I basically learned to read by immersion in comic books and science fiction. Not even of my own choosing– my older brothers’ cast-offs and hand-me downs. So in the current frenzy to “understand” the genesis and evolution of the Islamic State the natural analogies my brain serves up are science fiction ones.
One of the most isomorphic is the theme of resistance modelled by Richard Morgan’s Quellist insurgents in Woken Furies. Obama and the Western governments do understand the core problem, even if no one talks about it, preferring instead to spout chest-beating happytalk and wishful thinking. The proximate causes of the “Arab Spring” are regional youth population demographics fueled by social media and global internet connectivity. And regional youth population demographics are increasing over the next 50 years.
If you, dear reader, are interested in the genesis of the Islamic State please avoid the Brookings/Carnagie-Mellon flaks and grifters and instead read Dr. Scott Atran and Abdel Bari Atwan. Dr. Atran is the cognitive anthropologist and behavioral scientist who gets invited to brief the UN on Islamic State youth recruitment, ideology, doctrine and design. Abdel Bari Atwan is a regional arabic journalist and author whose fine book, The Digital Caliphate captures the best contemporary description of the Islamic State that I’ve read so far.
The Islamic State is a complex adaptive system and there are many environmental and historical currents that play into its global rise, but I’m going to focus on youth recruitment and population demographics and how those two forces combine to create a powerful generational fighting cadre– multidimensional in the sense that it is fixed in the past, present and future.
Morgan’s Takeshi Kovacs Universe is a place where the constraint of limited lifespan has essentially been removed by technology. Most humans (except for religious objectors) get fitted with a cortical stack that can be infinitely repeat-decanted into genetically engineered and vat-grown “sleeves”. As one would expect, the oligarchs are extremely old and extremely evil, not to mention massively wealthy. On Harlan’s World there was a rebellion termed the “Unsettlement” against the rule of the First Families– and the asymmetrical warfare protocol ginned up by the Quellist Black Brigades was the most fiendish creation ever. The Quellists took volunteers from their ranks to submit to germline engineering–to create a sort of “genetically encoded insurgency”.
“It’s a genetic weapon” she said clearly. “In the Unsettlement there were volunteer Black Brigade cadres who had their DNA modified to carry it. A gene-level hatred of First Family blood, pheromone-triggered. It was cutting edge technonology out of the Drava research labs. No one was sure if it would work, but the Black Brigades wanted a beyond-the-grave strike if we failed at Millsport. Something that would come back, generation after generation…
Anyone carrying the modified genes has an inbuilt instinct for violence against Harlan family members. It’s like the genetic fear of snakes you see in monkeys. The pheromonal make-up that goes with Harlan blood triggers the urge. After that, it’s just a matter of time and personality–in some cases the carrier will react then and there, go berserk and kill with anything at hand. Different personality types might wait and plan it more carefully. Some may even try to resist the urge, but it’s like sex, like competition traits. The biology will win out in the end.”
Political commitment at the cellular level… a weapon that can never be turned off as long as there are descendents to reproduce it and spread it. See the analogy to political Islam, to salafi-jihadism?
Abu Bakr al Iraqi inspired this post with his TL… the idea that revenge is carried down through generations. That is the cellular level commitment– revenge/qisas/justice. Sure, the olds will agree to geld Islam like the West wants– their attachment to dunya, their hostages to fortune, their families and material possessions… but not the youth. And when there are 100s of millions of youth– you only need to radicalize a percentage.
Generational warfare is part of Nājī doctrine.
As for the second trap, it is to put (America’s) armies, which occupy the region and set up military bases in it without resistance, in a state of war with the masses in the region. It is obvious at this very moment that it stirs up movements that increase the jihadi expansion and create legions among the youth who contemplate and plan for resistance,(even though) these forces had previously been present and well-established while the people slept right next to them and sensed no danger. Likewise, it began to become clear to the American administration that it was being drained;that the ease of entry into more than one war at a time was mere speculative words suitable only for paper; and that the remoteness of the center from the peripheries had a profound effect on its ability to end the wars. All of these results grow more serious day after day. Praise be to God for all eternity.
On the assumption that we need half a million mujahids for our long battle until it ends as we wish (by the permission of God), the possibility of adding this number from a nation of one billion people is easier than adding them from the youth of the Islamic movement who are (already) polluted by the doubts of the evil shaykhs. The youth of the nation are closer to the innate nature (of humans) on account of the rebelliousness within them, which the experiences of the past decades confirm for us.