From Hitler and
his Nazi's carrying out the infamous holocaust of European Jews, to Bin
Laden and his Al Qaeda organization attacking the World Trade Center and the
Pentagon, there exists a unifying ideological thread that links the vast
majority of extremist movements that have surfaced on the earth in modern
Working with the examples of Bin Laden and David Koresh, we examine how the
ideology of totalism has been present in the background of every documented
incidence of terroristic violence. There are eight variables of totalism -
which largely center around milieu control, or a near complete lack of civil
liberties - are defined - that make it possible for such sects to thrive. In
order for us to prevent future acts of terrorism, we must not only wage a
military campaign against terrorists and the nations that harbor them, but
also attack the psychological factors that act to form the basis of such
If we are going to begin changing the world for the better, we must first
start with ourselves. We must learn to lead by example. After all, if the
United States is truly looking to eradicate terrorism, perhaps it should
direct its attention to within its borders, or more specifically, to within
the confines of its government. Examples of international terrorism
perpetrated by the United States include our using violence in an attempt to
influence the policy of the Nicaraguan government in 1986, and the 1998
bombing of the Al-Shifa plant in Sudan. Such actions only provide madmen
like Bin Laden with a means of defending their irrational hatred of America,
and aid extremist movements in garnering more support and sympathy for their
causes. Rather than aiming its war against Osama Bin Laden, America should
target itself, and scrutinize its own actions. Only by altering our status
as the world's leading terrorist state can America truly seek to eradicate
Terrorism and Religious Extremism: An examination of the psychological
factors that create a terroristic mind set, and the social conditions that
cause these factors to develop.
Totalism - The
Terrorists Mindset: A basic definition of totalism, and a description of
the conditions that lead to the development of that ideology.
Development of David Koresh: A closer look at the development of David
Koresh, which considers how his childhood set the stage for his eventual
rise and fall as the leader of the Branch Davidians.
Osama Bin Laden:
The Anatomy of a Mass Terrorist: Bin Laden's early life, and the
similarities that exist between his psychological development and the
development of David Koresh.
The Making of
Totalism: Scholar Robert Lifton defined eight major variables that form
the basis of the ideology known as totalism. These variables, which center
largely around Milieu control and a complete lack of civil liberties, have
been present in almost every recorded instance of totalistic violence in
Totalism and the
Taliban: Lifton's variables as applied to the Taliban.
of Terrorism - Part One: In order to prevent terrorism, we will need not
only to wage a military campaign, but also to attack the psychological
principles upon which terrorist sects are built.
of Terrorism - Part Two: We should only support a government that allows
for freedom of thought and statement. Furthermore, we must make it clear
that we are attacking only those who attacked us. We are not waging a holy
war against the Islamic religion.
Against Terrorism and the American Double Standard: Examples of American
terrorism in Nicaragua and the Sudan would suggest that if the United States
is truly looking to eradicate terrorism, perhaps it should direct its
attention to within its borders, or more specifically, to within the
confines of its own government.
Fight for Freedom: One of the best ways to influence people in other
countries is by being a good role model. But in order to make the world a
better place, we'll have to start with ourselves. We can begin by reforming
those institutions in our society that inhibit healthy mental and emotional
development, and/or rob people of their autonomy.