The Ecology Of Terrorism

By Dr. Vandana Shiva

Over the past two decades, I have witnessed conflicts over development and conflicts over natural resources, mutate into communal conflicts, and into extremism and terrorism. The lessons I have drawn from the growing but diverse expressions of fundamentalism and terrorism are the following:

  1. Undemocratic economic system which centralize control over decision is translated into the politics of 'we' and 'they'. 'We' have been unjustly treated, while 'they' have gained privileges.
  2. Destruction of livelihoods and jobs, and erosion of democratic control over the economy and systems of production also leads to a mutation of cultural identity. With identity no longer coming from the positive experience of being a farmer, a craftsperson, a teacher, a nurse, culture is reduced to a negative identities each, in competition with every 'other', contesting for the scare resources that define economic and political power.
  3. Centralized and undemocratic economic systems also erode the democratic base of politics. In a democracy, the economic agenda is the political agenda. When the former is hijacked by the World Bank, IMF, WTO, democracy is reduced to an empty shell with room only for fundamentalism and extremism both because race, religion, ethnicity are the only cards left in the hands of politicians to garner votes and because the extremist can more effective fill the vacuum left by the decay of democracy.

Globalization is contributing to the Talibanisation of the World. Economic globalization is fuelling economic insecurity, eroding cultural diversity and identity, and assaulting political freedoms of citizens. It is therefore, providing fertile ground for the growth of fundamentalism and terrorism. Globalization fuels fundamentalism at multiple levels.

  1. Fundamentalism is a cultural backlash to globalization as alienated and angry young men of colonized societies and cultures react to the erosion of identity and security.
  2. Dispossessed people robbed of economic security by globalization to politicized religious identities and narrow nationalisms for security.
  3. Politicians robbed of economic decision making national economic sovereignty, is eroded by globalization organize their vote banks along lines of religious conflicts to fragment the opposition to globalization.
  4. Imperialist forces, using the divide and rule strategy, also exploit religious conflicts to fragment the opposition to globalization.

The survival of people and of democracy needs a simultaneous response to the double fascism of globalization - the economic fascism that destroys peoples lives, economic freedoms and economic security and the fascism of fundamentalism that fees of people's economic insecurities and fears.

The 'war against terrorism' will not contain terrorism because it does not address the roots of terrorism. It is in fact creating a chain reaction of violence and spreading the virus of hate. Just as pests multiply and grow resistant and maintaining pest-predator balance in ecosystems.

The ecology of terror shows us the path to peace. Peace lies in nourishing democracy and nurturing diversity.

Democracy is not s shell but the life-blood of free society. It is not merely an electoral ritual but the power of people to shape there destiny, and influence their lives, policies and conditions which destroy democratic control of people over how their food is produced and distributed, what health and education systems they have, how their natural resources managed, owned and utilized are.

Terrorism is born from the death of democracy and can only be responded to by giving the power back to people. This is why the anti-globalization movement is an anti-terrorism movement. It is giving peace and democracy a chance. If it is stifled by the brute force of militaries and global markets, our worlds will disintegrate into vicious cycles of violence and chaos. And no one will be immune.