Living in an age of extremism

July 23, 2011 · Posted in Blog 

The news is still changing after the dreadful Norway attack which BBC is now reporting has left over 80 dead, mostly the young students and the Labour rally on an Island outside Oslo. Increasingly it would appear that this is a far right extremist attack, by someone known to have anti Islamic and anti multicultural views. It is perhaps closer to Oklahoma than the 9/11 Militant Islamist.

The last decade of the 20th century and the early stage of the 21st have been marked by extremist acts of terror which show that we as a species have lost none of our propensity to produce individuals who take innocent human lives to make political points. The terror which has struck at the heart of Norway, and which has struck in such a devastating way, the politically interested youth is a late manifestation of this. It shows the callous and curious tendency for extremist groups of contrasting political opinions, such as right wing fascists and Islamist militants, to borrow strategies for one another. The use of a mass bombing in a city centre has echoes of the IRA bomb in Manchester and Oklahoma. But the use of a double attack is something seen by Islamist extremists and mass shootings echo the Islamist attack on a hotel in Mumbai.

It is not only in the tactics that such extremists share, but also the total disregard to the dignity of the human person in the pursuit of a political statement. Yet the expression of concern for the dignity of the human person is the fundamental political and ethical responsibility – the concern for the other, rather than the sole interest of the self. Militant extremist attacks cloak themselves in some greater common task, some sophisticate communal movement, but this obscures a radical individualism that totalises self interest and the self orientated view of the world. It is an act of utter selfishness, that feeds an overblown sense of self importance and significance; a grotesque murder dressed as a political statement to be lapped up by a global media.

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