The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
Unsurprisingly, the United Nations would like to develop an acceptable definition of terrorism so that it can be dealt with under international law.
But it's not so simple - Western governments are anxious that actions by state agents are excluded from such a definition, while Islamic countries are equally keen that national liberation movements are not branded terrorists.
Sociologists and political scientists have problems too, especially with "state terrorism."
But in this book Igor Primoratz has no such qualms and tackles the problem with philosophical robustness.
He settles on a definition that terrorism is the deliberate use of violence against innocent people to intimidate and coerce others, a descriptor from which state terrorism cannot escape.
Hypocritical, clandestine, deceptive and by sheer scale it is, Primoratz argues, the worst and least defensible of all forms of terrorism. He concludes that terrorism is "almost absolutely wrong" and finds no instance where terrorism can be morally justified.
But he accepts that there are degrees of terrorism and, among a welter of detail and conflicting views, he cites the example of the attack on the US on September 11 2001 by non-state terrorists which was described in the media as the "worst case of terrorism in history."
He compares this with the raid carried out by the RAF on Hamburg on the night of July 27-28 1943. That was when 40,000 civilians were killed in an indefensible act of terror, one of many carried out by the RAF at a time when WWII had virtually been won.
Another example is the terrorism of the Israeli-Palestine conflict.
With media reluctance to accept the existence of state terrorism, Palestinians from the time of British rule have been cast as the party resorting to violence.
So can terrorism ever be justified? Only, according to the author, in instances of moral disaster and he accepts that the Palestinians suffered thus in 1948-49 and have had a just cause for armed resistance from the earliest days of the zionist settlement.
Yet he rejects Palestine's moral right to resort to terrorism, mainly on the grounds that it is futile and counterproductive.
Israel has acknowledged as far back as 1938 its use of terrorism for ethnic cleansing within its own borders and against neighbouring states such as Lebanon.
Unlike the Palestinians, Israel has never faced a situation where its existence was in danger.
As such its acts of state terrorism are disproportionate and morally indefensible.