Time Essay: Terrorism: Why West Germany?

Seventy years ago, in The Secret Agent, Joseph Conrad described an act of anarchist terrorism as "a blood-stained inanity of so fatuous a kind that it was impossible to fathom its origin by any reasonable or even unreasonable process of thought." Today West Germans, in ordeals of introspection and defensive truculence, are trying to understand the almost autistic fury of their own terrorists. Why should their country—its political system stable and democratic, its wealth distributed reasonably well, its society open and obsessively moderate —have produced the murderous young of the Baader-Meinhof gang and...

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