A good article from the Ottawa Citizen on the origins of the jihadi threat and the magical thinking of many on the left.
Don't blame the West
The 'root causes' of Islamist terrorism do not lie in poverty or western imperialism, but an age old conflict between reason and revelation
By Robert Sibley, Ottawa Citizen January 3, 2011
During the last decade of Islamist terrorism, numerous commentators, particularly those on the left, have adopted a materialist approach to explain why some Muslims want to slaughter guests at hotels in Mumbai or detonate bombs at Christmas festivals in Sweden.
Terrorism, they argue, is rooted in poverty, frustration over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and memories of western imperialism. In other words, so the argument goes, the West itself is to blame for terrorism. If only the West would apologize, make reparations, abandon Israel, leave the Middle East and Afghanistan, all would be well. Or at least that's where the root-cause crowd's assumptions logically lead.
The problem with this materialist view of terrorism is that it largely misses the spiritual motivations that inform Islamist geo-politics. As political theorist Barry Cooper argues in his book, New Political Religions, or, An Analysis of Modern Terrorism, the Islamists, like the Nazis and Communists, are motivated more by a "disease of the spirit" than materialist aspirations. "When ordinary human beings see themselves as specially chosen by God, or even as gods themselves, they are not necessarily psychopaths, but they most definitely are spiritually disordered."
Cooper draws on Eric Voegelin, a 20th-century political philosopher who coined the term "pneumopathology" to account for the spiritual diseases of the modern world. Voegelin argued that some people -- politicians, intellectuals, journalists, for example -- prefer to see the world as a projection of their desires rather than comprehend its reality. Such fabulists effectively live in what Voegelin called a "second-order reality." If they acquire power they all-too-often pursue extreme measures -- genocide, gulags, crashing airplanes into buildings -- to transform the world to suit their fantasies of perfection.