Extremism in modern and post modern times is characteristic for all societies and areas of thinking/belief. There have always been people attracted by the extreme (or, as they put it, the “pure”) expression of a religion/theory. So far, the so-called “fringe” movements of all kind were not considered a considerable threat to well-established societies. However, the developments of the last decades favored the surge of extremism in most of its forms (social, religious etc.) and we are witnessing an increased number of violent activities, as well as an increased number of people attracted by the extremist theories.
In democratic societies, individuals or groups that advocate the replacement of democracy with an authoritarian regime are usually branded extremists, in authoritarian societies the opposite applies. Political agendas perceived as extremist often include those from the far left or far right as well as fundamentalism or, as a more general term, fanaticism.
Those described as extremist would in general not accept that what they practice or advocate constitutes violence and would instead speak in terms of acts of “resistance” or militant action or the use of force. The word violence cannot be regarded as value-neutral. Ideology and methodology often become inextricably linked under the single term extremism. Economist Ronald Wintrobe argues that many extremist movements, even though having completely different ideologies share a common set of characteristics:
– They are against any compromise with the other side.
– They are entirely sure of their position.
– They advocate and sometimes use violence to achieve their ends.
– They are nationalistic.
– They are intolerant of dissent within their group.
– They demonize the other side.
Extremism is however seen by other researchers as a “rational strategy in a game over power”.
1. Trigger factors
When analyzing the surge of violent extremism in Europe, one has to take into account the main “trigger factors”: overpopulation (food and water crisis), immigration/clash of cultures, economic crisis, as well as the perception that traditional governments are no longer able to protect society against such threats, or, even more, they are part of an “external” conspiracy aimed to spoil and reduce the people to extreme poverty.
1.1. The world in 2015 will be populated by some 7.2 billion people, up 18 percent from 6.1 billion in the year 2000. More than 95% of this increase will be found in developing countries, mostly in urban areas. India, for example, will grow from about 1 billion people to more than 1,2 billion by 2015; Pakistan will swell from 140 million to about 186 million – increasing the challenges to stability and governance in this already tense region.
By 2015, for the first time in human history, more than half of the world’s population will be urban dwellers. The number of people living in mega-cities – those containing more than 10 million inhabitants – will double to more than 400 million. These mega-cities will include Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Lagos, Cairo, Karachi, Calcutta, Jakarta, Beijing, and Tokyo: all but the last in the developing world.
The size of working-age populations will contract. The ratio of taxpaying workers to nonworking citizens in the developed world will decrease. Today, that ratio is about four to one in most industrialized nations and dropping, already straining the budgets of some countries. In Europe, people are living longer while average retirement ages have been dropping by about a year per decade. Accustomed to a generous social safety net, Europeans are reluctant to change their generous pension systems and health-care benefits, which have grown dramatically.
In the absence of major policy shifts, within two decades much of the industrialized world could find itself with increased debt or higher taxes, which could lead to slower economic growth worldwide.
1.2. Global migration, which is very likely to increase over the next 10 to 20 years, could provide a partial solution to problems associated with both aging and large youth populations. An estimated 140 million people now live outside their countries of birth. Migration of younger workers would offset the retirement of older workers in countries with aging populations and provide jobs for unemployed youth from developing countries.
Despite its benefits, global migration will present serious challenges to both sending and receiving countries. Increased immigration to Europe, Asia, and North America will initially strain social services and risk fueling xenophobic political parties and anti-immigrant violence.
The issue of immigration is fear generating. The fears on the right are of a continent-wide takeover by third-world hordes – mostly Muslim – who have yet to be infected by the modern malady called family planning and who threaten to transform, if not completely delete, the storied, cherished cultures of Western Europe. And to venture into even-deeper waters, no one knows how Europe’s birthrate might play out globally: whether it will contribute to the diminishing of Western influence and Western values; whether America will have to go it alone in this regard.
A European Commission working document published in November 2007 concludes that “truly massive and increasing flows of young migrants would be required” to offset current demographic changes. By one analysis of U.N. figures, Britain would need more than 60 million new immigrants by 2050 – more than doubling the size of the country – to keep its current ratio of workers to pensioners, and Germany would need a staggering 188 million immigrants in the same time period.
In contrast to the past, the ethnic composition of immigrants in many instances differs markedly from the populations of the receiving countries. Immigrants in the past were largely from countries in southern Europe, including Italy, Spain and Portugal. Many of today’s immigrants to Europe come from Africa and Asia, raising concerns in host communities about cultural integrity and assimilation.
While the absolute numbers of immigrants are comparatively small, concentrations have increased visibly in recent decades. Adding complications is the presence of large numbers of migrants who have entered illegally or lack documents for legal residence, many of whom are poorly educated and low skilled. These conditions contribute to greater ethnic diversity and tensions within and among countries, raising concerns about cultural integrity, national identity, integration and national security.
There’s little doubt that the nations of Europe – as well as Japan – sail into uncharted demographic territory. Voluntary population decline and demographic aging of this order and scale have few, if any, comparable historical parallels. Since this occurs at a time when for variety of reasons, for example, growing fear of religious extremism and threats to national security, countries are reluctant to open the immigration door, the challenge for the governments is greater. Population decline can no longer be left to economists and demographers to ponder about as it fast rises to the top of the political agenda.
