Cyber Terrorism and Self-Radicalization - Emergent Phenomena of Onlife Age: An Essay Through the General System Theory

Cyber Terrorism and Self-Radicalization - Emergent Phenomena of Onlife Age: An Essay Through the General System Theory

Primavera Fisogni (La Provincia di Como, Italy)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/IJCWT.2019070102

Abstract

This article seeks to propose a valuable frame for understanding which processes, either cognitive or practical, take part in the making of a terrorist act within the frame of the onlife region. A term recently coined, onlife, refers to the interacting/indistinguishable domain of online and offline world: this is the environment where today's global terrorism/extremism flourishes. This region of complexity and the phenomena that entails can valuably explored through the General System Theory (GST). In the first part of the paper how global terrorism is changing, moving into cyber terrorism, at the light of the GST, according to recent theoretical achievements in the field is described in detail. The second part will explore a case study of onlife terrorism perpetrated in New Zealand, in order to focus the passage from the ‘possible' idea of making a massacre to its effective performance, from onlife radicalization to the onlife event (a livestreamed attack filmed by the author) – through a deliberate use of the internet. At this point, the author will be able to come back to the question posed before, sketching some insights that might be valuable for cyber terrorism as well as for GST, especially for what concerns systemic processes within the moral domain.
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Introduction: The General System Theory As A Valuable Approach To Global Terrorism

Since the attack to the Twin Towers in New York (September 11, 2001), strategic aspects, scopes and methods of global terrorism have deeply evolved. The cyber world undoubtedly is playing a main role in the process, not simply as a technological frame, but primarily as a peculiar environment in which new phenomena come to surface and change faster than it happened before.

The aim of this paper is to explore cyber radicalization as a peculiar phenomenon of global terrorism, within the onlife environment (Floridi, 2015) and through the lens of the General System Theory. Hence, the first step of the investigation is to focus on the GST theoretical approach.

There is large consensus about international scholars that systemic thinking is the most valuable interdisciplinary perspective in the treatment of complex issues. Complexity is a term that belongs to a wide domain of topics in which cyber terrorism takes a relevant part. It is also a fact that organizational problems are systemic in nature (Deming, 1986). According to GST (Urbani Ulivi, 2019) objects and events are considered in term of open systems; it means that they are not mere aggregations or sums of parts, but primarily dynamic units, to which pertain qualities that depend upon many interactions and processes, internal or external to the system, within the frame of a continuous exchange with the environment that gives rise to systemic properties or second-level systemic properties.

Scholars can properly speak, according to Agazzi of “an ordered of interrelated parts whose characteristics depend both on the characteristics of the parts and on the web of their interconnections” (Agazzi, 2019). Each system, then, can be seen as a simple and a complex unit that interacts with the whole.

Historically, the idea of system is deeply interwoven with modern scientific thinking, since Galileo’s Dialogo sui due massimi sistemi (1632), however in the contemporary age it has been relaunched by Austrian biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy who developed a paradigm (General System Theory, 1967), assuming also models elaborated in cybernetics, which can be applied to a multidisciplinary domain. In brief, GST fits a variety of themes about which analytical philosophy, linear thinking and reductionist approaches have generally revealed unable to provide responses. Traditional conceptual frames could be updated or rewritten (e.g. finalism or radicalization, as the author is going to argue in the present paper) while new terms, derived from biology or computational sciences (auto-organization, emergence, equivalence, dissipation, balance) have been forged and successfully applied.

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