Common Sense II: How Citizens Can Understand, Fight and Prevent Terrorism (essay on Amazon/Kindle)


Common Sense II: How Citizens Can Understand, Fight and Prevent Terrorism is a grand strategy to prevent violence and terrorism by Tom Sulcer, an independent thinker. Sulcer argues that the problem of terrorism is misunderstood, that it is bigger than a police and government and military problem, but rather, it is a citizens’ problem, and preventing it requires a political arrangement in which citizens control government. Sulcer argues that, at present, citizens do not control the United States government, which hobbles any reasonable efforts to prevent terrorism.

The essay recasts terrorism as a wider problem — really violence — and defines the underlying problem as ‘violence against individual rights’. And rights are understood as possible spheres of future action which individuals have the power to do, and which other individuals acknowledge, beforehand, that they can do. That is, a right is an understanding that a person has the freedom, in advance, to do something in the future, without being blocked or impeded or punished afterwards. It is a basic principle underlying how people can live in society with other people. Since this understanding of rights requires that everybody agree, in advance, about what rights are, it is easy for one or several people or for government to violate that understanding, and trespass into someone’s rights, which is essentially violence or terrorism or whatever one wishes to call it. The essay describes the basic method for fighting violence, and shows how rights are transformed during these stages, but it argues of course that it is much more important to prevent such violence in the first place — so most of the essay focuses on prevention.

If violence is trespassing into another’s sphere of possible future action — whether by physical assault or by intimidation — then, according to Sulcer, violence and terrorism are essentially the same thing (although the traditional sense of terrorism is an extreme form of violence.) That is, Sulcer argues trying to prevent a narrowly-defined terrorism (eg media spectacle, targeting the innocent, political purposes, etc) is an exercise in futility, because the problem of terrorism is really much wider (that is, Sulcer argues that terrorism and violence are essentially the same problem) and that the proper approach is to focus on preventing violence in its entirety.

Given this conception of individual rights, it is possible to describe possible violators as one of three types: (1) our own government, (2) a foreign government or powerful foreign group, or (3) a neighbor, such that there are three types of possible violators: tyranny, foreign terrorism, or crime. A thesis is that all three types are interrelated and must not be tackled individually, and that any strategies against one type should be considered in how they affect the other types. An overall prevention strategy is based on the principle of light, meaning awareness and transparency and knowledge and understanding, and the essay describes how to apply light to prevent each of the three types of terrorism.

Terrorism, thus understood, is not merely a technical police problem, but a political problem, and preventing it requires a political solution. This requires a new understanding of citizenship as an active relation, with people no longer being passive apolitical beings, but active citizens who participate in politics at the local level, who meet with their representatives regularly, who debate issues in a rational-critical mindset. Voting will no longer be a voluntary activity, but required of citizens. Further, citizenship is a special relation which requires, among other things, that citizens protect fellow citizens if government becomes tyrannical. It is recognized that some people may choose not to be citizens, and have the status of non-citizen residents.

The strategy in Common Sense II prevents all three types of terrorism; it will make almost all episodes of violence highly unlikely, particularly the most egregious episodes (but it can’t prevent the first time act using non-lethal weapons, although it can prevent all subsequent attacks.) It requires good government. An argument is made that government in the United States is dysfunctional and problematic, which allows the three types of terrorism to fester, and accordingly, a new structure of government is proposed to meet the underlying principles of good government: (1) majority rule (2) one-person one-vote (3) representation (4) national self-determination (5) competitive elections. A new constitution is proposed, based on the existing constitution, but fixing the flaws.

Common Sense II: How Citizens Can Fight and Prevent Terrorism is available on Amazon and Kindle, with illustrations and charts (CreateSpace; 212 pages).

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