Is It Time To Make Fundamentalism A Crime? Part 4

By Mark Esposito

The following is the fourth installment in a multi-part series exploring religious fundamentalism and the means of checking its excesses. You can read the first part here and the second part here and the third part here.

imageThere are 1.5 to 2.0 billion Muslims in the world but only enough to fill a minor league baseball stadium find the motivation to join ISIS or al Qaeda and fight global jihad. Why? To understand you must first understand the origins of jihad.

Jihad is a fluid term in the Muslim world with two simultaneous meanings. To most peaceful Muslims, it means an inner spiritual struggle to understand and develop rightly using both the Qur’an and the Hadith as guides and examples. This is not the external jihad advocated by dedicated Wahhabis. To them, jihad is a permanent global struggle against non-believers who must be subjugated and taxed or destroyed. There is no alternative.

The notion of such a violent jihad is a relatively modern phenomena. The founder of Wahhabism, Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, made no such demands except in the most extreme of cases. The only unforgivable sins to the early Wahhabis were shirk (idolatry) or rejection of tawhid (monotheism).  And these sins were reserved for members of the Muslim faith.

Unbelievers were not prey but Muslims in the making. To Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, the notion of external jihad rested on two pillars — persuasion and education — and was designed to recruit not dismember. Only if the non-believer, having been given the ample opportunity to convert and rejected the offer, would violence be permitted and then with numerous restrictions.

In her seminal work, Wahhabi Islam: From Revival and Reform to Global Jihad, scholar,  Natana J. DeLong-Bas, lists the classic restrictions on global jihad.  Jihad could not be:

  • used against non-Muslims who had submitted to jizyah tax or who have a business relationship with Muslims.
  •  directed at children, elderly, blind or monks (these were to be called to Islam “until they either submit or God causes them to die for their errors in faith”), or women (provided they did not fight Muslims, encourage non-Muslim fighters or engaged in “revile or scold” Muslims/Wahhabis).
  • used against non-believers whom Muslims found had”the personal habits or practices of a given group of people … inappropriate” (inappropriate practices including the “drinking of date wine (khamr)” or “a desire for power”).
  • used unless it was a “defensive military action.”
  • used unless it has  a “religious justification” and its purpose “is the protection and aggrandizement of the Muslim community as a whole”,and “to win adherents to Islam.” It was not for “personal gain or glory”,or to take booty.

That concept changed for Wahhabis with the advent of the 18th Century and the rule of Abdul-Aziz bin Muhammad who adopted a “convert or die” policy “for the express purpose of acquiring wealth and property.”

The concept of external jihad further metastasized in the 19th Century when  Iman Ibn Taymiyya called for “jihad against anyone who refused to abide by Islamic law or revolted against the true Muslim authorities” on the grounds that such people were not true Muslims. Wahhabis embraced Ibn Taymiyyah (according to DeLong-Bas) because they badly wanted to evict the Sharif rulers of the two holy cities in Hijaz, and to rule Mecca and Medina themselves in a more righteous manner. ” Wahhabis considered the sharifs to be corrupt heretics and not true Muslims and were willing to die to free the holy cities from their rule.

The notion of martyrdom in furtherance of jihad was refined in the 20th century  by  Islamist Sayyid Qutb, who justified the practice because of the “implacable treachery” and enmity towards Islam of  all Jews and some Christians. In his book Milestones, Qutb preached that jihad, `is not a temporary phase but a permanent war … Jihad for freedom cannot cease until the Satanic forces are put to an end and the religion is purified for God in toto.”

Understanding jihad is only the first step to understanding its appeal to young Muslims. To understand that you have understand the psychology of young people and dispel some commonly accepted myths. In a comprehensive report on the topic for the  US Institute of Peace, US Army Captain  John M. ”Matt” Venhaus sets the record straight:

  • Recruits Are Crazy– No organization on earth no matter how pernicious can function with madmen as either leaders or followers. This is especially true of clandestine organizations like al Qaeda or ISIS. Researchers Clark McCauley and M. E. Segal conclude, “The best documented generalization is negative; terrorists do not show any striking psychopathology.”
  • Recruits Are Poor And Uneducated – In fact, the best research we have says their lot is a mixed bag from middle class to poor with some even being considered well-off. “Among the subjects studied, economic motivations were the least cited
    reason for joining a terrorist organization.”
  • Recruits Are Mostly Dedicated Muslims – Most recruits have not studied their religion or have an incomplete understanding. They are vulnerable to radicalization precisely because of what they do not know and not what they do know. Many do not have a strong religious background as evidenced by the recent perpetrators of the attacks in France who lived a secular existence for much of their lives carousing and rarely attending services in the Mosque.
  • Terrorist Organizations Make First Contact – In fact, most jihad fighters make the first move towards radicalization and initiate contact with the terror cells via the internet and social media. According to a study by Marc Sageman, “individual recruits sought out information about al-Qaeda through friends and associates.”

