Sunday, July 22, 2007

What's the Jihad Really About

Ask a well-schooled pundit what the Jihad or the War on Terror or whatever we're calling it this week, is about and you're likely to get an earful of religious history, territorial disputes and Western "meddling" in mid-east affairs. There's a grain of truth in that but when you drill right down to the core issues, it's a lot simpler than that. The primary issues at stake are Private Property, Women's Rights, and Rule of Law.

Nomadic tribal lifestyles and modern economies don't mesh well. You can't roam free across private property. As cities and towns bring efficiencies and infrastructure, they also bring restrictions on movement, behavior and access. To the nomad, every new or expanding structured settlement represents a threat to their very way of life. In the long run, this is a battle they cannot win. For while they rail against city life, they can't help but to patronize the producers who create it. The cars, the clothes, the computers, the medicine, the Internet, the cell phones, even the weapons are profit generators for those they're fighting against.

Perhaps the biggest bone of contention is the notion of equal rights for women. In many middle-eastern communities women have no more rights than a piece of furniture. They exist to serve their men. That's all. The capitalist pigs of the West have dispensed with that notion. Why? Because a good capitalist knows that keeping good talent down is bad for business. Equal rights isn't just a moral issue. It's a the intelligent way to maximize market penetration and recruit the best help. There's no middle ground on this one.

In many ways the war lords of the Jihad have more in common with the Mob than with any religious heroes. They rule by force, fear and intimidation. The establishment of the rule of law, imposed equally and objectively across social, economic and ethnic classes, throws a monkey wrench into their operating model. Gangsters thrive among chaos and lawlessness and will create it when things get too orderly.

The leaders and perpetuaters of Jihad will never come out and say they are fighting to prevent private property, women's rights and the rule of law. Instead they have embedded the opposition in their religion. It's presented as an all-or-none package deal. You go along or you go to hell, and if they speed your arrival, they're doing something holy and just. The promise of heaven and the threat of hell are powerful motivators. Convincing people to stop thinking and take things on faith is not nearly as hard as one might imagine, especially when the payoff is eternal bliss. As many dictators and monsters throughout history have demonstrated, once you get people to turn their brains off, anything is possible.

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