1.3. Available resources will not be sufficient to meet the demand of rising population.
Only 3% of water on the planet is potable, so overpopulation problems will start with the lack of drinking water for millions of people across the globe. Land available for agricultural production is also shrinking, which means the amount of crop produced will decrease with time. If population increases and crop production decreases, a large part of population will be left to die of hunger.
In fact, Thomas Malthus had predicted this problem of food shortage due to rise in population two centuries ago through his theory of population. Scarcity of resources will not just be restricted to food and water, it will also affect various other walks of life, including health services, jobs and many basic amenities. A Malthusian catastrophe was originally foreseen to be a forced return to subsistence level conditions once population growth had outpaced agricultural production.
Former CIA director Michael Hayden identified one of the biggest threats facing the U.S., something that occurs over 215 million times a day – sex.
“Population is the essential multiplier for any number of human ills,” Hayden said recently. He said overpopulation in the poorest parts of the world is causing global political instability and extremism, climate change, and the food and fuel crises.
According to several researchers, the human population as a whole has passed the numerical point where all can live in comfort, and that we have entered a stage where many of the world’s citizens and future generations are trapped in misery. There is evidence that a catastrophe is underway. Regarding famines, data demonstrate the world’s food production has peaked in some of the very regions where food is needed the most.
In South Asia, approximately half of the land has been degraded such that it no longer has the capacity for food production. In China there has been a 27% irreversible loss of land for agriculture, and it continues to lose arable land at the rate of 2,500 square kilometers per year. In Madagascar, at least 30% of the land previously regarded as arable is irreversibly barren.
1.4. The fear of overpopulation and resource depletion is also seen by the analysts that follow the Malthusian theory as a “trigger factor” not only for extremism but also for war and clash between powers fighting to conquer more land and resources (essentially, Malthus sustained that populations always increase until they are limited by war, disease, or famine).
This theory is also thought by Malthusians to account for the relative decrease in wars during the past fifty years, especially in the developed world, where advances in agriculture have made it possible to support a much larger population than was formerly the case, and where birth control has dramatically slowed the increase in population.
Another aspect of the overpopulation as a trigger factor for war is analyzed by the so-called “youth bulge” theory (where large populations of young males, graphically represented as a “youth bulge” in a population pyramid, with a lack of regular, peaceful employment opportunities are considered a risk pool for violence). Samuel Huntington has modified his “Clash of Civilizations” theory by using youth bulge theory as its foundation. “Youth Bulge” theories represent a relatively recent development but seem to have become more influential in guiding U.S. foreign policy and military strategy.
According to this theory, a youth bulge occurs when 30 – 40% of the males of a nation belong to the “fighting age” cohorts from 15 to 29 years of age, and find themselves in a situation that tends to escalate their adolescent anger into violence: they are:
– Demographically superfluous,
– Might be out of work or stuck in a menial job, and
– Often have no access to a legal sex life before they can earn enough to provide for a family.
The combination of these stress factors usually heads for one of the following different exits:
- Emigration (“non violent colonization”)
- Violent Crime
- Rebellion or putsch
- Civil war and/or revolution
- Genocide (to take over the positions of the slaughtered)
- Conquest (violent colonization, frequently including genocide abroad).
Religions and ideologies are seen as secondary factors that are being used to legitimate violence, but will not lead to violence by themselves if no youth bulge is present. Youth bulge theories have been criticized as leading to racial, gender and age “discrimination”.
The same phenomena (overpopulation and resource depletion), together with other issues, are also at the origin of the increased importance of the territorial factor in current international disputes, although not all of them tend to be resolved by war.
Analysts point out that the end of the Cold War brought a renewal of territorial concerns in international relations, since ethnic and nationalist conflicts – many of which tied to territorial claims – have returned to the forefront (see the case of former Yugoslavia).
The renewed importance of the territorial factor comes from the increased value that it adds to the controlling power:
– Economic value, not only as a natural resource base but also as a market for the controlling power;
– Strategic value, since the control of a certain territory adds to the security of the controlling power and may bring the control of a larger area (see the “heartland” theory of Halford Mackinder);
– Demographic value, by offering the controlling power the population resource: workforce, military force, additional space for a growing population (“lebensraum”).
1.5. The situation in Europe is somehow paradoxical, since it faces a serious trend of diminishing in the case of the local population. Demographers and economists foresee that 30 million Europeans of working age will ‘disappear’ by 2050. At the same time, retirement will be lasting decades as the number of people in their 80s and 90s increases dramatically. The crisis, they argue, will come from a “triple whammy of increasing demand on the welfare state and health-care systems, with a decline in tax contributions from an ever-smaller work force. That is to say, there won’t be enough workers to pay for the pensions of all those long-living retirees. What’s more, there will be a smaller working-age population compared with other parts of the world; the U.S. Census Bureau’s International Database projects that in 2025, 42% of the people living in India will be 24 or younger, while only 22% of Spain’s population will be in that age group. This, in the wording of a Demographic Fitness Survey by the Adecco Institute, a London-based research group, will result in a “war for talent.” And the troubles for Europe are magnified by other factors in the existing welfare states of many of its countries. Europeans are used to early retirement – according to the Adecco survey, only 60 percent of men in France between the ages of 50 and 64 are still working.
