Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Al Qaeda's fantasy ideology

Lee Harris explains in Policy review how the world looks from a fundamentalist point of view

2 comments:

Tom said...
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Tom said...

This article makes some very good points. Three years ago some of the insights may have helped to prevent some counter productive reactions to 9/11 (for example, reductions of civil liberties).

The concept of a "fantasy ideology" is very good, consistently classifying the "evil" acts of recent history using fairly practical measures to seperate them out from the bad but merely political events. The metaphor of fanaticism being a disease is a also a good one, and can be generalised to them being virulent memes. The idea of memes also explains symbiotic memes such as the anti-American sentiments of Chomsky.

The conclusions reached by Harris (and the Bush worship) don't sit well with me. Bush's "instinctive" use of the "evildoers" attribution was no doubt inspired by his lack of categories to put the event into (hence the conclusion it was evil, rather than a more "intellectual" category such as poverty).

The solution of wiping out the disease is ok, but it's unclear whether Harris is advocating wiping out the fanatics altogether -- for Osama et al this may be reasonable, but where is the line drawn? Are all fundamentalist Muslims "carriers"? Should they be wiped out too? Or do they merely need a "vaccination"?