Political Radicalism, Subversion and Terrorist Violence in Democratic Systems

Maxmilián Strmiska


The relation between the working of democratic systems today and the exploitation of ”modern” forms of politically motivated extreme violence, especially the different types of subversive terrorism, has been an object of thorough study and discussion at most varied levels in the course of recent decades, often with contradictory results. This is not a surprise bearing in mind the diversity of bases for such study and discussion, as well as the complexity and changing nature of the subject matter itself, and last but not least, also the deforming impact of different political factors which in many a case predetermined both the horizon of discussions and the character of ”politically correct” or at least acceptable conclusions. This does not apply just to decayed political and propagandist writings displaying a remarkable dose of cynicism and lack of shame in serving the interests of power which decided who would be labelled ”terrorist” or ”freedom fighter”, or else. There is a number of scientific works defending the principles and values of democracy which also display apparent effort to a priori exclude raising a particular problem in full in order to prevent any doubt being cast on the purposefulness and justifiability of traditional approaches to and standpoints regarding the assessment of political violence and extremism. At the same time, polemics regarding terrorism had a large impact. Discussions about terrorism changed the way the public felt about both terrorism as a particular category of extremist violence, and politically motivated violence and extremism as such, propagating and reinforcing the view of political violence (acceptance of violent methods of political fight including terrorism) as an utterly undemocratic and anti-democratic behaviour and as a key characteristic of extremism. There is a growing tendency in substantial part of the public in democratic countries today to a priori associate manifestations of extremist orientation with acts of politically motivated violence, and to identify their actors, if not as covert perpetrators, at least as terrorists in spe. From this extremely simplifying perspective, clandestine terrorist organisations have become a prototype of genuine extremist formation, while terrorism has become a logical outcome of a ”systematically anti-system” orientation (cf. Strmiska 1998). In an environment nourishing such views, it has been extremely difficult to develop open, unbiased discussion about manifestations of radical opposition and anti-regime protest, about their causes and last but not least, about the consequences of their tolerance or suppression, in the long run.

Bibliografická citace

Strmiska, M. (2000). Political Radicalism, Subversion and Terrorist Violence in Democratic Systems. Středoevropské politické studie, 2(3). Získáno z https://journals.muni.cz/cepsr/article/view/3832

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