There are really different population changes happening in Europe. One concerns Eastern Europe, where trends date from the Communist period and portend a special, and especially virulent, class of social problems. Bulgaria’s birthrate is 1,37, and life expectancy for males is seven years less than in Belgium or Germany; the E.U. estimates that Bulgaria’s population will drop to 5 million in 2050. Since 1989, Latvia’s population has dropped 13 percent.
Throughout most of Eastern Europe one sees the same dark elixir of forces at play, which commentators attribute to Westernization, though it’s difficult to fix causes precisely. But the true fertility fault line in Europe – the fissures of which spread outward across the globe – runs between the north and the south. Setting aside the special case of countries in the east, the lowest rates in Europe – some of the lowest fertility rates in the world – are to be found in the seemingly family-friendly countries of Italy, Spain and Greece (all currently hover around 1,3).
2. Right-wing extremism on its way back from WW II
As seen before, immigration in Europe is generating fear, in spite of its economic bonuses, especially since integration is seen to be consuming part of the social and welfare funds that are already becoming smaller. Few Europeans want that. Immigration already touches all sorts of raw nerves, forcing debates about cultural identity, citizenship tests, national canons, terrorism and tolerance, religious versus secular values.
Following the world’s biggest financial crisis and economic recession in recent history, which has seriously tested the very tenets of capitalism and its workings, including the financial foundations on which the market economy is based, one would have thought that the political pendulum in most countries would now move to the left. Well, not if one knows one’s history well.
Going back in time one finds that following crises such as in the 1930s after the Wall Street Crash, people tend to move to the right, often the far right. They want to batten down the hatches, and in fear and panic want to fend for themselves. In their “fight or don’t flight” dilemma they are pushed or get attracted to extreme demagogues with simple populist creeds with undertones of racial prejudice and intolerance. The blame is put not on the perpetrators of the crisis but on the weakest minority group or groups of people around. Recessions tend to bring with them rising unemployment and lower living standards. Affected people want to blame somebody for this state of affairs. They are fearful that somebody will rob them of their job. Minority groups are quick scapegoats.
Consequently, it is natural to yearn for a quick fix and an easy solution. Extremist politics that blames a minority – be it based, for example, on the color of their skin or their religious creed – for all society’s problems, purports to offer that quick fix, even though history tells us that such politics leads to bloody conflict and genocide.
What has contributed to the rise of right-wing sentiment? For one, increased migration “helped lay the groundwork for a nationalist, at times starkly chauvinist, revival.” Moreover, in recent years, “far-right statements have appeared to lose much of their post-World War II taboo even among some prominent political parties.” Finally, there is a focus (in both Europe and the U.S.) on Islamic terrorists, which has led to overlooking domestic radicals.
Far-right sentiment has entered the political mainstream, in places such as Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, and throughout Europe. Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, and Prime Minister David Cameron in Britain, all recently declared an end to multiculturalism. Multiculturalism “has failed, utterly failed”, said Mrs. Merkel, though stressing that immigrants were welcome in Germany. France has a ban on Muslim girls wearing a headscarf in public schools. And recently, the daily newspaper Berliner Zeitung reported that neo-Nazis were attacking the offices of the far-left Left Party with increasing frequency.
Populist, anti-immigration parties have been performing strongly across Western Europe, where many countries are still struggling to emerge from recent economic hardship. The idea of having a pure community, or a white Europe, is actually quite common within European right-wing extremist groups.
The Sweden Democrats enjoyed success at the last general election, entering Parliament for the first time. They now have 20 out of all 349 Parliament seats after winning 5.9% of the vote. In Denmark, the People’s Party (DF) is already the third-largest party in Parliament and a partner in the country’s government since obtaining 14% of votes in the 2007 general election. The minority center-right coalition government, under the DF’s influence, has turned the country’s immigration rule into possibly the tightest in Europe. In Finland, the popularity of the True Finns party has also grown in recent years. The party received 19,1% of the vote in the last parliamentary elections compared to just 4,1% in 2007. Among those major European powers, the British National Party, despite winning only 1,9% of the vote in the 2010 general election, has been represented in the European Parliament since 2009. And although France’s National Front party is not expected to win outright in next year’s presidential campaign, it is expected to make an impressive showing after having performed well in this year’s regional elections.
The surge of extremist sentiment has been fuelled by immigration and exacerbated by the economic crisis. When unemployment rises, a challenge faced by many European countries in recent years, so does anti-immigration sentiment.
European right-wing extremists believe their jobs have shifted to immigrants. Such a view is quite popular among the young people. Anti-immigration and (being) against the entry of foreign cultures is the key characteristic of the far-right in Europe,” said Wang Peiran, a visiting scholar specializing in European security studies at Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium.
2.1. In this context, one may note the revival of the Nazi theories of the “living space” and, of course, the “master races” (as opposed to colored migrants), as well as the increasing presence of the Nazi-type extremist movements.
