Posts Tagged ‘Scott Atran’

Alt-Right Meeting Celebrates Trump Victory with Cries of ‘Hail Trump’

November 22, 2016

As the Alt-Right starts settling into a position of power through their links to Trump, any pretense that they’re remotely mainstream is rapidly coming off, and their true Fascist face is coming through. In this piece from Sam Seder’s Majority Report, Michael Brooks comments on an Alt-Right meeting at the weekend in which the movement’s leader, Richard Spencer, laid bare the movement as White Nationalism. He declared that White people were the children of the sun, a race of conquerors and creators, who had been marginalised in contemporary America. At the end of the speech, a group of three of his stormtroopers cried ‘Hail Trump’ and ‘Sieg Heil’, with Nazi salutes.

Brooks comments that there are three components to the Alt-Right. One could be described as neo-Fascist, neo-Nazi or neo-Dixiecrat. Another section was people clustered around computer games. And then there was this, which was simply Fascist or Nazi.

He goes on to say that he would like to have Scott Atran on the programme. Atran’s an anthropologist, who conducted research interviewing terrorists, exploring what attracted people to it, and particularly what attracted young men. He’d like to ask him what was attracting young American men to the Alt-Right. He states that some of it is the sense of meaninglessness prevalent in late stage capitalism. He can see how this would attract young people to terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa. It’s more obscure in North America, but nevertheless it’s still a factor.

He also notes the role of sexual frustration. He states that he is not making this comment out of snark, but these men are putting all their emotional and sexual frustration and projecting it on to society. He notes that one of the two men in the photo has ‘hover hands’, the gesture some men make, who would like to touch their female companion, but are afraid to do so. Fascists are afraid of everyone, including women.

This last comment is very accurate. A large section of the Alt-Right seems to be Men’s Rights activists, who are bitterly anti-feminist. And many of them seem to resent the female gender simply because women don’t fancy them. Kevin Logan in his series of vlogs ‘The Descent of the Manosphere’ covers these individuals. Each of his vlog posts is on an individual denizen of the manosphere, who, in his view, is trying to drag our species back into the sea. The series now includes more than 30 posts. Not all of these men are misogynists through sexual frustration, but it accounts for a fair number.

The Nazi and Fascist movements considered themselves to be male, anti-feminist movements. They appealed to men of extreme right-wing views, who felt threatened by feminism. The Futurists, an artistic movement of militantly techno-Fascists, which celebrated the car, the aeroplane, the new machine age, speed and violence, declared in their manifesto that they advocated ‘scorn for women’. Ludwig Theweleit, a German historian, has gone further in the case of Nazism, arguing in his book, Male Fantasies, that it had a very strong homosexual component. This has been taken up in its turn by the American Right, who have argued that Nazism was militantly gay. 75 per cent of the SA were homosexual, but they were wiped out by Hitler during the internal purge of the Night of the Long Knives, and male homosexuals were interned in the concentration camps during the Third Reich. I think Sir Ian MacKellen acted in play about the imprisonment of gays by the Nazis in the 1980s, called Bent. In the case of the American Right and the Republican party, the homosexual element in the Nazi party is used to smear gays and the gay rights movement. The argument seems to be a simple syllogism: the Nazis were all gay, therefore, all gays are Nazis, or gay rights is a Nazi plot. It’s specious rubbish, like most of the stuff the Right spouts. Nevertheless, it’s believed.

Regardless of their sexuality, the Alt-Right is now a growing menace in America, and their potential to harm millions of people, and empower similar movements on this side of the Pond, is immense and terrifying. We need to stop them. Now.

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Tomonews: ISIS Suicide Bomber Cries before Attack on Syrian Town

December 28, 2015

This is a grim little video from TomoNews, the news channel that produced such entertaining features as a computer-generated, rampaging Gordon Brown, and ISIS recruits kicking each other in the testicles in Pakistan, and ISIS and al-Qaeda scrapping and hitting each other like the Three Stooges in a competition over which one was the hardest and most brutal. This video is a grim little report showing a prospective suicide crying, and having to be comforted by his fellow murderers. He was apparently afraid his attack would fail. They tell him to have faith in Allah. So off he tries in his crawler, and blows himself up shortly after.

I’m reblogging this for several reasons. Firstly, it dispels the myth ISIS are trying to put out about themselves, that they are utterly unstoppable killers without any human feelings whatsoever. That’s what they’re saying to scare their enemies, which is now just about everybody else in the world. As this clip shows, they still feel fear, a fear that can reduce even the most determined butcher bent on his own destruction and those of others to tears.

That demonstration of a perfectly reasonable, human emotion, albeit perverted to serve ISIS’ ends – he was crying because he was afraid his mission would fail, rather than at the brutalities and horrors he and his loathsome comrades have already committed, also show something deeper: the artificiality and squalor of the terrorists’ suicide training itself.

