Social and economic foundations of global terrorism

Published 25.03.2016 01:26

Two African youngsters, Zyed Benna and Bouna Traore, while escaping from police in a migrant-populated suburb of Paris, took shelter beside an electric transformer and died from electric shock on the evening of Oct. 27, 2005. Following this, Paris witnessed large suburban riots. The point to take into consideration here is that the youth who were involved in the incidents, including the two dead, were all around 20 and unemployed. While youth unemployment is around 40 percent in Europe, it exceeds 50 percent among the migrant population in Europe. As is known, similar incidents take place in U.S. states with predominant poor black populations.

Here are two important economic realities. First, Europe has lost the capacity to provide jobs and social opportunities for youth, especially the young migrant population who lives within Europe's borders. Second, we have today come to realize that the 2008 economic crisis was a profound and traumatic one that concerned both the developed world and the West.

Yet the uprisings that emerged in Paris in 2005 did not reoccur, although the crisis escalated into a larger one in 2008. This was because angry young people who had no cultural identification with their home countries and were living in the suburbs of Western metropolises like Paris, preferred to relieve their anger by joining terrorist structures like DAESH that emerged in the Middle East. So those who gave rise to the emergence of paramilitary terrorist organizations like DAESH and financed them could obtain many goals with a single move.

First, they could prevent spontaneous insurgencies in Western metropolises by showing other ways to these young people. Second, they could protect the paramilitary terrorist organizations, which are the war instruments of the new era, by exporting the human resources for terror from their own territories. Third, they could create a public opinion of xenophobia by associating these organizations with Islam and the east in cultural terms, and lay the foundations of a new state-based fascism with the concomitant introversion.

In this regard, Tuesday's terrorist attacks in Brussels are not different from those that have targeted Turkey in recent months. When we look at the time and place, and when and where this terror chain firstly emerged, we see a noteworthy economic and sociological picture. The EU and the West's developed countries cannot prevent terror by returning to the past, stopping the EU's expansion and shutting down consulates because of terrorist threats. Moreover, lending credence to neo-Nazi policies means adding fuel to the fire.

The first thing that the world needs to do is to put an end to neoliberal economic policies, which disturb income distribution in the entirety of the world. In his "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," Thomas Piketty says that the 18th century's land and soil capital should have dominated the early 21st century and human capital, instead of industrial and financial capital, and should have dominated the 20th century, however, this historical necessity did not occur. He adds, "There is also the idea, widespread among economists, that modern economic growth depends largely on the rise of ‘human capital.' At first glance, this would seem to imply that labor should claim a growing share of national income. And one does indeed find that there may be a tendency for labor's share to increase over the very long run, but the gains are relatively modest: Capital's share (excluding human capital) in the early decades of the twenty-first century is only slightly smaller than it was at the beginning of the nineteenth century."

I think this finding constitutes the essence of current problems facing many countries, particularly developed ones where educated young people are overcome by unemployment. This situation leads to profound social problems starting from refugees and provides human resources for terrorist organizations like DAESH.

On the other hand, inequality in income and wealth distribution has reached a point that cannot be overcome by welfare benefits, as it leads to endless civil wars in Africa and the Middle East. This situation can never be prevented by Europe turning into a police state and closing its borders, as overcoming social problems with the continuously increasing pressure and detective measures means rejecting the social state in economic field and regarding the state as a tool for pressure, which dooms security policies.

This being the case, the most reasonable political tendency that the West and Europe must pursue against terrorism is a policy of social expansion. They absolutely must abandon the neoliberal path. The EU can never escape the crisis if it regards Turkey as a buffer country for refugees and returns to security policies. Therefore both Turkey and the EU must overtly highlight a new integration strategy. Meanwhile, Turkey must make an effort for a new constitution and take firmer steps toward democratization. This is the perspective of Turkey's discussions about switching to a presidential system and issuing a new constitution.

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