To me, the ISIS world view is abominable. But perhaps that’s because I’m relatively well off in Western society. If I was a member of a minority group in a Western country, a group that felt discriminated against by the society, maybe I would feel very differently. What might I see?
I would see a world of inequality, a world where the material riches are increasingly being corralled by the top 1%. I would see a world where rich people and big companies are not paying their taxes, using tax havens or getting special tax concessions. I would see a world where rich people in large organisations are rewarding themselves with huge salaries, hundreds of times those of the lowest paid. I would see a world where ordinary people are being ripped off by large organisations through lies about products and services, incomprehensible terms and conditions, exhorbitant interest charges on credit cards and shonky advice, yet these organisations remain virtually untouched by the catastrophes these activities cause to the little people in the society. I would see a world where politicians reward themselves with large benefits unattainable by their own citizens.
I would see a world where the concept of truth has more or less disappeared, replaced by obfuscation, PR statements and straight lies. I would see a world where governments are no longer accountable to their people, gerrymandering electorates to remain in power, appointing their own advisers to make public policy, ignoring the best advice of their public servants. I would see a world where there are no consequences for politicians if they lie.
I would see a world where more government money was spent on war activities under the title of ‘Defence’ than on health or education or social welfare, where governments try to impose their power on other distant countries when there is no direct link to their own wellbeing.
I would see a world where justice is only available to rich people or where rich people and companies can use the justice system to avoid being held to account for their actions. I would see a world where police officers could shoot black citizens and not be arrested. I would see a world where governments could arrest people secretly, hold them in detention centres or prisons for years, listen to their private phone conversations, take away their citizenship, all without any legal comeback by those citizens.
I would see a world where parents are raising unhealthy children with poor self-centred values, no longer disciplining them, children with no concept of family or society responsibilities. I would see a world raising increasingly unhealthy, obese children having little exercise, consuming sugary, fatty, manufactured foods full of unhealthy ingredients. I would see a world where food is an obsession instead of a means to an end.
I would see a world of social decadence, where porn is the main Internet activity, where women and children are captured to be sex slaves, where women are seen as sex objects. I would see a world where sexual harassment is experienced by the majority of women in their lifetime. I would see a world where domestic violence is one of the largest crimes in the society. I would see a world where western religious organisations cover up abuses by their own holy men.
I see a world where spiritual philosophy is dying, a world where materialism and self-aggrandisement and personal greed dominate responsibility to and respect for others.
And much, much more.
So why would I – a poor person, discriminated against in so many ways by such a society – think this society should be the role model for the world? Why would I not be attracted to an alternative holistic philosophy, particularly if it seemed to value me as an individual, one that had a clear set of behaviour codes (which it enforced), one that promised nirvana if I followed the strict rules?
It seems to me that, if we the West wants to address the ISIS attraction, there are a lot of issues we have to address in our own society, if it is to actually be the attractive role model that we think it is. Bombing people in far distant countries surely is not the way to influence minds, when our version of nirvana is so flawed.