Terror and Modernity
Terror and Modernity

We are inclined to see terrorist attacks as an aberration, a violent incursion into our lives that bears no intrinsic relation to the fundamental features of modern societies. But does this view misconstrue the relation between terror and modernity?

In this book philosopher Donatella Di Cesare takes an historical approach and argues that terror is not a new phenomenon, but rather one has always been a key part ofmodernity. Discussion of ideological wars between Islamic fundamentalism andWestern ideals or the portrayal of terrorists as nihilists distracts from the fact that, atits most basic level, terrorism is about the struggle for power and sovereignty. Thegrowing concentration of power in the hands of the state, which is a constitutive feature of modern societies, sows the seeds of terrorism, which is deployed as a weapon by those who are exposed to the violence of the state and feel that they have no other recourse. 

Illustrating her argument with wide-ranging examples including the Red Brigades, 9/11, the attacks in Paris, the rise of ISIS and the case of Edward Snowden, Di Cesare provides a sophisticated analysis of modern terrorism. This work will appeal to anyone wishing to understand contemporary terrorism more deeply, as well as students and scholars of philosophy and political theory.

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  • May 2019 (pb)
    May 2019 (hb)
  • 208 pages
  • 138 x 216 mm / 5 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $64.95
  • 9781509531486
  • Paperback $24.95
  • 9781509531493
  • Open eBook $24.95
  • 9781509531516
Table of Contents
  • Chapter One. Planetary Terror
  • 1. Bataclan
  • 2. War on Terror
  • 3. Global Civil War
  • 4. The Bomb of Modernity
  • 5. The Ghost of Bin Laden
  • 6. Philosophies of Terrorism
  • 7. Red Brigades, RAF, and the Impossible Exchange
  • 8. The Absolute Weapon of One’s Own Death
  • 9. Atmoterrorism: Auschwitz, Dresden, Hiroshima, etc.
  • 10. Heidegger and the Ban of Existence from the Biosphere
  • 11. The Monopoly of Negation
  • 12. The Metaphysics of the Terrorist Attack
  • Chapter Two. Terror, Revolution, Sovereignty
  • 1. A Brand Name
  • 2. Defusing Terrorism
  • 3. Notes on Fear, Anxiety, and Terror
  • 4. Revolutionary Terror is Not Terrorism
  • 5. Are Terrorists Nihilists?
  • 6. Why defend anarchists
  • 7. Dostoyevski and the Terrorist within Me
  • 8. Terror and Sovereignty: On Lenin
  • 9. “Once Upon a Time There Was a Revolution”
  • 10. The Partisan, the Guerrilla, the Terrorist
  • Chapter Three. Jihadism and Modernity
  • 1. Radicalization
  • 2. The Political Theology of the Planetary Neo-caliphate
  • 3. The Postmodern Horsemen of the Apocalypse
  • 4. The Path to Terror
  • 5. Cyberterrorism
  • 6. Jihadist Thanathopolitics
  • 7. Media, New Media, and Terror
  • 8. The Car Bomb
  • 9. Explosions, Massacres, Decapitations
  • 10. Vulnerability, or Innocence Lost
  • 11. The Negated Ethics of the Hostage
  • 12. The Future in the Time of Terror
  • Chapter Four. The New Phobocracy
  • 1. Clash of Civilizations, Class Struggle, or “Holy” War?
  • 2. The Offensive of Radicalized Secularism
  • 3. Hermeneutics Counters Violence
  • 4. Sedative or Stimulant? Religion According to Marx
  • 5. The Left and Jihad
  • 6. Spanish BrigadesÐSyrian Brigades
  • 7. The Terrorism of Global Capitalism
  • 8. Democracy Put to the Test by Anti-terrorism
  • 9. Snowden: On Planetary Surveillance
  • 10. The New Phobocracy
  • Notes
  • Selected Bibliography
About the Author
Donatella Di Cesare is Professor of Theoretical Philosophy at the Sapienza University of Rome
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