The Prevention of
Even when the Taliban falls, while the military efforts
may diminish, this situation is far from over. We should continue
to disrupt the variables.
We should only support a government
that allows for individual thought and expression, which would
decidedly end the cult of confession.
As it stands, the government feels it is entitled to
complete power over the lives, minds and fortunes of its inhabitants.
Unless we take all this into account, we run the
risk of creating a
monster that will become
increasingly more difficult to defeat using only force. It will rear its
head repeatedly. We don't want to extinguish the fire and then
leave the coals smoldering.
In our military response, we need to make it
clear that we're attacking the
people who attacked us – not the whole Islamic population. If
that isn't clear, our actions (combined with Bin Laden's rhetoric) may
engender so much sympathy for Bin Laden that the Islamic leaders can't
support us even if they'd like to. Faced with a united Islamic
opposition, this war will become much bloodier.
this situation is the simplest – and most dangerous –
Our leaders need to make informed
decisions based on the understanding of totalism in the present, and in
the past. Given our current level of anger, it would be easy to
vilify Bin Laden and those around him, vent our wrath and kill them,
|consider that the end of it. That, in
itself, is totalistic thinking.
Lifton wrote that
"totalism begets totalism," and Miguel de Unanimo, a Spanish
existentialist philosopher, wrote, "be careful in the pursuit of
monsters that you yourself do not become a monster."
These are wise words.
Now the most pertinent question is this: Will America fall
into the same trap as countless others, will we, as the current victim,
become the equivalent to the "oppressed", exaggerate the qualities of
the "oppressor" and rationalize indiscriminant violence in the name of
"justice"? Will we become a "totalistic monster"?
the high road.
Steven Barrie-Anthony has published on
eastern and new religions, and has two upcoming articles focusing on
the psychology of totalism in the journals Terrorism and Political
Violence and Nova Religio. You can email him at
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