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Thread: The Internet: A Portal to Violent Islamist Extremism

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    Default The Internet: A Portal to Violent Islamist Extremism


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    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default Russian Intelligence Says Internet Helps Terrorists

    From Russia's Daily Online Kommersant: Chief of staff of the National Antiterrorist Committee Vladimir Bulavin called the Internet an aid to terrorists and criminals.

    At a working meeting between the special services of Russia and Azerbaijan, Bulavin stated, “We have a common headache and misfortune. That's the Internet, which was probably thought up by the world community for the better, in its own way, but has, unfortunately, turned into an encyclopedia and aid for terrorists and bandit elements.” Bulavin said that the Russian and Azeri special services discussed how to fight that phenomenon.
    “Even on the bilateral level, we cannot defeat that phenomenon,” Bulavin said. “Therefore, we intend to introduce the issue at the meeting of the FSB of Russia with its foreign partners, which will take place in September 2007 in Khabarovsk. Representatives of almost 90 enforcement agencies from 59 countries will take part in that meeting.

    Bulavin also stated that the special services of Russia and Azerbaijan discussed joint action to counter international terrorism, guaranteeing the security of electricity- and heat-generating facilities, cooperation at the border, informational security and personnel training.
    Last edited by Stan; 09-11-2007 at 10:49 AM.

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Default An Internet Jihad Sells Extremism to Viewers in the U.S.

    "When Osama bin Laden issued his videotaped message to the American people last month, a young jihad enthusiast went online to help spread the word.

    The global jihad is as close as YouTube, which features videos like an ode to suicide attacks, a message 'to black Americans' from a bin Laden lieutenant, and an Iraq insurgency promotional message.

    'America needs to listen to Shaykh Usaamah very carefully and take his message with great seriousness,' he wrote on his blog. 'America is known to be a people of arrogance.'

    Unlike Mr. bin Laden, the blogger was not operating from a remote location. It turns out he is a 21-year-old American named Samir Khan who produces his blog from his parents’ home in North Carolina, where he serves as a kind of Western relay station for the multimedia productions of violent Islamic groups..."

    Personally, I think the United States ought to consider armed intervention in North Carolina. If we could somehow turn it into a democracy, it could spark further democratization in the region. And that would undercut this sort of support for terrorism.

    But seriously, this is one more example of how information technology has altered the strategic landscape by blurring the distinctions between fantasy and reality in the minds of delusional young males. I still believe we are approaching a time when the United States will be forced to treat people from terrorism-producing states like Pakistan and the Arab world as we did those from the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War, i.e. as requiring special control and surveillance.

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    Council Member Rockbridge's Avatar
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    Angry Killin's too good for him....

    The fine line between free speech and providing aid and comfort to the enemy has been crossed. I've always been a fan of deportation. The "black Chinook" needs to be sent out to get this guy.

    Our legal system simply doesn't have a mechanism for dealing with these types of people. Are they enemy collaborators or are they simply voicing their opinions? Either way, they bear watching at the very least.
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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rockbridge View Post
    The fine line between free speech and providing aid and comfort to the enemy has been crossed. I've always been a fan of deportation. The "black Chinook" needs to be sent out to get this guy.

    Our legal system simply doesn't have a mechanism for dealing with these types of people. Are they enemy collaborators or are they simply voicing their opinions? Either way, they bear watching at the very least.
    On the afternoon of September 11th I said that THE great debate of coming years is whether we can survive with an 18th century constitution and a 20th or even 19th century conceptualization of war in the 21st century. I agree with you that we need to relook our notion of free speech. Our traditional idea is that we're willing to accept constrictions of our freedoms during time of war. That was OK when wars were abnormal and episodic. But how does that play out if war is persistent, maybe even perpetual? As a nation, we have not yet had this debate.

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    Default Excellent point, Steve

    Hadn't considered the challenge in these terms before. But if all (persistent) conflict takes place within the information environment, as our doctrinal manuals proclaim, there are major implications.

    Theoretically, one solution is indeed to restrict freedom of expression, but the other is to get better than the bad guys at this game.

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Steve,

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    On the afternoon of September 11th I said that THE great debate of coming years is whether we can survive with an 18th century constitution and a 20th or even 19th century conceptualization of war in the 21st century.
    Yup. The thing is that what has really strained your constitution isn't war per se, but a complete shift in the communications and cognitive environments. The environment which produced your constitution was one of a literate elite and middle classes, but restricted numbers of works. This led to a definition of "cultural literacy" which was broad based and highly reflective and reflexive. It also led to a situation where people knew what "clear thinking" (in the sense of logical thinking) was and recognized its limitations (i.e. change the assumptions, change the outcome).

