Political scientist, author of “Putin’s Russia”
The main problem with the radical Islamism is its seduction among young people in many countries. Why does the Islamist revolution attract so many young people? This issue is acute today and it is strange to see that there are so few attempts to study it.
First of all, what is the radical Islamist movement? The emphasis must be put on its revolutionary character. The “caliph” of ISIS Al Baghdadi wants to create a new man by the use of violence and conversion. He wants to kill the old man to give place to a new one even if this new man is defined by very old texts. He wants to destroy the present society (the “Jâhiliya”, idolatric society) to create a completely new one based on the Sharia law. The Islamist movement is violent because it is revolutionary. A revolution has always been characterized by violence, otherwise it is not a revolution, as Lenin once said. It is not Islam in itself that is violent but the association of Islam with a revolutionary set of mind.
If we use Aristotle’s four causes that explain the human institutions, we can understand the essence of this Islamist revolution better. Aristotle wrote that every human institution has four causes: the final cause is the most important but all causes (the formal cause, the efficient cause and the material cause) are necessary. For a temple, the material cause is stones or wood; the formal cause is the plan of the architect, the efficient cause stands for the workers who build the temple and the final cause is the Greek religion (see Aristotle’s Metaphysics).
In the case of the Islamist revolution or movement, the final cause is the Sharia, god’s law which has to be implemented on the Earth, the formal cause is the violent revolution to create a “Caliphate”, an Islamic state, the efficient cause are jihadists, “the warriors of Islam”, and the material cause is the Earth to conquest where the Islamic society will be built (dar el Islam).
In the face of this revolutionary movement we must describe the four main poles of our Western society since the sixties. The ego of the individual is now the final cause and replaces God for traditional societies. Financial interests are the formal cause with weak political authorities to serve them. The mass of unrooted individuals, more so than consumers, stimulate the growth of the economy. Technology that is not limited by ethics, is the material cause. This description was made by the philosopher Martin Heidegger who called this system “Gestell” and by sociologists Alan Bloom and Christopher Lasch.
This form of secular society creates a spiritual vacuum and a materialist worldview that helps the rise of a variety of revolutions, including the Islamist one. This form of society that is expanding all over the world under the direction of the United States is seen by many Muslims as imperialistic.
This form of modernity was highly criticized in the West by people like David Riesman (“The Lonely Crowd”), Hannah Ahrendt (“The Crisis of Culture”), Alan Bloom (“The Closing of the American Mind”), Christopher Lasch (“The Culture of Narcissism”), Jean-François Mattéi (“On Inner Barbarity”) and others. This form of society without ideals for which one can sacrifice himself (such as patriotism) is weak in the face of religious and political fanaticism like the Islamist revolution. In the past the temptation of communism or fascism had the same role to play between the two World Wars.
It is necessary to understand that revolutions appear in societies where traditional institutions and values were in profound decay. That is the case in the West but less in former communist countries like Poland, Hungary or Russia. The four causes of traditional societies are democratic patriotism, traditional religion, personalities (heroes) or historic roots. In a conservative society revolutions do not occur and violence is limited by law, order, ethics and customs. In the 20th century the English society did not become fascist or communist, yet today UK’s materialistic system is weaker, where the youth, especially the Muslim youth with no roots due to immigration, cannot oppose the seduction of the Islamist revolution. The renewal of traditions, religion, family, patriotism (like it is happening in Russia) can be a good protection against this form of revolutionary seduction.