Back to Main List
Back to Book List

Notes and Reflections on Books and Media

by Hannah Leitheiser


Terror and Liberalism

Paul Berman




- Paul Berman , Terror and Liberalism (2004MAY)

Islamic terrorism inherits as much from western totalitarianism movements as Islam. The leaders are often privileged and educated, sometimes with no Islamic heritage at all. Americans wish to understand terrorism as a response to grave oppression. Perhaps for a suicide bomber whose stipend will secure his family, but the people at the top are not oppressed in any materialistic way. There's some sort of philosophical attachment to dying for a cause, a dislike for society placing religion as #2 to higher proprieties of government, tolerance, and social order, and a desire for purity.

Gets me to thinking: I say that humans need authorities, which is a response to my perception that humans would be upset if I fought for anarchy, and the historic lack of happy, stable anarchy. Is there then also a need for totalitarianism, and if so, when and why?