Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Suicide bombing as a virus

So it seems the worst fears are realized, the London bombers were home grown and suicide. No sinister foreign terrorists sneaking over the border on forged passports, no sleeper agents of some worldwide evil empire, just four guys from Yorkshire and some backpacks of explosives.

I was Listening to the Today program on Radio 4 this morning as they discussed the bombings and something one of the commentators said (I missed his name but he's producing a program on channel 4 about the history of suicide bombers) really struck a cord. He said 'suicide bombing is a virus that's transmitted via media'.

This, I think, hits the nail on the head and sums up the difference between this situation and say that of the IRA. The IRA were/are an organization with clear aims and objectives and definable leaders and structure . Al-Qaeda on the other hand appears to be a generic media term that is used to describe many different groups with many disparate (and often conflicting) ideologies. The idea of this shadowy organization with Osama Bin laden as it's head, sitting in his underground hideout plotting the end of the Western World is Doctor evil style, is in my opinion bollocks. The only thing that links most of these groups together is that they have a distorted view of Islam, they think capitalism and the west is the root of all evil and death in the service of a higher cause is a good thing.

It seems that what we're dealing with here is something far more elusive than a shadowy and sinister organization. It's an idea, a particularly virulent viral meme. It seeds itself via websites and chat rooms, is nurtured and grown in the soil of hate and disenfranchisement and eventually kills it's host. Trying to fight this idea with guns, arrests and an 'US' against 'THEM' dichotomy is stupid, pointless and just produces more mental fertilizer for the idea to grow in. The only way to fight ideas is through other ideas. Ideological antibiotics, administered through the opening of dialogue between communities, breaking down boundaries instead of setting them up and nurturing more beneficial strains of meme.

It seems to me that the same mistake is being made here that was made in the first world war when the generals sent their cavalry in against the machine guns, technology has changed the rules of engagement but the entrenched power structures are still using the same reactionary tactics, wildly shooting at shadows, trying to find an enemy that they'll never be able to pin down.

4 Comments:

Blogger RedThoroughbred said...

"The only way to fight ideas is through other ideas. Ideological antibiotics, administered through the opening of dialogue between communities, breaking down boundaries instead of setting them up and nurturing more beneficial strains of meme."

This is a lovely idea in theory but will take hundreds/thousands of years to implement. As an example, we are still battling with racism - an epidemic that has been confronted by ideas and dialogue for many years. Unfortunately the disease is passed down from generation to generation. Where there is stereotyped differences communicated by the closed-minded to other close-mindeds, the virus still survives.

Good blog. A topic that affects all of us - everyday.

6:50 am, July 14, 2005  
Blogger Adam said...

Cheers for the comment :-)

You have a point there, communication becomes a closed system so any new information that may break a particularly nasty behaviour is blocked or ignored.

It's true that it isn't going to be easy and that ignorance and the transference of blame is often easier than looking at your own attitudes. However I'm on the side of boundless optimism, I figure it's better to aim high because even if you fall short you're still going to have achieved something :-).

3:54 am, July 15, 2005  
Blogger RedThoroughbred said...

Cheers to Optimism! :)

6:14 am, July 15, 2005  
Blogger janet anthony said...

Hey,i'm with the boundless optimism team on this one also. Although these perpetual attention seekers that call themselves fundamentalists need to be taught that we (boundless optimimists) are indeed a healthy and increasing breed and the world is not this illusory audience of frightened angry souls that the media sit down in front of the screen of gloom every night\day\afternoon\evening. All we need to do is bring down the final curtain at the terrorism theatre,and guide the audiences in the direction of the multi-screen cinema of optimism and hope and issue them with 'only good news' news papers. come on all you publishers, editors,directors, producers, you have an audience waiting to be entertained, you have the power to change the world. Teachers everywhere you too have a major role in spreading knowledge of the happy kind. Its not just the politicians that have a duty to make our countries safer and brighter. Everyone can spread a little happiness. These harmful chemicals that race through our veins everytime we switch on the TV,read a newspaper,listen to the radio and experience fear or anger can easily be replaced with a far healthier dose of security,confidence and , heaven forbid, love for fellow man\woman !! The only weapons that can end this rediculous drama are the TV remote control off switch and a smile for every human you have the pleasure of encountering on your day. Yes it will take a while for everyone to tune into the happy vibe,but i'm gonna enjoy singing the tune, want to join me. :-) PS, love the website Adam, keep up the fabulous work. Om Shanti X

12:37 pm, August 02, 2005  

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