In his paper The Silence of Words. On
Terror and War, the German sociologist Ulrich Beck writes: "We live, think and
act in concepts that are historically outdated but still governing our thoughts and
actions." The paper is the text of a speech
delivered to the Russian parliament delivered in November 2001.
As hardly could have been otherwise at that time, Beck's worries concerning
the historical lag of words we are using is above all inspired by security issues. The silence - or inadequacy - of the words we are
using, therefore, is more than merely an academic problem.
The way we are describing a situation determines the ways we are responding
to it. Descriptions determine policies, as they are being made and implemented. Policies
shaped by words that have become silent in
Becks sense create problems instead of solving them. The silence of words is