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Social problems


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Reshetnikov M.M. The modern world - psycho-political analysis: what attracts young people to terrorist

organizations and groups? // Oxford University Press: J. Social Problems, Issue 4(2), Vol. 64 - 2017. - P. 1132 - 1153

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Social problems

  1. 1. Social Problems Issue 4 (2), November 2017 VOLUME 64 Oxford University Press 2017
  2. 2. Social Problems 1132 Reshetnikov M.M. The modern world - psycho-political analysis: what attracts young people to terrorist organizations and groups? Abstract: In this paper, the main social-psychological and social-political problems of contemporary world are analysed, such as the USA’s struggle for geopolitical dominance, Russia’s counteraction to monopolar world, worldwide crisis of democratic ideas and institutions, increased value of justness and quantitative growth of terrorist organizations as well as their qualitative transformation. Keywords: geopolitics, democracy, crisis, contemporary capitalism, terrorism. Introduction: the main problems of the contemporary world The contemporary crisis of international relations is explained by a number of hypotheses, but most of them seem to be rather superficial in their analysis of the current situation and available facts, thus they cannot provide adequate information for practical decisions. In this paper I am trying to give, without claim to absolute truth, somewhat different interpretation of the current situation; let me start by outlining the main problems of contemporary world, which are: 1. The USA’s struggle for geopolitical dominance; 2. Russia’s counteraction to monopolar world; 3. Worldwide crisis of democratic ideas and institutions; 4. Increased value of justness; 5. Quantitative growth of terrorist organizations and their qualitative transformation. 1. The USA’s struggle for geopolitical dominance First of all, let us discuss a few strategic documents, which were written for the USA Department of Defence in 1991-1997 and in which the main stages and strategic goals of American policy for a few decades are outlined1. These analytic 1 In particular, such documents as: “Enlarging NATO. The Russian Factor” – RAND Corporation, 1996; “US Grand Strategies: Implication of the United States and the World” – Strategic Appraisal 1996, RAND corporation, 1996; “A New European Order”. – The Economist, May 17-23, 1997; Brzezinski Z. “The Global Chessboard. American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, Basic Book”, N-Y, 1997; Friedman G, Friedman M. “The Future of War and American World Dominance in the 21 Century”. – Crown Publishers, N-Y., 1997; “The Coming Clash of Europe with America” – World Policy Journal, vol. XV, # 4, Winter 1998/1999.
  3. 3. 1133Social Problems notes and programs have different titles, but the same intention is described in them: that is, to expand the NATO and to neutralize, to isolate and to divide Russia. The document on the NATO expansion begins with analysis of the concept of geopolitical pluralism, which was very popular at the end of the XX century and which serves two goals: on the one hand, it obstructs re-integration of post-Soviet countries, and on the other, it opens post-Soviet geopolitical space for American expansion due to “open doors” policy and suppresses attempts of creating any coalition that might endanger the USA hegemony. It is well-known that this idea belongs to Zbigniew Brzezinski; later it was supplemented by idea of severing centuries-long economic and cultural connections between Russia and post-Soviet countries (that is Russo-centrism, in American terminology) and expanding American influence to Baltic countries and Ukraine. It is stressed in the document that such steps would lead to Russia’s political isolation and help the USA reach its main goal, that is, to gain control over Eurasia. The authors of this document prove, quite logically, that if Russia recognizes incorporation of Viserad Group (Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary) into the NATO, it will be easier for the USA to claim its rights for Bulgaria, Romania, Baltic countries and Ukraine. Let us remind you that this plan of the NATO expansion was developed in 1991- 1997, and in full accordance with this plan, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Estonia joined the NATO in 2000. The authors of this strategic prognosis analyse possible reactions of Russian leadership and predict that Russia’s first setback will create conditions for setbacks in the future; after Baltic countries and Ukraine, the rest of the post-Soviet countries might be taken under control. These documents state that in accordance with this logic and Brzezinski’s ideas, in the end, Russia itself should be divided. It is noteworthy that these strategic plans of American Lebensraum policy2 [2] imply deterring not only Russia but any other countries, including, first of all, the USA’s current allies Germany and Japan. As the authors of these documents explain, it is vital for the USA to halt any disloyal hegemony in strategically important regions of the world. According to these documents, such regions include those with developed economy and technical, natural and human resource; these regions, if they consolidate, might try to counteract American hegemony in the world. Moreover, 2 Lebensraum im Osten (German) means «life space in the East». It was Nazi propaganda term referring to plans to let German Arians inhabit neighborhood lands.
