A couple of interesting thoughts from Jean Baudrillard’s The Transparency of Evil (Verso 1990)
And why does terrorism exist, if not as a violent form of abreaction in the social realm?
The most stiking thing about events such as those that took place at the Heysel Stadium, Brussels, in 1985, is not their violence per se but the way in which this violence was given worldwide currency by television, and in the process turned into a travesty of itself.
‘How is such barbarity possible in the late twentieth century?’ This is a false question. There is no atavistic resurgence of some archaic type of violence. This violence of old was both more enthusiastic and more sacrificial than ours. Today’s violence, the violence produced by our hypermodernity, is terror. A simulacrum of violence, emerging less from passion than from the screen: a violence in the nature of the image …
Another remarkable aspect of a happening like this is that it is in some way expected. We all collude in the anticipation of a fatal outcome, even if we are emotionally affected or shaken when it occurs. The Brussels police have been criticized for failing to avert the explosion of violence at the Heysel Stadium, but what no police could ever guard against is the sort of fascination, of mass appeal, exercised by the terrorist model. (p.75)
From a different article in the same book:
The high degree to which AIDS, terrorism, crack cocaine or computer viruses mobilize the popular imagination should tell us that they are more than anecdotal occurrences in an irrational world. The fact is that they contain within them the whole logic of our system: these events are merely the spectacular expression of that system. They all hew to the same agenda of virulence and radiation, an agenda whose very power over the imagination is of a viral character…. (p.57)