From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
- "Terror is as much a part of the concept of truth as runniness is of the concept of jam."
Terror, from French terreur, from Latin terror meaning "great fear", a noun derived from the Latin verb terrere meaning "to frighten", is a policy of political repression and violence intended to subdue political opposition. The term was first used for the Reign of Terror imposed by the Jacobins during the French Revolution. Modern instances of terror include red terror or white terror.
Before the advent of modern terrorism, the term "terrorism" in the English language was sometimes used interchangeable with terror. The modern definition of terrorism refers to criminal or illegal acts of violence at randomly chosen targets, in an effort to raise fear. It is practiced by extremist groups with a limited political base or parties on the weaker side in asymmetric warfare. Terror on the other hand is practiced by governments and law enforcement officials, usually within the legal framework of the state.
Revolutionary and counter-revolutionary terror
Revolutionary terror, also known as "red terror", was often used by revolutionary governments to suppress counterrevolutionaries. The first example was the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution in 1794. Other notable examples include the Red Terror in Soviet Russia in 1918–1922, as well as simultaneous campaigns in the Hungarian Soviet Republic and in Finland. In China Red Terror in 1966 and 1967 started the Cultural revolution.
Counterrevolutionary terror is usually referred to as "white terror". Notable examples are the terror campaigns in France (1794–1795), in Russia (1917–20), in Hungary (1919–1921), and in Spain. Modern examples of counter-revolutionary terror include Operation Condor in South America.
Terror and terrorism
David Forte states that the primary difference between terror and terrorism is that while terror can be neutrally evil, i.e. random violence committed by robbers, rapists and even soldiers, terrorism has the additional political or moral dimension, being the systemised use of randomly focused violence by organised groups against civilian targets to effect a political objective.
However Charles Tilly defines "terror" as a political strategy defined as "asymmetrical deployment of threats and violence against enemies using means that fall outside the forms of political struggle routinely operating within some current regime", and therefore ranges from:
- intermittent actions by members of groups that are engaged in wider political struggles to
- one segment in the modus operandi of durably organized specialists in coercion, including government-employed and government-backed specialists in coercion to
- the dominant rationale for distinct, committed groups and networks of activists.
According to Tilly, the term "terror" spans across a wide range of human cruelties, from Stalin's use of executions to clandestine attacks by groups like the Basque separatists and the IRA and even ethnic cleansing and genocide
Recently, M. Korstanje and P. Tarlow recognize that terror movies draw an ethnocentric discourse where vulnerable tourists, most of them youngs, are attacked during their journeys. The war on terror, triggered by Bush´s administration, not only modified the way of making terror movies, but also engendering a discourse following these lines: a) devils do not respect hospitality, b) hospitality may be defined as the emergence of hostility, c) tourists are vulnerable because they are not familiar with visited territory, and d) terror tends to demonize the others. Certainly, 9/11 and war on terror have closed the boundaries of US and strengthened its ethnocentrism.