Academic journal article The Journal of Psychohistory

Arab/Muslim "Group Adolescence"

Academic journal article The Journal of Psychohistory

Arab/Muslim "Group Adolescence"

Article excerpt

In discussions with many colleagues (including Europeanized Arabs/ Muslims), I have learned that what I'd long-suspected about the Arab/ Muslim world and the current embrace of extremism is true-the real "clash of civilizations" is between traditionalists/moderates and fundamentalist Muslims. Recognizing th is struggle allows us to apply psychohistorical and group theories to developments there. This shows us that there isn't a unitary Arab/Muslim world, and we have long recognized this. We recognize that this diverse Muslim group is in the midst of a clash of sub-delegates (sub-groups with competing ideas) seeking to win the minds and hearts of the rest of the Arab/Muslim group.

I continue this article in a discussion format since the sources are evident within.

Traditional Arabs/Muslims have a long history of moderation, hard work and a somewhat conservative traditionalism that often determines their welcome of others, willingness to let things happen and their embrace of a deity while they absorb/assimilate elements of the religions/cultures with whom they come in contact. In contrast, fundamentalists are literalists. They tend to leave interpretation to revered preachers. These fundamentalists may be (but not usually) illiterate, devout, willing to act together to achieve whatever goals are set for them and very ready to focus repressed hatred on anyone they're told they should. The net result of this sort of behavior and thinking is what has been termed "Islamo-fascism." They have become so literalist and focused only on themselves-the "global ummah" and being ready to sacrifice and die-that their divorce from global influences makes them believe that everyone is against them.

The incendiary preachers/mullahs/ayatollahs/activists apply absolute control. Their power often derives from their nation's unbelievable oil wealth or from a systemic national corruption that may even allow nuclearized leaders to become "atomic ayatollahs." Much of the industrialized world-Russia and China notable by their refusal to join this grouphas now recognized that these can't be trusted "enemies" but must be dealt with professionally and with one's guard up.

Thus, right now, the "clash of civilizations" in the Arab/Muslim world leads the fundamentalists to pursue chains of actions, most of which harm the interests of the rest of the world. Targeted assassinations are encouraged [= fatwas] against anyone deemed to have violated the respect demanded by these fundamentalists (e.g., Salman Rushdie). Industrialized nations have been used as illustrations of who the enemy is, thereby sending signals to the group and fomenting violence (e.g., the Danish cartoons controversy).

The energy level of fundamentalist extremists is the equivalent of a warrior's "high" from action. They need to be manipulated and mobilized by their leaders almost daily or they'll sink into depression-induced paroxysms of rage. They become "hollow people" in such need of their "fix" that they willingly suspend their rational logic in favor of what we term "illogical logic." They are in delegated "rage against the machine" [= authority/their parents] and traditions [= identity] while forcibly but ineffectively controlling their emotions [= eliminating the super-ego and freeing the angry adolescent within to live in rage]. This is what has been termed "group adolescence."

This is also what we've been watching in the U.S. with its own fundamentalists. The synchronicity of two such extremist movements simultaneously in power allows us to recognize that there's an "agreement to war" already formed. Therefore, what we see/hear from the media is merely a "danse macabre" (dance of death) whereby leaders manipulate their followers through the media and elsewhere-Bushites use the desire for Armageddon of their support base to drive the group into another war sacrifice. Muslim extremists merely whip up the emotions of their followers (using a well-crafted hierarchy of activists to arouse the followers) to get the same embrace of war. …

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