    Ever since you folks shifted to a Managed Society, things have changed (consider the effects of shifting from oral debate and letter writing to local papers vs. the employment of radio and, later, television - broadcast media rather than interactive). The Managed Society pretty much had put the last nail in the coffin of your constitution by about, say, the mid-1960's and then proceeded to go into its own death throws in the late 1960's - early 1970's. The spin offs, however, such as a large bureaucracy, large corporations, "recognized thinkers" and a two-party system which stifles actual debate and thought, are still with you.

    Now you are in the Information Society - a form of social organization that is closer to hunting and gathering behaviour and meaning construction than anything else. And, given the spread and reach of 'net based communications, that means the search for meaning is global. What is even worse is that the "traditional" forms of meaning available in the US, many of them centered around individualism and/or service to an ideal, had been appropriated by the Managed Society and either "tainted" or warped by them.

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    I agree with you that we need to relook our notion of free speech. Our traditional idea is that we're willing to accept constrictions of our freedoms during time of war. That was OK when wars were abnormal and episodic.
    I'm going to sound a bit like Buckle (or Jared Diamond) here, but it really has little to do with the "abnormal and episodic" nature of war - it has to do with communicative closeness. The US, like Canada, Australia and New Zealand had a major advantage during the 19th and early 20th centuries - we were all a long way away from anyone who wanted to schmuck us and protected by oceans. Nowadays, our communications environment is closer to that of the Germanies in the 17th century and it is our communications environment that is the environment in which and through which we construct or sense of meaning and identity.

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    But how does that play out if war is persistent, maybe even perpetual? As a nation, we have not yet had this debate.
    That is a key question, Steve. My take on it is that in many ways you need to centre that debate on the what it means to be "American" - the positive forms of identity. One of the keys to that is freedom of speech, but not freedom of action (i.e. you can talk in favour of the irhabi but not materially support them). The debate does need to be held and it will, IMHO, be a very long one.
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    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    On the afternoon of September 11th I said that THE great debate of coming years is whether we can survive with an 18th century constitution and a 20th or even 19th century conceptualization of war in the 21st century. I agree with you that we need to relook our notion of free speech. Our traditional idea is that we're willing to accept constrictions of our freedoms during time of war. That was OK when wars were abnormal and episodic. But how does that play out if war is persistent, maybe even perpetual? As a nation, we have not yet had this debate.
    I think we need to remember a significant insurgent goal and the tactics used to achieve it. Insurgencies succeed by causing the people to give up their allegiance to the current government. A way to do this is to use methods that change perceptions as to the legitimitacy of the current governing institution or party. Insurgents seek to undermine the perceived legitimacy of an incumbent government by causing that government to change the country's status quo in ways perceived as negative by the country's citizens/inhabitants. For example, the repression of the current freedom of expression enjoyed in the United States would be at least a tactical victory for the bad guys out there. It becomes tough to advocate for and defend liberal democracy around the globe when one is repressing its tenets at home.

    The fact that we as a nation have not had the debate Steve notes might indicate that the citizens (those the government is supposed to serve) do not see a need to change how the government protects the values the people want protected.

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    Council Member Rockbridge's Avatar
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    Default There's repression, and then there's publicity

    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    It becomes tough to advocate for and defend liberal democracy around the globe when one is repressing its tenets at home.
    I couldn't agree more, and certainly don't advocate heading down the slippery slope to suppressing 1st Amendment rightts. If we go that direction, somebody might decide that SWJ needs to be suppressed.

    That being said, if his overt support for terrorists was made widely known in his hometown, his life might be a bit less pleasant. If all of your neighbors know what that you're openly advocating the armed overthrow of their government and destruction of their society, they might not be too friendly.
    You can get more with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone

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    Originally Posted by SteveMetz:
    I agree with you that we need to relook our notion of free speech. Our traditional idea is that we're willing to accept constrictions of our freedoms during time of war. That was OK when wars were abnormal and episodic.
    Originally posted by marct:
    I'm going to sound a bit like Buckle (or Jared Diamond) here, but it really has little to do with the "abnormal and episodic" nature of war - it has to do with communicative closeness. The US, like Canada, Australia and New Zealand had a major advantage during the 19th and early 20th centuries - we were all a long way away from anyone who wanted to schmuck us and protected by oceans. Nowadays, our communications environment is closer to that of the Germanies in the 17th century and it is our communications environment that is the environment in which and through which we construct or sense of meaning and identity.
    I agree with the rest of your post, but I think you missed it here. I think that our society realized, as recently as WWII, that a war is US against THEM. Since then, it has become fashionable and sometimes even a prerequisite to being recognized as an enlightened thinker in America to be overly self-critical of your own country. To decry America as an imperialist, greedy, destructive force in the world is the acme of enlightenment in many influential academic circles. To decry America as inherently racist and prejudiced against minorities is a necessary perception that must be perpetuated for various victims' rights groups.

