Thursday, September 28, 2006
Can Terrorism Be Defined? Part I: Terrorism as a Universal Principle: A Critique of Relativist Theory
Pursuing truth in a realm of subjective idiom is fundamentally impossible. The modern day liberal intellectuals, who wish to ponder upon such subjectivity, accept the conventional wisdom that terrorism is merely a buzzword which transcends universal truth and falls within an aphoristic boundary of interpretation. But is this notion categorically true? In other words, are we correct in saying that invoking terrorism is only a matter of perspective and that we cannot and should not have a magnitude of difference within the word itself? The relativism of today’s world now seeks to prey upon the meaning of terrorism.
It is in my opinion that relativism is prejudicial and undoubtedly propagates a societal breakdown upon three important structures. The first structure impaired is the essence of our moral compass. To investigate this further we draw upon an analogy of the idea that all civilizations and cultures are of equal value.
It is a false predication to assume that all cultures are of equal worth. That is to say, a free society is always better than a slave society. A society that endows human rights is always better than one which seeks to violate them. A culture that deals in reason and rationale is better than one that deals in sheer force. From these differing inequalities of culture, man embraces a set of ideals which hold evident in this universal moral compass. If the relativism from terrorism can be applied to culture or civilization, who are we to judge then, as a culture or civilization, one which defies the basic interpretation of man’s moral compass.
Suppose for a moment that a culture proclaims that it will enslave its masses because that is what their moral compass dictates them to do. According to the relativism doctrine, by all accounts and standards, the authorities in that civilization should have mandate to think and act that way, because of their normative theory on the existence of mankind. Under the guise of relativism, if the state can believe it wrong to enslave its citizens, then the state can also believe that it is right. What would one relativist say about the situation of enslaving African-Americans during the early to mid 19th century? If we do not adhere to a moral compass or some valued set of standards, there exists no justice in the world. Subsequently, humanity, in some civilizations, will be robbed of their subsistence. If it is beyond our capacity to project some universal truths amongst the basic rights of all beings, then the structure of our moral compass is lost. This denigrates not only our self-worth, but also threatens our very existence.
The second structure impaired within the relativist framework is the consistency of ideas. The paradox relativists find themselves in is the order of compatibility with what they advocate. Is it not a universal truth, or principle, to signify, that “there is no universal truth?” The apparent contradiction amongst relativists is so obtrusive that the elemental premise for the application of their ideas is lost. That is to say, they admit then that there are universal truths by stating this absolutist objection to universal truth.
The third structure significantly damaged is the mode of operation within the global community. Without a working definition of terrorism, in at the very least a broad sense, the international arenawould be an extremely difficult venue for two countries to effectively communicate with each other. This hampers the capabilities we have as a civilization to fight terrorism. Using a relativist’s interpretation of terrorism, the UN countries would be defining what the word means for their own standards of law. Without usurping too much of a nation’s sovereignty, the international community needs a definition of terrorism not just in terms for combating terrorism, but also to negate a struggle against two countries who would normally be allied in the fight. If Pakistan defines terrorism in a loose form different than that of the United States, any modes of operation or planning within that country which were applied or carried out in the United States would deem dangerous to the global stability of civilization. The United States would then sharpen its blade against Pakistan, and use a kind of ‘soft power’ to get the Pakistani government to crack down on their terrorist cells. This creates tension within two governments that could have been avoided by simply applying a universal principle upon a word such as terrorism.
Our existence as a society needs a universal principle for terrorism, because if the relativists have their way, September 11th, 2001 can be justified. This is not something that we, as a free society, should stand for.