Lebensraum (German for “habitat” or literally “living space”) was one of the major political ideas of Adolf Hitler, and an important component of Nazi ideology. It served as the motivation for the expansionist policies of Nazi Germany, aiming to provide extra space for the growth of the German population, for a Greater Germany.
In Hitler’s book Mein Kampf, he detailed his belief that the German people needed Lebensraum and that it should be found in the East. It was the stated policy of the Nazis to kill, deport, or enslave the Polish, Russian and other Slavic populations, whom they considered inferior, and to repopulate the land with Germanic peoples. The entire urban population was to be exterminated by starvation, thus creating an agricultural surplus to feed Germany and allowing their replacement by a German upper class.
According to Nazism, it is an obvious mistake to permit or encourage multilingualism and multiculturalism within a nation. Fundamental to the Nazi goal was the unification of all German-speaking peoples, “unjustly” divided into different Nation States. Hitler claimed that nations that could not defend their territory did not deserve it. Slave races, he thought of as less-worthy to exist than “master races.” In particular, if a master race should require room to live (Lebensraum), he thought such a race should have the right to displace the inferior indigenous races.
2.1.1. The Nazi theories are revived in a phenomenon called by analysts “Islamofascism”, draws an analogy between the ideological characteristics of specific Islamist movements from the turn of the 21st century on, and a broad range of European fascist movements of the early 20th century, neofascist movements, or totalitarianism.
Proponents of the term argue that there are similarities between historical fascism and Islamofascism, Christopher Hitchens makes the following comparison: Both movements are based on a cult of murderous violence that exalts death and destruction and despises the life of the mind. Both are hostile to modernity (except when it comes to the pursuit of weapons), and both are bitterly nostalgic for past empires and lost glories. Both are obsessed with real and imagined “humiliations” and thirsty for revenge. Both are chronically infected with the toxin of anti-Jewish paranoia. Both are inclined to leader worship and to the exclusive stress on the power of one great book. Both have a strong commitment to sexual repression – especially to the repression of any sexual “deviance”- and to its counterparts the subordination of the female and contempt for the feminine. Both despise art and literature as symptoms of degeneracy and decadence; both burn books and destroy museums and treasures.
A perceived trend of increasing “Islamophobia“ during the 2000s has been attributed by some commentators to the September 11 attacks, while others associate it with the rapidly growing Muslims populations in the Western world, especially in Western Europe, due to both immigration and high fertility rate. In May 2002, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), a European Union watchdog, released a report entitled “Summary report on Islamophobia in the EU after 11 September 2001”, which described an increase in Islamophobia-related incidents in European member states post-9/11. Although the term is widely recognized and used, it has not been without controversy.
The Runnymede report identified eight perceptions related to Islamophobia:
- Islam is seen as a monolithic bloc, static and unresponsive to change.
- It is seen as separate and “other.” It does not have values in common with other cultures, is not affected by them and does not influence them.
- It is seen as inferior to the West. It is seen as barbaric, irrational, primitive, and sexist.
- It is seen as violent, aggressive, threatening, supportive of terrorism, and engaged in a clash of civilizations.
- It is seen as a political ideology, used for political or military advantage.
- Criticisms made of “the West” by Muslims are rejected out of hand.
- Hostility towards Islam is used to justify discriminatory practices towards Muslims and exclusion of Muslims from mainstream society.
- Anti-Muslim hostility is seen as natural and normal.
This sentiment, according to Malcolm Brown and Robert Miles, significantly interacts with racism, although Islamophobia itself is not racism. The publication “Social Work and Minorities: European Perspectives” describes Islamophobia as the new form of racism in Europe, arguing that “Islamophobia is as much a form of racism as Anti-Semitism, a term more commonly encountered in Europe as a sibling of Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance.”
Geert Wilders, the blonde Dutch politician who, together with his Party for Freedom, has supported the minority government in The Hague since last year, is the vanguard of this movement. He has called for a ban of the Koran and has likened it to Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” and he wants women who wear the headscarf to pay a “head-rag tax.” Wilders has his imitators, who feed on fears of globalization and modernization and stoke fears of foreign domination.
They include the Danish People’s Party, which has helped Denmark’s center-right minority government stay in power for almost 10 years; Italy’s Northern League; the Sweden Democrats, whose leader told that country’s parliament that Islam is “the greatest threat to Europe since World War II”; the True Finns; Marine Le Pen in France; Belgium’s Flemish nationalist party Vlaams Belang; and the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ). The Norwegian attacker Anders Breivik is particularly enamored of Austria, which he mentions 70 times in his manifesto, even expressing his appreciation to his “brothers and sisters” there. This may have something to do with the polls showing that the FPÖ, known for its anti-Muslim slogans and its claims that Islamism is the “fascism of the 21st century,” is on its way to becoming Austria’s strongest party.
3. The successors of the anarchists
3.1. Traditionally, anarchists believe that the main problem with the world is that it is divided into masters and ‘wage slaves’. If we could get rid of the bosses and run industry ourselves, for the benefit of our own needs not theirs, it would clearly make a big improvement and would transform every area of life.
