Three terror attacks on the news today: in France a factory boss was beheaded, in Tunesia 37 tourists where shot dead on a beach and in Kuwait someone blew himself up taking 27 fellow muslims with him.
What in the name of Darwin is it that makes people DO such things?
Me not being to able to sleep because of it is very minor compare to the 65 destroyed lives and 65 times the lives of friends, families and colleagues of all those people that are put into severe grief - and for what? For fucks sake?
Very tired today, the news of the terror attacks and the question WHY kept me restless till 6 o'clock in the morning before I finally succumbed to my tiredness and slept.
*edit: my mind fails to understand any choice of behaviour that isn't grounded in rationality or morals. The golden rule, the thought "how would I myself liked to be treated by others" should be the rule-stick for any action. I am sure the terrorists wouldn't wan't to be beheaded or shot or blown up, so WHY WOULD THEY DO SO TO OTHERS?
I don't understand!@!@!
1) A first approach would be Yasmina Khadra's novels. Check if "Les agneaux du seigneur" is translated in english or dutch. It's a nice chronicle of religious radicalisation in an algerian village, showing how personal frustrations and bitternes can be lead to religious escapism and channeling of despair into heineous self-righteous violence.
2) The kantian imperative can easily be trumped by grand ideology, be it religion, capitalism, communism, nationalism, ethnicism, etc. The Greater Good, the Causes That Are Beyond Individuals seem to justify atrocities. Propaganda and manipulation can pretty quickly shift people's values into murderous ones, and the 20th century if full of exemples of that. The internet, by the way, is particularly good at locking people into little cyber-communities where radicalizing discourses can be thoroughly hammered into "common sense".
3) Violence is part of many people's fantasies, inhibited by collective morals. And many people are just overjoyced when a different moral system (full with its own righteous legitimating logic) allows them to indulge in it, at various levels (warmongering, capital punishment, destructive riots, and other forms of "oh these are the bad guys therefore we are allowed to ? cool
"). Islamist radicalism is a door on a different world, where having "an epic adventure" is possible and "beheading baddies" becomes okay, whether these "baddies" are designated to you or you designate them to your group.
There's always a series of elements, both "collective" and "individual", that enable such behaviour. They are not historically rare, even though it takes various forms through the ages and contexts. Islamism as a geopolitical phenomenon is the early 21st century's nazism, and is particularly spectacular as spectacle is a deliberate element of it. But its psychological enablers are not necessarily much different from, say, those of the golden dawn killers who roam the streets of Athens with much less publicity. Human life devaluation is easy to achieve, and our own politicians are not really above it either (although they offer us nice proxies and euphemisms to feel good about it).