The Enemy is Us: The Rise of Eco-Terrorism

The rise of terrorism, as we know it, correlates with the rise of the
industrial society. Yes of course, there have been incidents of
assassinations, sabotage and covert warfare ever since mankind emerged
from the caves and started to compete and fight with one another.
However, terrorism as a means of individuals for advancing a political
agenda did start not sooner than during the 19th century, when the
rapid growth of urban and industrial society in Europe and North
America fostered a myriad of political ideologies – most notably,
doctrines of Socialism which targeted the unjust distribution of
material wealth in a society thoroughly reshaped by capitalism going
rampant. It was from this grievance that the first terrorists of
modern history struck back; attempting to assassinate political
leaders, causing social unrest and fostering a revolution that would
eventually topple the old regime and thus manifest an egalitarian
society.

Nationalism was another ideology on the rise in the late 19th century,
and it became a force to be reckoned with once the particular ethnic
and cultural character of different peoples was widely acknowledged:
peoples divided by state borders or without a state to call their own,
at all. Numberless acts of terrorism were perpetrated for the sake of
national independence, among others. When Gavrilo Princip assassinated
Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo, in 1914, it was his
act of terrorism that culminated in the outbreak of World War One and
thus changed the course of history for good. As much as terrorism
appears to be an exercise in futility more often than not, causing
nothing but bloodshed but accomplishing none of the political ideas in
which name terrorists have murdered and maimed the life of others, it
can’t be dismissed as having no effect whatsoever on the way the world
does spin. Without Sarajevo, without – almost a century later – 9/11,
we would live in a very different world indeed.

Regardless of the ideology – be it a secular doctrine like Anarchism,
Nationalism, etc., or a religious doctrine like Salafism – the
terrorists do have a target list that usually spares the life of a
majority. They go after political and religious leaders, or security
personal or certain institutions linked to the stability of the regime
they are at war with. The assassination or bomb detonation shall carry
a message to the public, signaling the vulnerability of a regime that
might not be able to provide sufficient security for its top echelons
anymore. Terrorists need the media, as a medium to communicate to the
public and thus to influence public opinion too. Every act of
terrorism is carefully orchestrated as to don’t appear random or
arbitrary, and lengthy communiqués distributed to the media outlets
are supposed to explain what happened, why it happened, and to what
end it happened. The terrorist is dependent on public approval, as odd
as that seems. If the public – a certain percentage of it, that is –
doesn’t understand the context in which terrorism is being carried
out, they won’t subscribe to the agenda of the terrorists and thus
fail to provide any support in terms of funds and logistics that is
vital to the terrorist campaign. When such support can’t be secured,
terrorists are likely turning to intelligence agencies of foreign
states for funds and provisions; if they weren’t conceived and sent by
those very agencies in the first place. Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, known
as „Carlos“, was the prime example of the mercenary type of terrorist;
a gun for hire. Also al-Quaida, as well as other terrorist groups
subscribing to Wahhabism, is said to have been CIA-sponsored in the
beginning and it’s still being funded by officials in places such as
Saudi-Arabia.

terrorist
Armed Jihadist.

Many Salafist and Wahhabite offshoots appear to target, for the first
time in the history of modern-day terrorism, entire groups of people
based on their religious or ethnic background; aiming at considerable
body count by the use of massive force or even weapons of mass
destruction. However, arbitrary violence against a hostile, ethnic
and/or religious community is frequently committed during warfare
(civil wars, first and foremost) and it adds just another dimension to
terrorism, rather than re-defining this militant movement as a whole.
There is now a sharp distinction between „they“ – the hostile enemy
from another nation, culture and civilization – and „us“ – the
community on which behalf the terrorist does believe to fight for, and
which he hopes to win over to his cause eventually. As much as the
mayhem perpetrated by a suicide bomber does appear to be arbitrary and
directed at just about anyone who happens to be at the wrong place at
the wrong time, this terrorism still follows the logic of those
Anarchists and Nihilists who attempted to assassinate the Russian Czar
in the late 19th century: The act of terrorism does carry a message
which shall resonate with a perceptive audience; thus making more
people aware of the terrorists‘ agenda, give support to and join their
movement. It’s just that this terrorist aims his message at a narrow
audience he does share the same creed or ethnic identity with;
everyone else is of no concern to him and can be deemed to be
legitimate target rather than innocent civilian.

That being said, the many different forms and offshoots of terrorism
from the 19th century until today have a few characteristics in common
actually:

·         They subscribe to a distinctive ideology that does require
popular support to succeed,

·         It is imperative to communicate to the public via mass
media, to explain the terrorists‘ agenda and to defend his militant
and violent actions,

·         The target list is not chosen at random but includes certain
symbolic figureheads and institutions of the very regime that stands
in the way of the terrorists‘ victory.