  4. 4. Social Problems 1134 the European Union is also viewed as a coalition that should not be encouraged by the USA, because united Europe, strengthened and expanded, is not in its interests. That is, the USA does not need integration between the Western Europe and Russia, which started in times of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (1998-2005), as well as united Europe as such. As to possible reaction of West European leaders to the USA hegemony, it was supposed that they will agree with it, in exchange for guarantees of safety and minimization of their military defence expenses. In conclusion, the abovementioned documents state that expansion of American world hegemony is not only acceptable but also desirable and necessary, for such a status makes the country omnipotent, so that it can do whatever it finds appropriate in the world at any time3. In these documents, the American specialists in strategic planning also considered counteracting European monetary union and creating a new Atlantic empire under the aegis of the USA, which would include Eurasia and a number of post-Soviet countries, first of all, Ukraine and Belarus. Claims to world hegemony in some of these documents are expressed straightforwardly: “After deconstruction of the Soviet Union, it will be thousand-year-long rule of the American Empire”. Whatever is one’s attitude to the USA and to insufficient effectiveness of American presidents Clinton, Bush or Obama, one should admit that the abovementioned strategic goals have been successfully achieved. We can be sure that whoever is elected the USA president and whatever his promises and programs are, the strategy of international policy and “mandate for power” will stay the same. 2. Russia’s counteraction to monopolar world However, in 2014 the USA faced an unforeseen difficulty. In contrast to previous Russian leaders, who relied on opinion of Western experts and consistently weakened Russia’s position in international geopolitics, the Russian president Vladimir Putin as early as in his Munich speech (2007) declared straightforwardly that this strategy of the USA is definitely unsuitable for Russia, which has its own strategic interests. Let me briefly remind you the main ideas of the President’s speech: 3 The first manifestation of such specific attitude to international rights was bombing Yugoslavia in 1999 without the UN mandate, then bombing Iraq in 2003 and later supporting opposition in Libya, Syria etc. which aimed at overthrowing these countries ‘governments.
  5. 5. 1135Social Problems Monopolar model is neither acceptable nor even possible in the contemporary world. Legal system of a single state (the USA) is now expanded outside its borders and coerced onto other states in areas of economy, politics and humanitarian issues. The USA does not observe agreements on weapon control strictly enough, and it conceals the information on amount of weapons. Despite the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and principles declared by our Western partners after dissolution of the Warsaw Treaty Organization, the NATO draws its forces closer to Russian borders. Western policy towards countries of the third world is rather cynical: giving charity on the one hand and keeping these countries economically undeveloped for gaining benefits, on the other. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe is being turned into a vulgar instrument of a single country or a group of countries pursuing their interests in relation to other countries. Let us quote the main conclusion which the President Putin made in his speech: “Russia is a country with more than thousand years of history, and it has always been entitled to have independent foreign policy. Nowadays, we are not going to betray this tradition”. Of course, such declarations do not result from merely emotional decisions. There had been a period of preparation, when adequate conditions for this statement had been formed. By that time, the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU, 2000) had been established, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization created in 2001 by leaders of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kirgizia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan had already been functioning and joined by India and Pakistan in 2015 (the SCO countries have 60% of Eurasian territory and are inhabited by half of the world’s population). Later, the Customs Union was established, which includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kirgizia and Russia, and the petroleum consortium was also joined by companies from Brazil, Venezuela, Guyana and Cuba as well as other countries. Strategic partnership with countries of Latin America developed, such as Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador etc. In 2011 the Russian president Putin suggested discussing a possibility for the Eurasian Union to function as a linking mechanism between Asian Pacific region and the European Union. This initiative suggested by Russia was obstructed for obvious reasons.
  6. 6. Social Problems 1136 However, Russia maintained its position. In response to the NATO’s drawing closer to Russian borders and placing anti-missile systems in neighbouring countries, Russia carried out reforms in the Army, developed new and more efficient weapons and modified its military doctrine. Of course, such a leader of the biggest nuclear power was not acceptable for the USA and was against its plans and strategic goals. That is why there were attempts to displace the undesired Russian leader by means of “colour revolution” method which had been successfully used in other countries. However, political rallies on Bolotnaya Square in 2011-2013 (“white ribbon” rallies), “The Russian March” and other anti-Putin actions were unsuccessful and gradually ran out. After that, search for other ways of “persuading” Russia was inevitable. In this context, national crisis and coup in Ukraine, which was not related to Russia, separatist tendencies of Donbass population and Malaysia Flight hit over Ukraine seemed rather convenient. Without much investigation, Western leaders and media blamed Russia for all these events indiscriminately, and then, under the pressure from the USA, massive sanctions were introduced aimed at undermining the Russian economy. Russia with its strong leader is not suitable for the USA. However, in contrast to what might have been expected, the sanctions did not influence the Russian society very much and resulted in increased patriotic spirit, especially after incorporation of Crimea, so that citizens stand together with their leader, who is very popular among them. It is true that relation between Russia and the USA will fluctuate and might become warmer, especially in respect to common threats or mutual interests, but strategic direction of American policy will probably stay the same. Very few authors have not written about shortcomings of the Russian external, internal and economic policy in post-Perestroika period yet, so I will try to avoid discussing this topic. The world economic crisis aggravated for Russia Of course, the world economic crisis of 2008 had not been intentionally planned. It had been ripening for rather long time, but nobody wanted to notice it, and it seems like nobody wants to explore or reveal its deeper mechanisms. The only pragmatic result of the crisis was crush of long-existing illusion that “the market itself can regulate everything”. Moreover, leaders of the G20 gathered in London on April 1, 2009 and signed declaration on rescuing the world economy by means of state
