Terrorism and System Failure: A Revisited Perspective of Current Development Paradigms

November 2003 (VOL. 21, NO. 3)

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In this article we explore social vulnerability to terrorism based upon current development paradigms and the social complexities derived from our evolutionary process. We argue that highly complex systems are the essence of accelerated development as well as the possible cause of our collapse as society. System complexity in and of itself could very well be modern society’s principal vulnerability to terrorism with the possible outcome of a generalized failure resulting in a national disaster. To obtain vulnerability reduction we suggest that American society move toward a new stage of development accentuating redundancy that business and resource consolidation and the centralization of power paradigm give way to developmental strategies of decentralized power and dispersed resource allocation. We utilized the Twin Towers incident to analyze our evolutionary developmental process and the vulnerability of our complex society and to revisit the working definition of disaster in the reality of highly complex systems.