    A fissure has developed between many Americans and our civil society. It is partly due to the aforementioned trendiness of self-loathing and partly due to a higher standard of living and cushiness about our society that allows impressionable youths and disconnected academics to ponder about, and convince themselves of, nonsensical ideas about the evils of America. When a person no longer sees himself as a member of civil society, but rather views civil society as an obstacle to his immediate personal gratification or an inconvenience or as a tyrant that he has constructed in his mind, then it is tough to foster the "US versus THEM" mindset necessary to enforce behavior in the way that Lincoln or FDR did.

    Can you imagine the response if Bush set up internment camps for Arabs and/or Muslims like FDR did in WWII? Can you imagine suspending Habeas Corpus like Lincoln did? Most important of all, can you imagine if the interned citizens still swore allegiance to America as the Japanese did in WWII?

    You cannot yell "fire" in a crowded theater, but you can run a propaganda machine for an international terrorist organization that seeks your destruction.

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Can you imagine the response if Bush set up internment camps for Arabs and/or Muslims like FDR did in WWII? Can you imagine suspending Habeas Corpus like Lincoln did?
    Those things are generally regarded as horrific mistakes that did not help the war effort.

    If you want to embrace bin Laden's or the Islamist blogger's argument that this is really a war between the United States and all Muslims, then by all means go ahead. Don't expect everyone to agree with you, and don't expect those who disagree to respond well when you brand them as traitors or subversives.
    Last edited by tequila; 10-22-2007 at 09:37 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    Those things are generally regarded as horrific mistakes that did not help the war effort.

    If you want to embrace bin Laden's or the Islamist blogger's argument that this is really a war between the United States and all Muslims, then by all means go ahead. Don't expect everyone to agree with you, and don't expect those who disagree to respond well when you brand them as traitors or subversives.
    I was speaking to the change in society, not to the effectiveness of the policies. The number of valor awards from the 442nd pretty much puts any debate on that issue to bed.

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    I was speaking to the change in society, not to the effectiveness of the policies. The number of valor awards from the 442nd pretty much puts any debate on that issue to bed.
    If you're talking about social cohesion, that tends to vary throughout history, generally based on economic conditions. I'd argue that the Civil War era which you cited before was a time of extremely low social cohesion, so much so that the Union itself split apart and significant portions of the population in both North & South were actively disloyal or aggressively nonparticipatory in the war itself. The WWII era had a much higher degree of social cohesion, but that was also a function of the industrial economy and its subsidiary, national conscription.

    The WWII era was not more virtuous than today. It was vastly less egalitarian and unequal politically, saw violent and aggressive disenfranchisement of large segments of the American population, and from a purely military standpoint oversaw enormous incompetence and disasters which were either covered up or disregarded in the name of national morale (Market Garden, Pearl Harbor, the fall of the Philippines, Hurtgen Forest, the failure of Army commanders at Omaha to take advice from Pacific theater veterans, much of the Italian campaign, etc. etc.) IMO we need to stop looking at the past in sepia tone and understand it for what it really was - that's the only way to gain both understanding and lessons for the future.

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    Default Not more virtuous, but not less...

    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    I'd argue that the Civil War era which you cited before was a time of extremely low social cohesion, so much so that the Union itself split apart and significant portions of the population in both North & South were actively disloyal or aggressively nonparticipatory in the war itself. The WWII era had a much higher degree of social cohesion, but that was also a function of the industrial economy and its subsidiary, national conscription.

    The WWII era was not more virtuous than today. It was vastly less egalitarian and unequal politically, saw violent and aggressive disenfranchisement of large segments of the American population, and from a purely military standpoint oversaw enormous incompetence and disasters which were either covered up or disregarded in the name of national morale...
    I agree with everything quoted above, though I suspect that if we both begin from this starting point, we will arrive at different conclusions. In the WWII era, many Americans did not see themselves as part of civil society. They wanted to be included and in this quest they endured injustices that few of us would tolerate today, being shunned due to their ethnicity or other unjust reasons. Today, an equal or larger proportion of America is unconcerned with membership, with some actively rejecting civil society.