  7. 7. 1137Social Problems regulation. Many people thought that Russia would get certain advantages in this case, because the Soviet economy was based on such methods, and there were thousands of specialists in this area in the country. Unfortunately, these hopes did not come true. As we know, value of the rouble is still connected to oil price. In the end of 2015, the EU Council suddenly postponed for 11 months the embargo on Iranian oil accepted in 2012, and it could be about 10−15% of the world market; meanwhile, a law in the USA, which had prohibited oil export for a few decades, was cancelled. It is natural that these factors, together with temporary decreased oil demand in main consumers, inevitably influenced energy resource market and caused additional decrease in the value of the rouble. This decrease did not reach its maximum and will probably continue in 2016, so that it might negatively influence Russian economy and society. As in all such cases, all branches of power are typically blamed for situation with food and commodities markets, healthcare, education and social welfare systems. It is quite natural indeed. However, the most important thing in this situation is to maintain social stability in the society and to keep trusting the authorities; thus, all parties and movements should have special commitments, the authorities should be responsible for actively counteracting any attempts to destabilize the situation, and humanitarian society should be involved in active social therapy. This should not be understood as a plea to fight the crisis by establishing autocracy. It means, first of all, firm policy of the state relying on healthy resource of society, so that a qualitatively new level of societal trust and partnership of people and authorities would gradually develop. A specific task is to give maximal freedom to private economic initiatives and to stimulate personal responsibility of citizens who are able to overcome long-term crisis by being self-employed. This idea should determine all parties’ and movements’ lawmaking initiatives and explanatory efforts. Perhaps, the situation is not that bad, but open and understandable explanatory policy for wider audience is required anyway, as well as possible shift to mobilization economy. Many people are somewhat scared by such an idea, but mobilization economy is not synonymous to Gulag.
  8. 8. Social Problems 1138 3. World crisis of ideas and institutions of democracy Formulation of the problem Almost all media of the world show us cruel crimes committed by the ISIS (the organization forbidden in Russia) against humanity and culture. These crimes are so abhorring and vivid that there is no way to doubt what we read, watch and hear about them. However, this terrorist organization is continuously joined by young people not only from Islamic countries but also from Western Europe and post-Soviet countries. We can suggest that there is something attractive for young people in the ISIS. Let us try to understand, what it could be. In order to do it, we will need to critically review some ideas that have already become traditional part of the contemporary worldview. These are ideas of democracy and justness, which propel progress and globalization. Ideas of democracy: period of illusions and hopes Let us start with analysis of development and current condition of the society. Development of contemporary democracy as the main principle of societal structure in Western Europe could be undoubtedly connected to ideas of the Enlightenment and the Great French Revolution (1789), which became a turning point of contemporary history and facilitated wide spread of such notions as civil rights, equality and freedom acquired by any individual at birth. These ideas found their symbolic expression in very simple, understandable and powerful slogan: “Liberty, equality, fraternity”. Actually, it was a new kind of faith, that is, faith in greatness of liberated spirit and individuality. At the same time, this slogan implied the idea of natural equality of all people in respect to their abilities and endowments, while all existing forms of inequality were viewed as artificial and caused by unfair society and its morally outdated institutions. It was thought that getting rid of these institutions would help individuals express their spiritual and physical grandeur. It was the first and the main fallacy. Contemporary science, as well as historical and social experience of mankind, proves that people are not equal in their physical, spiritual and intellectual qualities, and even Karl Marx mentioned that “nothing can be done with it”. However, European, traditionally Christian civilization in the last two centuries has relied upon principles of human rights and liberties, which were outlined first in The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen and then in the middle of the ХХ century in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  9. 9. 1139Social Problems Modernization of democratic illusions Although the declared principles of liberty, equality and fraternity have appeared to be an illusion or a fallacy, they have not been reconsidered yet; however, in the ХХ century they changed significantly. Liberal ideology that adopted ideas of the Enlightenment and declared priority of economic freedom, resulting in even more obvious inequality, inevitably led to development of socialist, communist and other similar ideas. In some countries, like Austria and Switzerland, these ideas were implemented in rather civilized way, but in other countries they transformed into Bolshevism or Nazism or “modern capitalism”, the notion that has not been properly explored yet. Liberal economy brought about liberal moral, which has been almost wanton for long time; but its analysis is far beyond the frames of this paper. The reason is quite obvious, that is dehumanization of ideas of the Enlightenment, which have gradually lost their “equality and fraternity” component. Actually, only the idea of economic freedom stays in this “new edition” of modernized West-European ideology, in a new illusory form of slogan of “equal opportunities”, which is also impossible for individuals as well as for countries and people. In result, universal ideas of “equality and fraternity” were replaced by partial notions of “proletarian solidarity”, “socialist consolidation” etc., including ideas of the European Union or the Islamic State that appeared later. One of the main characteristics of “modern capitalism” has been rarely discussed, that is, a new class of “humiliated and insulted” came into being, which replaced the classical proletariat. These are hired specialists, both blue collars and highly qualified and educated professionals, who have almost no rights and social guarantees in comparison to their employers; for them, the term “precariat” was coined, which means “unstable, dangerous”4. At the same time, it was declared that democracy is the best societal system, and the most peaceful one. However, there are threats to democracy, which were discussed as early as after the First World war, when the USA President Woodrow Wilson clearly defined the goal of the massacre in the following way: to make the world safe for democracy. The rest of the world’s problems did not bother democratic leaders at the beginning of the ХХ century. 4 Precariat, from precarious, refers to people who are involved in insecure working relationships that can be broken at any time by their employer.
