Terrorism: Psychology and Politics of Clash of Civilizations

The following piece taken from an interesting book on terrorism narrates a specific mode of understanding terrorism: the way it looks at Western modernity.

The following piece taken from an interesting book on terrorism narrates a specific mode of understanding terrorism: the way it looks at Western modernity.

Some modern-day terrorists are motivated by Occidentalism–a rejection of, and hostility towards, the values of the West, Occidentalism, which played a significant role in the events of September 11, takes the form of “a cluster of images and ideas of the West in the eyes of its haters.” Four targets of Occidentalism are: the city, reason, the bourgeoisie, and feminism. 

To retain our initiative towards free spirited and independent journalism we require your support |Pay Now

To some extent, the city symbolizes all the facets of modern urban civilization: commerce, diverse populations, artistic freedom, sexual license, scientific pursuits, leisure, personal safety, wealth and power. A negative reaction to the city can hold religious meaning: urban sinfulness, as contrasted with the purity, self-denial, and obedience of idealized rural simplicity. The wealth of the city can incite their rage and envy. Images of an urban skyline, most notably that of Manhattan, evoke for these people the greed and selfishness of the marketplace. 

Reason, as exemplified by science and higher education, contrasted with natural spirit, warmth, feeling, community, and relationship. Reason is seen as cold, fragmented, essentially corrupt, and lacking idealism. Many who reject reason as a governing principle wish to link religion more closely with public life.

Fundamentalists who aspire to heroism reject the settled bourgeoisie. Everyday workers are characterized as cold, decadent, mediocre, lifeless, and rarely heroic, in contrast to the holy warrior who submerges himself or herself in a mass movement that leads to greatness. Honor gained from self-sacrifice in the war against the West is the antithesis of bourgeois fear. 

The fourth and final target of Occidentalism is feminism. Occidentalism, which exalts manhood, opposes the freedom of women. Female sexuality is a provocation to holy men and to those who seek exaltation through death for a higher cause. Revealing images of Western women in movies and advertisements, which represent an unreachable and sinful world, are enraging.

Terrorists are described as action-oriented, aggressive and stimulus-hungry, with tendencies to use the psychological mechanisms of “externalization” and “splitting”. They are likely to have experienced psychological damage during childhood that has led to a self-concept in which the perceived good and bad aspects of their personalities are projected onto others. The rhetoric of terrorism is highly attractive to such persons.

Source : Barry S.Levy and Victor W. Sidel (ed). Terrorism and Public Health, Oxford, New York, 2003.

Now that you are here...
From bottled water to oxygen cans, not even the basics are free in a market-driven world. Why then, do we take free and independent journalism for granted? We find ourselves at a time when more people like you, are reading and coming out in support of The New Leam’s independent, in-depth and throughly issue based journalism than ever before. From grassroot stories and field-reports, to in-depth analysis of the pertinent political issues of our times, to news on gender, culture and educational issues- The New Leam has been dedicated to bringing out stories that speak out the soul of India and take you beyond the propaganda-filled corridors of mainstream journalism in India. We have made an important choice of keeping our journalism free of vested political interests, commercial funding and influence of partisan stakeholders, so that we can bring forward news and stories based on facts and provide a platform where readers can find information with integrity and a journalism premised on honesty. 

Your support to The New Leam is your contribution towards giving a voice to the voiceless, going to the depths of issues that others shy away from and rigorously illuminating the flame of criticality and courage in dark times. We hope that you will come forward to support The New Leam today so that we can keep delivering quality-independent journalism to you and inform public opinion in the right direction. No matter how big or small your contribution may be, it is tremendously important. It takes only a moment, Support The New Leam now!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *