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On Facts and How To Use Them

NCJ Number
Terrorism Volume: 1 Issue: 3 and 4 Dated: (1978) Pages: 363-375
J DeWit; P Ponsaers
Date Published
13 pages
This paper deals with the difference between reality and fantasy, and the way it is being obscured in the debate on terrorism that is currently (1978) occurring in the Federal Republic of Germany.
The paper argues that society creates a certain human prototype by ignoring some facets of the complex reality. Further, the German news media contribute to this development of public perception by their diverse opinions. The paper also suggests that Michel Foucault's emphasis on human beings as free subjects reveals an essential power strategy of society. Discipline is seen as an unconscious pattern pervading and producing all of reality. Public reaction to the Mescalero case, in which a controversial obituary was written following the murder of an attorney general in 1977, is seen as polarizing the debate on terrorism into only two positions: those who identify with the terrorist prototype, and those who identify with the prototype represented by the State. The paper suggests that the case revealed two themes that were typical of Foucault's philosophy. The distinction between fantasy and reality was dropped: reality became reversed, and disassociation from terrorism was transformed by the media and the whole societal apparatus into glorification of terrorism. The case also showed how disciplining power is criminalizing, Finally, a critique of Foucault's views is presented by the Marxist sociologist, Baudrillard, who views power as imaginary, rather than as an essence underlying all of reality. Twenty-three references are given.


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