  10. 10. Social Problems 1140 Let me remind you that at the beginning of the ХХ century leading European countries (which were democracies or democracies-to-be) had almost the whole world turned into their colonies. The biggest colonial empires were the UK, Germany, Holland, Spain, Italy, Portugal, the USA and France. In the middle of the ХХ century some former colonies acquired independence; these countries are called “the third world countries”, and many of them are still sources of raw material and cheap workforce for their former metropolises. International corporations minimize their expenses by placing their production, first of all mining and manufacturing industry and mass commodity production, in these countries. It is important to notice that mixed or colonial administration in the third world countries, which was shamelessly robbing national resource, was replaced by national administration adopting the same colonial type of management directed at gaining maximal benefits and suppressing the population. In result, corrupted totalitarian regimes were established in many countries of the third world. These regimes cannot be characterized in any positive way, but they maintained stability in these regions. Here it is appropriate to mention that Thomas Hobbes, a forerunner of democracy, in his work Leviathan writes that there are various religions and lifestyles, various ideas and ideals, and there are countries in which only powerful tyrant can coerce people to peaceful co-existence with others. Otherwise, infightings and wars are inevitable. This idea was neglected (or just the opposite was the case), when at the beginning of the ХХI century the USA leaders suddenly forgot about two-century-long struggle for individuals’ right to dissent and decided to bring democracy to countries and regions that had no preconditions for it. First of all, citizens there were not economically independent from the state, not to mention specifics of national and religious customs and traditions. It is well-known what were the results of these actions for Iraq, Libya and Syria, and then for Europe. The Russian President asked Western leaders a reasonable question on September 28, 2015: “Have you understood at last what you’ve done?” Democracy: its achievements and vices Nobody would deny that sophisticated spiritual and material culture has been created by united effort of European people. But this culture is not the only one, indeed. There was a tendency in the last century to mistake culture for technical progress. And technical progress was mistaken for civilizing process, which is
  11. 11. 1141Social Problems narcissistically identified by leaders of economically developed countries exclusively with the European civilization that is only about 21% of the Earth’s population. It is an obvious fallacy. I have repeatedly asked different people the following question: “Is it true that the entire non-European world (79% of the Earth’s population) strives to join this civilization, seemingly reputable and fragrant, but also stinking with alcohol, unfaith, drugs, dissolution of families, prostitution, pornography, disloyal friendships, double standards and corruption?” All these things are usually called “Western lifestyle” and “consumption society”. As I will show later, it appeared that it is not attractive for everyone, even in the Western world. This lifestyle leaves less and less place for elevated meanings and morality, which are replaced by commodity fetishism and sacralisation of material well-being. Democratic slogans are still declared but not confirmed by everyday reality. Ideas of democracy have become disrepair and discredited in the last two centuries, and they do not inspire people anymore to go to barricades and die, as previously. Let us mention one more important argument: in the recent thirty years crime rates increased in 3-4 times in the world, and in the most democratic countries such as the USA in 6-8 times. Average increase in crime rate in the world is about 5% per year. It happens in the context of quantitative growth of various law enforcement structures aimed at protecting ideals of democracy. Has the world become a safer place, then? A few details of globalization process Globalization can be discussed in detail and described from different perspectives, i.e., geopolitical, economic, social etc. However, there are a few markers of this process without which its understanding is incomplete. Money has gradually lost its main function and turned into a specific commodity that cannot be kept for long time. Acquisition of new territories is not accompanied anymore with development of production and inhabiting new lands. The most common version now is depletion it of natural resource and qualified educated workforce relocated to countries, which are leaders of globalization. At the same time, transmitting technologies to countries that are not leaders of globalization is restricted. Finally, popular slogan “we all are in the same boat” got a sarcastic ending: “… but some are there as others’ meal”, and it is a reality for many countries and people. People are more and more segregated in respect to their income, which is especially true for those who deal with natural resource export and bank capital (which do not
  12. 12. Social Problems 1142 produce anything but financial operations), so that highly paid managers earn hundreds or even thousands time more than poor professionals (“precariat”). Almost in any country there is a group of “more equal” people, whose impunity is proportional to their money. A question arises: is it true that democracy is the highest stage of human development? Something has changed in the contemporary world, and it has not been properly reflected upon yet. Contemporary democratic discourse does not give European people any direction of societal development, moral ideals and meanings of life. Sublime culture has been replaced with mass culture, elevated politics with populism and high morality with moral poverty. In result, still declared democratic principles of “liberty, equality, fraternity” and even previously popular slogan of “peaceful co-existence” sound more and more cynical now. But they have not been reconsidered yet. It is necessary to admit that hopes of French thinkers of the Enlightenment have not been fulfilled. With development of democracy, the world has not become a better or safer place, and what is even more important, it has not gained more justness. 4. Idea of justness People have been looking for new models of state and societal structures for thousands of years, and contemporary world order has been formed in accordance with slogan of fight for justness. The idea of justness has attracted the best thinkers of humanity, and it has propelled reforms, revolutions and multiple wars. Idea of justness is closely connected to ideology, the main function of which is to smooth tensions, that is, to create a system which would give socially acceptable explanations to current tensions. In absence of official or unofficial ideology, such tensions will inevitably accumulate, and if they are not timely noticed and corrected, they will lead to social outbursts. Since times of Aristotle, two kinds of justness have been discerned: equalizing, as in the USSR, and distributive justness. The distributive justness implies that somebody gets or takes the role of distributor, who establishes order and justness in society. This figure is responsible for all forms of unjustness. There are a few theories explaining the concept of justness; let us outline the theory which is most frequently mentioned in public discussions. This theory, so- called humanitarian theory of justness, states that on the one hand, all people should
