Jacques Derrida about Terrorism

Date: Dec 11, 2017
Category: Terrorism

The terrorist act, which took place on September 11, 2001 in the U.S., was not unnoticed by the French thinker Jacques Derrida. A few days after the attack Derrida gave a speech. In his speech, he made it clear that the terrorist attacks in New York unusually sharply raised the question of traditional connection between metaphysics and policy and require a rethinking of the role of Europe and the U.S. in this process ("Rogues", 2005). The philosopher expressed the belief that no one should say about the innocence of the postindustrial world in the face of the crime of such a magnitude. The sympathy for the victims includes not only those who died in New York, but also those who fell victim to "own mistakes" of the Western world. Thus, the price paid for the "mistakes" should be recognized as "horrible" and "disproportionate". (Derrida, 2003) As noted by Rard, "Derrida assigns responsibility for the creation of this terrorist entity to the West, his justification tracing back to events during the Cold War when the Western powers, in an attempt to defeat a rival world power, trained and armed soldiers in Afghanistan that would later become the very terrorists that attacked us."

Derrida was convinced of the need to use both philosophy and history in the analysis of terrorism as a threat, which has the ability to take on global dimensions. For this reason, in his consideration of the phenomenon of terrorism Derrida relied on historical data as well as on philosophical reflections. Their harmonious combination allowed the theorist to come to the following conclusions. Terror is not only external to the modern world, which is rapidly globalizing, but is an integral part of it as well as its product (Derrida, 2003). The performers of terrorist attacks not only mastered the whole set of advanced technical skills, but also programmed the mass-media exposure of their gesture. The information weapons of the Western world worked on them for the first time. The tacit message of the attacks consisted precisely in the fact that there is nothing external any longer in a global order.

Freedom, which does not coincide with the global public sphere, needs for its existence the vast and growing enclaves of unfreedom. Being a terrorist system, a new world order have been succeeding in the export of violence outside for a long time. However, on September 11, it returned back to him as a boomerang and destroyed its the most important symbols. Terrorism, which is seen as an enemy, has the same nature as the dominant system. Refusing to recognize this fact, the dominant system is not able to make the correct diagnosis and to develop a more competent response program. The slogan "War against Terror" contains a hidden tautology, which means "Terror against Terror". This vicious circle makes an adequate understanding of the happened impossible. The fact "that the United States is a repressive and/or terrorist state" (West, 2009) became the cause of the spread of terrorism in such a wide scale.

To conclude, the appeal to both history and philosophy, allows Derrida to see the cause of the spread of terrorism not only in the U.S, but also throughout the world, in a thoughtless policy of various countries. The policy of many modern states is based on violence and war, inevitably leads to the emergence of terrorism. In fact, terrorism is a response to the domination and hegemony of certain countries, particularly the United States. Derrida's ideas make it possible to obtain an objective assessment of the causes of the spread of terrorism throughout the world, because they take into account the feature of terrorism as a cruel method of destruction of the phenomena of domination and subordination.


  1. Derrida, Jacques, "Autoimmunity: Real and Symbolic Suicides-A Dialogue with Jacques Derrida," Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jurgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003: 85-;136. Print.

  2. Rard, Elizabeth. "9/11 and the War on Terrorism: A Critique of Juergen Habermas and Jacques Derrida". n.d. Web. 31 Dec. 2013.

  3. Rogues, Trans., Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005. Print.

  4. West, Alzo David. "Derrida, Terrorism, and Communism: A Comment on "Autoimmunity:Real and Symbolic Suicides". 2009. Web. 31 Dec. 2013.