Anarchists try to be ready for strikes when they happen. Usually the most important task in such situations is to undermine the power of the official union line and get people working together directly rather than through the ‘proper channels’. The point of anarchism is to seize control of our own lives, not to hand it over to an official for a sellout. As it happens such direct action is the tried and tested way of winning industrial battles. Unity is strength. National states must be abolished and people allowed to move freely and cooperate of their own free will everywhere in the world. Anarchists want a world without compulsion, without rulers and consider themselves neither right wing nor left wing, neither Conservatives nor Social Democrats.
Anarchism as a social movement has regularly endured fluctuations in popularity. The central tendency of anarchism as a mass social movement has been represented by anarcho-communism and anarcho-syndicalism, with individualist anarchism being primarily a literary phenomenon which did have an impact on the bigger currents and individualists also participated in large anarchist organizations. Most anarchists oppose all forms of aggression, supporting self-defense or non-violence (anarcho-pacifism), while others have supported the use of some coercive measures, including violent revolution and propaganda of the deed, on the path to an anarchist society.
Anarcho-syndicalism is a branch of anarchism which focuses on the labor movement. Anarcho-syndicalists seek to abolish the wage system, regarding it as wage slavery, and state or private ownership of the means of production, which they believe lead to class divisions. Ralph Chaplin states that “the ultimate aim of the General Strike as regards wages is to give to each producer the full product of his labor. The demand for better wages becomes revolutionary only when it is coupled with the demand that the exploitation of labor must cease.” In contrast to a separate State apparatus exercising external agency, anarcho-syndicalists argue for the creation of organizational forms built from below, united through federalism and confederation. Stemming from anarchist principles, this has entailed experiments with organizations based on self-management and direct democracy – that is the use of mandated, binding and rotatable delegates always accountable to the base. Such organizational forms include, but are not limited to, networks of militant workers, economic fighting organizations and specific propaganda groups.
These organizations are seen as the seeds to ‘building the foundations for the new world in the shell of the old’. Through the conflation of means and ends, this may, for example, take the form of a Federation of Workers’ & Community Councils and the creation of a Central Assembly of Councils and of a Council Administration – the key factor being that such organizational forms do not constitute a delegation of popular power but are, on the contrary, an instrument of that power.
Anarcho-syndicalists believe that only direct action – that is, action carried out by the workers themselves, which is concentrated on attaining a goal directly, as opposed to indirect action, such as electing a representative to a government position – will allow workers to liberate themselves. Moreover, anarcho-syndicalists believe that workers’ organizations should be self-managing. They should not have bosses or “business agents”; rather, the workers should be able to make all the decisions that affect them themselves.
Rudolf Rocker was one of the most popular voices in the anarcho-syndicalist movement. He dedicated himself to the organization of Jewish immigrant workers in London’s East End and led the 1912 garment workers strike. He outlined a view of the origins of the movement, what it sought, and why it was important to the future of labor in his 1938 pamphlet Anarcho-Syndicalism.
3.2. The Left-wing extremist organizations source their ideology in socialism, anarchism and communism as well as more reformist movements like social democracy and social liberalism. In several countries, the terms far left and radical left have been associated with communism, Maoism, Autonomism and many forms of anarchism. They have been used to describe groups that advocate anti-capitalist, identity politics or eco-terrorism, as well as anti-globalism.
Nowadays the extremist movements are fighting the globalists accusing them of wanting the whole world to be one mixed race because that will make their job of world government much easier. EU is a bloc state that works to destroy the white race and to force European nations to conform to it. The African Union is a lot like the EU, but works the same way to grow the population of Africa and is the bloc that controls that area of the world under the United Nations. ASEAN is being used to place all of East Asia under. The Union of South American Nations, the Caribbean community, the Pacific Forum or NAFTA are all part of a plan to form a one world government and to under lock us all under it.
3.2.1. The anti-globalization movement, or counter-globalization movement, is critical of the globalization of corporate capitalism. The movement is also commonly referred to as the global justice movement, alter-globalization movement, anti-corporate globalization movement, or movement against neoliberal globalization.
The term “anti-globalization” does not distinguish the international left-wing anti-globalization position from a strictly nationalist anti-globalization position. Many nationalist movements, such as the French National Front, are opposed to globalization, but argue that the alternative to globalization is the protection of the nation-state, sometimes, according to critics, in explicitly racist or fascist terms. Other groups, influenced by the Third Position, are also classifiable as anti-globalization. However, their overall world view is rejected by groups such as Peoples Global Action and anti-fascist groups such as ANTIFA. Some activists, notably David Graeber, see the movement as opposed instead to neoliberalism or “corporate globalization”.
While the term “anti-globalization” arose from the movement’s opposition to free-trade agreements, various participants contend they are opposed to only certain aspects of globalization and instead describe themselves, at least in French-speaking organizations, as “anti-capitalist”, “anti-plutocracy,” or “anti-corporate.” Le Monde Diplomatique ‘s editor, Ignacio Ramonet’s, expression of “the one-way thought” (la pensée unique) became slang against neoliberal policies and the Washington consensus.
Participants base their criticisms on a number of related ideas. What is shared is the opposition to large, multi-national corporations having unregulated political power and to the powers exercised through trade agreements and deregulated financial markets.
