The notion of violence has a historical nature. In modern times, it is determined according to the basic human and civil rights, proclaimed in the French Revolution, which form the basis of modern humanism. Concretely, the nature of the ruling order conditions the nature of the prevailing violence. In liberal capitalism, the prevailing violence was based on the principle bellum omnium contra omnes. In monopolistic capitalism, the prevailing violence is based on the principle “Destroy the competition!”. It is not characterized by a struggle between citizens, who are reduced to atomized private subjects, but by a struggle between gigantic corporations. The prevailing contemporary violence results from capitalism as a totalitarian destructive order.
From the historical point of view, violence has an emancipatory dimension. Departing from the American and French Revolutions, Marx came to the conclusion that “violence is the midwife of history”. From the onset of capitalism, bourgeois theorists insisted on the right to combat the prevailing violence, including the armed struggle. Locke and Kant share the view that free citizens not only have the right to oppose the violence threatening their freedoms, but that the opposition to violence is their most important civic duty. For Njegos, “to place a foot upon tyranny’s neck, this is the most sacred of man’s duties”. Following in the footsteps of this emancipatory legacy, Lenin put forward a theory of ”unjust” (conquering) and “just” (liberating) wars. According to Marx, violence in a proletarian revolution is not the aim, but the means for doing away with capitalist tyranny. With the development of political institutions, revolutionary violence has become one of the available means for abolishing capitalism. Engels’ insistence on a ”dictatorship of the proletariat” is meaningless, because, after a (true) socialist revolution, classes will no longer exist, and there will only be free people whose livelihoods will derive from their own work.
In the contemporary world, the violence directed towards the capitalist order and contemporary imperialism is referred to as “terrorism”. Following the class and the colonial principles, the ideologues of capitalism do not make a distinction between the struggle for freedom and terrorism; more precisely, they equate the workers’ struggle against capitalism and the struggle of oppressed peoples against imperialism with “terrorism”. In conquered countries, colonial masters refer to those who fight against the colonial yoke as “bandits”, “murderers”, “thugs”… The notion of “terrorism” comprises all traditional qualities of fighters against the class order and colonialism. At the same time, it also involves the spontaneous opposition of enraged young people to the capitalist order, which has deprived them of their future.
It is not “terrorism” when capitalists, guided by greed, cause accidents in nuclear power plants, with lethal consequences to the living world; when they start thousands of fires in the Brazilian jungles every single day; when they contaminate the soil and water with poisonous heavy metals dropped from aircraft; when they empty thousands of nuclear waste containers into the oceans every single day and contaminate the seas and the coastlands with oil, killing millions of animals; when they burn entire towns with phosphorus bombs and contaminate rivers and the earth with projectiles tipped with depleted uranium; when, thanks to economic fascism, they force people to produce and consume contaminated food and genetically modified crops; when they fire millions of people from work and force women to undergo sterilization in order to get a job; when the most developed capitalist countries, through economic measures and political and military pressures, destroy the economies of less developed countries, causing suffering and death to tens of millions of children; when people are pushed into debt-slavery and deprived of their basic human and civil rights; when American capitalists provoke wars and create a war hysteria in order to ensure the survival of the American military industry; when the CIA forms terrorist groups to incite civil wars and destroy existing states … However, it is “terrorism” when a group of dissatisfied young people from the Parisian suburbs, who live on the margins of society, smash the windows of limousines or of the shops in posh areas, or throw stones at armored police vehicles and heavily armed police forces, who protect the ruling order, which creates social poverty and destroys life on Earth.
Capitalism is opposed to the emancipatory legacy of bourgeois society and produces forms of political struggle with a destructive character. Contemporary “terrorism” is a capitalistically degenerated struggle against capitalism, namely, a destructive violence that uses the capitalist means and methods and thus further intensifies the process of destruction. It is a manifestation of the ruling spirit of destructive capitalist irrationalism. It does not seek to create a new world, but to destroy the existing one. That is the basic difference between a revolutionary struggle and terrorist acts. Terrorism is not marked by a visionary consciousness, but by fanaticism, as a result of the increasingly ruthless destruction of entire nations by the most powerful capitalist corporations.
The ever-deeper existential crisis in the world creates conditions for the development of religious fanaticism, with a fatalistic and destructive character. For fanatics, who glorify an illusory world “in the heavens”, this world is but a springboard for their departure into “eternity”. By killing the “infidels”, they acquire their tickets for “The Pearly Gates”. Terrorism, under the veil of religious fanaticism, is based on anti-existential nihilism. However, only a naive person can believe that the eradication of religion would bring the eradication of violence. Over 99% of young “terrorists” have not read a single religious book, a fact Michel Onfray, in his “Atheist Manifesto”, claims is the source of their violent behavior. At the same time, the main “spiritual sustenance” for almost all “terrorists” in the West is the products of the capitalist entertainment industry: Hollywood films, “video games” and sports, where violence acquires a spectacular dimension. Onfray “overlooks” the most important point: young people’s violence results from their positions in society and the nature of the ruling order. It is the consequence of reducing young people, particularly those living in ghettos, to “hooliganism”. Onfray’s intention is clear: by shifting the responsibility to religion, he relieves the ruling capitalist order of any responsibility for the increasing violence in society. At the same time, he does not see the difference between the violent character and the violent consciousness. He also does not make any distinction between the violence of the young, who just mimic the model behavior, and the violence used to express dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs. The destructive behavior of the young is a capitalistically degenerated expression of their justified dissatisfaction with their life and the world in which they live. Just as do existing religions, Onfray conceals the true nature of monopolistic capitalism and resorts to an “anthropological argument”, which holds man at the social-Darwinist level that characterizes liberal capitalism. Onfray: “The primitive still exists in the post-modern, the animal still endures in man, the beast still lives in homo sapiens …” (30)