December 11, 2015
TERRORISM: A SYSTEMIC VIEW
Russell L. Ackoff and Johan P. Strümpfer
Broadly speaking “terrorism” is regarded as extremely violent behavior by what is normally considered to be a minority subgroup of society. The value system in which terrorism is embedded is not universally shared within the larger society from which it emanates. Terrorists form a movement that pursues a cause defined by its aims which, in turn, are defined within a value framework that may be political, religious, social or economic. Its objective is to obtain acceptance of its value system and its aims. In pursuit of this objective it applies violence aimed at creating terror and anxiety in one or more target societies.
A major factor in the success of terrorism lies in the fear and social paralysis it induces. Through the media, particularly television, the terror produced is rapidly disseminated through a large part of the world. Instantaneous global dissemination by the media, particularly television, of news of terrorist acts promotes the aims of terrorism. Terrorists thrive on exposure of their message. The connections created by the media between most parts of the world directly favors terrorism. There is no better example than CNN and the September 11 attacks on the USA, which allowed a global audience to witness first hand terrorism in progress, in real time. Through violence terrorism conducts what is primarily a psychological war directed at affecting the mind and the behavior of public.
Those who sympathize with terrorists see them as freedom fighters. They create an environment in which terrorist movements are supported and flourish.