So what does motivate young jihadists? As it turns out, about the same things that motivate young activists everywhere like those in Occupy. Venhaus defines the four personality types comprising typical al Qaeda recruits. He calls them “seekers” and explains that:

They want to understand who they are, why they matter, and what their role in the world should be. They have an unfulfilled need to define themselves, which al-Qaeda offers to fill.

Venhaus categorizes the “seekers” into four distinct but sometimes overlapping categories which I restate in edited form verbatim from the report and without footnotes:

“The Revenge Seeker: Looking for an Outlet for Frustration
The first of the four seekers, the revenge seeker, perceives himself as a victim in society.
In his logic, external forces are causing his unhappiness and making it hard for him to succeed. More accurately, he doesn’t know why he feels angry, so he is looking for something to be angry about. The flames of his anger can be fueled by any number of minor slights, from a schoolyard rivalry to a romantic rebuff, until he is filled with frustration and rage. Psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut described this as “narcissistic rage . . . the need for revenge, for righting a wrong, for undoing a hurt by whatever means, and a deeply anchored, unrelenting compulsion in the pursuit of all of these aims.” Many of the subjects interviewed for this study initially claimed that their reason for fighting was to punish the West for its attacks on Videos of past and future volunteers; photos of martyrs
on leaflets, posters, and calendars; and the reenactment of martyrdom operations in
pageants and school plays all serve to justify and glorify the act of suicide bombing.9
Muslims. As the discussions progressed, however, it became clear that they had been angry with members of their families, especially their fathers, or had been involved in neighborhood disputes and squabbles before becoming interested in al-Qaeda.

The Status Seeker: Looking for Recognition
Whereas revenge seekers were more common among those living primarily in Middle Eastern Muslim societies, the second group, status seekers, was more prevalent among the diaspora, especially those living in the West. The status seeker sees a world that does not understand or appreciate him as he perceives himself. His frustration stems from unrealized expectations that he will be successful in his new home and recognized by his community. This is especially prevalent in recent immigrants looking for work, and in international college students looking to assimilate in a foreign country. They are often not shown the kind of respect that they got before leaving their home countries.


The Identity Seeker: Looking for a Place to Belong
Unlike the status seeker, who wants to stand out from the masses, the identity seeker is
more concerned with assimilating into a defining organization. Being part of something is
the principal motivation for the identity seeker. The strength and stability of one’s personality rests on the formation of a satisfying and functioning identity, and the motivation to define oneself by the group identity is strong and, indeed, almost universal among developing adolescents. It draws young people to street gangs and chess clubs, to marching bands and al-Qaeda. This springs from the innate need to internalize the behavior, mores, and attitudes of a social grouping. The identity seeker needs the structure, rules, and perspective that come from belonging to a group, because belonging defines him, his role, his friends, and his interaction with society.
As a young man struggles to define himself, the norms of group identity and the acceptance of his peers are crucial. Group identity also provides outward symbols of his affiliation, announcing him to the world and defining him in the eyes of others. Identity seekers comprised the largest percentage of foreign fighters studied. For them, al-Qaeda is more than just a legend—it is the best possible club to join. As with other highly exclusive groups, from fraternal orders to religious cults, al-Qaeda’s ideology demands strict obedience to a state of mind and prescribes how members should think, feel, and behave. These clear rules and coherent vision of the world appeal to identity seekers because they neatly package an identity into the ideology. A young man casting about for guidance and direction finds it in abundance with al-Qaeda.

