Terrorism, Hate & Love

Terrorist attacks

In the aftermath of the Manchester bombing it is heartening to see the vast majority of the population drawing together in support of the victims, their families and the emergency services, strengthening the very sense of social solidarity that all terrorists seek to undermine.

During my lifetime I’ve seen successive waves of terrorism come and go. In the 1970’s ETA, IRA, RAF and others committed many bombings and now thankfully they’ve all given up: now Islamic Jihadists and Neo Nazis predominate. Many years ago I was studying Social Anthropology at LSE and I read a paper called ‘Intercommunal Killing in Cyprus’ by my tutor, the late Peter Loizos. The paper explored the interface between the psychology of the individual perpetrator and the surrounding community that fosters and encourages ideologies of hatred. Individual terrorists may operate alone but they are always encouraged and inspired by some community of people expressing hatred toward some other rival community or social group.

It seems to me the only long term and effective solution is to foster ideologies of love, of social inclusion, social solidarity, pluralism, diversity and egalitarianism. After the Paris bombings in November 2015 I wrote a blog expressing something along these lines. It’s been said before and it’ll be said again. The only way to defeat terrorism is to make it unacceptable to stoke the fires of hatred. I think it was Jimi Hendrix who said ‘when the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.’

4 thoughts on “Terrorism, Hate & Love

  1. len marlow

    Just came across your article today. I couldn’t have expressed it better and it is what Jeremy Corbyn is arguing about our foreign policy, deffence and overseas aid. Lets HOPE he gets enough votes to make a difference, either with a victory or by unbalancing the current cozy politics of UK. How could leaving the EU ever be anything other than an act of aggression – and mainly against all those that fought in the 2nd world war – a folly of monumental proportions.

  2. David Lovelace

    Islamic terrorism is of a different order and kind from that of (say) IRA/ETA in having a religious objective rather than (say) united Ireland, political autonomy, overthrow of capitalism etc. Islamic terrorism is also a worldwide and community embedded enterprise which distinguishes it from lone-wolf neo-Nazis. From Sydney, Indonesia, Bangladesh, NEMA countries, France, UK, Belgium, Holland to the US the attacks all have a similar pattern and are carried out by devout religious believers expecting paradise for killing the infidel as prescribed in the ‘holy’ texts. They are also integral part of their communities and peer groups. Applying western thought processes to ‘understanding’ such Islamic motivations (foreign policy etc) always gives the wrong answer due a failure to understand Islam itself. France’s socialist Government famously kept out of the ‘war on terror’ yet is rewarded by Bataclan and Nice, nor have the Yazidis or Coptic Christians had any ‘foreign policy’ to justify their treatment, similarly secular bloggers being hacked to death on the streets of Dacca. Being confined to Europe your graph fails to reflect the reality, excluding 9/11 which was planned in Europe by the ‘Munich cell’ not to mention the Shia vs Sunni terrorism for which your graph would require a logarithmic scale! It not so much the actual attacks which are transformative (I was in Manchester on May 22nd) but the ideology from which it springs. I was in cosmopolitan Sydney in April (visiting emigrated daughter) and while I was there a public meeting was held in the nearby enclave on Bankstown (a predominantly Muslim quarter) which called for the murder of ‘apostates’ (those who renounce their religion). In 10 countries of the world (all Islamic and espousing Sharia Law) ‘apostasy’, which includes ‘blasphemy’ and not having any religion, attracts the death penalty while here in the UK 1 in 4 of the 3 million Muslims would prefer Sharia Law to Secular Law. Surveys also indicate that most adherents to Islam are not too keen on gays or women’s rights. The idea that lighting a few candles and issuing ‘love and peace’ platitudes will have even the slightest effect on Islamic fanatics is dangerously naïve. Welcome to the fascism of the 21st century.

    1. Richard Post author

      Hi Dave
      Lots here to unpack. Neo-Nazis are internationally organised and to some extent embedded in their communities in similar ways to Islamic terrorists. Shia-Sunni conflict has lots of parallels with Protestant-Catholic conflicts of 16C Europe or 20C N Ireland. Of course as a secular atheist I find concepts of blasphemy and apostasy outrageous and outdated. For a detailed, thoughtful and clear analysis of what is going on in contemporary Islam I’d recommend reading ‘Heretic’ by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. My own extended family now has people of many diverse backgrounds: Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Agnostic and we all get on, based on the understanding of love, respect, equality and diversity. Much more interesting than the old monoglot family.


Leave a Reply

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.