    If one does not care one way or the other about inclusion in civil society, then it is difficult for that person to place much importance on the outcome of battles that the society enters into (in other words, “militant Islamists hate America, not me”). He is susceptible to being persuaded to support or not support the battle for reasons that are disconnected from the benefits of success or the costs of failure (In other words, this argument can sound logical: “lots of teens with no other economic opportunities in life than to join the Army are dying in Iraq, therefore we should end this war”).

    If one actively rejects and opposes the society around him, then that person is likely to seek to rally opposition to the battle. His most logical audience, aside from peers, is those who have the least interest in the benefits of winning, such as the personality above.

    The (thankfully) modal American personality sees himself as a member of civil society, sees that he has a shared stake in the outcome of a battle, and is susceptible to persuasive arguments connected to the benefits of success or costs of failure or inaction. And there are still those among us today who are not members of civil society (residents, aspiring immigrants, etc) but who seek inclusion into society and hold the sense of a shared stake in the outcome of our battles.

    Among those who see themselves as members of civil society or aspire to be part of it, I think that you will be hard-pressed to find many who oppose continuing our efforts in Iraq unless they think that failure is inevitable or that there is almost no benefit to succeeding. Contrast this with the rhetoric of the most vocal among those who reject or abstain from our civil society: Bush lied, Cheney is an evil oil baron, 4,000 dead, thousands of Iraqis are being raped and slaughtered by a handful of troops, we’re to blame for al-Qaeda’s actions, et cetera. There is not much evidence that they are concerned with the outcome and its implications for our nation. They are simply offended by the use of force in our national interest and horrified at human suffering, oblivious to the context in which it occurs.

    And, just to clarify ahead of time, I do not expect everyone to agree with me, nor would I seek to persuade them by calling them names. I’m pondering the situation, not recommending a course of action. The former must precede the latter. Most of my peers prefer to discuss football and their upcoming PCS, so this forum is a more logical place to have my views challenged so that I can refine or reject them. Hopefully that doesn’t sound like I’m trying to be cute or coy – I do recognize that nutjobs pop up in open forums and purposely “disrupt”, “flame”, or spout extreme views that they have no intention of changing, regardless of the evidence against them. I present my views so that others may pick them apart or validate them.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Schmedlap can put me in the validation box.

    While I might quibble around the edges a tiny bit and would add that most Americans are considerably more concerned with US success than they are about the factors cited by those opposed to this war (many to any war...), I think he has it mostly correct.

    Errors are made in all wars, tequila cites a few from World War II. There were many more, some more egregious and / or damaging than those named -- Palau comes to mind -- but anything involving humans is highly subject to error and often for very base reasons. That is not going to change. Far more regrettably, a tendency to fail to learn from past mistakes also seems to be a human foible...

    I would add that with respect to current operations, there have been errors aplenty -- strategic, operational and tactical -- in high places and one of the most important is the abject failure of this administration to outline its case for Iraq. This is the worst Admin for getting its message out in my memory.

    I believe that the errors made in WW II and those made today do not negate the necessity of participation in either war.

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    Council Member bourbon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    Posts
    You argue there is a disconnect between parts of our nation and civil society. However, we currently have an all-volunteer, professional military, which is in stark contrast to the traditional American way of war. Historically we rapidly stand up forces in times of need through conscription, and just as rapidly stand them down when the crisis ends. Standing armies in the United States have been historically small and insignificant, for our Founding Fathers warned us of the danger they bring. This is how we do it. This is our system.

    I think you make some very good points, but is it right to be critical of portions of our nation when we have deviated so far from our historical norm?

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Actually for most of our history, we've had an

    all volunteer professional military; conscription was used briefly only in the Civil War and World War I.

    It was reimposed for World War II; intended to be for the war period only. The world was irrevocably changed by WW II and we had become a global power so, for the very first time, the draft was reinstituted in peacetime (1948) after the war and that effectively gave us a quite large standing Army from 1950 until 1973, running about .004 of the population for most of that period with spikes for Korea and Viet Nam (only about seven out of 24) .

    From 1973 until 1991, that figure was about .003 -- with no draft.

    Compare that to 1930. A 165K Army (including the Army Air Corps) equated to about .0014 of the population. Today with vastly more responsibility it's only about .0017 (with about as many aircraft as has the Air force). That is not a significantly greater number and it doesn't approach the 1950-1991 figure.

    I suggest that the deviation in strength and processes is not great and that the real and very significant deviation is the transformation from an inward looking growing nation to a major power with global responsibilities. Given that major change in focus and responsibility -- wanted or not, we have it -- the actual change is miniscule and unavoidable.