  13. 13. 1143Social Problems have equal rights, and on the other, economic relations should be structured in such a way that the least successful members of society should become the most privileged ones. The latter principle was called “fair inequality principle” and was expressed in slogan of “anybody’s right for descent level of living”. This concept was criticized on reasonable grounds because the principle of social justness actually removes competitiveness from society and leads to uncompetitive economy, as it was vividly proved by experience of “building socialism” in the USSR. That is why such approaches should be considered “anti-social” from the point of view of any state and society. To be adequate for contemporary development of society, ideology should explain the opposition between the principle of justness and interests of society in general, as well as other similar problems. Let us repeat that people are not equal in respect to their endowments and qualities, and any equalizing system goes against natural laws and principles of economic and social development of society. However, in any society there is an idea of justness in respect to difference in people’s incomes, which might be perceived as unfair when it is too big. In absence of ideology (and restricting factors of economic differentiation imposed by it), certain level of dissatisfaction and aggression in society, which is stirred by anything perceived as unfair, might lead to destabilization of society. Certain degree of destabilization is typical for the entire democratic world, which enters a new epoch now and suffers from systemic crisis of its paradigm of development. As the author predicted 20 years ago5, this change might be rather painful and “non-civilized”. And it has already begun, perhaps. On “non-Muslim” terrorism Although people all over the world feel anxious about Islamist terrorism, they much more often have to face “everyday fanaticism” and criminal or semi-criminal terrorism carried out by their compatriots in their own countries. For one international terrorist act, there are hundreds of “local” ones, which are usually classified as 5 Reshetnikov M. M., Contemporary Russian Mentality: Psychohistorical Analysis. — Мoscow: Russian News, 1995. — 192 pp.
  14. 14. Social Problems 1144 “shooting sprees” at school or at work, “home violence” or mugging, and in some cases are not classified at all. Actually, these two types of terrorism are only different in respect to the scale of threat and number of victims, as well as political demands and media coverage. The whole world cannot see the parallel between them, however. In result, our understanding of contemporary social processes is obviously halted, because something is not properly reflected upon and spoken about. Let us refer to Prof. James Fox from the Boston University (2011), who analyses growing terrorist spirit in the country that is frequently called “the most democratic one”: he says that in the American society there is certain amount of people who are angry and disappointed with the whole world; they feel that their life is destroyed, and they do not want to live. So, they decide to make a cruel revenge upon those who, in their opinion, is responsible for their misfortune and have not given them any chance to cope with their problems. They choose between suicide and massacre, and often they commit both. As we know, the number of such cases is increasing. These terrorist acts (Lanza in the USA, Breivik in Norway, Vinogradov in Moscow and others representatives of titular nations) have nothing to do with Islamist terrorism. It could be suggested, perhaps, that in addition to external reasons of growing aggression there are some internal ones. Development of humankind, as well as any change in society and economy, has been to significant degree propelled by slogans of “fight against unjustness” and attempts to establish fair economic and social-psychological relationships between people. However, these slogans were not relevant to real social-economic relationships, so previously claimed ideas have been gradually discredited. These slogans exhausted their potential, as it was getting more and more obvious that progress is facilitated not by elevated ideas but rather, as Friedrich Engels mentioned, by striving for power and greed. These strivings, acted out by authorities, first led to discrediting of elevated slogans and ideas, and then to inevitable change of social-economic relationships and formations. We witness the same process now, perhaps, because still declared democratic principles and slogans are not connected anymore with real life and real politics. It is necessary to admit the facts, get rid of illusions and consistently explain to the next generations that life of individuals and societies is determined not by ideas of equality and fraternity, but by intense competition. With exhaustion of the