Specifically, corporations are accused of seeking to maximize profit at the expense of sabotaging work safety conditions and standards, labor hiring and compensation standards, environmental conservation principles, and the integrity of national legislative authority, independence and sovereignty. Recent developments, seen as unprecedented changes in the global economy, have been characterized as “turbo-capitalism” (Edward Luttwak), “market fundamentalism” (George Soros), “casino capitalism” (Susan Strange), “cancer-stage capitalism” (John McMurtry), and as “McWorld” (Benjamin Barber). Many anti-globalization activists generally call for forms of global integration that better provide democratic representation, advancement of human rights, fair trade and sustainable development and therefore feel the term “anti-globalization” is misleading.
Generally speaking, protesters believe that the global financial institutions and agreements undermine local decision-making methods. Corporations exercise privileges that human citizens cannot: moving freely across borders, extracting desired natural resources, and utilizing a diversity of human resources.
The activists are especially opposed to “globalization abuse” and the international institutions that promote neoliberalism without regard to ethical standards.
Common targets include the World Bank (WB), International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) and free trade treaties like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). In light of the economic gap between rich and poor countries, movement adherents claim “free trade” without measures in place to protect the environment and the health and well being of workers will contribute only to the strengthening the power of industrialized nations (often termed the “North” in opposition to the developing world’s “South”).
Activists often also oppose some business alliances like the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Trans Atlantic Business Dialogue (TABD) and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), as well as the governments which promote such agreements or institutions. Others argue that, if borders are opened to capital, borders should be similarly opened to allow free and legal circulation and choice of residence for migrants and refugees. These activists tend to target organizations such as the International Organization for Migration and the Schengen Information System.
3.2.2. The Greek extreme left organizations – who increased their protests in the context of the austerity measures imposed by the foreign financial authorities – are also considered as descendants of the anarchists. The main organizations are the “Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei” and the “Revolutionary Struggle” and their roots are to be found in the anti-globalism riots in Seattle (1999) and Genova (2001). They also inspire from the activities of the Italian anarchist group “FAI” (Federazione Anarchica Informale). They militate against the government and the parliament, as well as against capitalism.
4. Religious extremism
One of the most dangerous problems we face is religious extremism. Religious extremism can be defined as a person or group that takes the position that if others do not follow their ways, they will be damned. While these extremists present themselves as deeply spiritual, religious fanaticism comes not from deep faith, but from a lack of it. The only thing religious fanaticism really demonstrates is weakness on the part of the fanatic. Weakness in his own faith. This extremism often preaches intolerance against all who disagree with their own viewpoints. We have seen this with Islamic extremists who cannot tolerate any adverse portrayals of Islam or its leaders or icons.
While terrorist groups remain the central structural unit in international terrorism, terrorist groups today are better described as networked groups tied together by individual relationships than as clearly defined organizations that are structured and discrete. The relationships between individual terrorists affiliated with different groups are paramount, especially when operating within Diaspora communities in places like Europe and the United States. This crossover and pollination facilitates cooperation among groups, including operational cooperation but far more often interconnectivity at the logistical and financial support levels. Such links exist even between groups that do not share similar ideologies, leading to cooperation between religious zealots and secular radicals; between ideologically – or theologically – driven terrorists and criminal entities (as has been the case in several terrorist attacks in Iraq, where criminal elements played critical roles in return for monetary compensation); between Sunni and Shi’a groups; and between individuals whose person-to-person contacts require no agreement between their respective headquarters.
From the squalid suburbs north of Paris to the gritty streets of Sarajevo, young, disaffected Muslims are increasingly receptive to hard-liners looking to recruit foot soldiers for holy war, European counterterrorism officials and religious leaders warn. The continent, they caution, remains vulnerable to attacks by homegrown militants despite the heightened security and attempts at inter-religious dialogue that followed the deadly 2004 train bombings in Madrid and the suicide attacks in London.
An estimated 5,000 French Muslims embrace extremist Islam, according to a 2005 police intelligence report. France is home to about 5 million Muslims, the largest Islamic community in Western Europe, and French authorities claimed to dismantle several cells.
To monitor radicalism, good intelligence within communities is needed and policymakers should learn to make distinctions, not only among Muslims but among Islamist groups, some of which could be helpful in combating terrorism.
According to some analysts, radicalization might have a cause in the Western public policy, and in particular the failed policy of multiculturalism, and the real target of this criticism, immigration and immigrants — especially Muslims. Mr. Wilders, leader of the Freedom Party, the third largest in the Dutch Parliament, has campaigned for an end to all non-Western immigration, a ban on mosque building and the outlawing of the Koran. Mr. Akesson, whose far-right Sweden Democrats shocked the nation by winning 20 seats in last year’s parliamentary elections, denounces immigration as the biggest threat facing Sweden since World War II. Centrists have responded not by challenging such prejudice but by appropriating the right’s arguments in an effort to hold on to votes.
Part of the difficulty in thinking about multiculturalism is that it has come to have two meanings that are rarely distinguished. On one hand, it refers to a society made diverse by mass immigration, and on the other to the policies governments employ to manage such diversity. The failure to distinguish between these meanings has made it easier to use attacks on multiculturalism as a means of blaming minorities for the failure of government policy.
