Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Islam and the youth bulge

I suppose by now we’ve all read as much as we choose to read about the beheading of James Foley. Horrible of course and as far as one can tell Mr Foley accepted his appalling fate with a dignity his murderers perhaps did not perceive.

As for the wider message, I’m not sure there is one apart from a certain resigned acceptance that this is something the world has to deal with without itself falling in love with extreme violence.

There is however a strong temptation to condemn Islam as a whole and a corresponding temptation to regret that it ever took root in this country. As an atheist, these are temptations I am less and less inclined to resist.

When I see the faces of those young men sucked in by the insane rhetoric of older men, I’m reminded of the theory of the youth bulge. Certainly the pattern fits. If sound, then we may presume that Muslim violence is something which will decline due to demographic change. An excess of stupidly frustrated testosterone will have drained away. Maybe time will tell.

As for the present, I get no sense of fear in the wider population. No sense that terrorism actually manages to terrorise anyone but those in the direct firing line. Instead I get a sense that traditional Islam is failing to deal with an increasingly materialistic and secular world where women are not chattels and ancient books are merely ancient books. Failing because it has no orthodox response to these trends.

This inevitable failure plus the crazy young men and the evil-minded old men have come together in a particularly ghastly way. So it will continue, but not forever.

In which case, Mr Foley did not die in vain. His death was even heroic because it represents progress. Any failure of naked barbarism is progress. The world is changing and his death reminds us that his murderers belong to the past. A savage past but not frightening – simply because it is the past.

It may well point to a future where, within a couple of generations, the Islamic extremes we see today are gone. The old men have passed away; the crazy young men are now old - those who contrived to survive their own stupidity at least.

If so, there is not much to be gained by accommodation or appeasement. It won’t work and may even delay the slowly grinding wheels of social change.


Demetrius said...

The idea of numbers of spare young men with few prospects and limited potential being a source of problems historically works quite well. Either as available people for aggression or empire building or in small groups people capable of causing infinite trouble. We of course now send most of ours to university or give them enough money to buy gizmo's and survive. But there are still a few to cause trouble enough.

A K Haart said...

Demetrius - yes, the correlation between violence and a low median age is pretty strong. Gaza is a good example.

Sam Vega said...

According to the article, African countries such as Zimbabwe have the most pronounced youth bulge. They probably already have the domestic crime rising nicely, but it would be interesting to see whether this is followed by political unrest.

Demetrius is spot on about the measures we have taken to placate our own youth. We can almost see it as Danegeld. I guess some types of entertainment we allow our own dear youngsters (alcohol, promiscuity, and verbal self-expression) are proscribed in some Islamic countries, and this exacerbates their problems.

Thud said...

They are all a danger to my family and my way of life, I want them gone and I don't care where or how.We destroyed and banned the Nazi party an organisation that was allowed to flourish, what comes next is perhaps going to be much worse if we allow it to survive.

Sackerson said...

It's the intelligent ones who are dangerous. This is an ideological struggle, like that with communism, and ideas coupled with violent protest can seduce brilliant young minds. Wasn't the man who drove his carbomb to Glasgow airport a doctor?

A K Haart said...

Sam - yes, a survey of youth bulge states is illuminating.

Thud - I think it's too late for that, although I think we have to do something.

Sackers - yes I think he was a doctor. Minds boggled at the time if I remember rightly.

James Higham said...

evil-minded old men

Careful - that's an apt description of many of us bloggers. :)

A K Haart said...

James - but only in a cantankerous sense I hope :)