The American anthropologist, Scott Atran, has pointed out that religious faith alone does not provide sufficient motivation for people to become suicide bombers. Instead, murderous groups like ISIS carefully cultivate and indoctrinate their prospective suicide bombers. Part of this involves separating them from the rest of the fighters, and developing a special group bond within them. It’s fair to say that they’re brainwashed into doing so.

And I’ve mentioned before the moral squalor of the authorities that carry out such brainwashing, whether in ISIS or not. I know Muslims from the Middle East, who despised Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, not least because of the way he encouraged young boys to serve as suicide bombers in the Iran/Iraq War in the 1980s. He handed out to them mass-produced, cheap keys, telling them that they were the keys to the kingdom of heaven. ISIS does pretty much something similar.

And remember what Owen Jones said in the video I reblogged yesterday about the Paris attacks. The people drawn to ISIS aren’t paragons of virtue. They’re a bunch of sad acts and losers, thieves and criminals. Many of them have also suffered from depression, which shows that ISIS also exploits the mentally vulnerable.

The more you see ISIS, the less invincible and impressive they seem. At their core, they’re just pathetic bullies, trying to scare their world with their brutalities into believing their something greater than they are.

Young Turks: Terrorists More Motivated by Politics than Religion, Study Finds

December 15, 2015

This is another video from The Young Turks, which is extremely relevant as it takes apart the view that terrorists and suicide bombers are motivated solely or mainly by religion. Robert Pape, a professor at the University of Chicago, and the founder of that university’s Centre for Security and Faith, studied the motives of suicide bombers and other terrorists going back to 1980. He found that in 95 per cent of cases they were far more motivated by politics, and particularly the desire to retaliation after a military intervention, often a military occupation. The attacks were an attempt to take or retake territory that was important to the terrorist. This was the dominant motivation for terror attacks, including the recent massacres in Paris.

Uygur and Iadarola point out that suicide bombing are the tactics adopted by the losing sides. America doesn’t use suicide bombers, because it has the advantage of drones, tanks and aircraft. The Japanese also turned to using suicide tactics in World War II – the Kamikaze pilots – when they were losing, not when they thought they were winning, as at Pearl Harbour. The same is true of other organisations using suicide bombers, like the Tamil Tigers.

They also make the case that while religion is part of it, like Christian fundamentalists, who hate gay people, this is more of a case of someone looking for and adopting a worldview, that confirms their existing beliefs. They also cite Lydia Wilson, a journalist for The Nation, who also interviewed ISIS terrorists. She found that they had a ‘woeful knowledge’ of even the basic tenets of Islam, and had difficulty answering questions about sharia law, jihad, or even the caliphate. But such knowledge wasn’t necessary to support the ideal of fighting for the caliphate. As could be seen from the actions of one British ISIS fighter, who ordered ‘Islam for Dummies’ on Amazon.

The Turks compare their ignorance of Islam with that of Dear, the right-wing fundamentalist Christian, who shot staff and patients in an attack on Planned Parenthood. They also point out that terrorist attacks and suicide bombings have been carried out by secular organisations and individuals. The Turks also point out that military intervention is not necessarily a bad thing. The Korean War succeeded in keeping South Korea free of Stalinism, and World War II was, obviously, a military intervention, that was exactly the right thing to do. Suicide and terrorist attacks do not necessarily make the original military action wrong. They’re just something to be expected as a consequence.

This report sounds pretty much spot on, from what I understand about terrorism. Bassam Tibi, the German-Egyptian writer on Islam and the problems it is experiencing through modernisation, states in his book Islam and the Cultural Accommodation of Social Change states that the Egyptian Islamist terrorist he personally interviewed in Egypt had only a superficial understanding of Islam. A few years ago, the anthropologist Scott Atran also pointed out that violence and terrorism were not solely the product of religion. He pointed out that the organisation that had made the most use of suicide bombings was the Tamil Tigers, who were secular organisation. Atran himself is an atheist, and he made this point as a rebuttal to the claims that religion was mainly responsible for such violence by members of the New Atheism, like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins.

A~s for reading one’s own political views into a particular religion or holy book, that’s always been a problem. It’s called ‘elective affinity’, and sociologists of religion have acknowledged and studied its importance. One example I was taught at College was the declaration by a 19th century British Tory that ‘the Bible is Conservative through and through’. It’s a classic example of the way a person with strong political opinions believed he had found them in his holy book through projecting his own prejudices and opinions onto the text.

As for the political motivations of many terrorists, there’s an interesting review of a book on the Lobster site by Carol Shaye, one of the officials involved in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Shaye has since become extremely cynical about the whole process because of the massive corruption at all levels of Hamid Karzai’s regime. She found that the Taliban fighters she interviewed almost exclusively joined because they felt it was a solution to this problem.
Of course, the Taliban isn’t. It is, however, a brutal and murderous collection of genocidal maniacs and mass-murderers. But the point remains.