Friday, November 27, 2015

This Whole Terrorist Thing

For whatever reason, the word "terrorist" still has currency across the spectrum of the broad left. Perhaps it should be of little surprise that anyone would want to immediately translate their feelings of moral indignation into the language of the state. However, the more curious matter is the way in which the left employs the word "terrorist" to eclipse some possibly more useful & illuminating signifiers.

I had personally hoped that the lampooning of Giuliani's campaign for the 2008 presidential elections spelled the death knell for the use of "terrorism" to end conversations on the ideological and organizations intricacies of political mass violence. Instead, the opposite has appeared to happen. The left, in an attempt to race-bait the right, has eagerly applied the appellation to every mass murderer who cannot immediately be identified as marginalized.

Of course, the right-wing media doesn't really care if it's race-baited and is perfectly happy to differentially apply the term "terrorist." In the Current Year™, the implication of one's endorsement of racism just doesn't have the same earth-shattering consequences as it did in the few decades following desegregation and the Civil Rights Act. In an era of #cuckservatives and armed white nationalist "protesters," it's becoming increasingly less dangerous to be a neo-Nazi than it is to oppose them.

But my hesitation around the word "terrorist" actually has nothing to do with its loaded use as a racial slur nor the failure of its non-racist reclamation. Instead, I don't like the word because its definition is fundamentally proscribed by the state. It has several legal definitions in various jurisdiction, and is almost universally defined in terms of a subnational group committing violence for the purpose of political coercion.

What groups are considered "subnational" what constitutes "violence" and what causes are "political" are all left up to the shape of the state. To whom is the Islamic State subnational? Is home demolition in the West Bank violence? When does religion become political?

When the left insists on the word "terrorist" over the phrase "lone wolf," it looses sight of just how fucking scary the phenomenon of the decentralized violent right is. Lone wolf attackers, as I've written about elsewhere, are unique in that there are no centralized command structures, but rather ideological networks punctuated by individually planned attacks on the enemy of whatever national identity marker they perceive to be under threat.

In recent decades, white nationalists have subverted the infiltration of their organizations by law enforcement - they have simply stopped organizing in groups at all. Instead, they start small and slowly escalate, lashing out ever more ferociously at those Others whom they perceive capital as having chosen over them.

But rather than speak of capital, they speak of Jews, or the Illuminati, or lizard people, or women. Instead of exploitation, they say "reverse oppression." And the state seems powerless to thwart their advance. So why use their terminology anyway?

The left has to stop pretending that it can stop the radical right by implicitly "countermessaging" racism through the reduction of social life - even in its most heinous forms - into categories of the national security state.

Anyway, I submitted to The Daily Stormer Logo Contest:

text: THE DILDO STEAMER [image desc: pile of poop with fasces made out of dildos sticking out] text: a heaping pile of fascism!

We'll see if it gets through moderation.

Update: My logo has actually gotten through moderation. Upvote it. Why Not?

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