Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Loving not nature more but man the less

What is it about jihadists and outdoor pursuits in north Wales? First we had the whitewater rafting London bombers, and now we learn that failed London and Glasgow airport bomber Bilal Abdulla and his friends used to enjoy hiking across Snowdonia.

My own childhood memories of holidaying in north Wales are ones of rain, unremitting dreariness, bleak prospects and tawdry amusement parks (oh, okay and walking up Mount Snowdon; it was a cloudy day and I couldn't see much at the top); had the jihadists been subjected to this I could understand (if not condone, you know) their violent hatred of humanity. But what they were doing sounds a lot more fun than huddling behind a windbreak on a pebble-strewn beach during a squall.

However, it so happens that outdoor pursuits are also beloved of financial institutions (or at least they were, I'm not sure whether they can still afford that sort of thing) for precisely the same reason that jihadists seem so fond of them: as team-building exercises. The slightly alarming implication of it all is that if you can get people to forge a esprit de corps with a bit of good clean fun outdoors then you can get them to almost anything together.

It has been noted elsewhere that jihadists are rather adept at adopting some of the techniques of western corporate capitalism: branding, franchising (al-Qaeda in Iraq is the best known example of this phenomenon), internet marketing techniques and so on. I need hardly add, though, that western corporate capitalism has been far more effective at destroying itself than jihadism ever has.

However, I wonder whether the fact that al-Qaeda and its followers (Abdulla himself was trying to expand the brand in Britain, on a freelance basis if you like) have also adopted the bullshitting elements of capitalism contains the seeds of its own failure. If you can buy into the nonsense of team-building exercises and the like, you end up institutionalising group think.

And the problem with getting everyone thinking in the same way is that when you get things wrong, no one is willing to question it. In the case of capitalism, it means no one questions the wisdom of lending lots of money to people who can't afford to pay it back and then selling on the debt in deliberately opaque ways which means no one knows who owes what to whom; whereas in the case of jihadism means no one wants to question the fact that indescriminate slaughter tends to make most of your fellow Muslims hate you.

I like to think that in the dark recesses of the caves on the Afghan/Pakistani frontier there hang dozens of motivational posters, with suitably platinitudinous messages of religious inspiration and encouragement. Anyone foolish enough to buy into that sort of thing, to be motivated by them, indeed, deserves everything they get.

Here are some more demotivational posters, let us cultivate an air of healthy cynicism: σκεπτομαι.

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Blogger dominic said...

True, true.

I'm pleased to say that the only employer that I have ever worked for that had such motivational posters...paid for me to go on a team-building exercise (and to raise money for charity...did you sponsor me?)...white-water rafting at, I think,the same place that the tube bombers went to, at Bala Lake.

Still the only time I've been to Wales, so far.

1:19 pm  

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