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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Just like other radicalisms

Contrary to conventional notions...
Though the left continually points to lack of resources and education as the central cause of the rise of Islamic terrorism in the Middle East, Ullah said after living in Pakistan he found those two rationales to be demonstrably false. In Pakistan, he explains, he found "something much different than I expected. Poverty had little to do with who became an extremist; lack of education even less."
He found, instead, that many terrorists come from middle class families and have college educations. The draw to radicalism was not one of economic desperation or susceptibility due to a lack of education, it was a longing "for meaning and for order," a desire for "change" in "the old corrupt order," and a sense of "victimhood"

...
 Ullah argues that if the West really wants to address the true underlying problems fostering radicalism, we must ditch the "false narrative" about poverty and ignorance, expose the reality of the suffering promoted by radical ideology, stop portraying radicals as "freedom fighters," and stop blaming the West. Most importantly, he argues, Islamic religious leaders must stop looking the other way and glorifying the radical "martyrs."

 As in other radicalisms, the desire to make the world anew, only leads to destruction and dystopia.  Alternative approaches to improvement just aren't as intoxicating.  It's understandable that some groups are united in hate, in an unholy alliance.

37 comments:

Harry Eagar said...

Does this apply as well to the inhuman radicalism of the Vienna School?

The strain of purifying radicalism in Islam is as old as Islam. What we see today is a new version of the Almohads, but intermixed -- as not in the high period of Islam -- with interfering modernist impulses.

Also, the main thrust of Islamic unrest is intramural. For every radical, there is an Islamic conservative trying to squash him. To see the unrest as 'radicalism' is an outsider's -- and specifically a westerner's -- misunderstanding.



Peter said...

Maybe soft naïve liberals like to talk about education (and dialogue), but the basis of much leftist advocacy is an implacable belief that it is all the West's (and Israel's) fault. It doesn't seem to matter how barbaric the behavior or even how often they are told by the Islamicists that they have no interest in democracy or social justice or any other of the left's sacred causes. Nor are they troubled by the implication that Middle Easterners are all lab rats who can't possibly be responsible for their actions and choices--that higher level of human evolution is reserved for us. Somehow they believe that, if only the West would stop interfering in myriad ways and compensate them for our many, many past sins, and we could somehow rid ourselves of pesky Israel, they would naturally evolve into peace-loving agrarian reformers and get down to the serious business of promoting income and gender equality. As self-criticism is not a cultural strength in that part of the world, the left finds no shortage of voices happy to cheer them on.

The other favourite tactic is to deflect, like Harry just did. "Yes, Islamic theocracies are abominations, but let's talk about the real problem facing the world--the horrors of the Vienna School."

I've been following the Greek crisis fairly closely and am amazed at how the leftist party line has done a 180. Until just a few years ago, the EU was every progressive's dream cause---an important step on the road to abolishing war, furthering multilateralism and promoting social justice, not to mention checking that dangerous American hegemony. In little more than an historical instant, it has been transformed in leftist minds into the plaything of humourless Teutonic bankers trying to impose a Fourth Reich by stealing the pensions of Greek widows and denying Greek children medical care. In some quarters, they are salivating at the prospect that Greece will tell the EU to stick it, renege on their debts and invite Russia in to save them in exchange for low-interest loans that never come due and a naval base or two. I trust it's some comfort to my American friends to know that this chronic blaming of the West isn't always shorthand for anti-Americanism.

erp said...

Peter, you lost me with your last sentence? Ruskies have been salivating for warm water bases since the beginning of time. Why do you think that is?

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

Have you ever been to Russia? I didn't, yet I certainly understand why anyone there would want warmer waters...

Harry Eagar said...

I am not aware of any significant (that is, influential in the current administration) lefties who say things like that. The thing they do say is that Bush interfered in the Middle East and it was a disaster. Who would dispute that?

This just in: a whopping 7,000 -- count em, seven thousand -- Iraqis want to suit up to fight ISIS. Let Sam do it, perhaps they think.

Reminds me of the Ever-Unvictorious ARVN.


If we are to speak of agency.

erp said...

Lefties have a tradition of anti-semitism and racism and while I haven't been to Russia, I knew a lot of Soviets.

I learned about Russia and warm water ports from the nuns in grammar school.

erp said...

