bacon tryptich

An excerpt from my latest column for the International New York Times, on the nature of contemporary terrorism.

In the past, the distinction between political violence and sociopathic rage was relatively clear. No longer. There seems today almost a continuum between ideological violence, disjointed fury and some degree of sociopathy or mental illness. What constitutes ideological violence has decayed; instead, amorphous rage has become a persistent feature of public life.

Read the full article in the International New York Times.


The painting is Francis Bacon’s Tryptich


  1. In addition to points made in the article, there are other aspects to be considered. The Islamic State promotes and depends on attacks with intent of maximum terror and carnage as a major aspect of its ideology. Those acts, mirrored in the history of Islam and even partially anchored in the legal systems of Islamic countries, are often applauded worldwide.

  2. “A radical loser, who overcomes his isolation, finds a loser – home, which not only offers understanding but also recognition. The destructive energy increases in ruthlessness to an amalgam of a death wish and megalomania, but requires an ideological igniter.”

    “Überwindet der radikale Verlierer seine Isolation, findet er eine Verlierer-Heimat, nicht nur mit Verständnis, sondern Anerkennung, potenziert sich seine destruktive Energie zu letzter Skrupellosigkeit, zu einem Amalgam von Todeswunsch und Größenwahn, wozu es aber einen ideologischen Zünder braucht.” -Ingrid Ansari.

  3. “Whatever one thinks of the activities of groups like the I.R.A. or the P.L.O., those activities were governed by certain norms and contained a rational kernel. It is the arbitrariness of jihadist violence and its disregard for moral bounds that make it terrifying.”

    Yer what? You think the Ira bombs in Liverpool shopping centre were not arbitrary?
    You think they were somehow morally bound?

    Come oooon.

    “Neither the attack in London nor the one near Stuttgart was politically driven;”
    Really? The twat that killed Jo Cox was blatantly politically motivated

    “What constitutes ideological violence has decayed; instead, amorphous rage has become a persistent feature of public life.”

    You don’t think that the violent members of the IRA or PLO were often rageful, pathological and troubled individuals? A quick Google shows some psychological studies over large populations of terrorists from decades gone by with such conclusions.

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