Mass immigration has been a boon to Western Europe. It has brought great economic benefits and helped create societies that are less insular, more vibrant and more cosmopolitan. But the policies designed to manage immigration have been largely a disaster. To see why, one needs only to look at the experience of Britain and Germany. Both have adopted multicultural policies, though they have taken different paths. The consequences, however, have been similar.
Politicians effectively abandoned their responsibility to engage directly with minorities, subcontracting it out to often reactionary “leaders.”
In Britain, the promotion of multicultural policies led to the de facto treatment of individuals from minority groups not as citizens but simply as members of particular ethnic units. In Germany, the formal denial of citizenship to immigrants led to the policy of multiculturalism. In both cases this has resulted in the creation of fragmented societies, the scapegoating of immigrants and the rise of both populist and Islamist rhetoric.
In neither Britain nor Germany did multiculturalism create militant Islam, but in both it helped clear a space for it among Muslims. The challenge facing Europe today, therefore, is how to reject multiculturalism as a political policy while embracing the diversity that immigration brings. No country has yet succeeded in doing so.
5. “Internet” extremism
The use of the Internet for terror purposes is not a new phenomenon. Even before the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on the US, terrorists were exploiting the Internet for fund-raising, training and planning purposes. It is now primarily used for radicalization and recruitment purposes. This is increasingly so because counter-terrorism efforts have made it more difficult for extremist groups to recruit through conventional means, such as using mosques and religious classes and organizations. By propagating their ideology in cyberspace, extremists gain direct access to their audience, bypassing mainstream media outlets and institutions.
As a result, we are now witnessing the emergence of a leaderless movement, consisting of individuals who are self-radicalized and self-recruited.
The reality is that the detection of radicalized individuals is a difficult task. Often, it is only when someone manifests his or her ideas in action that we can detect them. From an intelligence perspective, self- radicalized individuals are harder to monitor and detect compared with those who belong to a group as there is little communication – what the trade likes to call ‘chatter’ – to monitor.
Through the Internet, a worldwide movement began to develop in opposition to the doctrines of neoliberalism which were manifested on a global scale in the 1990s when the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) proposed liberalization of cross-border investment and trade restrictions through its Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI).
5.1. Anonymous is a group initiating active civil disobedience and spread through the Internet while staying hidden, originating in 2003 on the image board 4chan, representing the concept of many online community users simultaneously existing as an anarchic, digitized global brain. It is also generally considered to be a blanket term for members of certain Internet subcultures, a way to refer to the actions of people in an environment where their actual identities are not known.
Beginning with 2008, the Anonymous collective has become increasingly associated with collaborative, international hacktivism, undertaking protests and other actions, often with the goal of promoting internet freedom and freedom of speech. Actions credited to “Anonymous” are undertaken by unidentified individuals who apply the Anonymous label to themselves as attribution.
In consideration of its capabilities, Anonymous has been posited by CNN to be one of the three major successors to WikiLeaks.
Anonymous has no leader or controlling party and relies on the collective power of its individual participants acting in such a way that the net effect benefits the group “Anyone who wants to can be Anonymous and work toward a set of goals…” a member of Anonymous explained to the Baltimore City Paper. ”We have this agenda that we all agree on and we all coordinate and act, but all act independently toward it, without any want for recognition. We just want to get something that we feel is important done…”
In 2011, an elusive hacker known by the alias “Commander X” was at the center of an investigation into Anonymous by Aaron Barr. Interviewed following the attack on HBGary Federal, Commander X revealed that while Barr suspected that he was a leader of the group, he was in his own words a “peon”. However, Commander X did claim to be a skilled hacker and founding member of an allied organization, the Peoples Liberation Front (PLF), a collective of hacktivists founded in 1985. According to Commander X, Peoples Liberation Front acted with AnonOps, another sub-group of Anonymous, to carry out denial-of-service attacks against government websites in Tunisia, Iran, Egypt, and Bahrain. Asked about the demographics of Anonymous, Commander X indicated that the common conception of Anonymous as a youth group is a misconception. “The popular impression is….skewed. There are older people, from the direction of the Chaos Computer Club – that can if needed rein in the “kids” who appear to dominate Anon Ops.” Explaining the relationship between Anonymous and the PLF, he suggested an analogy to NATO, with the PLF being a smaller sub-group that could choose to opt-in or out of a specific project. “Anon Ops and the PLF are both capable of creating huge “Internet armies”. The main difference is Anon Ops moves with huge force, but very slowly because of their decision making process. The PLF moves with great speed, like a scalpel.”
In December 2010, the document archive website WikiLeaks (used by whistleblowers) came under intense pressure to stop publishing secret United States diplomatic cables. In response, Anonymous announced its support for WikiLeaks, and Operation Payback changed its focus to support WikiLeaks and launched DDoS attacks against Amazon, PayPal, MasterCard, Visa and the Swiss bank PostFinance, in retaliation for perceived anti-WikiLeaks behavior. This second front in the December offensive was performed under the codename Operation Avenge Assange. Due to the attacks, both MasterCard and Visa’s websites were brought down on December 8.
