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POLS 373 Foundations of Comparative Politics What Makes a Terrorist? Structural Perspective March 10, 2008 Professor Timothy C. Lim California State University,

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Presentation on theme: "POLS 373 Foundations of Comparative Politics What Makes a Terrorist? Structural Perspective March 10, 2008 Professor Timothy C. Lim California State University,"— Presentation transcript:

1 POLS 373 Foundations of Comparative Politics What Makes a Terrorist? Structural Perspective March 10, 2008 Professor Timothy C. Lim California State University, Los Angeles What Makes a Terrorist? Structural Perspective March 10, 2008 Professor Timothy C. Lim California State University, Los Angeles

2 2 What Makes a Terrorist? Explaining Political Violence Globalization the Rise of Terrorism From a structural perspective, the answer to the question, “What makes a terrorist?” can be answered very simply: Globalization is the primary cause of terrorism Unfortunately, the statement above raises more questions than it answers, the most basic of which is …

3 What is Globalization ?

4 4 What Makes a Terrorist? Explaining Political Violence What is Globalization? Arguing that “globalization” causes terrorism, of course, requires that we define globalization … but globalization is a nebulous term One reason: Globalization refers to an amalgam of interrelated processes and concepts; globalization is multidimensional and complex Still, it may be possible to extract a “common denominator,” a core element

5 5 What Makes a Terrorist? Explaining Political Violence What is Globalization? For our purposes, the core element of globalization is its effect on political and natural borders: globalization means that “borders become markedly less relevant to everyday behavior in the various dimensions of economics, information, ecology, technology, cross-cultural conflict, and civil society” Globalization conjures away distance One example of how globalization “conjures away distance”: until 1840, the top speed for long distance travel was 10 mph; in 1850, steam locomotives reached speeds of 65 mph and steam ships, 36 mph; today, passenger jets reach speeds of 700 mph

6 6 What Makes a Terrorist? Explaining Political Violence What is Globalization? Globalization does more than “conjure away distances,” it also brings about immense social, political, cultural and economic _________. Some change is good, some change is not change What are some good changes created by globalization? What are some bad changes created by globalization?

7 7 What Makes a Terrorist? Explaining Political Violence What is Globalization? Consequences Understanding the relationship between globalization and terrorism requires that we recognize the negative, often destructive aspects of globalization Globalization, in other words, does not just move in a linear, uniform and progressive direction, but instead, is a fundamentally dialectical process thesisanti-thesis synthesis thesis anti-thesis This figure illustrates the dialectical process in general

8 8 What Makes a Terrorist? Explaining Political Violence The Dialectics of Globalization In the structural view, globalization is the thesis; globalization is opposed by localization, the anti-thesis; the interaction between these two forces creates a new condition (synthesis) Globalization and localization exists as part of a single overarching and mutually constitutive structure; both have positive and negative impacts and both are integral to the human condition thesis: globalizationanti-thesis: localization synthesis globalization localization

9 9 What Makes a Terrorist? Explaining Political Violence The Dialectics of Globalization How does the dialectic of globalization lead to terrorism? There are several points to consider … Globalization necessarily creates change; in conjuring away distance, it threatened traditional or long-standing relations of power, patterns of behavior and social arrangements; globalization is profoundly political Globalization is also uneven process; some people have greater influence over the nature, pace and direction of globalization than others As globalization unfolds, therefore, it creates resistance; resistance may be peaceful, but can also be violent: when resistance turns violent, terrorism is the clear consequence

10 10 What Makes a Terrorist? Explaining Political Violence The Dialectics of Globalization The Case of “Little Tibet” For 600 hundred years, there was not one recorded instance of conflict between Muslims and Buddhists in this area Beginning in the 1970s, however, everything changed. Consider the following statement …

11 11 What Makes a Terrorist? Explaining Political Violence The Dialectics of Globalization The Case of “Little Tibet” W e are living in a Ladakh marked by growing conflict, both in terms of its frequency and intensity. Filled with a constant overflowing tension within ourselves, our families, our communities, our villages, our religion, our politics, our workplaces, our roads and our Ladakh, we have seen that any interaction at any moment can erupt into violence By Stanzin Dawa 19 September, 2006 W e are living in a Ladakh marked by growing conflict, both in terms of its frequency and intensity. Filled with a constant overflowing tension within ourselves, our families, our communities, our villages, our religion, our politics, our workplaces, our roads and our Ladakh, we have seen that any interaction at any moment can erupt into violence By Stanzin Dawa 19 September, 2006

12 12 What Makes a Terrorist? Explaining Political Violence The Dialectics of Globalization The Case of “Little Tibet” The obvious question is “What changed?” to bring about the transformation of a formal peaceful society into one plagued by terroristic communal violence? To structuralists, the answer is easy: globalization In particular, the transformation was the product of Ladakh’s integration into the global economy. This brought about pervasive and profound structural changes within Ladakh: a dialectic between globalization and localization suddenly emerged


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