Monday, June 20, 2016

Why Force is not a deterrent against extremism

What prompts a highly educated millenial born in a normal household to just get a rifle and mow down fifty innocent people? Reports on the Florida shooting says the gunman was "radicalized" by the images he saw over the Internet.

What were those highly controversial images which transformed this man from an ordinary citizen into a gunman? This should be a subject of study.

US reports tell us of an entire neighborhood in Afghanistan and several other areas in the Middle East turning against American and European troops. Years had past, and those areas bombed to oblivion and still, people get their guns and shoot at those "liberation" troops.

" These," says one colleague, " are manifestations of the clash of civilizations."

Is this true? Is Samuel Huntington's original thesis about an end-time, apocalytic war between Islam and Christian about to happen? Or this is a manifestation of Oswald Spengler's prediction about the fall of Western civilization?

Using Huntington's lenses, we find that differing socio-cultural and religious values are causes of conflicts and disorder. But, is the use of arms really the answer?

History is replete with annihilation stories. From several millenia past, we read how the homo sapiens slaughtered neanderthals, of Mesopotamians burning to the ground several other races living as their neighbours, of how tribes in China went against each other, and of Russians mowing down their former Union states due to socio-cultural and even religious differences.

These gruesome stories are manifesting as we speak today in different parts of the world. While Karl Marx and his fellow Socialists predicted the fall of the West as a consequence of surplus capital, a different trend is emerging.

But of course, these occurrences have their historical links. Most of these people are still fighting for the recognition of their civil and economic rights, and the economic system just can't provide them sufficient outlets to express themselves or give them enough latitude to maneuver or enjoy their religious or intellectual pursuits.

Studies have shown that different systems bring with them differing cultural values. Why is it that Singapore holds the record of the least number of racist-related disputes? Why is Malaysia and Indonesia under a period of relative political order inspite of having a big Muslim majority living side by side with Buddhists, Hindus and Christians?

It is those countries with fairly large religious majorities with underdeveloped economies that suffer inter-religion and even inter-racial conflicts. Is it because of the widely held perception that majorities  enjoy most of the "good life" and minorities don't?

Denmark, Sweden, the Neatherlands and Singapore enjoy relative law and order because their governmental systems work very hard in maintaining the peace. Laws are strictly enforced and Lady Justice does not use racial or economic sunglasses.

When the State itself perpetuates violence as a deterrent or a solution to deeply rooted sensitivities, it creates an endless cycle of violence that ends without any solution. For when a state approaches these problems in a grand state-level attention, one finds a corrupted often hawkish solution that favors the use of monies to buy arms--Just kill them, anyway we lose nothing.

What these states do not realize is that it indeed loses something--it loosens the bonds of national unity and makes it easier for extremism to penetrate the social membrane and influence many to also take arms either in defense of oneself or in defense of faiths and beliefs.

Extremism feeds unto the fears of many. It grows under a climate of mistaken beliefs. And violence is the right fuel for it, and allows it to take decisive root deep within the social sphere.