Careerists of the desert


The government, seconded by most news networks are sure to have found the solution to the effects of religious fundamentalism as it has recently stricken British society: surveillance, stricter control through stricter legislation, supplemented by the practice of traditional ruffianism (or else the giving of information from members of the public to the authorities). For it is clear what the Telegraph means when it ends its August 23rd article with: “Somebody in the local community had tipped police off about his activities” and “the need to collect information is ever more pressing … the fear is other returning jihadists will have slipped the net, wandering Britain’s streets with murderous intent”. A melodramatic, badly phrased, Jack-the-ripper-on-the-loose urge to report anything suspicious (to the police, the authorities etc). Let’s not forget the news articles and the vans with enlarged CCTV pictures asking the public to identify and report rioters during and after the August 2011 unrest. Let’s begin pondering the meaning of posters at bus and tube stops urging: “reporting anything unusual won’t hurt you”. The long-used and favourite habit of reporting doesn’t seem to have brought us any closer to solutions for the pathologies of this society.

The voice of reason recently poured out of “respected and educated” mouths to express the mainstream sentiment: the former archbishop of Canterbury and the mayor of London spoke out against multiculturalism and “those brats who despite benefiting from all the spoils of the open/tolerant/all-embracing British society, dare to turn against it”. Fragments of truthful utterances such as the responsibility of the Muslim communities and the failure of multiculturalism are awkwardly combined with loads of national arrogance and the belligerent air of the master of the world chess-board. In a rare attempt at approaching the core of the matter, the Independent, published the obvious: it is society as a whole which creates the monster. The deed itself was monstrous and any attempt by the Left to dissipate its significance by blaming it on european/western brutality at home or abroad falls short of its target. First, because they resort to crudely anachronistic comparisons (i.e. that murderous excursions such as the Christian crusades occurred not last year but several hundred years ago is not taken into account in their reports); moreover, they insist on an antiquated ‘anti-imperialist’ rhetoric, which may seem self-evident (hasn’t the West – the US and Britain mainly – started the wars in the middle East after all?) but is inadequate and blind to other factors such as Islamic fundamentalism (where are the equivalent, contemporary movements by Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians etc, leftists never seem to ask themselves, lest they will be accused of Islamophobia) and the deep decomposition of western institutions and values to which they have no alternative to propose.

British society as a whole does not wish and, moreover, is unable to see its own face reflected in the face of its jihadists. Yes, multiculturalism in its present form has failed [1] (albeit for very different reasons than those that can cross the mind of an arch-priest); yes, religious fundamentalism is a sine qua non of the problem and religious communities are to be held accountable for it; but the fact remains that these British bred and born, who have been shaped by the British values and education system seem to have incorporated the worst of it. To take a closer look at these values (or, more accurately, wider social characteristics) is imperative: careerist and consumerist culture, suppression of individuality, omnipresence of surveillance, lack of essential communication between different cultural groups and within these groups, bureaucratic omnipotence, nationalist hubris, stark economic and political inequality. In a word, insignificance; a post-modern porridge of highly competitive, neo-yuppie emptiness which when it does not bring young people to suicide or death [2], steels in them a hard core of individualism, indifference and apathy. It is beyond doubt that apart from the accent, these men and women have adopted the British or western, if you like, ideal; they are cold careerists of a different kind, not of the City but of the desert.

I’m not trying to find humanity in the psyche of fanatics, or justify the unjustifiable. I’m looking for democratic solutions instead of badly-stitched patches on the body of a profoundly problematic society, which cannot be improved by cabinet legislations and dictations from above. Unfortunately, the dominant paradigm, which is not only promoted by the elites but is also widely accepted by the majority, is disciplinary action, punishment and not prevention, isolation and not communication, the preservation of hierarchical cynicism and the rejection of critical thinking and truly democratic, horizontal institutions and values. The tolerant face of Britain is being distorted and lost by its ugly combination with suppressing policies and social practices, which make every aspect of social and even private life increasingly suffocating and intolerable.

[1] For a brief explanation of the failure of western multiculturalism and possible alternatives see the article The Society of Intercultural Relations (p.32-40) on Democracy Street
[2] Let’s not forget the 31-year-old PhD graduate who committed suicide by falling from his Kensington home in January 2013, after only being able to find a job at a call centre, or the 21-year-old Bank of America intern who died of exhaustion from work in November 2013.

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