Jan 20, 2014

Al-Qaeda as “Bandits”

I’ve read the book Eric Hobsbawm “Bandits,” again.

In this book he wrote about the history of “Bandits” around the world. He insisted that groups that were called “bandits” appeared in the age between the demise of tribal societies and the formation of modern capitalized society.

He described the phenomenon “bandits” as follows.
Social banditry of this kind is one of the most universal social phenomena known to history, and one of the most amazingly uniform.

… this uniformity is not the consequence of cultural diffusion, but the reflection of similar situations within peasant societies, whether in China, Peru, Sicily, the Ukraine, or Indonesia.

… Socially it seems to occur in all types of human society which lie between the evolutionary phase of tribal and kinship organization, and modern capitalist and industrial society, but including the phases of disintegrating kinship society and transition to agrarian capitalism.

At the other end of historic development, modern agrarian systems, both capitalist and post-capitalist, are no longer those of traditional peasant society and cease to produce social bandits

… In a broader sense ‘modernization’, that is to say the combination of economic development, efficient communications and public administration, deprives any kind of banditry, including the social, of the conditions under which it flourishes.
When I read this passage, I was reminded of Al-Qaeda.

Al-Qaeda has two faces. The first is the globalized organization using the Internet to instigate terrorism, and the second is the aggregation of small groups revolving in remote areas, such as the tribal area in Pakistan and the mountain area in Afghanistan.

The second face of Al-Qaeda has many features in common with “bandits,” which Eric Hobsbawm focused on. His study showed that “bandits” couldn’t be wiped out by officials but they disappeared through losing their social and economic basis. In fact, Al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan is surviving even though the U.S. Army attacked them using their modern weapons.

It might be more efficient to eliminate Al-Qaeda through realizing “the combination of economic development, efficient communications and public administration” in these areas.

Although I don’t know well about the progress of the study about “bandits,” it must be quite important to deal with Al-Qaeda, especially, the study about “bandits” in the globalization and the Internet age.

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