  15. 15. 1145Social Problems Earth’s natural resource this competition will only increase. If we want to protect ourselves as a whole nation and an integral state, we need not only develop but actively compete with other countries and nations. Let me add something here. In 1998 I had a chance to meet one of the founders of German psychoanalytic school Prof. Helmut Thomae. We discussed different topics including warming in relations between Russia and the West. However, Professor Thomae doubted that this process would last for long. He said: “At the moment, it is just an expression of interest to you. It will get exhausted soon. Hitler was in power for only 12 years. After that, Germans were hated and feared for about twenty more years. And you were hated and feared for seventy years. These feelings will persist for hundred more years. It is said that there is only one step from love to hatred; but the way back is much longer”. I think it would be a mistake not to notice that anti-Russian mood exists and is artificially cultivated, first of all, in post- Soviet republics, and this problem requires special work and active counteraction. 5. Quantitative growth of terrorist organizations and their qualitative transformation Previously, terrorists had underground organizations and performed singular raids. From this point of view, history of the Islamic State (forbidden in Russia), which has occupied some land and established its own regular army, is a qualitatively new stage in development of contemporary terrorism. First of all, let us outline the ISIS history, although the task is not simple. This history is incomplete, fragmentary and contradictory. We will try to describe it with minimum of emotional estimations. The exact date of establishment of this organization is unknown. It is thought that its nucleus was formed by a radical Islamist Sunni group; there were a lot of such groups in period between Iraqi wars. In addition, most analysts connect establishment of the ISIS with Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, which for long time was led by Saddam Hussein. Ba’ath ideology was based on ideas of Arab nationalism of Sunni kind and socialism. It is necessary to remember that in time of Hussein, after previous long colonial and semi-colonial history of the country, level of living in Iraq was one of the highest in Arab world, and people’s respect to army was unprecedentedly high. After seizure of Bagdad, American troops led Shiite majority to power and started massive purges, so that Ba’ath members and followers were fired from all state structures. Former head of American administration in Iraq Paul Bremer
  16. 16. Social Problems 1146 admitted informing Ba’ath leaders that they would not be allowed to work in the government. In result, thousands of governmental servants, officers and policemen, who had previously been elite of Iraqi society, lost their job, financial and social status and were persecuted by occupational forces and radical Shiite fanatics. As moderate believers who are tolerant to other confessions, including atheism, we have difficulties in our attempts to understand religious fanatics. But Shiite for Sunni (and otherwise, and also Alawites, including Assad) are heretics in initial sense of the word, and the attitude to them is similar to what was in Europe 500 years ago, when heretics were burnt by Inquisition in presence of jubilant crowds. We should not also forget that in the East such concepts as faith, status, hierarchy, kinship and reverence to elder and to authorities have completely different social and individual meaning and content. Many of previously reputable representatives of Iraqi society, party and army had to go to jail or to hide in order to avoid capital punishment. The most important thing was that they and their families, children as well as grandchildren perhaps, were deprived of their historical future. That is why many of them had no other choice than to turn to idea of armed struggle for power. A number of experts suggest that Hussein’s followers formed the nucleus of the ISIS. They were not just armed outcasts and not even Taliban but well-trained armed forces. Many of Iraqi officers had been trained in Soviet military academies. Former governmental officers of Hussein were people with European education and experience of governmental management, who at the same time understood importance of faith dogmata and role of ideology, political propaganda and image of enemy. Any revolt and struggle, its righteous or errant goals notwithstanding, is connected to some infectious, powerful and emotionally appealing ideas, as well as the group’s belief into its future. Such are ideas of socialism together with radical Islam of Sunni kind. Many Western analysts write that these people hate our civilization. It is not completely true: they cultivate despise to it and draw attention to its abovementioned vices that are inappropriate for Islam (as well as for Christianity, indeed). “Islamic socialism” is growing into the strongest propagandist influence in developed countries. Hundreds of millions dollars are spent on informational support of the ISIS, dozens of thousands professionals of psychological war work for it in all
  17. 17. 1147Social Problems countries, a few thousand informational resource spread propaganda in Arab, English, German and Russian languages to attract young people. And they have succeeded in that. What is so attractive in them? It is well-known that fanatical terrorists are mostly young people who are maximalists, prone to romanticize any struggle, doubt all traditional rules and norms, and often have rather aggressive psychological attitudes and values. In healthy society, these natural psychological needs of young people are counterbalanced by consolidated position of adult majority and by stable state (as an important parental structure), so that gradually new generations become more adjusted. The situation becomes qualitatively different when the adult majority also suffers crisis of re-evaluation, societal unrest, re-consideration of established norms etc., which is nowadays typical for the whole world, because, as it has been mentioned above, it has entered a new epoch and is surviving a systemic crisis of developmental paradigm shift. We can refer to examples of young people being significant figures of crucial historical events; let us start with the Great French Revolution. Marat was 19 when he was inspired by idea of social change, and Robespierre by the age of 30 had become one of the most influential political leaders and the ideologist of terror, who stated that capital punishment is a duty of any revolutionary government. George Washington, the USA President-to-be, at the age of 22 was a regiment commander in the colonial war. Simon Bolivar had just joined rebels against Spanish rule at 27, when he became a colonel and a governor of Puerto-Rico. Giuseppe Garibaldi at the age of 26 was a member of secret society “Young Italy”. Lev Trotsky had been inspired by ideas of revolution since his youth, and at the age of 18 (!) he created an underground group of about 200 members. Che Guevara by the age of 26 had become famous revolutionist. Arkady Gaidar, grandfather of Russian prime minister of the time of reforms, was a member of Bolshevist Party at the age of 14, despite his noble descent, and at the age of 17 was a commander of the Red Army regiment. Such examples are abundant. Everybody knows these names, because these people are part of the history. Why should one spend many years studying and working, inventing or discovering something or writing scientific papers, if it is possible to become famous as a political fighter? It is so seductive for young activists!
