Sunday, 14 May 2017

What drives terrorism?

Martin Luther King Jr. (1967) in one of his Massey Lectures quotes Victor Hugo who said “If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.” King used this quote in the context of talking about riots in the US against segregation and unequal opportunities. King wasn't endeavouring to justify the riots but was showing that he understood why the repressed might accept violence as an option.

For me, what is key in Victor Hugo's comment and in King's talk is that the oppressors or those causing darkness blame the rioters or those rising up against their regimes. In our case, the western world is blaming those rising up to oppose them as being at fault. This blame is revealed in the name that is given to them (i.e. terrorist). There is little consideration given for why they are rising up in opposition to western regimes. That would be to acknowledge that we have done something that caused them to feel downtrodden or neglected or ... and that we are causing the “darkness”. The “terrorists” are “terrorists” because of their attitudes and nothing to do with our actions.

If this sounds a little like blaming the poor for being poor because they are unwilling to work and you don't believe this lie then you are getting my message. The poor are poor because of the nature of the system that we work under. A system that rewards (transfers the wealth to) the rich and enslaves everyone else. Our system relies on some people taking on less skilled essential work at lower rates of pay in order to survive. Because it is seen as low skilled work, it is believed they are easily replaced (i.e. they are just another resource in the system that can be replaced if required).

What I call “economic slavery” is the foundation of western capitalism and free markets. A market requires consumers preferably with artificial needs and in order to be come a consumer, you have to contribute to production. That is we will engender false needs in order to create a need for something that has no value and then force people to work to produce meaningless outcomes.

Despite all the claims of equal opportunities, this just isn't the truth of how the system operates. The market driven economy puts a price on everything including human life and the environment. By insisting that people must work to have an income and then controlling their status in the system and what they are paid based on perceived market value, we are simply enslaving people to the system. A system that is unwilling to pay the price for unskilled essential work to be done. A system which through a education process increasingly aimed at employability and competition squashes people into roles and lifestyles based on their assessed ability. A system that doesn't look at a person's potential but simply looks to fit them into a cog in the system.

Under such a system should we be surprised that there is increasing dissatisfaction with the established elite?


M.L. King Jr. (1967) The Trumpet of Conscience. Boston: Beacon Press.

No comments: