The structure of religious war and the tactics of terrorists

28 09 2009

When I was a kid, sitting in shul one sunny Yom Kippur, trying to imagine why in the world I should apologize for all this stuff that I didn’t do, news came in dribs and drabs to the people around me.  There was a rumble, a stir, and something that just doesn’t happen in the audience of a synagogue while the Rabbi is holding forth on the On-Rosh-Hashana-It-Is-Written-On-Yom-Kippur-It-Is-Sealed thing.  Eventually, someone went up onto the dais, and told the Rabbi that Israel had been attacked.  It was stunning, shocking, appalling, that these people didn’t attack Israel despite the fact that it was Yom Kippur: they attacked because it was.

Now, again, I was a kid, and I didn’t know about all the geopolitical complexities of the region.  I didn’t know who did what to whom and why.  I knew, though, that this was an attack of extraordinary cowardice. 

The months and years that followed saw Israel attacked again and again, but, the news that was so shocking was not the battlefield attacks: those were fair game.  It was the attacks on school buses and discos and pizza shops.  And I just didn’t understand it.

But, I understand it now.  The tactics of attacking civilians has hit my home country too.  And finally, I understand what this is all about.

Here it is in a neat little nutshell.  You want to know what the terrorists want?  I can tell you.  It’s the same as all extemists throughout history have wanted, our own included: They want to die in a religious war, die with the name of God on their lips, and in so doing, win the keys to paradise. 

But there’s a problem.  The vast majority of people in the world just want to live their lives quietly and without fuss.  They want to have their jobs and their homes and their families and their grocery stores and their nice commute to work.  This doesn’t work at all for the martyrs and zealots.  You simply cannot have a Holy War with someone on the way to the laundromat. 

So, the first thing they have to do is to attack the people in the middle who just want to live their day-to-day lives.  The worst enemies of extremists are not extremists on the other side.  Indeed, those are their allies: they can’t get what they want without the guys on the other side.  You can’t make it to the All-Star game unless you have an opponent.

No.  The worst enemies of extremists are non-extremists.  Mathematically, the opposite of infinity is not negative infinitiy, it’s zero; the opposite of 359 degrees is not 1 degree, it’s the center; or the opposite of “all” is not “none”, it’s “some”. 

The first duty, then, of the extremist is to attack the center in an attempt to remove the apathy and those “just trying to get along” in an attempt to radicalize the center.  They do that with bombs and fear and terror and attacking the innocent in huge showy audacious acts of savagery.  Once the center is radicalized, they can then be moved towards the extremist side of the spectrum.  Every attack moves the “center” farther from the “center”. 

Once the center has moved to the edges of one extreme or another, then the war of extremist against extremist can happen, and the blood lust of the martyr against the martyr can begin. 

Then, everybody wins.  When martyrs kill martyrs, there are no losers.  Somebody wins on the Earthly plane and the other person wins the keys to Heaven. 

If you’re a secularist, a centrist, a pacifist, you may see yourself as the one who is rational, the one who gets to define the situation, to steer things along until calmer heads prevail.  You get to say that mutually assured destruction is foolish.  And you’d be right, of course.

Except that that entire line of reasong is simply nonsense to zealots.  They don’t want calm heads: they want impassioned hearts. 

The centrist, the pacifist, the “innocent” who dies in a Holy War is just a victim.  Zealots don’t want victims; they want enemies.  Victims are last week’s garbage.  They don’t want that.  They want enemies.  There are no problems hacking off the limbs of the enemy and bathing in their blood.  They don’t want civil discourse; they want to drink the blood of their enemies. 

Which means that they have to have a blood bath. 

Which means, of course, that these bombings will continue until the last pacifist, with the taste of blood in his mouth, picks up a club and tears his shirt and yells for revenge. 

I promised some aesoterica so here it is.

There is a profound difference in quality of energy generated by someone beserk versus some soldier who is just there to do a job.  It’s like the energy generated by a prisoner being tortured versus held humanely watching time pass. 

There are three ways to live and three ways to die: actively, passively and unconsciously.  These people, these extremists, want everything on the most active and energized part of the spectrum.  They are looking for the level of energy generated to be raised to a fever pitch such that they can almost hear the energy crackling in the air.  They thrive on fear and anger and hate and sex and sexual repression.  They resonate to a red energy. 

The basis of this concept lies in the aesoterica.  After all, what is being sought is not on the earthly plane.  But this is where the action is.




2 responses

28 09 2009

The worst enemies of extremists are non-extremists.

This seems obvious, but I’d never really considered it before. Absolutely true, although it makes me wonder about the circumstances that create extremists, and how (or if) those circumstances can be shifted.

28 09 2009

Mmm… turn the other cheek? I guess they would slap harder?

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