What’s important to grasp here is that the new terrorism does not draw its militants from any specific struggle in Somalia, or anywhere else for that matter. Rather, it draws upon a broad and deep disillusionment with modern society; it exploits the non-identity between society’s threadbare values and particular members. And it turns certain individuals upon society as a whole. Hence the new terrorism does not target the institutions of the state; it targets the institutions of civil society. In particular, it targets the embodiments of modern social life: a shopping centre in Nairobi, an office block in New York, a market in Baghdad.
What’s important is to note that terrorism is not political in a goal-oriented sense. It is not reactionary, as in showing a desire to return society to a former condition; nor is it idealistic, as in trying to enact an ideal society. It has always been the same, despite the writer’s attempt to excuse communists of the past by suggesting that they had broader social concerns.
Terrorism has always ever had the sole function of provoking the governing authorities to action; it has always been motivated by a hatred of the ordinary people who tolerate the government; and it has always been primarily an occupation for psychopaths who can’t get jobs doing legitimate violent acts. That is why it is always connected, despite protestations to the contrary, with official paranoia and disproportionate responses, and thereby the hint of manipulation and fakery.