The Thrill Seeker: Looking for Adventure
Thrill seekers represent the smallest percentage of those studied, accounting for less than
5 percent of the sample. They also represent a very distinct motivation from the other
three. The thrill seeker is filled with energy and drive. He wants to prove his manhood by
accomplishing an arduous task or surviving a harrowing adventure. Bored or unchallenged
at home, he looks for the next trial or newest adventure. Often from a middle- or uppermiddle-class family, he has no interest in the family business or what he perceives as the mundane life on his horizon. The thrill seeker is often attracted to violent video games and the fanciful tales of returning fighters. He is most impressed by the images of glory and adventure portrayed by al-Qaeda propaganda. For the thrill seeker, al-Qaeda is a horror action brand that promises spectacular violence and unimaginable glory.”

The list reads like a list of stock characters from a James Dean movie about the search for identity among the young and their misguided attempts to “find themselves.” So how can the West effectively combat youth and these “Rebels With a Cause”who are lethally radicalized against it?

We’ll look at that next time.

~Mark Esposito, FFS Contributor



About mespo727272

I 'm a plaintiff's personal injury attorney with 30 years of trial experience practicing with my law school classmate in Richmond, Virginia. You can read all about me here:
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109 Responses to Is It Time To Make Fundamentalism A Crime? Part 4

  1. Julie says:

    “All violence is an attempt to achieve justice.” – Violence by James Gilligan. That covers the first 3 seeker categories. Also, another truism that fits: The most dangerous person in the world is a male, 18-40 years old.

  2. mespo727272 says:

    “Revenge is an act of passion; vengeance of justice. Injuries are revenged; crimes are avenged.”
    ~Samuel Johnson

  3. Mike Spindell says:


    One of the aspects of this that caught my attention was that these young recruits are most often not familiar with the Koran or other Islamic scholarship/philosophy. This has some correlation to the studies that many Fundamentalist Christians in the US haven’t fully read their bible and are familiar only with the parts of it that their preachers have emphasized. Many Fundamentalist leaders be they Islamic, Christian or Jewish indoctrinate their flock (of sheep) with a version of their religion that is preseted as the “true faith”, but is in fact one that is not a normative representation of the religion. To people born into their denomination, or to recruits they are trained to believe that their leaders faith is the only true faith. We might say that ignorance is the preferred state of Fundamentalist Followers by Fundamentalist leaders. Much of this fundamentalist revision of the 3 Torah based religions started in the 17th Century. Interestingly that also roughly marked the beginnings of “The Enlightenment”, which represented a revolution in human thought and probably was frightening for many as it rocked the stability of their world. Modernity in every age has been frightening to those of more authoritarian mindsets and it could well be fundamentalist thought becomes appealing because it represents a more “stable” world.

  4. buckaroo says:

    Great God, I ask thee for no meaner pelf
    Than that I may not disappoint myself,
    That in my action I may soar as high
    As I can now discern with this clear eye.

    The fate of the country does not depend on how you vote at the polls — the worst man is as strong as the best at that game; it does not depend on what kind of paper you drop into the ballot-box once a year, but on what kind of man you drop from your chamber into the street every morning.

    For eighteen hundred years, though perchance I have no right to say it, the New Testament has been written; yet where is the legislator who has wisdom and practical talent enough to avail himself of the light which it sheds on the science of legislation?

    Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate.

    — Henry David Thoreau

  5. mespo727272 says:

    Mike S:

    That’s an interesting parallel to Christisn Fundamentalism And worthy of exploration. It comports with my notion that ignorance is the basis of most evil rather than malice though there’s plenty of that around too. What you’ve got are manipulative adults plying these impressionable kids with heroic nonsense in an effort to compel devotion. It’s perhaps the worst feature of fundamentalism and why, if educated, the kids eventually turn away. It’s happening in the U.S. as more young people abandon the evangelical mega churches. Education is a powerful weapon against ideology.

  6. mespo727272 says:


    And here’s one from the master himself:
    “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
    ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

  7. blouise says:


    OT: (The kid from Cleveland did it!!! The first guy he talked to after the win was LeBron who gave him the attaboy for doin’ it for the kids back in Cleveland.)

  8. Bob Kauten says:

    “Nothing is revealed.”
    -Bob Dylan

  9. mespo727272 says:

    Pete has officially lost the Internet at least temporarily after Inga’s spirited smack down tonight of fundies on RIL. Armed with her support here she’s slain the multi-headed dragon of lies, stupidity and sophistry and gotten a marriage proposal in the bargain. Brava, Inga, wherever you are.

  10. mespo727272 says:


    He did indeed–but you know as a Steeler fan I’ve no love for Cleveland.

  11. blouise says:


    You can’t be a Steeler’s fan. You can read and write.

