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Nihilism, Liberalism and Terror

Theory, Culture & Society , Volume 21 (3): 141 – Jun 1, 2004

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Publisher
Sage Publications
Copyright
Copyright © 2004 by SAGE Publications
ISSN
0263-2764
eISSN
0263-2764
D.O.I.
10.1177/0263276404043624
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Nihilism, Liberalism and Terror

Abstract

Nihilism, Liberalism and Terror Neal Curtis Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman New York: W.W. Norton, 2003, 214 pp. Empire of Disorder by Alain Joxe Los Angeles, CA and New York: Semiotext(e), 2002, 221 pp. I SINCE SEPTEMBER 2001 a myth has been developing, that terrorism is a threat to liberal democracy. This is a falsehood and a dangerous one at that, for while liberal democracy is indeed under threat the charge that terrorism is the root cause is misplaced, for it externalizes the danger and serves to hide a much more endemic and structural threat. To question the myth, however, does not mean that we cannot condemn the activities of the emergent, global terror network, nor does it signal an inabil- ity to name the indiscriminate killing of people an absolute wrong. We should, however, challenge the rhetoric that categorizes these activities as evil, for this reduces any possible comprehension of actions in a way that condemning something as wrong does not. The rhetoric of evil automatically establishes sufficient cause by imputing some essential character to the perpetrators. Evil people do evil things. To condemn something as wrong, however, does not carry its own sufficient cause; it
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