Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Stopping terrorism

The driving force behind the Muslim rebels isn't desperation: it's religion, martyrdom and rewards in paradise.

No it’s not, M. Teague of Glen Waverley – it’s demographics.

Oil wealth in Saudi Arabia (and perhaps elsewhere in the Mid-East) created a baby boom among GenXers, born between the mid-60s and late 70s. These children then had the misfortune to grow up not under the idyll of stability and prosperity experienced by the baby boomers of the West, but under the forces of fundamentalism.

As I’ve repeatedly written, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism from the late 70s closely parallels that of economic fundamentalism in the West (aka Thatcherism). Therefore, it is likely that a solution to Islamofascist terrorism can only via a joint project of the West and the Islamic world – with both agreeing to simultaneously de-fundamentalise themselves (albeit this is an argument based on symmetry, gut feeling and profound powerlessness – the latter not as in my being afraid of terrorism, but in having long lived under the blank monolith of boomer inertia (aka fundamentalism’s cheer squad) in the West).

Isn’t it worth a try? After all, it’s not in area where capital-A answers are exactly prolific – Ken Parish says “Buggered if I know”, while John Quiggin sees Islamism as a combination of national grievances on the part of “average” Muslims with globally-focused acts by extremist young men (and to a lesser extent, young women) from fairly well-off backgrounds.

To the latter category, John could usefully add “unemployed” – Islamofascism is, at bottom, a sort of Work for the Dole program for uni graduates, informally sponsored by the Saudi government. With the West also having acted abysmally in finding jobs for the best-and-brightest of its own GenX (who are proportionately far less numerous, though) the current Saudi morass is hardly an unexpected singularity – which is another reason why the solution to terrorism can only come via some big changes in the West, as well.

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