    A Steelers fan!? You have officially broken my heart. I can only abide Browns and Packers fans with a nod to the Detroit Lions and, of course, the Canton Bulldogs.

  12. mespo727272 says:


    I do like the Packers.

  13. blouise says:


    Thank God. There is hope for our relationship. I prefer the Packers to the Browns but, don’t tell anybody ’cause it’s a secret.

  14. Inga,

    Well played. I’m practically green with pride. :mrgreen:

  15. Mark,

    Excellent column highlighting not only the “bad mechanics” behind Wahhabist fundamentalism, but the bad mechanics behind fundamentalism as often practiced by other faiths as well. Simple solutions for complex problems is not only the heart of the simple/single cause fallacy, it is the root by which bad actors can manipulate unwary seekers of enlightenment.

    “All who wander are not lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

    “If you meet the Buddha, kill him.”– Linji

    A simple solution is a destination albeit often a false destination. True enlightenment is a path that may have inns, villages, even towns and cities along the way, but it is really a path with no end. That is ultimately what Linji meant by that koan. No matter what your idea of spiritual “perfection” might be, it is wrong and you should keep practicing.

    “The Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao.” – Tao de Ching

    These so-called bad mechanics you point to are levers by which the unscrupulous can take advantage of seekers by preying upon another facet of human nature: the desire for certainty. One lesson I learned at an early age is that uncertainty is the only certain thing. This was later confirmed by what I’ve read about quantum mechanics. The nature of reality is probabilistic, not deterministic. Once a person comes to grips with this notion, it becomes more difficult to be manipulated by the unscrupulous actors along the path to enlightenment.

    My applause for your effort in this series is the sound of one hand clapping.

  16. Mike Spindell says:

    We live in uncertainty and we die in uncertainty. If you think about it that’s. whet makes life interesting. People who are truly “certain” are like cardboard cutouts of human beings.

    Incidentally, any team that beats Dallas or New England is my team, but sometimes that isn’t true.

  17. blouise says:


    Makes him smelly

  18. blouise says:


    The sentences in your last post should be switched:

    ” … any team that beats Dallas or New England is my team, but sometimes that isn’t true. – We live in uncertainty and we die in uncertainty.”

  19. Bob Kauten says:

    “The sound of one hand clapping” is a real knee-slapper!
    Oh…wait…I just solved the koan! I’ve ruined everything…never mind.

  20. Mike Spindell says:


    That would work, but for the fact that in my first sentence I was being my usual portentous self and in the latter talking about my football preferences.

  21. blouise says:


    Blame it on your kindle, that’s what I do.

  22. mespo727272 says:

    Ah, Bob Kauten, but which knee there, grasshopper.

  23. Mike Spindell says:


    It’s been 13 days since I sent my laptop in for warranty repair and when I called to they I was told that it might be 2 more days before I can even know the status. My Kindle is less than useless for writing and my smart phone works better but is not the same as a laptop. The only saving grace is I’m despising how much time I used to spend on my laptop. It’s lack has encouraged me to read more and watch more movies.

  24. Mike Spindell says:

    Re: Kindle’s annoying properties, see above:

    “to they” = today

    “I’m despising” = surprised by

  25. bron98 says:

    the muslims in france and britian are the new colonialists with the same intent-displacing the natives.

    Islam is all about submission, how does that track with a modern society? I guess you need some submission such as paying taxes and following the laws which make for a civil society but that is a far cry from the total submission required by Islam.

    If the west is to survive, we will have to take harsher measures than we have taken in the past.

    It is a totalitarian ideology and it is in dire need of a reformation so that we can all move forward. Together would be nice and certainly more fun than the alternative.

  26. mespo727272 says:

    “My applause for your effort in this series is the sound of one hand clapping.”


    Which would, of course, be the same as the sound of one hand clapping against the other to produce the sound.

  27. blouise says:

    the muslims in france and britian are the new colonialists with the same intent-displacing the natives. – Bron

    I hadn’t looked at the situation from that viewpoint but there is some real truth in that observation.

  28. Bob Kauten says:

    The middle knee, of course, Doctor Klahn…

  29. mespo727272 says:

    Correct. Time for you to go:

  30. Anonymouly Yours says:

    A little understanding goes a long way ….. But when you act upon directions not fully understood mistakes are made….. Kinda like the old style stick deodorant….. Directions… Open top, take off cover…. Push in bottom…. Some folks must have the best smelling asses in town…. Common sense sometimes needs to be applied..

