Terrorism that attacks our emotions


About emotional war

Tautology: the aim of terrorism is to create “terror”. If the reader believes that this tautological assertion is true, analysis and reaction to the savagery of Paris should receive a totally different perspective. Any elementary anthropology draws us a gifted physical part and a mental and spiritual part of human being: both can be attacked. A terrorist attack intended to cause serious injuries and sequelaes (a few people, in a large population); but it also intends to cause serious emotional harm to a very large number of people: the emotional damage is the disturbance of mood we all know by the name of fear. It is an emotional attack, it is an emotional war. Fight against terrorism should focus on the fight against the ideology of hatred that causes attacks, to prevent the expansion of this radical hatred among people and destroying hate organizations. But we must also prevent they achieve their goals. There are consequences that are perceived immediately: the dead and the wounded, the harm and damage to property; but in my opinion the biggest aim of terrorism -and its worst consequence- is severe mood disturbance that is caused to the entire population of the attacked nation. In Quevedo’s words:

(…), and not having you fault that the other is shameless, if you can not take revenge, you die of courage. And all life fears afraid of death, or are requested of things here, and as much work as if you were not mortal, and this perishable life. Cuna y vida, Francisco de Quevedo p.79. (Disponible en GOOGLE BOOKS)

Terrorism is considered an asymmetric war against a state: it is a military war using conventional weapons, but – like all experts recognise – it also uses as social networks as a weapon, and it can use bacteriological or chemical weapons: conventional war, media war, bacteriological war, chemical war …emotional war? Terrorists are neither ignorant nor crazy (that makes them immune from prosecution!), they are rational human who consciously and deliberately cause death and destruction to a few victims to terrorize everyone else. But … Is that unreasonable? What do they get with it? When someone is afraid, who causes it, it acquires power over him. To fight terror we must lose fear. What is fear? What are their mechanisms? What are their expressions? What parts of the brain does it active? How it is expressed and transmitted? What are their genders and species? How it is prevented and avoided? Frights, fears, dreads, terrors, horrors and collective panic are degrees of the same emotion but they are produced by causes and they have completely different consequences. There are things that clearly do not help us in an emotional war: a high political leader acknowledging publicly  that “he is shocked”; the morbidity and detailed account of a victim – taking advantage of his popularity – that gets us moving to the scene and make us relive the event; an authority that manifests an exacerbated desire of revenge… It also causes great collective fear the aggrandizement of the extent and danger of criminal, or personal cruelty of terrorists (calling them crazy, fanatics, heartless or monsters). After an attack, no one should display or transmit fear, because fear grows and spreads. Is it possible to inform without introducing negative emotions? To understand and to combat the emotion we call fear is to fight terrorism. I listen to the emotional metaphysical poetry of Nacha Pop and I think we need an anthem against fear. I do not want to be afraid to terror.

The strength of your intent, your inventions

They collided in my heart

But you gave me fear

And your follies

They broke my mind in two,

They broke my mind in two

I’m afraid to terror

Jorge Jiménez Leube
Professor of Philosophy of Law, Administrative Law and Legal Architecture

Universidad Alfonso X el Sabio