    The internal US societal changes are, I believe, a different issue that have little bearing on the size and structure of the Army.

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Ken,

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    The internal US societal changes are, I believe, a different issue that have little bearing on the size and structure of the Army.
    I'm not sure that I would agree with you on this. I have a suspicion that the social changes and, more importantly, the disjuncture between stated political ideologies and the "lived experience" of many Americans, is having a major effect on the size and structure of the Army. As a case in point, the issue of junior officer retention and the use of cash bonuses seems to point to a significant problem.

    A few of my more radical, left wing friends and colleagues have made an interesting argument that is, IMHO, somewhat germane to this issue: they argue that, for the past 70+ years, the Management Society has been, basically, attempting to "domesticate" the average American. While I think they are definitely over the top in their rhetoric and their more than somewhat paranoid conspiracy theories, they does raise some interesting observations.

    First, North American culture has been shifted significantly from a somewhat balanced point of individual freedoms and responsibilities to one where individual "rights" dominate. Second, and again obver the same period (roughly 1910 to the present if we go back to the Taylorite model), we have seen an increasing acquiescence to the power of "experts" to define how things should be run. Third, we have seen a systematic stripping away of many of the "traditional" systems of meaning (often religious, but also nationalistic) and their replacement with commercialized versions (i.e. and individual gets meaning not from acting within a transcendent system but from buying things and "constructing" their "own" identities).

    I think that this trend has had an effect on the Army and, probably more on the USMC, since they still operate with an "older" form of "meaning" and identity construction. As a result, I think that you see the military attracting people who have a more "conservative" (please not the small "c") attitude towards rights and responsibilities, and this is where I see the disjuncture between the military and the rest of civil society showing up.

    I'm tossing this out really as a discussion point rather than something I could prove .

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    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    North American culture has been shifted significantly from a somewhat balanced point of individual freedoms and responsibilities to one where individual "rights" dominate. Second, and again obver the same period (roughly 1910 to the present if we go back to the Taylorite model), we have seen an increasing acquiescence to the power of "experts" to define how things should be run. Third, we have seen a systematic stripping away of many of the "traditional" systems of meaning (often religious, but also nationalistic) and their replacement with commercialized versions (i.e. and individual gets meaning not from acting within a transcendent system but from buying things and "constructing" their "own" identities).

    I think that this trend has had an effect on the Army and, probably more on the USMC, since they still operate with an "older" form of "meaning" and identity construction. As a result, I think that you see the military attracting people who have a more "conservative" (please not the small "c") attitude towards rights and responsibilities, and this is where I see the disjuncture between the military and the rest of civil society showing up.
    Marc,
    I suspect you may be right about the shift in the systems that provide "meaning" to individuals' lives. But, I think it is more of a pendulum swing than a move to a new system.
    If you remember your Locke, you jnow that he identified our fundamental rights as life, liberty, and property. We seem to have gone back to the Lockean notion of property as a defining characteristic of our place in the world. This is far from a new thing. What is somewhat new is what now counts as property. Where once it was what one actually produced with the sweat of one's brow (the original definition of property from Locke), it is now the number and type of possessions that our buying power allows us to acquire--necessities versus luxuries if you will. Those who are more concerned with the necessities are those who fit into what you described as "small c" conservatives, IMO.

    To put this a little more poetically, Rousseau noted "Man is born free yet is everywhere in chains." Today, more of us than ever before are "chained" by our "need" to acquire the latest and greatest consumer goods instead of the basic essentials of life (like food and shelter). As a result, we have less time/desire to be "chained" by such things as national service, unless they can satisify our consumerism needs.

    Those who are chained to the more fundamental needs are more likely to be attracted to the radical appeal. They see it as a means to break free from those chains so they can be shackled to the "higher pleasure."

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    I think economic change has enabled to a large extent a return to an older form of social organization where the emphasis is placed on individualism as opposed to communalism.

    In the postindustrial economy, one's ability to work in teams, to sublimate one's own individual personality and goals for the good of a larger organization or effort, is no longer worth as much. These communalist values were useful on the factory floor or in large regular armies.

    Nowadays there is more of an emphasis placed on individual achievement, how one's talents or abilities can separate oneself from the broader mass, on individual specialization and skills. This is in turn rewarded with individual satisfaction and outsized praise and awards. Consumerism is a symptom, not the cause.

    In essence a shift back towards an aristocratic ethos more recognizable from the 1800s, except rather than limited by birthright the aristocracy is limited instead by educational achievement and skill set.
    Last edited by tequila; 10-24-2007 at 02:57 PM.

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