Personal and academic blog. Explores the borderlands between rhetoric, politics and intelligence.


Sale is on in the shadow economy

New Year in Copenhagen started this Monday. Or at least, the shooting did. It is a yearly event, when the first fireworks start flooding the streets and flashes and cracks ring out through the streets, increasing to a crescendo in the days around New Years eve. The debacle is not so much due to the usual kind bought in a store, that will light up or fizz along or shoot colourful balls of light, rather what's making the noise is the illegal stuff that will make big explosions, the magnitude of handgrenades or bigger.

I was rolling along with the first-born Monday night when in a matter of minutes I heard two large bangs, the first of the year.

It kind of indicates that the market has opened for illegal fireworks. And it is quite a large one indeed. Every year several confiscations are made in Denmark and most years also have an instance of illegal fireworks factories exploding, killing the owners. It seems that the demand for explosives (probably mainly among males 12-42) is so great that there is an incentive for a risky business, building or importing chrysantemum bombs and firecrackers.

Now, just imagine an entire illegal infrastructure in place for providing explosives for one month every year. Then couple it with a demand for explosives of other kinds. Then you have a network that will support all kinds of criminal activity. And that constellation might not be too far off. At least I remember when I thought illegal firecrackers was the best, hearing on the fringes that this guy or that would be able to get you mortar shells or hand-grenades. Never tried it out, so I don't know whether the network would actually be able to fetch.

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New on the menu: Super-empowered individuals

Terrorism is a field of study with a large mob of scientists, thinkers and hacks trying to cover a lot of ground, anticipating where the next 9/11 will take place or in what dimension terrorism will expand now.

A lot of the contemporary findings are fusing together, suggesting a future of terrorism along the lines of John Robb's Global Guerillas. The speculations are, that due to globalisation, technologisation and net-centric warfare/terror, terrorism is evolving into a swarmlike, open source kind of global insurgency. As John Robb's star is rising, due to some of the novel insights he has provided, an increasing number of the mob is running in his direction. The very culmination of this new drive in the terrorism-speculations, seems to be the notion of the "super-empowered individual". This is the "Lone Wolf" in a new, techological and media-mediated hide. This is the crazy school-shooter that inflicts mass casualties and public moral panic with a handful of bullets, or the disgruntled scientist with a vialfull of disease.

So far, it is a theoretical speculation, that might not really materialise anytime soon - just like the VMD-terrorism craze in the late 1990's. But it will generate a lot of writing, no doubt. And most of them will probably end with the same conclusion: there is nothing we can do, other than build more resilient societies.

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