... anyone would dispute that who didn't want to destroy us and the rest of the free world.

Peter said...

erp, there are lots of sophisticated geopolitical analyses about Russia's fear of containment and her restricted naval access, but I figure the real reason is the same one that explains why we Canadians all secretly dream of seizing Florida. Forget what the poets and novelists say, do you think this cold weather is fun?

erp said...

Peter, come on down. Very good buys in real estate right now. 90 deg.and sunny today. Plenty to go around.

Bret said...

90 deg, sunny, and I bet humid. Yuck. I'd almost prefer Canadian weather.

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] Does this apply as well to the inhuman radicalism of the Vienna School?

What inhuman radicalism?

Please be specific, and provide us with sources.

[Peter:] I've been following the Greek crisis fairly closely and am amazed at how the leftist party line has done a 180. Until just a few years ago, the EU was every progressive's dream cause...

Progressives have to do a 180 -- Greece is probably the most socialist country in the EU, and therefore the first to run out of other people's money to set on fire. It is worth remembering that Greece only got the Euro through truly epic lying about its finances, and the deep desire of the EU elite to believe those lies.

The NYT is providing extensive coverage of the Greek crisis, including timelines that show what has happened since 2007.

And not a word of what came before.

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] The thing they do say is that Bush interfered in the Middle East and it was a disaster. Who would dispute that?

The other thing they do is argue is the null alternative.

And the disaster we have now is of Obama's making.

Peter said...

And not a word of what came before.

Skipper, can you recall any major international political controversy where bankers were the popular heroes?

Can you recall any major international political controversy where Germany was the popular hero?

The left sees this as two for the price of one.

Harry Eagar said...

Well, go ahead and nominate your picks for either.

Peter said...

I don't know, Harry, it's very complicated. But it is heartening to see that, after months of intense negotiations, the parties have been able to narrow their differences. My understanding of the current positions is:

The EU: "In addition to free trade and huge capital transfers, the EU stands for the principle that a gentleman pays his debts. Perhaps you Ottoman wannabes who can't count and for whom honesty and integrity are optional frills have a hard time understanding that. If so, we're here to help you."

Greece: "We are the descendants of Pericles and as such are owed big time. If not for us, you Teutons would still be baying at the moon in the forest. If you rich crypto-Nazis have to subsidize our pensions, that's a small price to pay for unity and democracy. Your anal bankers should pull their thumbs out and try some ouzo and dancing."

As you can see, the parties are very close and should have no trouble reaching an agreement by tomorrow's deadline.

Harry Eagar said...

One reason bankers may not appear as heroes is that Argentina has defaulted 7 -- count 'em, seven! -- times. Kind of hard to heroize people that stupid.

Peter said...

Oh, indeed. They should be punished for something called reckless lending.

erp said...

... like our recent rash of forced reckless lending which led to the current collapse of our economy. Not to worry Obama will ride in on his white camel and save the day.

Clovis e Adri said...

Peter,

LOL! Your figurative conversation above is the best assessment I've read up to now on the matter.

Yet, if we are to be a bit less cynical, I'd say the Greek are still teaching a thing ot two about democracy to those Teutons after all those years...

Peter said...

Clovis:

Yes and no. I think that article is naïve. It's true that the "democratic deficit" and rule by technocrats is a built-in EU weakness, and maybe the chickens have come home to roost. If the referendum were really about what the EU insists it's about--are we in or out--I would be a little more respectful. But the Syriza government insists it's only about whether a very long and complex debt proposal that I understand hasn't even been translated into Greek yet should be accepted or not. Seven days with no campaign and no spokespeople for the other side. Not quite a North Korean plebiscite, perhaps, but not all that far off.

Greece is playing a rhetorical war that is far removed from economics and EU treaties. They love to trumpet their role as inventors of democracy, but always forget to mention they took 2,500 years off to try rule by occupation, absolute monarchy, dictatorship and brigand feuding. The reality is that, compared to most of the EU, it is a class-divided, none-too-stable country beset by serious structural corruption.

But they are very good at this romantic approach and tend to believe their own bullshit. If Italy gets into debt trouble with the rest of the EU, I have a hard time seeing them trying to play the "heirs to Virgil and Cato" card. And I have a really hard time not seeing most Italians dissolve into tears of laughter if they tried.

