Political Activism


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General Overview

Terrorism has been in existence since the prehistoric times. Nevertheless, there is change in terrorism which can be attributed to globalization in trade, communication, and transport. The dynamism in these three sectors leads to increased economic and ideological disparities and subsequent competition. As a result, aggressive conspirators are attracted by competition and availability of modernized destructive weapons to act. However, human nature has not changed with time and cannot be linked to the dynamism of terrorism. The specific problem that needs to be resolved is that of understanding the mind and behavior of a terrorist. For this reason, psychologists and psychiatrists need to cheap in with their intellectual capabilities to create an understanding of a terrorist mindset which will help develop effective policies to resolve the issue of terrorist activities. Nevertheless, psychological theories have been used to establish strategies to counterterrorism although these theories are not based on facts of terrorist behavior origin. Different theories are organized in groups for clarity purposes although overlapping exists within the theories in a group and between groups. Moreover, terrorism theories differ in the level of considering psychological differences among terrorist who play different roles; for example the followers and the leader. Such psychological differences include homogeneity and heterogeneity and the aspect of whether some terrorism is linked to particular kind of terrorists (Victoroff, 2)

The Rational Theory of Terrorism

This theory originated from economics and applied mathematics, and precisely the game theory. The game theory tries to show circumstances in which a person or group choice is dependent on the choices of other people or group. This theory applies in situations where individuals or groups can only benefit at other peoples expense or by the death of other people. This theory explains that terrorists’ behavior originates from a conscious mind that leads to a rational and calculated decision. These decisions depict a well-established strategy and devotion to achieve the social-political objectives of these aggressive terrorists. Similarly, this theory tries to show that terrorism to some point is not influenced by irrational or pathological behavior, but can as well be a way of fulfilling in some circumstances, personal needs, and desires. I choose this theory because it can be used to show or determine the usefulness of policies. For instance, this theory can be used to confirm whether implementable defensive policies such as metal detectors can be effective in reducing terrorists’ attacks (Victoroff, 14)

Social Learning Theory


This theory suggests that behavior patterns are achieved through connections formed between a specific behavior and its consequences. When the desired result occurs from certain behavior, that behavior is embraced. On the other hand, when an undesirable consequence follows a specific behavior, that behavior is punishable. This suggests that behavior is not only learned through an individual’s personal experience but can also be acquired through observation of the pattern of consequences in once environment.  Just like any other behavior, terrorism can also be learned. Through observation, individuals are trained to be terrorists. They are taught what to do, how to do it and to whom it should be done and when it is appropriate to do it. I choose this theory because most of the terrorists in Africa and all over the world have become who they are through recruitments into groups where they are taught to be terrorists. For instance in Africa, young people are offered money to be recruited into cults where they learn and become international terrorists (Victoroff, 18)


Question two

The life history of Horst Mahler

Horst Mahler was a son of a dentist born in Schlesien in 1936.  After the death of his father, his mother moved with him and his other siblings to Berlin where Horst enrolled in Free University and pursued legal studies. He first joined a schlagende fraternity at the University but later left. He became a member of SPD in 1956. From1958 he joined people like Harry Ristock who was the leader of Juso-chapter in Charlottenburg Berlin. He later became an active member in SDS and was made a member of the executive body of the organization. However, due to disparities in SDS and SPD membership, he was denied the SPD membership. However this did not mean the end of his political activities, he continued with his political ambition 137


The life history of Marco

Marco was born in Milan in 1956 although his parents came from Tuscan Maremma where his father was a teacher. Although his father was not pleased with Marcos choices, he appreciated the fact that his son had a right to his personal experiences and as such had no intentions of interrupting with them. Marco made some achievements in his early years in school. First, he discovered that reality was a challenge. Moreover, he was a member of the Catholic voluntary association in primary school where they made contributions for missions abroad and had a soccer team where he appreciated paying attention to other people’s needs. In 1969, Marco joined a secondary school which had a major impact on his life as he became interested in political activities ((Della & Donatella, 142)

Similarities and differences in Marco and Horst stories

To analyze the motivations and perceptions of political activists, life histories act as the best information sources. Additionally, sufficient life histories of activist are available to meet the interest of people in distinct studies. However, radicalization patterns are not always the same, but in some instances, we find consistency in some. From the presented biographies there are similarities and differences in the lives of the presented political activists. We find that the life of the two individuals was affected by violence which made them relocate from their motherlands and seek education in other places. Similarly they become political activists in these foreign lands. Moreover, these two individuals initially participate in collective actions due to both moral and political concerns. Besides, every aspect of the life of both Marco and Host was being influenced by their political activities. In both stories, there is a gradual growth in justification which results in violence. The involvement of both activists with the state changed their understanding of political opponents. However, differences exist in the life of the two activists. First, Horst is a German while Marco is an Italian. Besides, the political life of these militants was separated by some years. For example, at the time of Mahler’s adolescence, political violence was at a much higher level than at the time of Marcos. Moreover, the political activities of Mahler continue from the university life all through to his professional career. However, Marco’s story mostly refers to his political events in his school days (Della & Donatella, 148)


Della Porta Assumptions and Conclusions

According to Della Porta, the two activists were exposed to strong, informative experience which helped in the formation of political countercultures where the members are characterized by political socialization to violence and strong political identity. Additionally, he thinks that violence justification depended on the daily experiences of the activists. Also, he perceives that conflict increased the two activists inclined that the state was taking sides (Della, Donatella, &Gary 149).


Works cited

Della Porta, Donatella, and Gary LaFree. “Guest editorial: Processes of radicalization and de-radicalization.” International Journal of Conflict and Violence (IJCV) 6.1 (2012): 4-10.

Della Porta, Donatella. Social movements, political violence, and the state: A comparative analysis of Italy and Germany. Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Victoroff, Jeff. “The mind of the terrorist: A review and critique of psychological approaches.” Journal of Conflict resolution49.1 (2005): 3-42.


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