  31. Inga says:

    Well! Thanks Mark and Gene, I guess it will have to be my mission to preach the anti fundamentalism message to the heathens, oops I mean Christians over there. I know it annoys the hell out of the little righty terrorists.

  32. gbk says:

    “the muslims in france and britian are the new colonialists with the same intent-displacing the natives. – Bron

    I hadn’t looked at the situation from that viewpoint but there is some real truth in that observation.” — blouise

    To compare the militaristic history of colonialism/mercantilism to current immigrations that suit the neoliberal philosophy of cheap labor is to ignore many decades of history.

  33. bron98 says:


    How cheap is the labor? There is relatively high unemployment in France and it is my understanding that young Muslims are especially hard hit by unemployment.

    In regards to colonialism in Africa, I think the case can be made that things are worse now.

    No go zones in France are Islamic city states for all practical purposes.

    As for immigration and cheap labor, well the history I see in this country is one of success. The first generation may work for low wages but the sons and daughters become doctors, lawyers, computer techs, engineers, businessmen, nurses, etc. and do far better than they could hope to do in their parent’s country. Based on my observations it seems that immigration is good for many people.

    The immigrants I know are doing really well, they take chances and risks that Americans arent taking for whatever reason. Probably we have it too easy and are becoming soft.

  34. gbk says:


    I don’t speak against the positive attributes of immigration. I speak against your comparing historical colonialism/mercantilism to immigration.

    Did you miss that?

  35. gbk says:

    sorry, should be: comparing = equating

  36. bron98 says:


    In light of what is going on in France and in Germany and many other European countries, can you say that this isnt a form of colonialism? One group of people come and displace and exploit another group. Although the Europeans in Africa did modernize Africa, the Muslims, not all certainly, are not much interested in a liberal society.

    Would you please expand on your disagreement?

  37. gbk says:


    Given your meager multiple choice, my disagreement lies here:

    “One group of people come and displace and exploit another group.”

    The key is, “and exploit.” I don’t see immigrants “exploiting” in the manner of military based historical colonialism — which is your stated reference. I see it quite the opposite.

    I see open doors for cheap labor exploitation, ignoring the fact that peoples always bring their culture with them.

  38. Bob Kauten says:

    “No go zones in France are Islamic city states for all practical purposes.”
    No go zones are a psychotic delusion propagated by…wait for it…Faux News. Stop listening to delusional shit.

  39. Bob Kauten says:

    Here ya go. Indulge your paranoid fantasies.

  40. Bob Kauten says:

    You want delusional? When the going gets delusional, the psychotics turn pro.

  41. mespo727272 says:

    I had no idea Yasser was orthodox. Live and learn:

  42. Bob Kauten says:

    I never noticed the resemblance between Yasser and a British halal jam jar. I think it’s too late for Western Civilization. Wait…there never was any Western Civilization…never mind.

  43. mespo727272 says:


    Food? Fatwa? What’s the difference?

  44. Bob Kauten says:

    To address the question in mespo’s series “Is it time to make fundamentalism a crime,” I would say no.
    But it is time, I believe, to intervene in the daily routines of certain folks.
    As a public service, regulations should be in place, prohibiting the possession of sharp objects by, and mandating attendants for, those who would believe that there are Muslim-operated “no go zones” in Europe and the United States. These poor, benighted folks should not be wandering the streets without attendants. Injuries could result.

  45. Bob Kauten says:

    I think it can be cause-and-effect. Too much foodwa can make you fatwa.

  46. po says:

    I am speechless, Mespo. The whole series is incredible!
    As usual, I was distracted over there trying to show the historical, religious, social and imperialistic causes to Islamic terrorism, and missed this great party.
    I blame Inga for leaving me there while she flutters gracefully in, stings a coupe of assholes like a bee, and disappears to a better land.
    Mike did a great job adding to it, and Inga’s insights about the fundamentalist church were quite educational.

    Strangely enough, I have to agree with Bron, although reluctantly for though we are saying the same thing, our motivations differ. I do think that there is a reverse colonialism going on, and this simply in terms of cultural occupation. I agree with GBK that it is merely metaphorical, as the legacy of colonialism can never be matched.
    One may blame it on karma or whomever else, but England is now Pakistani, the US is now Mexican and France is now African and Arab. The reasons are many, there is no solution to it and no matter the immigration restrictions put in place, mere patrie is mere patrie for a reason, and it is not after the resources are stolen, the men taken to fight and die for their masters, the governments and economies subjugated to the master’s that they can now say to the people following the trail that they are not welcome.

