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Wankers and Radical Losers February 27, 2006

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
All sorts of top blogs have linked to this article in the Graun which makes for a fascinating read about the mindset of the deluded radical.

Apart from it being interesting for, well, being interesting, it also raised another topic I’ve thought about on more than one occasion – the link between gayness and fascism. I didn’t know that Johann Hari had written on the subject and, indeed, reading his article leads nicely to a number of other links on the same theme. In any case, Buruma is somewhat lighter on gays than Hari is and concludes that it is not necessarily something inherent within gayness that leads to this overlap with fascism, but just that, “Extremism is the loser’s revenge on society. Who the losers happen to be depends on the nature of the society”.

Anyway, one good thing leading to another eventually took me from Buruma’s own article to one he mentions, on radical losers, written by Hans Magnus Enzensberger in signandsight (I slightly loathe this German tendency to not go for capitals in titles), the English-language spin-off from Perlentaucher, as far as I can understand. So a number of good and fascinating and gripping discoveries all within a couple of clicks. In any case, Buruma and Enzensberger both get to grips with the state of mind of the potential radical. I find their analyses riveting. They ring true. The latter ignores the sex angle, the former underlines it. In any case, they agree. The radicals’ radicalism comes more from within that without. Well worth a read.



1. Bren - February 27, 2006

What a giant crock of shit.

Palestinians – a subject I know a shitload about – have been brought up on a diet of hate on their televisions, in their newspapers, in their schools, in their summer activities, etc.

Palestinian summer camps – paid for either by Fatach or Hamas have been named for suicide bombers. Frequently the children will actually go to see the family of the suicide bomber in question.

In one particular case, a camp for 14 year old girls went to a summer camp named for Ayyat Al-Akhras, a 16 year old suicide bomber girl. (The UN helped pay for that camp, by the way.) That’s mighty powerful role modelling, and not much at all to do with having it off with yourself in the school bathroom.

Football stadiums have been named for terrorists, as have sporting tournaments for young people. Three summers ago a football tournament was named for the guy who killed 29 Israelis in a bomb. Each team in the tournament was named for individual suicide and dead terrorists. The brother of the main bomber handed out the prizes.

Schools have been named for dead terrorists, as well as for Al-Khansah, a mother from the Early Islamic Period who wrote beautiful poetry of thanks to Allah after her four sons died for his glory. Powerful role modelling.

Programmes for kids on television say how bad the Jews are, and how they poison, rape, massacre etc Palestinian children for kicks.

A talking puppet said that should a little boy uproot some trees in his front yard, he’d bring a Kalashnikov and “commit a massacre” in his front yard. On another programme for the same puppet, the warning was issued – “you can’t trust the Jews – they can strike anytime.”

Palestinians and others from the Muslim world have been raised on hatred, raised to see that violence is both the natural response to crises as well as the solution to all problems. They have been raised to view death for Allah as painless, with a glorious hereafter of fountains, jewels, and, yes, a harem full of the “dark eyed maidens.”

Islamist violence is a result of these children’s upbringing and nothing at all to do with Western angst regarding sex.

These people who impose their own cultural hangups on other socieities shit me to tears.

Thus spake Bren.

2. BiB - February 28, 2006

Bren, bugger, I just copied a squillion quotes from the Enzensberger article – which is the one that gripped me more – and then lost them all. But I’d have thought you’d agree with a lot of what he has to say. (The only quote I didn’t lose was this one: “The project of the radical loser, as currently seen in Iraq and Afghanistan, consists of organizing the suicide of an entire civilisation. But the likelihood of their succeeding in an unlimited generalization of their death cult is negligible.”) And I think he’d agree with much that you say, namely that the ‘radical loser’ seeks to find the source of all that has gone wrong in his own life in others rather than himself. Enzensberger mostly deals with this on an individual level, regardless of whether the loser’s aims are political or not. But, he also deals with it when it becomes collective: “But what happens when the radical loser overcomes his isolation, when he becomes socialized, finds a loser-home, from which he can expect not only understanding but also recognition, a collective of people like himself who welcome him, who need him? Then, the destructive energy that lies within him is multiplied – his unscrupulousness, his amalgam of death-wish and megalomania – and he is rescued from his powerlessness by a fatal sense of omnipotence.”