  18. 18. Social Problems 1148 In the middle and the second half of the ХХ century there were massive anti- imperialist rallies carried out mostly by young people, as usual. These rallies were actively supported by the USSR as the main force counteracting capitalist ideology. Dissolution of the Soviet system led to ideological “vacuum”, and nothing new or interesting was suggested for young activists. In result, some young people’s activity digressed to sex, alcohol and pop-culture. Others started looking for ideological support different from democratic “vacuum” and imperialist lawlessness. Exhausted and actively suppressed anti-imperialist movement was replaced by anti-globalism, mostly joined by young people. But this movement, which has no future, gradually becomes less heated. And young people are still trying to find their ideals or something more meaningful than commodity fetishism and financial wealth. In any society at any time there are some social activists with oppositionist tendencies, who strive for change and passionately desire to be heard. This is normal and natural. But if society and culture does not accept and discuss these activists’ ideals, and the authorities do not provide them with adequate and modern explanatory system, they can be easily transformed into social fanatics. In general, destruction of any ideals and illusions can become a ground for “some kind of insanity”, as Nicolay Berdyaev defined fanaticism. Here it is appropriate to mention still declared democratic ideals and to see how they are verified in real life of contemporary democratic society. Why do they go to the ISIS? Many analysts and journalists have repeatedly tried to answer this question. A frequent answer is: “They go to the Middle East to find social justness”. But it is only the most popular and, as it has been already mentioned, the most attractive slogan actively used by recruiters. The ISIS propagandists promise them much more than that: a new world, in which there will be no rich and poor, “equal and more equal” people, servants and masters, unjust judges, corruption and bribery, smoking and drugs, alcohol and prostitution, double standards and same-sex marriages, pornography and gay- parades, etc. Obviously, these ideas are just illusions and manipulations based on the main factors of societal dissatisfaction. However, they sometimes appear to be very attractive for young activists who are disappointed by the Western lifestyle. I often have an opportunity to talk to students. Most of them agree that such slogans are just illusions and admit that it is impossible to build such a society. But
  19. 19. 1149Social Problems others object: “You’ve just submitted yourself to the idea that it’s impossible”. Still others formulate it with dismay hopelessness: ”Even if it is impossible, we need to get out of current moral stalemate, in which the world was led by totally deceitful Western democracy and consumption society, which makes people live like cattle”. There is information in Western media that thousands of people, including ethnic Europeans, have joined the ISIS without immediately becoming Muslims. Some analysts have mentioned that there have become more newcomers to terrorist organizations from Western countries after the bank crisis of 2008, when all states were saving banks rather than citizens with their financial debts (and citizens were not given explanations that banks function as a blood system of economy which cannot survive without them). Growing number of Islam banks all over the world is a powerful tool of propaganda, because in accordance with Shariah laws they cannot charge interest rate on loans (it does not mean that they work selflessly; they just have different mechanisms of gaining their benefit). We have already mentioned the USA’s striving for unconditional dominance in the world and Russia’s attempt to counteract it. It is typical that some young activists are quite sceptical about this opposition, as they think that however it is resolved, it will not change the basis of lifestyle characteristic for democratic countries and will not lead to cardinal change in strategies of world development. Some part of youth is obviously not inspired by the current strategy. Therefore, many young activists from Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the USA are ready to fight for the idea of a new societal order, although they do not clearly understand, what it should be like. They are just dissatisfied, and nobody has suggested them any new ideas, meanings or model of the future. This model is vitally important, however. In contemporary world about 1.5 milliard people are Islam believers. According to data collected by informational portal LINGA (8.07.2015), which questioned people in eleven Arab countries, about 8.5 million people are unconditional proponents of the ISIS, and total number of Arab people who somehow support its actions and ideology is up to 24 million. According to specialists, this statistics is first of all a result of the ISIS’s successful and even unbeatable propaganda in the Arab world. In absence of a different image of the future, nothing can be counterpoised to it, indeed. The exact number of the ISIS combatants is unknown, and different specialists estimate it as ranging from 30 thousand to 200 thousand people. Due to the fact that these combatants have occupied and controlled vast lands with population more than
  20. 20. Social Problems 1150 2 million people, the latter estimate (100-200 thousand combatants) seems closer to reality. Mutual effort of the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Western coalition will inevitably lead to defeat of the ISIS combatants in Syria. These people would not just disappear, however, but rather hide in neighbouring or distant countries and find temporal shelter in their followers’ homes. I have already outlined findings of studies in the Islamist terrorism, and in particular, mentioned that even after many years in prison only 16% of combatants sentenced for terrorism do not plan to return to their previous criminal activity6. When we speak about terrorism, we usually characterize it as a result of terrorists’ actions. But the question of reasons that made these people become terrorists is the least explored one. Therefore, problem of counter-propaganda is still unresolved. How could that happen? Are there any historical parallels? People all over the world are shocked and abhorred by these terrorists, who murder innocent people and even babies. They cut their prisoners’ heads. They drown chained people. Everyone who does not accept their faith is declared an enemy and should inevitably die. They murder even muftis. They destroy sacred places. I believe that in wake of the October Revolution of 1917 anniversary we should recall, and tell young people straightforwardly, what was going on in one so religious and pious Orthodox country 100 years ago, when the slogan “liberty, equality and fraternity” was declared, and cruel fight for justness began. There was no religious ground for it, and its slogans were: “Factories to workers”, “Land to peasants” “Power to people”, “Peace to the huts, war on the palaces”, “Viva the Red Terror” etc. These ideas, despite absence of radio, TV, Internet and other modern media, soon inspired the whole country, and millions of brainwashed people became involved into the massacre. Proletarians and poor peasants, who had never had any historic future, were eager to believe that they were “progressive class” and “gravediggers of capitalism”. They declared that other people, such as intelligentsia or wealthy peasants who 6 Reshetnikov M. M. Psycholoical Factors of Development and Stagnation of Democratic Reforms. — Moscow: Moscow State University, 2014. — pp 230. Online: blog/344.html#cut.
