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Fear and Terror in a Post-Political Age

  • Bill Durodié

Abstract

Despite an investigation lasting almost a year there is still no clarity as to why the perpetrators of the London bombings of 2005 acted as they did. Many commentators projected their own views into the vacuum left by the terrorists. These ideas, ranging from revenge for British foreign policy to the logical outcome of social exclusion, may shape security and community-related policies adversely. This article suggests that the bombers reflected a wider sense of disgruntlement in contemporary culture, one that is largely home grown and inculcated. Exploring the recent development of this politics of alienation, and a concomitant search for identity and meaning, it is proposed that the biggest danger is to live in a society with no clear sense of direction or purpose.

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1 Phrase attributed to and forming the essence of V. E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, Boston, Beacon Press, 1959.

2 Report of the Official Account of the Bombings in London on 7 July 2005, Norwich, HMSO, 2006, HC 1087.

3 Such a view has become mainstream across the political spectrum, migrating from George Galloway's tirade against Tony Blair upon being elected MP for the Respect Party in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in 2005, to the authors of ‘Riding Pillion for Tackling Terrorism is a High-Risk Policy’, Security, Terrorism and the UK, ISP/NSC Briefing Paper 05/01, London, RIIA, 2005.

4 R. Briggs, C. Fieschi and H. Lownsbrough, Bringing it Home: Community-Based Approaches to Counter-Terrorism, London, Demos, 2006.

5 Report into the London Terrorist Attacks on 7 July 2005, Norwich, HMSO, 2006, Cm 6785.

6 ‘Not in my name’ was the slogan used by many of those opposed to the Iraq War of 2003. Faisal Devji points to a growing usage of such non-political statements by a wide variety of groups encompassing environmental protestors and others in Landscapes of the Jihad: Militancy, Morality, Modernity, New Delhi, Foundation Books, 2005.

7 This is not to belittle the genuine grief of all those concerned, or indeed their understandable desire for support.

8 Cited in De Telegraaf, 26 July 2005, available at; http://www.telegraaf.nl/binnenland/23285701/Moeder_Van_Gogh:_enige_juiste_straf.html.

9 A common warning from the prime minister, the head of the Security Service and many others.

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17 There is a burgeoning literature on the causes of so-called radicalization emerging from a wide variety of organizations, very little of which is peer reviewed.

18 ‘Towards a Community-Based approach to Counter-Terrorism’, report on Wilton Park conference, 20–2 March 2006, WPSO6/5, available at http://www.wiltonpark.org.uk/documents/conferences/WPS06-5/pdfs/WPS06-5.pdf.

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43 Furedi, Culture of Fear.

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47 Furedi, The Politics of Fear.

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54 This is the view of Bob Worcester, the founder of the public polling company MORI.

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61 B. Durodié, ‘Cultural Precursors and Psychological Consequences of Contemporary Western Responses to Acts of Terror’, in S. Wessely and V. Krasnov (eds), Psychological Aspects of the New Terrorism: A NATO Russia Dialogue, Amsterdam, IOS Press, 2005, pp. 37–53.

62 Durodié, B. and Wessely, S., ‘Resilience or Panic? The Public and Terrorist Attack’, The Lancet, 360: 9349 (2002), pp. 1901–2.

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70 C. Marsden and J. Hyland, ‘Britain: 20 Years Since the Year-Long Miners' Strike’, World Socialist website, 2004, available at http://www.wsws.org/articles/2004/mar2004/mine-m05.shtml.

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72 Hubbard, P., ‘Fear and Loathing at the Multiplex: Everyday Anxiety in the Post-Industrial City’, Capital and Class, 80 (2003), pp. 5176.

73 Durodié, B., ‘Facing the Possibility of Bioterrorism’, Current Opinion in Biotechnology, 15: 3 (2004), pp. 264–8.

Fear and Terror in a Post-Political Age

  • Bill Durodié

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