Suicide Bombers vs Sexual Abusers: A Battle of Depravity or Western Fixations?

Abstract: In this paper, originally presented as a talk to “The Barbarisation of Warfare” conference, held at the University of Wolverhampton on 27–28 June 2005, I indicate that if warfare is perceived as barbaric today – possibly more so than in the past – then this has more to do with our subjective confusion as to the purpose and direction of contemporary society, as well as the conflicts produced by it, than by any objective index of barbarism. While all sides in recent conflicts appear to have behaved in a degenerate or degrading manner to one another, it is worth noting that much of this perception stems from a Western inability to comprehend suicide as sacrifice, due to the demise of purpose and commitment, as well as a refusal to confront the corrosion and corruption of Western culture, and in particular the confusion and conflation of the public–private divide, driven from the top of society down. Unfortunately, a well-meaning but moralistic focus on acts of barbarism has encouraged a less than critical mindset to develop, which seeks affirmation in particular events, irrespective of evidence. This approach also fails to build a robust and effective political challenge to those who have argued for Western intervention in the affairs of other states. Indeed, these two outlooks can often exist side-by-side, thereby revealing their inner bankruptcy.

Suicide Bombers v Sexual Abusers: A Battle of Depravity or Western Fixations? Security Journal, Vol.20, No.3, pp.146-157, July 2007

Fear and Terror in a Post-Political Age

Abstract: Despite an investigation lasting almost a year there is still no clarity as to why the perpetrators of the London bombings of 2005 acted as they did. Many commentators projected their own views into the vacuum left by the terrorists. These ideas, ranging from revenge for British foreign policy to the logical outcome of social exclusion, may shape security and community-related policies adversely. This article suggests that the bombers reflected a wider sense of disgruntlement in contemporary culture, one that is largely home grown and inculcated. Exploring the recent development of this politics of alienation, and a concomitant search for identity and meaning, it is proposed that the biggest danger is to live in a society with no clear sense of direction or purpose.

Fear and Terror in a Post-Political Age, Government and Opposition, Vol.42, No.3, pp.427-450, July 2007