The case of Theodore Kaczynski, best known as „Una-Bomber“, seems to
share the very same characteristics at first appearance. He is said to
have been an Anarchist; he engaged in a nationwide bombing campaign
against people involved with modern technology, planting or mailing
numerous home-made bombs starting in the late 1970ies; and he wrote a
lengthy manifesto that was published by newspapers in an attempt at
rallying more people to his cause. However, there’s something that
does set him apart from other terrorists, and that can be found in his
manifesto „Industrial Society and Its Future“. Kaczynski was – and
surely, remains to be – convinced that „the Industrial Revolution and
its consequences have been a disaster for the human race.“ He wanted
no less but a rollback of the progress of civilization to a point
prior to the advent of the Industrial Revolution.  With other words,
Kaczynski aimed at destroying the pillars of the industrial society so
it may collapse and can be rebuilt without any modern technology. This
bold vision makes the „Una-Bomber“ exceptional even among the many
terrorists of his own generation who managed to inflict infinitely
more damage on society than he himself. As destructive as a
terrorists‘ agenda may appear from the outset, it’s supposed to be
confined in time and space and to achieve limited objectives, such as
toppling one regime to be replaced by another one that does subscribe
to the same ideology as the terrorist does. Even the most rabid
Salafists with their vision of a global Caliphate do not intend to
plunge mankind back into the middle ages as far as the use of
technology is concerned.

2276691_0
Ted Kaczynski, the Una-Bomber.

Gavrilo Princip changed the course of history and made monarchies
centuries old falling apart, but he didn’t intend any of that and
surely would never have assumed responsibility for firing the first
bullets in a worldwide war. Theodore Kaczynski aimed at changing the
world as we know it, yet he failed. Or did he not?

I am not aware if Theodore Kaczynski ever read Pentti Linkola, even
though the Finnish philosopher is said to admire Kaczynski. Whereas
Kaczynski felt concerned with the loss of freedom due to the growth of
technology, which can be used to enslave and to control humans against
their will, Linkola cares less about particular human rights but about
the adverse effects of humanity on the entire earth. He demands that
man return to a smaller ecological niche and abandons modern
technology and what he describes as the almost-religious pursuit of
economic growth. Linkola considers human population growth the biggest
threat to life on Earth.

There is no other contemporary philosopher as radical in his thinking
as Pentti Linkola. He advocates genocide, eugenics and abortion as
means to reduce the human population. Linkola has described humans as
a cancer of the earth, and he desires that the human population „be
reduced to about ten percent of what it is now.“

Needless to say, neither Kaczynski nor Linkola do express sentiments
that are shared by more than a tiny minority of their contemporaries.
To abolish modern technology as well as to drastically reduce human
population, none of this can ever receive popular support. It’s
unthinkable to imagine a political movement that wishes to overthrow
the civilization as we know it, and to have the majority of mankind
perish in the aftermath of such calamity. Every human being is
consciously interested in his or her own survival at all costs. Hence
the ideas and demands of Linkola will remain widely marginalized as a
matter of course; marginalized but not discredited. When he predicts
the inevitable collapse of the eco-system due to mankind wasting and
polluting natural resources on a grand scale, he is echoed by
virtually every scientist dealing with future scenarios that will
likely occur if the current trends in human growth and use of
resources remain unaltered. This is not some dystopian science
fiction, but a reality soon to manifest: Mankind does indeed destroy
the fragile eco-system of our planet at a rapid speed that was
accelerated by the Industrial Revolution and the enormous hunger for
fossil fuels and other resources required by our modern technology.
It’s a matter of time until the adverse effects of this development
catch up with all of us: droughts, famines, wars, and the like.
Considering how our civilization was engineered and what it requires
to keep afloat, no one can deny that our world is built on sand. An
ever increasing population requires a never ceasing economic growth
for providing a minimum of life quality, but what if this economic
growth depends on non-renewable resources? The writing is on the wall,
and only a few men like Linkola dare to read it out loud.

population
World population is estimated to exceed 10.000.000.000 people after the year 2100.

Does it matter that he won’t be able to rally any popular movement
behind his ideas? It needs only one man to change the course of
history. While Kaczynski used to write in „Industrial Society and Its
Future“ as if he spoke on behalf of many, he was the „lone wolf“-type
of terrorist who would most likely have evaded apprehension if his own
brother would not have alerted the FBI after he recognized Kaczynskis‘
particular style of writing in the manifesto. For all we know,
Kaczynski was no part of any social or political movement at all.
Nobody helped him to devise and carry out his acts of terrorism. He
was alone, but he acted on behalf of mankind. As always in history, it
needs one man to speak out and another man to act on the words, and
there will be many others doing the same sooner or later. The more we
witness the catastrophic consequences of the eco-system out of
balance, the more the words of Linkola will register on the minds of
perceptive readers and the more they might feel inclined to do
something about it, just as Kaczynski has done in his own time.