Clovis e Adri said...

Peter,

You underestimate the Greeks if you think the voters will go to the poll so uninformed on what is at stake.

They elected Tsipras with two apparently contradictory demands: "stop austerity" and "keep the Euro". It is fairly clear, IMO, that Tsipras is asking them now to set the priority here.

---
They love to trumpet their role as inventors of democracy, but always forget to mention they took 2,500 years off to try rule by occupation, [...]
---
LOL.

Maybe, just maybe, those 2,500 years of trial and error are the reason they are in position to question the EU Technocracy now.

The other all-too-stable countries have too much at stake to be willing to adventure out by themselves. The none-too-stable Greeks, by now, have too little to lose and maybe a lot to gain with a bit more freedom.

And you are hearing that from me, the least Libertarian member of this blog... (OK, probably Harry beats me up on that one)

Peter said...

There is no doubt that Greece mismanaged their public finances egregiously for years, and less than honestly too. That said, I don't understands the EU's punitive rhetoric and I don't think they are being all that honest either. As observers now agree widely, the root of the problem is the structural flaw in the EU that tried to pretend a single monetary policy could co-exist with 19 fiscal policies. Neither side is talking about that. The EU seems to want to consign Greece to penury for decades.

But your take fascinates me, as I've said before. Until as recently as five years ago, Euro-scepticism was the territory of old conservatives and recidivist nationalists. It was widely scorned among the bien-pensant classes, who preferred to forget about the details and just celebrate the "New Europe" to the sounds of Beethoven's ninth in Brussels Town Square. Now we're hearing all about how plucky little Greece is bravely risking uncharted waters in the name of democracy while everyone else cowers under the fetters of humourless German bankers. What a crazy world.

My theory is that, at bottom, Europeans simply don't like one another enough to sustain mutual dependency and common responsibilities. The most undervalued Biblical story is the Tower of Babel. In any event, that glorious post-war dream will be on hold for quite some time.

Non-Europeans should be careful about lining up behind either side on this one.

erp said...

Peter, Obama et al. has to bail Greece out. They're not done destroying us completely yet, so the ball can't start rolling until they've stomped on the last shred of the old U.S. of A. and then one glorious world here we come under the pastel striped flag of peace and love.

Clovis e Adri said...

Peter,

The king insists on showing up naked in the strangest places these days. Just a few years ago our beloved USA, of all places, was on its knees due to a self-inflicted wound too, wasn't it?

There is a hidden mountain of debts within the European Union central banking system of transfers. You only need a Spain or Italy going the Greek way to discover those humorless German bankers may have too small clothes below their Gucci suits.

But you shouldn't be fascinated at all by my views on the matter. I long thought the EU was too full of themselves from the begin. Now they are in for some reality check...

Harry Eagar said...

erp, if Obama doesn't bail out Greece -- and he won't -- will you please shut up?

Peter said...

I long thought the EU was too full of themselves from the begin.

Germans full of themselves? Surely not our beloved cute and cuddly Germans?

Forgetting the economics in play for a minute and just sitting back to enjoy the cultural conflict, I ask myself whatever possessed the Germans to allow themselves to be put front and centre as EU spokespeople. The only time in my life I've ever seen an international constituency cheer on Germany was Argentinian soccer fans when you played Germany in the World Cup last year. They should have hired a Czech or Belgian or something to act as front man. Do they not understand how boring a culture based on work, order, frugality and fiscal prudence is? :-)

As to the Greeks, it must be a real shock to have to face up to the fact that, in addition to democracy, sun, retsina, and dancing, their culture is based on inflation and devaluation, and those days may be over. Which leads to an interesting question: Does democracy imply the right of a sovereign people to mismanage their economy? If so, should the rest of us show them cultural respect by cutting them slack periodically through Harry's theory of reckless lending? That may be economic nonsense, but politically I'm not so sure.

erp said...

Politically Obama et al. can't allow the EU to fail because it's Phase I of One World under Pastel Stripes. The question is will Germany go along.

Clovis e Adri said...

Peter,

---
their culture is based on inflation and devaluation, and those days may be over.
---
Over? Not at all. They will pull out an Argentina, it is their only realistic option, which means a combination of devaluation, inflation and, hopefully, economic growth.

