It's neither poverty nor democracy, stupid

The recent terrorist attacks in the UK may have at least some positive effect if once and for all they serve to puncture the delusion that Islamic terrorists are a product of circumstances of poverty and lack of liberty.

The liberal crowd would like to think that people doing evil can be "explained" by the fact they were poor and desperate. These doctors were not poor or desperate by a long shot.

The conservative crowd like to think that if only democracy is spread through what today may be totalitarian autocratic states, the magic potion of democracy will convert potential terrorist into humanistic, benevolent citizens. The UK terrorists of last week had all the benefit of liberty of the UK and the spread of democracy to Palestine gave us a Hamas government. So it's not really working according to the script.

The problem really is religion in general and in particular a religion which allows for extremist notions of killing everyone who does not believe the same. If there is such a thing as moderate Islam, it is the only force that can displace extremist Islam by more strongly asserting itself. Absence of poverty or presence of democracy won't do it.

So at the end of the day, as with African aid or the "revolutions" of various shades (orange, velvet etc), it is up to the community to deal with its problems and its problem children, whether they are dictators or terrorists.

Comments

Jules said…
I have seen the statistics on suicide bombers, from all religious denominations and poverty is absolutely a huge factor in those that choose to become suicide bombers. I think people then extrapolate that to assume any fanatical religion that they don't understand or agree with, is due to poverty or stupidity or desperation. But in the past few decades, the spread of Islam around the world is the fastest growing religion and these are people from every sector of society and in many developed countries. I am curious what the lure of Islam and why it is appealing to so many people of different walks of life? It's a shame that the moderates feel powerless to control the radical Islamics; because they are non violent, how can they ever reign in the fanatical and violent? How to get through to them if people from their own religius belief cannot get through? I agree that throwing money at it or trying to force democracy on cultures is so outrageous that it's laughable....but what are some of the possible solutions for communities that don't know how to control the violence and don't want to fight violence with violence?
Miljenko Horvat said…
I think the lure of Islam is the "low barrier to entry". While in order to be Jewish you have to have at least your mother be Jewish or to be Roman Catholic you have to jump through all sorts of hoops, embracing Islam appears to be rather easy. How else would have Mike Tyson been able to convert?

It may also be that it offers a "complete prescription" for life. It has a blueprint for everything down to what should happen if somebody steals (i.e. cut their hand off) which other religions may not have to the same extent. People seem drawn to simple, complete, ready-to-worship things.
Jules said…
Sad that you only have this one life (even those who believe in reincarnation believe that your SOUL is blended in the next life, like a smoothie, with many other consciousnesses (excuse the pluralization) the next time around....so which ever way your belief system bends, in essence the conclusion is the same, you will never be THIS personality/soul again at any future moment in time).....and that anyone would choose to follow INSTRUCTIONS like those on the back of a cake mix for how to live life and what to believe, rather than wing it and make it one's own creation. That is my take on blind faith in any organized religion...just too scary to look at the mystery of life without any answers.

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