Pirates and Emperors

Pirates and Emperors, Old and New: International Terrorism in the Real World’ is a book by political theorist Noam Chomsky, titled after an observation by St. Augustine in ‘City of God,’ proposing that what governments coin as ‘terrorism’ in the small simply reflects what governments utilize as ‘warfare’ in the large. Yet, governments coerce their populations to denounce the former while embracing the latter.

In the ‘City of God,’ St. Augustine tells the story of a pirate captured by Alexander the Great, who asked him ‘how dare he molest the sea.’ ‘How dare you molest the whole world’ the pirate replied. ‘Because I do it with a little ship only, I am called a thief; you, doing it with a great navy, are called an emperor.’ The book inspired a humorous short web animation titled ‘Pirates & Emperors (or, Size Does Matter),’ illustrating Chomsky’s thesis.

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