Terror is an ancient word with which has acquired meaning to suit the times. But it has never lost its most ancient understanding--the Latin terrorem; to frighten. But that word in turn derives from the physical demonstration of fright--a trembling, a paralysis--from PIE root *tres- "to tremble." But the term embraces more than to frighten, also to cause fear, dread, alarm. Aaaah, but consider the last of these terms, for it moves us from a reaction to action that itself proceeds from the experience of fright or dread. There is a telling intersection between the experience of terror and its manifestation as alarm. But consider the etymology of alarm. This is both a manifestation of terror as well as its response--deriving from
late 14c., "a call to arms in the face of danger or an enemy," from Old French alarme (14c.), from Italian all'arme "to arms!" (literally "to the arms"); a contraction of phrase alle arme. Alle is itself a contraction of a "to" (from Latin ad; see ad-) + le, from Latin illas, fem. accusative plural of ille "the" (see le); with arme, from Latin arma "weapons" (including armor), literally "tools, implements (of war)"" (here)
The question for this age, then, is to identify terror, and then to raise the alarm and call to arms. The structures of global governance evidence this basic defensive model in many respects. Terror has become the way in which society comes to understand those actions that undermine its sense of itself, its safety, it cohesion. In the United States it has been deployed in the the way that "war" had been deployed in an earlier era to combat social, political or economic ills. Though the echo is still there--the United States lead a "war on terror" the way Americans once led a "war on drugs" and a "war on poverty." But "war" has itself changed; the liberation movements of the last half of the 20th century brought that point home--as did the PLO, the Brigate Rosse and their ilk. Wars on terror now require the tools and techniques of multi generational warfare of a response to counter an attack, rather than to combat a societal ill. Terror "attacks"--indeed it is not uncommon to hear the coupling of terror with attack--that is to see as an amalgam of the new age an intertwining of fright with assault. A terror attack--the baseline manifestation of our fear--then suggests a battle with the object of frightening. And frightening is meant to
For against this effort of terror attack, the entire body of society must be organized, and the social order adjusted. This is part because terror also begets panic--and panic is a poison to the social and economic order. If terror produces panic, then the response to terror embraces not merely a call to arms but also an obligation to maintain order. And it is here that the old orders for social stability-a constitution,a rule of law culture,, an open texture to social interactions undergoes a necessary response. Society moves from a fundamental contradiction of inclusion, to the fundamental contradiction of the production of stability in an environment of social instability that is produced by panic which is an object of terror.The modern face of the global order--and the internal reordering of both liberal democratic and Marxist-Leninist states, is based in this new era on the axis of terror-alarm.