MAPPING TERRORISM AND WAR: PERSPECTIVES FROM ALFRED KORZYBSKI’S GENERAL SEMANTICS
The concept of terrorism is perplexing and controversial. There is a popular cliché which goes, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” But can the two terms be used for a single person? Who decides who is a terrorist or a freedom fighter or a combatant or a militant? Can violence be justified? General Semanticists closely observe how labels function to address people in society. Terrorists are believed to be the misguided and cruel members of society, while freedom fighters are rebels fighting for independence. But these labels are too broad and such contentions complicate definition of terrorism. The paper proposes to examine these terms in relation to neuro linguistics and the effect of the terms on the human minds. The mind relates a terrorist to someone whose actions one does not approve and finds deplorable. It is the use of language that makes distinction between terrorism and freedom fighting. In Manhood of Humanity, Alfred Korzybski emphasized the role of symbolic language with its time binding potential as the most important factor to add to our knowledge and as a unique survival mechanism for our species. Also, the term war is used in a very loose sense, as today every movement or revolution is aimed to declare a war on something. The most recent is the war against Covid, then there is the war on corruption, elsewhere in the world there is war on drugs, then there is war on poverty, war on cancer and other issues. But the dictionary offers definitions of war “as a state of armed conflict between different countries or different groups within a country” (Oxford Dictionary), which also stands for the negative impacts and undertones of war. So, there is a need for careful examination and precise use of language expressions when confronting sophisticated issues of politics, foreign relations, military strategies, and the global economy.