Does the Manchester bomb outrage prove Donald Trump right? Personally I doubt whether good and evil is a helpful insight, but the nature of this particular target does go farther than anything else to date. Oppressed causes which many thought legitimate, such as Israel or a united Ireland have used obscene levels of violence, and wedding parties have frequently been attacked in Iraq, but Manchester, London and Paris remain much safer places than Baghdad.
However, the Conservatives must be getting quite jittery to need to use Jeremy Corbyn’s pointing out the obvious as evidence against him. He did not say or imply that the terrorists were not to blame. There have always been seriously disturbed individuals, but in most functioning societies their scope is limited. That was even true in Syria and Iraq until recently. Relevant recent events include British foreign policy, though that is only one factor
In Syria, climate change is implicated in a run of poor harvests, though this can never be ‘proof’. Be that as it may, the shortages led to the civil war, and the sheer hopelessness to the rise of ISIS. Corbyn being right about one of the underlying causes does not help to clear up the mess. We cannot put the humpty dumpties of Syria and Iraq together again. Governments will just have to be careful before they risk any more breakages. (North Korea?)
What does seem to be happening is that the breakdown in established norms – which were consequences of decisions – at the same time as the growth of the internet enables disturbed individuals to co-operate as never before.
It must not be forgotten that there are also attacks by ‘far right’ individuals – McVeigh, Breivik, Mair, as well as a number of high school shootings. Have these always happened, or are they on the rise?
But surely, how to minimise the frequency of such occurrences has to be the main aim. From my armchair, it seems as though the Police are doing remarkably well at detecting plots, but tackling root causes will have to be involved.
That does not mean giving bombers what they demand. We don’t have to go into the value of the state of Israel, or the benefits (post Brexit??) of a united Ireland to judge that an Islamic Caliphate would be unnecessarily unpleasant by most standards. But it does involve giving large numbers of Muslim people something which enables them to see a viable alternative to ISIS. The Basic income may seem peripheral, but until someone comes up with a better idea, the World Basic Income must form part of the basis for such aspirations.
But population is a factor which may be less obvious. The story may be apocryphal, but I once read of a tribesman watching bulldozers destroy the forest which had been his home, saying “Why did their mothers not love these men enough?” Growth may not seem relevant to bombing atrocities, but the sheer ethos driving growth, quite unnatural as a long term state of affairs, is bound to lead to conflicts over resources. Regular readers already know about the Tragedy of the Commons.
If we are to prevent bombing atrocities, then it is important that every child is a wanted child. We must make sure that every child grows up happy and well integrated within a community. And that community must not have to compete for resources with neighbours.
I have what some may think an odd view of human nature. Good? Evil? Greedy? Caring and compassionate? I see us as a bundle of what I call ‘Primal Programmes’: hard wired patterns of behaviour ready to be applied in appropriate circumstances. This is the case with all animals, indeed all living organisms, but it is all too often overlooked in humans due to cultural adaptations and the shaky assumption that we are rational beings.
Some of these ‘programmes’ ensure the smooth functioning of society, but many are dormant, only kicking in when needed, including responses to threats.
Growth as a basic cultural assumption leads inevitably to negative primal programmes.
Most if not all ‘evil’ is due either to malfunction such as brain abnormality or traumatic childhood, or the operation of one or more primal programmes. Racism is such a programme, present in most individuals, but dormant until there is the perception of not enough to go round, or too many ‘others’. Guess why the Brexit result surprised everybody.