Via Bruce Schneier:
young people adrift in a globalized world find their own way to ISIS, looking to don a social identity that gives their lives significance. Groups of dissatisfied young adult friends around the world often with little knowledge of Islam but yearning for lives of profound meaning and glory typically choose to become volunteers in the Islamic State army in Syria and Iraq, Atran contends. Many of these individuals connect via the internet and social media to form a global community of alienated youth seeking heroic sacrifice, he proposes.
Preliminary experimental evidence suggests that not only global terrorism, but also festering state and ethnic conflicts, revolutions and even human rights movements — think of the U.S. civil rights movement in the 1960s — depend on what Atran refers to as devoted actors. These individuals, he argues, will sacrifice themselves, their families and anyone or anything else when a volatile mix of conditions are in play. First, devoted actors adopt values they regard as sacred and nonnegotiable, to be defended at all costs. Then, when they join a like-minded group of nonkin that feels like a family a band of brothers a collective sense of invincibility and special destiny overwhelms feelings of individuality. As members of a tightly bound group that perceives its sacred values under attack, devoted actors will kill and die for each other.
He says it applies to the U.S. civil rights movement in the 1960s. Why shouldn’t it also be applicable to present day politics in the U.S.? Perhaps the Black Lives Matter movement and the police shootings?
Interesting. Very, very, interesting.