  21. 21. 1151Social Problems worked from morning till night, all those who could create something, as well as soldiers and officers faithful to their Motherland, were “bourgeoisie and their henchmen” and had to be exterminated. By that they meant not just dissolution of this class but physical extermination of its representatives. Let us compare the scale of these events. According to contemporary data submitted by human rights organizations in Syria and Iraq in 2015, total number of the ISIS victims is 10-20 thousand people, including women, children and muftis. Dozens of religious sacred places and historical monuments have been desecrated. During the Civil War (1917−1922) about 2.5 million people were murdered or died from wounds in Russia. In result of terror, 2 more million were exterminated. Six million starved or died from epidemics. More than 2 million had to emigrate from the country. By 1948, about 63 thousand churches, out of 77 thousand churches that were in Russia in 1914, were destroyed. In the single year 1937, about 136.900 Orthodox priests were arrested, and 85.300 of them were executed. Proletariat was intoxicated by idea of equality and enjoyed the title of “progressive class” and right to violence towards “enemy class”. Previously quite tolerant and pious people developed pathological belief into this illusion, rejected the faith of their ancestors and wallowed in bloodbath. The idea of new justness was very seductive, though. Thousands of educated people, officers, students, intelligentsia and even romantic representatives of capitalists were inspired with this idea and joined the Red Army, repressive regiments or the Cheka. They were sincere in their fight for justness, when they were murdering the entire families of their “class enemies” including babies as representatives of the enemy class. The elder generation remembers how it ended. First the replacement of the communist regime (1991) was perceived with enthusiasm, but in the process of uncompromising destruction of old formation, “the baby was thrown out with the bathwater”: traditional Russian ideas and images of the future were rejected, but new ones were not formed. “Changes required by our hearts...”7 We still proceed on economic platform suggested by economists of 1990-s and underestimate role and power of ideas. At the moment, we have found nothing to counterpoise the ISIS ideology. Previous and current experience of humanity clearly 7 Line from lyrics of a song by a popular Russian rock-musician Victor Tsoi.
  22. 22. Social Problems 1152 shows that common land or common language or common history does not make society united. The main consolidating factor is common future, and the future should be clear and attractive. The idea of justness is not only slogan but also marker. In human history, discussion of justness and increase in level of unjustness develop in parallel. Increased discussion of justness is a marker of need for change. Democracy is a very contradictory societal institution because its slogans of liberty, equality and fraternity, as well as ideas of justness and equal opportunities, are less and less verified in real life. We can be certain in one thing only: life meaning and justness are not to be found but rather acquired in struggle; but this struggle should be carried out in civilized ways. References: 1. Psychology and Psychopathology of Terrorism // Collected Papers, edited by Reshetnikov M. M. – Saint-Petersburg: East-European Psycho-analytical Institute, 2004. – 352 p. 2. Reshetnikov M. Visions of the Future: Social Processes and Terrorism in Europe. - Journal of Analytical Psychology (UK), 2008, Vol. 53, No. 5, p. 653-667. 3. Reshetnikov M. Psychology of War: from Local to Nuclear. Prognosis of Human Behavior and Actions. - Saint-Petersburg: East-European Psychoanalytical Institute, 2011. – 496 p. 4. Reshetnikov M. M. Psychological Factors of Development and Stagnation of Democratic Reforms. — Moscow: Moscow State University, 2014. – 260 p. 5. Reshetnikov M. Methodological Approaches to the Psychological Analysis of Ethnic Conflict and Ideal of Anti-Russiasm. - Intern. Scientific Periodical Journal “The Unity of Science”. – Vienna, Austria - April 2015. – P. 118-222.