Tuesday, 28 December 2010


Pondering on terrorism this morning on Facebook.

The original just has to be read to understand why Henning Mankell represents those who rationalise terror attacks in order to overcome their terror of them as opposed to understanding that some people are, in fact, evil and crazy. The "western world" had not humiliated Muslim countries. How did Sweden do that ?

Perhaps that's not so generous. As a crime writer he is obliged to plunge into the darker recesses of the human psyche. But he did not distinguish between the idea that these are the thoughts that can be thought and "this is what I think".

With these sorts of issues it's necessary to be careful in the language you use. Yoking together Afghanistan with the reason why this "lone wolf" terrorist tried to blow himself up is unnecessary.

I don't like the Afghanistan War either but it's bad form to try and use the potential threat of terrorism to register opposition to the war, as if Swedish presence was the clear motivating factor, or a crucial one. In which case there would have to be an explanation as to why no Serb has tried to kill people after the NATO intervention in Kosovo in 1999


The fact is that it should be possible to criticise the war in Afghanistan without being seen to be siding "objectively" with fanatics. A position made difficult by neoconservative rhetoric-"you're either for us or against us" .But that hardly applies to Sweden which is in Afghanistan to help with the humanitarian operations. In reality, the war is about a pipeline, regional reconstruction and geopolitical control in Eurasia.

It might be that 'some' Muslims perceive Afghanistan as a war against fellow Muslims in intention. If so then this shows an ideology and form of identity politics at work and a refusal to look at facts. But its one reason why "humanitarian wars" are pointless and in Afghanistan's case it was never going to be won quickly, in fact never.

The problem with this new form of terror might be that it is just the reflection of a society in the higher realms of boredom.

For those confronted with a society based on total consumerism, the loss of identity, felt hard by those from religious backgrounds and where there is still an affinity for the lost "Muslim World", then out and out violence is one way of punishing docile consumers and society that reduces people to mere 'economic animals'. Not least if that consumerism is based on the car economy that derives from oil, most of which comes from lands living under dictatorships or repressive regimes that are dysfunctional e.g Saudi Arabia. A way of making consumers pay a blood price in this deranged scheme of things?

The mistake being made is that Al Qaida style violence is not organised by some hierarchy or chain of command. It is carried out by those who willingly buy into the psychopathology or accept the one I've outlined here. There are too many rationalisations of this violence by those trying to make partisan political points about aspects of "the system" they dislike. Mankell is somewhat like Sartre in this sense who used the terrorist protests of the Baader Meinhof to make points about the alienation under capitalism. Because he did not like capitalism and the USA's global power.

As for Mankell, his ability to "understand" the motives of the suicide bomber was not made clear because he linked it to Afghanistan. As a crime writer he was trying to probe the psychopathology of those who commit such acts.

The danger comes with rationalising terror in order to express one's own political viewpoints. Understanding criminal minds is one thing, using that to express a dislike of foreign policy ignores the fact that a new hyper identity has been created throughout Europe is about a power game. "We" are here and "we" will make you change this foreign policy.

Only the problem is that the foreign policy is based on easy supplies of cheap oil which are procured only through collusion with repressive regimes. With Western nations seen as complicit in that, only bringing terror into the belly of the beast is seen to provide the will force some change.

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