If you look at the data, up to 2009 Argentina was doing relatively fine. Their problem was not to know when to stop the heterodoxy and go back to ortodox economics. The Greeks, though, will be under far more pressure to get it right, I suppose.

---
Does democracy imply the right of a sovereign people to mismanage their economy?
---
Absolutely.

More to the point, what happens there is that a small elite benefits a lot from all that borrowing, while the people are left to pay the bill. It is still their fault they let it happen, sure, but since they will foot the bill, it is only fair they have a say whether they'll default on it (and endure the consequences).

As for "Harry's theory of reckless lending", it makes a lot more sense than you credit. I don't have the link here, but there are plenty of studies showing that the strongest indicator for future defaults are past ones. It tends to be the same countries doing it over and over...

In Greece's case, a lot of the "help" they've got until now was used to pay back banks and investors who are, to a good extent, from the lender's side (Germans, French...). So if the Greeks default, Germans will buy the line they have been financing Greek pensions, when they've mostly financed their own bankers recklessness.

Just as the "too big too fail" culture we've seen in the US circa 2008/9, but with a big help of all that Greek drama to cover it all up.

Peter said...

Argentina has its own currency, Clovis. As long as Greece is in the Euro, it can't devalue, which is the whole problem.

You are right that the existing sovereign debt was used mainly to pay back German and French banks. That's a meme the left is pointing out every five minutes, but surely it is disingenuous. Those loans were used to head off Greek defaults on huge Greek debts to private banks, money which most certainly did flow to Greece for its benefit. It converted private debt to public debt to prevent bank failures, much as Bush and Obama did in 2008. I don't recall Greece protesting and saying they would prefer to default on their private debt. How that converts to "Greeks never saw the money" and Germans are really only paying for their banks' recklessness is beyond the understanding of this poor country boy. I can feel sympathy for a naive individual who is enticed by a bank to take out a loan he obviously can't afford to repay, but a sovereign government?

erp said...

Peter, Bush? You need to stop believing the lefty media.

Peter said...

Sure, erp.

erp said...

Take your pick.

Bush was left to pick up the pieces of decades of decadent lefty legislation.

erp said...

Google didn't like that one, trying again.

Clovis e Adri said...

Peter,

When I suggest they do an Argentina, I am of course implying the whole package: get out of the euro, default on its debt to renegotiate it with a big cut, and work back to make the economy grow.

Apparently Tsipras is alredy backing down (probably some internal pool showed people may be tending to vote for austerity on Sunday), so I don't know what's going to be this time.

As for the Troika helping Greece to not default on their private debt, what good does it make? To this country boy, it is only a matter of time for exactly that to happen. They would've cut the losses if they've taken door number two quite a while back.

It would be good to remember, at this point, what the heck justifies the high interest you pay when taking debts: it is supposedly priced to rightly take in account the risk the lender is taking by giving it to you. It is a strange world this one where bankers now keep taking interests yet their lending should always be risk-free for them, don't you think so? Yet it is exactly the world the bail-out-for-saving-banks crowd wished to live in.

Peter said...

It is a strange world this one where bankers now keep taking interests yet their lending should always be risk-free for them, don't you think so?

I tend to agree, but the answer to that question lies in the mystical world economists inhabit, and I don't have the passcode. It certainly seems like it just pushes problems down the road and it passes the burden from private institutions to individual taxpayers. OTOH, whenever I hear free market fundamentalists describe serious economic downturns and bank failures with words like "short, sharp corrective", they sound to me like they are describing a bracing morning dip in a cold lake more than mass unemployment and/or homelessness. Nonetheless, the "too big to fail" syndrome is a huge problem that has given financial institutions way too much political power and influence.

BTW, on the subject of how willingly blind and deaf almost everyone, both left and right, was to the structural incoherence of the Euro when it was first introduced, there was one smart lady who saw exactly what would happen with amazing prescience. It cost her her job.

erp said...

Banks, like all businesses would rise and fall on merit if the fed kept out of it.

Harry Eagar said...

Argentina managed one of its defaults even when it didn't have its own currency.

So complicated. As we learn from history:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/feb/27/greece-spain-helped-germany-recover

I cannot say that the Truman Doctrine returned such great dividends. It was supposed to save Greek democracy but instead dleivered a friendly fascist regime. The US Navy loved it. The Greeks, not so much.