Thursday, August 04, 2005

Turtles, Teamsters, Terrorists?

This editorial in today's NYT says in simple words what academic work on the subject has been saying for a while: 'the conflict between the jihadists and the West is a conflict within the modern, globalized world. The extremists are the sort of utopian rebels modern societies have long produced.' The author also uses Olivier Roy's book, Globalised Islam, to make intriguing and persuasive comparisons between radical Islam and the 'anti-globalisation' movement: 'Ideologically, Islamic neofundamentalism occupies the same militant space that was once occupied by Marxism. It draws the same sorts of recruits (educated second-generation immigrants, for example), uses some of the same symbols and vilifies some of the same enemies (imperialism and capitalism).' It also uses similar methods of organisation (anarchic, decentralised, independently operating cells remind me of affinity groups and spokescouncils). Similar targets, similar recruitment pool, analogous methods of organisation - but hugely different utopias and different ideas about legitimate means. Still, both are engaged in the project of encouraging long-distance motivation - no prizes for guessing which one seems more successful at the present moment.

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