    There is also an interesting parallel between the high rate of incarceration of French Muslims (60-70%/ 10%), and the also high rate of incarceration of African Americans here(40%/12%). This says a great deal, and at least reflects a common societal malaise. Additionally, the same issues of unemployment/low employment, racial stigma, surveillance and uneasy rapport with the cops, inner city habitations…are present in both groups.
    This tells me that religion is less the factor, and that perhaps the causes to islamic fundamentalism, as suggested above, are more societal than religious.

  47. mespo727272 says:


    Thanks. More to come.

  48. Mike Spindell says:


    Seriously, why bother with RIL where you are dealing with the no-nothings and the know less than nothings? It has become a wasteland run by a civil liberties imposter. Jonathan practices law out of context, pretending the system he works within is divorced from outside societal influences. Thus he can harshly criticize Obama for Presidential overreach, while ignoring paid off Congressman who game the Constitution.

  49. po says:

    I agree with you, Mike.
    I tend to run there whenever a post by Turley appears that I know to bring out the locusts. I feel almost duty bound to offer the alternate narrative. It is less to answer the usual suspects but more to potentially give someone else pause in their way to embracing their islamophobic views.
    In that, the usual suspects do me a huge service by allowing me a platform to shape how my faith is shown, however limited the success.
    I also like calling Turley on his bs and hypocrisy, which, unfortunately, there has been more and more of.
    The problem with kicking donkeys back is that it is all you end up doing, for donkeys don’t tire from kicking, so that’s why I miss out on great discussions here being too busy kicking asses over there.

  50. bron98 says:


    “Given your meager multiple choice, my disagreement lies here:”

    So expand and give me your ideas. My meager multiple choice is not limiting you.

    I disagree that immigrants are being exploited. If I moved to Spain and wanted to work as an engineer I would not make what I make here because I dont speak Spanish and I dont know the European and Spanish codes. I could do analysis based on loads developed by someone else or I could do drafting which doesnt pay as much as engineering.

    In that scenario would I be exploited?

    I know a contractor who came from Honduras 20 years ago as a boy, he now has a successful contracting business and his son is in law school. He was probably exploited when he first got here too. I was exploited as a child when I had no skills and could only work for minimum wage.

    A person who cannot speak or read the language of the country in which they live, is worth less than someone who can.

    Learn the language and develop a skill. 2 simple ways to keep from being exploited long term.

  51. bron98 says:

    bob kauten:

    I leave you to your grand delusions.

    By the way I watch O’Rielly for about 10 minutes while getting in bed, my wife likes him. I used to watch Judge Napolitano but they cancled his show. I also watch Stosell when I can remember.

  52. I’m inclined to somewhat side with Bron on this matter. What language you choose to speak at home is your business, but if you are going to a foreign country to work it is simple common sense that dictates learning the language of business and government (which is English in business simply by nature of how global trade developed around the growth of the British Empire and in America the language of law and ergo government by circumstance of our founding) is necessary to not only avoid exploitation but to succeed at all. I love Japan but I would never think of moving there to work as my Japanese language skills are practically non-existent. Although my German is rusty, I could probably manage in Germany after a few months of daily practice.The skilled versus unskilled labor argument kind of makes itself; skilled labor is always more valuable than unskilled in the market of competitive commerce. The caveat being that the market will tend to exploit unskilled labor as cheaply as possible under law (which leads to a whole different set of problems when looked at on a global scale). For example, lower prices/higher profits is what motivates Big Ag (and Small Ag) to utilize immigrant labor rather than American labor they would be forced to pay a minimum wage and report taxes on rather than pay substandard wages to migrants off the books by accounting chicanery.

  53. bron98 says:


    “Strangely enough, I have to agree with Bron, although reluctantly for though we are saying the same thing, our motivations differ.”

    What do you think my motivation?

    I am motivated by a desire for all human beings to live a productive, happy life in a world of benevolence and liberty.

    Do you not want the same? I do wonder about progressives, they talk a good game but their actions lead to less than salubrious outcomes on many occasions.

