism of the West is, in an era of massive corporate scandals, becoming increasingly obvious, while the spiritual materialism of the ꞌIslāmic fundamentalisms betokens an attachment to the letter of certain qur'ánic verses, even while ignoring those passages which do not suit their agenda.
Once basic human needs are satisfied, however, and the nation state is subordinated to a global one, the blights of the underdog counterterrorisms, which thrive under the banes of economic oppression, political injustice, and ethnic inequality, will, for the most part, be eliminated. Unfortunately, the current war on counterterror, while perhaps of some benefit, is, precisely because of what it fails to address, an insult to the majority of the earthʼs peoples and to their rights to economic and social manumission.
In December 2001, Bill O'Reilly, the conservative populist pundit and host of a monological interview show on Fox News Channel (in the U.S.), said to an Afghan official, "Americans don't care about who governs Afghanistan. We just want to get Usama bin Lawdin." Passing Larry King Live, on CNN, Foxʼs The O'Reilly Factor has become the most popular American cable news program.
Additionally, the contemporary bifurcation of the world into good and evil, a role presumably reserved for a deity but now played by nation states, suggests the aphorism, "The evil thou seest in others, in thyself may be true." This simple-minded social Manichaeism, apparently resonating with the majority of Americans, recalls references to the former Soviet Union as the evil empire, even while ignoring a propensity for the tolerance of injustice, or domestic terrorism, in the United States.
Specifically, a devastating failure to nominalize violence allows many Americans to subsume under a socially constructed rubric of "terrorism" only those countries and organizations which suit their perceived security and policy interests. They can, consequently, elect to exclude their own country.
The poorer nations undoubtedly want freedom. Yet, that freedom would, in many instances, include a liberation from the West and its neocolonialism and their own political and economic self-determination.
The most conspicuous American terrorist act of the last century was the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The pilot was Colonel, subsequently Brigadier General, Paul Tibbets. Flying a B-29 aircraft, the Enola Gay, he nuked the civilian population of that city.
Still another was the international terrorist network choreographed by an America administration and functioning primarily in Nicaragua. To almost no oneʼs surprise, the U.S. government rejected and vetoed the denunciations levelled against it by the World Court and the United Nations Security Council.
Current and recent American terrorisms, however, take such forms as:
Should the mirror of historical precedent be any indication, these terrorisms, reflected in contradictions both within the United States and between the leaders of that country and those of other nations, may eventually resolve themselves in her epitaph, "How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!"3 If so, let her diminution, her decline and fall, be superseded by her rebirth as a more self-abnegating society.
The ongoing terrorisms of neoliberal globalization, which misappropriate and defile the universal spirit of the age while justifying the expansion of corporate markets to satisfy bourgeois greed, continue to be impugned by much of the world, including by many citizens of predominantly Muslim nations. Thus, in certain countries with predominantly Muslim populations, and elsewhere, the far-reaching appeal of the counterterrorisms is, alongside other instrumentalities, a manifestation of opposition to the Westʼs jingoist conceptions of economic freedom.
As a response to this process, and to its acceleration, radical ꞌIslāmist counterterrorisms, arising out of ultra-reactionary versions of Sunni Wahabbism (from Saudi Arabia) and Twelver Shi'ism (from Iran), are normatively directed at perceived symbols of the military-industrial complex. While never excusable, these counterterrorisms are, viewed within the framework of the Western matrix of domination, explainable: The counterterrorisms of the fundamentalists are to the terroristic tyrannies of the power elites what Davidʼs sling was to Goliathʼs brute.
To advocates of the so-called free market, capitalism represents economic freedom and democracy, but, to many of its opponents, a laissez-faire economy is merely a euphemism for Social Darwinism. An economic and social democracy, as here understood, has little in common with the foundational, incentive-driven characteristics of modern corporate capitalism.
Working towards the aim of social justice, the deinstitutionalization of the economic and political conservatisms (classical liberalism), the class consciousness of the oppressor, and the present-day economic and political liberalisms (protectionism), the false consciousness of the oppressed, ought to become a univeral priority. Both sets of philosophies are flawed in their traditional support for the primacy of the individual.
In the first instance, classical liberalism, the individual is championed over its mortal enemy, big government. In the second, protectionism, that same big government is transformed into the individualʼs economic savior. However, to many adherents of both these philosophies of the Right, a principal problematic of the terrorisms lies in their impedance of the machinations of the World Trade Organization, the World Economic Forum, and other pro-capitalist globalization bodies.
In final analysis, good and evil are only matters of degree, not political typologies. They coexist in each of us and can be found in all peoples. However, as long as certain Western leaders, driven by an apparently unstoppable ethnocentric arrogance, are allowed to unabashedly weave the texture of international relations, the character of our world order will likely remain unstable.
1literally, the base
2literally, base of the struggle
3II Samuel 1:25; see also II Samuel 1:19 and II Samuel 1:27
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The Proletarian Revolution