The group has teamed up with LulzSec to hack the websites and release information from a large number of government and corporate sources. As well as targeting American sites, Anonymous also targeted government sites in Tunisia, Anguilla, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Turkey, and Australia. On 21 July, Anonymous released two PDFs allegedly taken from NATO.
Recently, “Anonymous” announced that it will hit the Facebook social network next November 5, since they consider that Facebook kills the right to privacy.
5.2. The global justice movement describes the loose collection of individuals and groups-often referred to as a “movement of movements”, which advocate fair trade rules and are critical of current institutions of global economics such as the World Trade Organization. The movement is often labeled the anti-globalization movement by the mainstream media. Those involved, however, frequently deny that they are “anti-globalization,” insisting that they support the globalization of communication and people and oppose only the global expansion of corporate power. The term further indicates an anti-capitalist and Universalist perspective on globalization, distinguishing the movement from those opponents of globalization whose politics are based on a conservative defense of national sovereignty. Participants include student groups, NGOs, trade unions, faith-based and peace groups throughout the world. However it is clear that the movement is overwhelmingly dominated by Northern Hemisphere NGOs and that there is a systemic marginalization of popular organizations from the global South.
Internet sources and free-information websites, such as Indymedia, are a means of diffusion of the movement’s ideas.
Despite the lack of formal coordinating bodies, the movement manages to successfully organize large protests on a global basis, using information technology to spread information and organize. Protesters organize themselves into “affinity groups,” typically non-hierarchical groups of people who live close together and share a common political goal. Affinity groups will then send representatives to planning meetings. However, because these groups can be infiltrated by law enforcement intelligence, important plans of the protests are often not made until the last minute. One common tactic of the protests is to split up based on willingness to break the law. This is designed, with varying success, to protect the risk-averse from the physical and legal dangers posed by confrontations with law enforcement. For example, in Prague during the anti-IMF and World Bank protests in September 2000 demonstrators split into three distinct groups, approaching the conference center from three directions.
The Independent Media Center (also known as Indymedia or IMC) is a global participatory network of journalists that report on political and social issues. It originated during the Seattle anti-WTO protests worldwide in 1999 and remains closely associated with the global justice movement, which criticizes neo-liberalism and its associated institutions. Indymedia uses an open publishing and democratic media process that allows anybody to contribute.
Indymedia was founded as an alternative to government and corporate media, and seeks to facilitate people being able to publish their media as directly as possible. After Seattle the idea and network spread rapidly. By 2002, there were 89 Indymedia websites covering 31 countries, growing to over 150 by January 2006, not all of them currently active. Indymedia websites publish in a number of languages, including English, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, French, Russian, Arabic and Hebrew.
5.3. Worldwide, especially in Europe, intelligence officers are awakening to the threat of self-radicalization. For instance, after its intelligence department uncovered 12-year-olds surfing extremist websites and developing radically anti-Western ideas, the Netherlands reportedly adopted a targeted approach by drawing up profiles of those whom they believe are particularly susceptible to self-radicalization.
Racists and self-appointed saviors of the world, crusaders and protectors of the West have established connections around the world. In Germany, they include such aggressive provocateurs as Nürnberg 2.0, a website named to invoke the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals. It sharply criticizes defenders of Islam – including Green Party European politician Daniel Cohn-Bendit and SPIEGEL writer Erich Follath — and argues that they should be “held accountable publicly.”
Breivik applies a concept with left-wing origins: “propaganda of the deed,” which dates back to 19th century anarchism. The idea here is that individual acts of violence are essential to sparking social transformation – a notion that was embraced by these anarchists and, later, by Germany’s Red Army Faction (RAF) in the 1970s.
But left-wing terrorists killed their victims in operations targeting specific individuals who represented the hated establishment. The RAF took into account that this could entail collateral damage, and that people who were close to the group’s targets, such as drivers and policemen, might die. Indiscriminate mass murder, however, was anathema to Western leftists.
5.3.1. The lone wolf or werewolf is a concept that has been circulating in right-wing circles since the final days of World War II. At the time, diehard Nazis dreamed of guerrilla cells that would instigate the final struggle of the Aryan race.
An informal and accidental alliance has been developing for some time between neo-Nazis and some members of a group they would normally despise: Muslim immigrants. The two groups seem to share vaguely similar anti-Semitic ideologies.
According to Heinz Fromm, president of the German domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), right-wing extremists and Islamists are united by “a common bogeyman: Israel and the Jews as a whole.” While German right-wing extremists cultivate a “more or less obvious racist anti-Semitism,” says Fromm, the Islamists are “oriented toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” and support “anti-Zionist ideological positions, which can also have anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic overtones.” Both extremist movements, says Fromm, “ascribe extraordinary political power to Israel and the Jews, and their goal is to fight this power.”
Most analysts agree that, under the current volatile economic social and demographic conditions in most of the European countries, the extremist groups and activities are likely to increase in number and frequency, including the violent activities. They also point out that – as the recent episodes in Greece, Norway and Great Britain showed – phenomena of this kind tend to be more and more difficult to anticipate.