  54. bron98 says:


    My son worked at a restaurant in Ocean City, Maryland for 2 summers while in college. From his tales there is plenty of accounting chicanery going on in other places as well. The managment would make them work 80 hours and pay them for 40. Granted they made good tips but the owners got out of paying employment taxes. They had over a hundred employees during the summer so it was not a small sum of money.

    I would do away with minimum wage requirements.

  55. “I would do away with minimum wage requirements.”

    Actually, I’d raise them (as some states have already done through their own volition) and have better enforcement. Look at Henry Ford’s example. When he started Ford Motor Co., he purposefully paid his employees enough so that they could buy his product if they wanted, a figure which was well above the norm in his day. A consumer economy relies upon not just manufacturing, but consumers as well. Workers paid substandard wages cannot consume luxuries let alone pay for the necessities in life. Therein lies the rub of a totally free market consumer economy. It’s an ouroboros that will consume itself and collapse without regulation of labor standards. Left to its own devices, you end up with indentured servitude/wage slavery and no middle class to speak of. A middle class of consumers that is required to support a consumer economy (free market or otherwise).

  56. Anonymously Yours says:

    Wow Gene and Bron almost agreeing….. Amazing…..

    What’s really amazing as bad as I think Rick Snyder is as the governor of the State of Michigan recently he signed into legislation that actually gives a convicted non violent felon a fresh chance. 5 years after completing probation or parole you may get that felony expunged from your record…. It also works for 2 misdemeanor….. I am amazed at the grasp of the GOP understanding that with certain misdemeanors and any felony can keep you from gaining decent employment….

  57. blouise says:

    I think Bron has made a credible argument regarding the subject of this thread and I agree with many of the points he’s made. I don’t agree with him when it comes to the minimum wage issue. Following is an article that explains my position far better than I ever could. I post it not to take the thread off topic but so that Bron can see why I disagree with his position on the need for minimum wage legislation and chose this article because it uses language that he probably understands better than I do.

    Otherwise, I believe his argument is sound.

    ‘The simple fiscal argument for minimum wage legislation goes like this. Both the UK and the US have systems of in-work benefits that top up wages to a level sufficient to live on. So from firms’ perspective, when there is slack in the labour market (unemployment) they have little incentive to pay wages high enough to live on. And from workers’ perspective, they have little incentive to demand higher wages, especially if the consequence might be unemployment. If there is no minimum wage, therefore, then the co-existence of unemployment with in-work benefits drives down wages to below subsistence level. As the majority of government tax income comes from households, not firms, over time this becomes unsustainable: all unskilled workers become in effect employees of the state, and the higher skilled are forced to subsidise the wages of the unskilled through rising taxes. There would inevitably be calls for in-work benefits to be cut, probably supported by demonization of the poor. Unskilled workers would be subject to the same accusations of “fecklessness” and “scrounging” as the unemployed already receive. So in-work benefits without a legislated minimum wage are fiscally unsustainable and socially divisive when there is persistent unemployment.’

  58. bron98 says:

    My thinking on minimum wage is the signs I saw around here during the housing boom, McDonalds and other fast food places and in fact many places were offering double the minimum wage and health insurance to attract workers. The same is happening in the Dakota oil field.

    Put policies in place to husband economic growth and the minimum wage will take care of itself.

    I would love it if every business owner was like Henry Ford, while not as generous as Ford, I pay double the minimum wage to people who work with me who have low skills or who just do manual labor for me around the house. The going rate is around $10.00 so I am only paying 40% more than market rate. Since these people are not full time, it isnt the stretch it would be if they were.

    Let individuals set their wage rates, too bad for the employer who only wants to pay $2/hour when the guy next door is paying $8 and the guy down the street is paying $10.

  59. bron98 says:


    thanks for the link, interesting take on it.

    I worked one summer for a burger joint in Lafeyette, La. when I wasnt offshore. There were 2 women there who were both black, smart and good workers. I was curious why they didnt work more than 25 hours per week and asked if they also had children, they both did but that wasnt the reason. The reason was they would have lost all of their welfare, as a conservative 23 year old, I thought that was the dumbest thing I had ever heard.

    Here were 2 smart women, willing to work but would have been penalized for doing so. I asked them if there was a sliding scale for government assistance and they told me it was all or nothing. Whom ever set that up in that manner must have been dumber than a box of rocks. Nothing like killing incentive.

