American Elephants


What Makes Them Join the Jihad? by The Elephant's Child

Michael Ledeen has gone directly to the nub of the question. Why do they join the Jihad? Why are they flocking to ISIS?

Because it gives meaning to life, that’s why.

It’s a commonplace to anyone who’s studied the rise of fascism, of which Islamofascism is the most recent variety.  The main problem with democratic capitalism is that it’s so successful, and therefore very boring.  A generation or two of European intellectuals bemoaned the great triumph of science and industry, which they portrayed as relentlessly stifling the human soul, burying us under a hill of material things.

The Germans produced the most moving such literature — think Nietzsche, think Hesse, not accidentally the cult hero of the American revolt against materialism in the 1960s — and, seeking for paths to spiritual fulfillment, they often wandered off into Eastern mysticism.  (Californians dd, too, and sometimes still do, but that’s not fascism.  It’s Hollywood spirituality).

The spiritual path merged with politics, catalyzed by war.  All fascism, whatever version of social or political organization it advocates, insists that war is the true measure of human virtue.  A person’s valor and courage are measured by his performance in combat.  The Italian fascists insisted that Mussolini and his followers were superior people who had been molded in the trenches of the Great War.  Young men and women who believed they possessed heroic qualities raced to join the fascist movement, just as they now race to join the jihad.

Dr. Ledeen points out that though there is considerable literature on the recruitment of poor young Muslims to suicide bombing, the recruiters promise money and security to the surviving family. The immediate passion is the thrill of fighting the enemy and making a real difference in creating a new world.

Religious rituals and beliefs work, as long as the movement succeeds. When we crush the jihad, killing the jihadis before they kill us — we destroy the ideology by demonstrating that their leaders are false prophets.

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