Sunday, September 24, 2006

The cult

Jeffrey Sach's book "The end of poverty" talks about, among other things, how developing poor countries is in the social & economic interests of developed countries. At the time when I read it, it looked like a very plausible & no less noble idea. He built his case around, very convincingly with well-argued cases, that economic development & opportunities will definitely eat away at the roots of criminalism, & make the world, including developed nations, a very safe place.

While this may be true in a large & general sense, I'm currently disposed to think that economics does not apply to terrorism or nations/organizations that seem to propagate it - which right now is the problem of many states, developed or otherwise. I think that Sen's book "Identity & violence" is very pertinent in helping explain certain aspects of the matter. While the case of plural identities & the choice of an individual's identity among all the identities that she can choose is central to the theme of the book, it is one idea that, for me, explains terrorism - not from the perspective of a Bin Laden, but rather from the perspective of those who wrap themselves up with explosives or navigate airplanes into buildings, or, for that matter, shoot children through the eye.

A recent programme on the National geographic looked at these men & women. And you can clearly see what their chosen identity is, & you cannot see any economic reasons for it. And the cult of the jehadi is celebrated all along so much so that instead of hunting for folks who would blow themselves up, these groups regularly reject plentiful aspirant martyrs. Apparently in one such organization, photographs of jehadis who kill themselves are framed on the wall next to a staircase leading to the open skies, or heaven. And there is the internet & the propaganda - all of it to sustain this cult, complete with rituals & rites.

Unfortunately, all this is done in the name of Allah - the all merciful...


Usha said...

Must check out this book - have never been able to understand what motivates these maniacs into such acts even while blowing themselves up. had concluded that these psychopaths defy any logical reasoning and hence could not be explained.

Anonymous said...

I agree. However, logic systems are only one way of explaining the world. In fact, Sen's other book called "The Argumentative Indian" has a very interesting essay on Western versus Eastern worlds, & goes on to show that rationality & logic systems are not really as much a western phenomenon as they're made out to be. However, that is not the perception of the world in general.