The terrorism to save the earth will be profoundly different from the
terrorism we have witnessed up until today, including the bombing
campaign of Kaczynski. Considering what is at stake: the survival of
the human species and along with it, the survival of every life form
on this planet, it is safe to assume that the genuine eco-terrorist
will not feel restricted by any political agenda or moral code
whatsoever. Even though he or she might rise from among the manifold
offshoots of the eco-movement which is bound to become much more
popular in future, the eco-terrorist will neither require nor strive
for popular support. What the eco-terrorist realizes, unlike so many
others concerned with ecological issues, is the urgent need for a
radical solution before time runs out. Mankind cannot be educated to
learn to live in harmony within the eco-system, because this awareness
would require many generations and a different type of civilization
for succeeding. Hence it will be futile to appeal to the conscience,
like it’s done these days with well-meant campaigns aimed at saving
wildlife, etc., because our society will never, ever sacrifice the
living standard we do enjoy for the sake of saving the bees, for
instance. Even though it is self-evident that life on earth is
intertwined and the eco-system interacts at such a refined level that
we still don’t understand how it does work, actually. And how changing
this system at one point will have repercussions at another point.
What we do know, however, is that nothing we do to earth will be
without consequences, and if the bees perish so do we. But does that
mean we can translate this knowledge in proper action to do something
about it, if it’s at the cost of our own living standard? The
eco-terrorist will not bother to talk reason into people in the faint
hope they might change their ways. He knows there is only one
solution, and he will act accordingly.

eco

If he doesn’t care for popular support, then he doesn’t need to
communicate to the public, either. It’s unlikely that the
eco-terrorist is going to write and to publish a manifesto like
Kaczynski did, because words do not save the earth. Earth can only be
saved if the growth of human population can be reversed. Kaczynski
intended to destroy modern technology, but that won’t suffice since it
is in the human nature to rebuild what was damaged. After World War
Two, Europe – and Germany in particular – was a vast wasteland or
ruins and rubble. Yet it took our grandparents only a decade or two
until their cities rose up from the ashes. The eco-terrorist will not
target human technology but he will target human life, on a grand
scale at that.

That is what will set him apart from virtually every terrorist that
came before him: The eco-terrorist will kill indiscriminately. Every
human is a legitimate target. This is not a battle fought by one group
pitched against another, because in this case, the enemy is us.
Regardless of age, gender, race, political opinion or religious
belief: Every human life does contribute to the collapse of the
eco-system and thus to the extinction of life as a whole. Hence no
life can be deemed sacrosanct when all life is at stake.

Once the eco-terrorist does rid himself of the strategic limitations
that apply to the terrorists of our day and age, and which make them
contemplate which target to strike and how to carry out the attack, he
can practically strike at will and know no bounds. With the only
objective of reducing human population, his opportunities at carrying
out his campaign of terrorism become limitless: How about sabotage of
vital infrastructure as to plunge our civilization in turmoil and
unrest? Or, poisoning the food distribution handed out by charity
groups to people in the Third World? Or, acting as a carrier of some
lethal disease by infecting as many people as possible? After 9/11, it
was speculated that similar terrorist cells might attempt to acquire
weapons of mass destruction for carrying out an even deadlier attack.
Certain considerations might keep even the most radical Salafist group
from using such a weapon if they’d have one in the first place, but
why would the eco-terrorist have any reservation about detonating a
„dirty bomb“ in a major city if he could kill many people and
contaminate their urban living space that way? What does matter to
him, are the numbers and not the identities of people who perish in
the wake of his terrorist campaign.

While the „Una-Bomber“ can be regarded as a primal prototype of the
eco-terrorist – someone who addresses a global and profound change of
the world as we know it – it remains to be seen when we do witness the
rise of the first, genuine eco-terrorist. Maybe he already walks
amongst us and we just fail to notice him for the time being, because
his modus operandi is so unlike anything we have witnessed from other
terrorists thus far. I do not doubt that there are people with
conscience, concerned for all life on earth, who see where mankind is
headed to and who finally understand what needs to be done. Once they
are revealed for what they do, they will be hunted down without mercy.
They will be branded the enemies of mankind, and rightly so. The
manhunt for the „Una-Bomber“ was one of the biggest ever staged in the
US of A, but even this one will pale in comparison to the efforts to
apprehend the Eco-Terrorists of the future. They challenge mankind
like the Nemesis of the times of yore; and we will hate them all the
more for knowing, deep down at the back of our minds, that they are
right. We do destroy earth, and there will be no future for anyone of
us if we don’t stop. We can’t stop ourselves, though. We have to be
stopped by those who cease to care for any particular human life in
favor of all life on earth.

As the saying goes, you have to sacrifice the few to save the many.
Not anymore: You have to sacrifice the many to save the few. That will
be the imperative of the EcoTerrorism in future.

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