It shouldn’t be strange to think that many terrorists of our modern day, the homegrown variety, could in a sense be “made” by influential writings and propaganda presented on the Internet! It may have happened in the past in a very remarkable and devastating way—by a short book!
Evidently a short story by the Russian writer Leonid Andreyev may have been very influential in the start of World War One, as it inspired a group of revolutionaries to assassinate Archduke Ferdinand in June 1914. Andreyev’s story was called “The Seven Who Were Hanged” (1908), and chronicles two peasants and five revolutionaries as they reconcile their final days awaiting their fate of capital punishment by hanging!
I read that story this afternoon and while the human angst and existential reckoning the characters went through was insightful and made one reflect on the appropriateness of capital punishment, the glorifying of revolutionary activity as an action worth committing was not something which ran through my mind! Researching the influence of this book I was surprised to learn something quite dramatic, historically anyhow! According to one researcher, the leader of the group who planned and carried out the Archduke’s assassination, was influenced by Andreyev’s story just in that revolutionary way—and the plot of the actual assassination actually mimicked Andreyev’s story story in many ways!
An interesting take on the major event of the 20th century, WW1, which became a precursor of many decades of totalitarian nightmare and human destruction! If the Archbishop hadn’t been assassinated, would WW1 have started? If the book “The Seven Who Were Hanged” never came into the hands of the revolutionary leader who planned the assassination, and so never would have conceived of his plot, would the Archbishop have been killed by another group–and events still play out anyway? Impossible to know!
And…could a single book have really been the impetus for such a major action all the way back in 1914? Considering the facts of today, I would say that yes it could!
And as others involved in stopping modern terrorism have noted, this homegrown kind of terrorism born and nourished by things such as the Internet, is nearly impossible to stop. One problem is the fact that one never knows what influence a story or book or speech, etc can have on the psyche of any individual…and never really will!
We have always lived in a world in which there are two sides to everything! In the sphere of technology, such as the Internet and everything else, the two sides are composed by a good use and a bad use—they can’t be separated! The difference today is one of degree, so many individuals can be influenced simultaneously for good and bad from the Internet! This doesn’t condemn the Internet but it is something which comes side by side with its good uses!
More things change, the more they stay the same–still true!