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Re-examing the motivations of terrorists

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Here is an interesting paper which argues that "People turn to terrorism for social solidarity. He theorizes that people join terrorist organizations worldwide in order to be part of a community, much like the reason inner-city youths join gangs in the United States."

I don't know if the evidence supports this claim, but it makes a lot of sense and suggests that most current approaches to preventing terrorism have flawed premises.

Edited by GreedyCapitalist
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If this is true, it would be another example of how collectivism can bring such evil.

Are you bored with life? Then throw yourself into some work you believe in with all you heart, live for it, die for it, and you will find happiness that you had thought could never be yours.

-Andrew Carnegie

People don't seem to realize that if you put your all into something, even some of the most menial jobs, it gives you a sense of purpose.

Edited by NickS
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What about individuals acting alone, like the unibomber? Are they motivated by the desire for "social solidarity"?

I guess one can argue that his neo-luddite fanbase would view his actions as a catalyst for social solidarity.

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I guess one can argue that his neo-luddite fanbase would view his actions as a catalyst for social solidarity.

I'm always skeptical of any "needs" explanation of behavior since needs theory is a huge part of why modern psychology is such a trainwreck. Saying someone joined a group because of a herding instinct or something like that ignores the fact that people are motivated by ideas.

I think the only common denominator amongst terrorists is murderous ideologies. Islamism, Enviornmentalism, etc. The terrorist organizations are the natural result of people wanting to be around others that share their values. Look at any individual terrorist in an organization, and I would bet that you will see the ideology came before he joined the group. For example, Islamic terrorists have years of indoctrination in mosques before going all-out and joining a terrorist organization.

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I'm always skeptical of any "needs" explanation of behavior since needs theory is a huge part of why modern psychology is such a trainwreck. Saying someone joined a group because of a herding instinct or something like that ignores the fact that people are motivated by ideas.

I think the only common denominator amongst terrorists is murderous ideologies. Islamism, Enviornmentalism, etc. The terrorist organizations are the natural result of people wanting to be around others that share their values. Look at any individual terrorist in an organization, and I would bet that you will see the ideology came before he joined the group. For example, Islamic terrorists have years of indoctrination in mosques before going all-out and joining a terrorist organization.

I'm rather sure the ideology that he supported and espoused (violent Luddite-ism) is more than enough to fit that criterion.

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I'm always skeptical of any "needs" explanation of behavior since needs theory is a huge part of why modern psychology is such a trainwreck. Saying someone joined a group because of a herding instinct or something like that ignores the fact that people are motivated by ideas.

I think the only common denominator amongst terrorists is murderous ideologies. Islamism, Enviornmentalism, etc. The terrorist organizations are the natural result of people wanting to be around others that share their values. Look at any individual terrorist in an organization, and I would bet that you will see the ideology came before he joined the group. For example, Islamic terrorists have years of indoctrination in mosques before going all-out and joining a terrorist organization.

But there are similarities between the type of people who get attracted to extremist groups regardless of the ideas those groups promote - get a hardcore Leninist, a LaRouchian, and a fundamentalist Christian, and youre likely to see some personality overlap. Look at the work thats done been done on the Authoritarian Personality for example - there are shared traits between modern right-wing authoritarianism and Bolshevism, which arent entirely explainable in terms of the underlying ideas involved. People who feel alienated by mainstream society for whatever reason are more likely to gravitate towardss extremist positions than people who feel well-adapted.

edit: I skimmed the Unabomber's manifesto a few years ago ago and dont remember thinking it was particularly crazy, there's reasonable points in there among the mistakes, like in most political texts. Its not a million miles away from crtical theory/situationism/Freud/Nietzsche/etc even if less nuanced. Lots of people have thought theres something fundamentally wrong with modern life, they just didnt go out and blow up buildilngs afterwards.

Edited by eriatarka
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edit: I skimmed the Unabomber's manifesto a few years ago ago and dont remember thinking it was particularly crazy, there's reasonable points in there among the mistakes, like in most political texts. Its not a million miles away from crtical theory/situationism/Freud/Nietzsche/etc even if less nuanced. Lots of people have thought theres something fundamentally wrong with modern life, they just didnt go out and blow up buildilngs afterwards.

I read it too. My assessment was that he was a crazy enviornmentalist. His ideas wern't any different than the ones I was learning in my Environmental Engineering class or from "an inconvenient truth", but I guess he just had more integrity (if you can call it that) in implementing his credo.

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I think the vast majority of envioronmentalists either support liberal democracy/state-capitalism and just want a few more regulations, or they put humans second to the planet as a whole. The unabomber seems to have more in common with people like Kierkegaard/Heidegger/etc who thought that an increasingly technocratic society was bad for humanity and led to misery and reduced freedom, so opposed it on those grounds rather because they cared about the planet or non-human life. The unabomber didnt really care about the envioronment in itself, only what he thought was best for his vision of humanity.

Edited by eriatarka
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David, that article only addresses the mentality of the pawns of terrorist organizations. It is saying absolutely nothing fundamental about the cause of it, which we all know is based in philosophy. There will always be at least some people who are clueless joiners willing to do violence, just as there will always be at least some criminals. But crime becomes widespread and rampant under specific conditions, explained by philosophy. Which is how it is with terrorism, as well.

Edited by Inspector
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