The Solidarity Of Terrorism
Opinion (Warwick Mark Harrison): “Now when we look at suicide terrorism, it is clearly not a cry for help. It is a determined attempt to destroy oneself and others. So it has to be understood in those terms. But the thing that I think it has in common is the need first will to understand the self. This is something that economists are probably not always very good at. Economists talk very freely about self-interest. It is commonplace in economic textbooks to find the idea that human behavior is driven by the desire to maximize one’s self-interest or one’s personal utility. What’s not commonly asked is who is the self whose interest is being maximized. …
“So one way that social psychologists understand suicide is that the person who commits suicide has a determined attempt, has reached the point where they can no longer protect the identity they have by staying alive and protecting the identity they have requires an active self-destruction. …
“When we look at people who commit acts of suicide terrorism, what we see is people who have gone on a journey that’s invested them with the self that requires self-destruction, because the identity that is required is that of the martyr, the witness to religious truth that can only be validated through death. And in the one of the things that we see when we look at the organization of suicide terrorism is that it’s not committed, acts of suicide terrorism are not committed by people who are desperate; it is not committed by people who are in any way particularly unusual psychologically. It is committed by young people who’ve been trained to see themselves as martyrs to a faith. …
“In the process of being recruited they don’t actually learn a lot about global politics, they don’t learn a lot about the demands of the organization, they don’t learn a lot about political strategy. In fact, these things are not very important to them.
“What they are looking for is some form of social solidarity.
“And you can get social solidarity in many ways: you can get it from working together in a firm, you can get it from joining a choir or a cycling club or a sports club, but you can also get it – we know this from a lot of examples – you can get it by joining together to commit acts of violence. Sometimes that’s football hooliganism, sometimes it’s terrorism. …
“So Abraham’s point is that to understand what people are looking for when they join the organizations it’s important to understand the lure of powerful social ties.
My Comment: Solidarity, a sense of unity, can be realized only through egoistic self-sacrifice or by rising above the ego; it is leading humanity forward.
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