Academic journal article Psychology in Russia

Needs of Terrorist

Academic journal article Psychology in Russia

Needs of Terrorist

Article excerpt

Terrorism is one of the most painful problems in modern society, ones that call into question the very foundations of its existence. The events of the last few decades have demonstrated its total, all-pervading nature that has practically changed the modern world. While earlier terrorism was a sufficiently local problem that concerned (either geographically or economically) some limited areas, social strata or ethnos, today not a single person can feel protected enough from omnipresent terrorists. Instead of the "end of history" and a transition to a mellow existence in a reason-governed and liberal society, as predicted by Francis Fukuyama, (Fukuyama, 2002) the world finds itself in a situation of total warfare. Rather than being confined to a narrow battlefield and the knightly rules of classical war-making, it has found itself in a situation where there are no rules at all and where any person can be targeted at any moment, in any place. Where there is no logic, there are no permanent enemies or dedicated defenders. Danger lurks where you cannot expect it, and there are no reliable methods of defense. But Fukuyama based his reasoning on the quite sound postulate that the democratic idea and liberal economy had certainly proved their superiority, and, accordingly, people enlightened by this idea should renounce unreasonable behavior that, properly speaking, is what "history" is all about. The "end of history" is the end of irrationality.

But the predicted end of history has failed to materialize, as has the triumph of the Prussian monarchy that Hegel saw as an equally perfect model of society. For the same reason, crime failed to disappear after the Bolsheviks had uprooted its social causes. All those events have not come to pass because man has proved anything but a rational being abiding by the laws of logical and economic expedience. Rather, he is an odd creature guided by irrational fears, envy, craving for preeminence and power, and other extra economic categories. The error consists in ignoring what is properly human, i.e., things biased and extra rational by definition, while man has once again been reduced to a sum total of social relationships.

Instead of the promised idyll, there are symptoms of a growing chaos and of the end of history, albeit in a totally different sense. Terrorism as a phenomenon of contemporary history is one of the key phenomena of that end.

Terrorism is analyzed within different investigative paradigms by methods of different scientific disciplines, which is quite correct because it can well be regarded as a form of political, economic, military, criminal and other activities directed at achieving certain goals in order to satisfy need states. Of course, there are social, economic, and religious roots of terrorism, but for us it is important to identify the specifically psychological component of this problem. It is already contained in the goal definition itself: selection principles (how goal-setting is made), the level of awareness, how a declared goal tallies with the real one, and an understanding of what is really behind declared goals and what needs it is related to. In a nutshell, via which psychological mechanisms, to use Karl Marx's expression, does it grip the masses to become a material force?

The economic and social root-causes of terrorism are hopelessness, misfortunes and despair making certain people sacrifices human lives, their own included, in a bid to achieve some radical changes.

The initiating agents are poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, housing shortages, inadequacies in the education and personnel training systems, lack of prospects in life, aggravation of social inequalities, the weakening of family and social ties, alienation, ill-breeding, negative consequences of migration, erosion of cultural originality, marginalization of the population, collapse of man's self-identity, and media propaganda of ideas and views favoring violence, inequality and intolerance. …

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