Terrorists 2.0


 Terrorism Revolution Evolution Espionage Qaeda Photo by Paul Fusco - Magnum

Laurie Anderson liked to quote fellow country-man and writer Don DeLillo when he said that "terrorists are the latest contemporary artists, the only ones who are still truly able to shock us". From this sentence I could get into a discussion about the nature of contemporary art, but, instead, I'm going to talk about terrorism which, with the Internet, seems to have entered the 2.0 era.

Web 2.0 is a sort of Internet Marxist revolution: workers take hold of the means of production; bloggers rebel against the fourth power; youtube has demeaned television; the passive audience is expected to be a prolix producer of text, sound and image; the systems that spread pre-produced content would make production and interconnection easier. In short, in the Web 2.0, the insane take hold of the asylum. The production of written or audiovisual information and opinion is radically democratised. Please notice this isn't an euphoric speech, because I sincerely believe that not all of us were ready for this. But that's subject for another post.

But, let's get back to terrorism. Much like espionage, terrorism was, at one point, the result of a secret and careful organization. The more secret and organized the functioning of the terrorist cells, the more spectacular the results would be. The financing came from equally illegal endeavours, including the illegal dealing of drugs and weapons. The targets were usually an established order, with a preference towards the richer, the more powerful or just the more fredom-loving.

When this way of making terrorism hit its peak, on September 11th, 2001, the first Internet bubble would also burst, laying the foundations for the web 2.0. One thing has apparently nothing to do with the other, but the simultaneity of both happenings would indicate a paradigm shift. Today, every specialist says that Al Qaeda is less of a terrorist organization and more of a widespread programme that is materialized in a wide network of small voluntary organizations, without much of an hierarchy, but eager to act. Smells like 2.0 to me.

The recent student massacre in Finland by a student who had previously posted his intentions online, leads me to take this logic even further. Today, there's a potential terrorist in every one of us. The anger, the rebellion, the low self-esteem, social pressure, silence, communication overdose, ideological multiplicity, everything seems to drive teenagers to the limit. The sheer demonstration of violence (and not just virtual or fictional violence, real violence as well) in traffic, family life, in the examples that come to us from across the Atlantic, are nothing more than a catalyst for the lonely and terrible emerging of this new kind of terrorist.


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