It’s About Decadence

Terrorism is not about Terror

Does the terrorist’s decision-making process conform to the strategic model? The answer appears to be no. The record of terrorist behavior does not adhere to the model’s three core assumptions. Seven common tendencies of terrorist organizations flatly contradict them. Together, these seven terrorist tendencies represent important empirical puzzles for the strategic model, posing a formidable challenge to the conventional wisdom that terrorists are rational actors motivated foremost by political ends….Terrorism hasn’t impressed many observers both on case-studies & in general. On statistical grounds, it’s incontrovertible that terrorism is a shockingly ineffective strategy….

Worse, terrorism – of any kind like hostage-taking, and including conventional warfare tactics like civilian atrocities or strategic bombing – reliably produces a political backlash towards conservatism and bolsters hardliners’ approaches to terrorism….

This article’s author demonstrates why I am not afraid of terrorism, why I don’t trust the opinions of people who are, and why I really dislike people who think terrorism is a military problem:  Because the only rational response to terrorism is for the civilian population to oppose it, but politicians use it as a justification for disempowering civilians further. As usual, the rich and powerful are the most fearful and the most active in spreading fear.

The article also illustrates the “decline of the West”:

So, then, what is the explanation for such self-defeating, irrational actions?

“There is comparatively strong theoretical and empirical evidence that people become terrorists not to achieve their organization’s declare political agenda, but to develop strong affective ties with other terrorist members. In other words, the preponderance of evidence is that people participate in terrorist organizations for the social solidarity, not for their political return.”

In Marc Sageman’s Understanding terror networks, he writes:

“Ibrahim commented on the superior attractiveness of a religious revivalist organization over a secular political one, namely the strong sense of communion that Muslim groups provided for their members….‘The militant Islamic groups with their emphasis on brotherhood, mutual sharing, and spiritual support become the functional equivalent of the extended family to the youngster who has left his behind. In other words, the Islamic group fulfills a de-alienating function for its members in ways that are not matched by other rival political movements’ (Ibrahim, 198: 448).” “The Saidi branch was composed of several groups, based in provincial university towns. They recruited heavily according to kinship and tribal bonds….

[M]embers who remained in the group until it collectively demobilized did so as a result of social and practical needs, shared beliefs, and the group’s role in boosting their self-identity by making them feel important. In addition to these benefits, insurgents were also deterred from leaving by the lack of other options, a result of the clandestine nature of the organization…

[M]embers from a wide variety of terrorist groups…say that they joined these armed struggles…to maintain or develop social relations with other terrorist members….

What does this have to do with the decline of the West, a Eurocentric reader may ask? These terrorism studies spanned many different cultures, and I say that the modern cultural construct called “the West” has significantly influenced all of them; contemporary terrorism is arguably a postmodern “Western” response to “Western” modernity, rather than a premodern response, as is often asserted.

Friendships cultivated in the jihad, just as those forged in combat in general, seem more intense and are endowed with special significance. Their actions taken on behalf of God and the umma are experienced as sacred….

This is similar to something Richard M. Weaver wrote in his own “decline of the West” book entitled Ideas Have Consequences:

[The traditional soldier’s] service is to causes which are formulated as ideals, and these he is taught to hold above both property and life, as ceremonies of military consecration make plain….[T]hus the historical soldier is by genus not the blind, unreasoning agent of destruction which some contemporary writers make him out to be. He is rather the defender of the ultima ratio, the last protector of reason. Any undertaking that entails sacrifice of life has implications of transcendence, and the preference of death to other forms of defeat, to the “fate worse than death.” [31-32]

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