Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Why There Are No Maniacs Quite Like Religious Ones

If only the perpetrators themselves could see it, but the so-called 'sacrificial deaths' one sees in Islamic terrorism are, ironically, the opposite, because to engage in an act that causes death and suffering to innocents must, in the primary sense, be driven by self-interest (whether apparent or sub-conscious). To subvert one's own moral conscience as an act of genocidal appeasement involves an outrage on the conscience that one might suggest only really comes about in acts of extreme parochialism and selfishness, where the suffering of others is callously disregarded in favour of placating their own image of the their man-made war god.

It remains one the most interesting questions: would anything like the horrors of ISIS have occurred if Saddam Hussein hadn't been removed from Iraq's top position? Is it the case that, as Shakespeare suggested, Western politicians have untuned that string and witnessed the discord that follows, or are people overestimating the extent to which Saddam was a cork holding the prospective genie of Islamic jihad tightly in the bottle?

Evidently it is a little bit of both, plus a lot of other complex factors alongside, not least the gradual emergence of radical Islamic groups in Syria in response to Assad's Baathist dictatorship. I suppose while it cannot be denied that the war in Iraq left the nation in a real mess, and that the post-Saddam political quagmire that emerged created a vacuum from which forces like ISIS could gain more prominence, there are numerous other Islamic groups like al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and al-Shabaab unleashing similar horrors around the world, so it was probably only a matter of time before we ended up with something as disgusting and megalomaniacal as ISIS wreaking this much havoc in the Middle East.

Regarding the nature of ISIS members, I'll grant you, such horrific Islamism doesn't just come in a vacuum. I always think it's important to see the hurt in people and see what pain is behind people's dreadful acts, because there is pain and insecurity somewhere in people's terrible behaviour. To try to imagine what it must be like for a young man in ISIS, one can't fail to realise that in many cases there is a legacy of oppression, pain, dispossession and maltreatment.

Given how primed we are to tribalism, it is unsurprising how easily people find a group in which they can be manipulated to be the wickedest version of themselves - but these are people who've taken it upon themselves to become the most evil, inhumane people on a par with any evil behaviour the modern world has seen, and for that reason they deserve our contempt, irrespective of any precursory reasons they think they may have for joining ISIS.

It's a curious thing the most extreme, barbaric religious fundamentalism that grows roots in susceptible people's minds (it isn't new, it's been going on for centuries) - because what drives it is a peculiar cognitive state of opposites. On the one hand it involves the complete and utter self-abnegation of the agent in total deference to the unchallengeable supremacy of their man-made war god, yet on the other hand it involves a totalising self-righteousness whereby the certainty they place in their beliefs lacks even the basic crumbs of humility most people can call upon through their own moral conscience. Save for a few exceptions where people have seen the error of their ways, ISIS members' absolute unchallengeable confidence in their religious cause is not even able to be challenged by appeals to morality through the conscience, because their dyed in the wool feelings of certainty supersede even their own moral compunction. There really is no surrender to inhuman barbarism quite like a religious one.