…Which applies to Palestinian suicide-bombers and those who support them, i.e. people finding a radically wrong and mad ‘solution’ to their own problems, just as Islamism at large sees a whole host of external enemies rather than many parts of the Muslim world seeing that the main problems they face are, of course, of their own making.

3. leon - February 28, 2006

In this particular form of radicalism – as with others – you also have the notable failure of an existing ‘solution’, in this case secular, socialist pan-Arabism (the entanglement of this latter movement with Cold War-era geopolitics is of course one of the reasons the West ended up funding all kinds of odd groups).

4. Bren - February 28, 2006

Well, Broke, if you put it like that…

To be honest, I can’t be bothered reading the article again. (In fact, I only read half of it the first time before I got the shits with it.)

5. Bren - February 28, 2006

No, dammit, I’m still pissed off. His whole talk of sex is full of shit. His first reference (if I remember correctly) to Islam is that in a conservative society, the guys had trouble getting some and thus are presumably motivated by 12-year-old virgins in the hereafter. This is a crock.

11-year-old girls on television who dream of dying for Allah aren’t thinking about sex. Mothers on television who say how happy they are that their sons were killed whilst killing aren’t thinking about how much their sons are getting.

This is a society that has been reared on hatred and a love of death for years. A Hamas politician – before the elections – appeared on a video on the Hamas website saying that Palestinians have raised a generation that loves death more than the enemy loves life. It’s true.

If there were one or two suicide bomber wannabes among Palestinians, I’d accept the loser tag for them. But an entire society cannot be labelled losers, or the word loses its currency.

When 80% of Palestinians support suicide bombings and over half of Palestinian children want to be a bomber ‘when they grow up,’ the whole society must be examined. I refuse to accept the idea that every Palestinian is a ‘loser.’

6. Bren - March 1, 2006

At the risk of being one of those people who flood your blog with comments, I think that we most agree with each other.

You are right that the society as a whole blames others for their woes (many of their woes are caused by others).

It just shat me when he put so much emphasis on sexual frustration…

Sorry for being so, um, forthright.

7. Anonymous - March 1, 2006

I think sex has led this thread astray.

The Enzensberger piece is the really interesting one and gradually seems to be getting some media.


8. BiB - March 1, 2006

Gosh, no, flood away. Nothing could make me happier. Well, you’re right, Bren, of course, that if we generalise too far, any statement becomes a bit ridiculous, and it would, obviously, be ludicrous to state simply that Palestinians are losers. I agree with you also that the sex thing doesn’t work on this mass scale, but I quite like Buruma’s example of the arse who murdered Theo van Gogh because of the film he made with Ayaan Hirsi Ali (whom I happen to rather like. Don’t know anything about the pair’s film-making abilities, though). Buruma claims, perhaps utterly wrongly, but it’s not an utterly mad idea, that the killer had tried, or wanted to try, the kind of life of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll that he thought he saw on offer everywhere in the Netherlands. Reality turned out somewhat different. He felt humiliated. Complex upon complex led to bonkersness and rage. He sought a quick answer and found it in Islamism. Fatal. Not a complete answer, perhaps, but a factor.

In any case, what I like in those articles is the actually fairly straightforward point, though very sophisticatedly made, especially by Enzensberger, that the loser, or radical, or extremist is basically bound to be an oddball in one way or another and woe betide when he gets some (usually bonkers) bee in his bonnet. Combine this oddballity with some perceived grievance or sense of victimhood and the combination can be lethal.

By the way, there are no limits on forthrightness here. I’m perfectly happy for anyone to say whatever they like (he says, in this age of torment about free speech). Rage on!

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