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Friday, June 12, 2015

Phony Culture

Russian citizens are joining IS. So are the citizens of other countries.

Russia Beyond The Headlines
Why are ordinary Russians joining the ranks of Islamic State?
June 11, 2015 Oleg Yegorov, special to RBTH
Like many European countries, Russia is encountering a new threat: Its citizens are being recruited by terrorists and are traveling to the Middle East to join radical Islamist groups such as Islamic State (ISIS). Russian experts believe that various factors are involved, including a misguided approach by law-enforcement agencies and a lack of opportunities for the young.


The majority of Russian citizens that join the ranks of the extremists are people from the country’s Muslim republics but sometimes they are ethnic Russians. This is not a new phenomenon: There have been cases in which Russians fought on the side of Wahhabists even before the appearance of ISIS.

For example, Said Buryatsky, one of the ideological leaders of the Caucasian terrorist underground at the end of the 2000s, was a Russian whose real name was Alexander Tikhomirov. Buryatsky was eliminated in 2010.

And even as far back as the Soviet campaign in Afghanistan during the early 1980s there were documented cases of ethnic Russians converting to Islam and going over to the side of the Mujahideen to fight against their former comrades-in-arms.

The lure of extremism

As Georgy Mirsky, an expert on the Arab world and Doctor of Historical Sciences, pointed out to RBTH, Russia is far from the only country whose young citizens are traveling to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS.

"In the last month 1,733 people alone left France to join ISIS, and statistically, one fifth of them did not come from Muslim families but were recruited,” said Mirsky, who pointed out that 30 percent of the women joining ISIS were “still not Muslim until recently.”


The world is dominated by Phony Culture, which is addictions and obsessions spread out like unconnected beads fallen from a rosary, yet still thinly held together by an overlay of scraps and pieces of meaningful life-bits.

There is no Story holding things together.

I use the symbol  σ   the small Greek letter sigma to denote "story".

People need a   σ   to hold things together.
When the time comes that the pressure and suffering on families and individuals is intense, things begin to break down. This is seen clearly in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD.
It was noticed that the soldiers in World War I most susceptible to PTSD were those who felt they had no control over the situations they found themselves in. For example, balloon observers were subject to PTSD - essentially being sitting ducks - whereas pilots were not; pilots had "control" of their airplanes and the action of flying, no matter how dangerous the territory in which they found themselves.

 σ is how people maintain control over their lives. They have a story in which they are characters and thus have meaning.

Upon receiving sensations, the brain works at predicting what will come next.
The brain does not merely process sensation, but it tries to fit it into a structure that is meaningful enough that it may predict what is going to happen next, thus providing us with  appropriate route of action to follow.

There is a Bayesian Probability here, as the brain predicts based on existing probabilities, then modifies those probabilities based on the most recent outcomes of our actions.

This Bayesian process forms the basis for  σ , the story of our lives.

When things fall apart, and the center cannot hold, that is the time when our story falls apart and we find ourselves totally naked in the universe.
We find ourselves facing that which is totally The Other, so much "Other" that there is no way we can attempt to interact based upon prior experience.

Then we lose control.
Then we fall apart, too.

Unless,... unless we have a great  σ in place that we may invoke to hold things together.
This story may be faith, honor, loyalty, love, but its function is to maintain the Self.

In the midst of phony and trivial culture, people seek war.
They seek war to face the greatest threat, and thereby to destroy the meaningless story of culture which they despise.

They have a new story.

When faced with killing others and being killed oneself in war, they will find that the old self goes mute and begins to fall away, leaving them open to PTSD-like states.
However, they short-circuit the suffering of the loss of control over their environment by substituting their new story, the new  σ which will guide their new lives.

Thus, we see that ideology seeks war in order that the old ideology be killed off, thus providing a clean space to construct the new ideology.

Natural Selection and survival of the fittest... the ideas which face death in order to survive death.

Therefore, we have a glimpse how difficult it will be in the struggle against IS.
The nations opposed to IS will be forced to become meaningful and relevant and fulfilling, and that is a tall order.


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