  60. Bron,

    There will always be a certain percentage of the population that are either freeloaders and/or lack any ambition at all no matter what incentives are about. A minimum wage neither kills better pay when the market dictates it (as in SD example) nor does it kill incentive. It really provides a “floor” for the economy by guaranteeing an ideally living wage (which in most states it is not . . . yet). Even then nobody is getting rich off of minimum wage. They just don’t face choices like food or rent or medicine (unless they are poor money managers [i.e. their own fault] or simply unlucky and hit with an unforeseen disaster [i.e. misfortune or misadventure]). If anything, if you posses any ambition at all, minimum wage is an incentive to do better so you can improve your lot in life so if bad times come along you are better suited to survive them. But nothing, and I do mean nothing, will make an inherently shiftless lazy person work more than they have to to survive. To most people, “surviving” isn’t the same thing as “living”. Some though cannot think with any sort of forethought. That is just part of human nature. Created equal and equally created are not the same thing.

  61. Anonymously Yours says:

    I wonder if that free market thing is being used on Big Oil to get rid of those over paid mud buggers….. You know those guys that actually do the work….. Just so they can drop the wages they pay them….. Oh wait….. The Derivative Market got killed by Obama…. So that extra 40 to 60 dollars a barrel is gone as well as the house of Saudi trying to kill the soviet and north Korea economies….

  62. Inga says:

    Sorry Po, I’m trying to limit my time there, I prefer to blow in like a tornado, comment quickly, knock a few things over and leave behind the wreckage for them to deal with. Staying there for extended periods of time it stagnating and it gets mired down in personalities and old wars, which I’m NOT interested in fighting.

  63. pete says:


    I believe what they were worried about loosing was their medical/medicaid. As semi to unskilled black women in the Louisiana labor market they would have had to work so many hours to pay for even the most basic medical that they would never see their kids.

  64. pete says:


    I don’t know why you put up with what you do down the street, but you do it well. I guess being a nurse was good training. Kudo’s

  65. blouise says:


    That all or nothing provision indicates legislators too lazy to do their homework and/or too stupid to figure it out. Off the top of my head I would think that the income on the previous year’s income tax statement would be a starting basis for the graduated settings. But don’t assume that I have any kind of deep understanding of the fiscal issue because I don’t.

    Leisure should be a choice

  66. blouise says:


    I want to add something to the mix. I read this somewhere and I can’t, for the life of me, remember where. “People will fight to the death to save their own lives, but they’ll wage war to preserve their way of life for future generations. That’s human nature.” If terrorism is Warfare of the Weak and fundamentalism is woven into the culture and part of that culture’s way of life, how, exactly, do we make it a crime?

    I know we can do it. All one has to do is look back at our history to see how many times we “criminalized aspects of Native American culture.

  67. mespo727272 says:


    That’s a fair question. I’ll address the way we modify natural inclinations to lawlessness in future posts but suffice to say now that criminalizing certain conduct and even organizations that hold certain explicitly espoused antisocial views is nothing new or particularly unconstitutional. Think the mafia in the US or the Nazis in Germany. Sometimes if people are willing to die for an idea — especially a heinous one -you simply have to let them while still protecting yourself from them.

  68. blouise says:

    Ok, I’ll wait for more info, clarification, and definition. Perhaps my problem is with the word fundamentalism and simply a matter of semantics. Perhaps, also, I am too concerned about the unintended consequences that often come from enacting laws based on fear or anger.

    Whatever it is, I’m uncomfortable with criminalizing a belief system before fully understanding it.

  69. bron98 says:


    I am with you on that, that being: “I’m uncomfortable with criminalizing a belief system …”

    Where does that end? I am sure some would like to criminalize my beliefs but then my philosophy doesnt call for the wanton destruction of human life.

    People have a right to self-defense. Islamic fundamentalism is causing a very big problem in the world. I dont think one needs to make it illegal, I think it needs to be cut out at the root and burned. That is what we did to the Nazis and we stigmatized their philosophy. Islam is in need of a reformation. If it doesnt get that reformation it will not end well for the world nor for Islam.

    Instead of killing the infidel, they need to make jihad about overcoming personal failings and self-improvement as a gift to God.

  70. mespo727272 says:

    I’m defining fundamentalism as not merely a set of religious beliefs but those beliefs coupled with the acceptance of violence as a means to furthering those ends. That’s why in Part 2 of the series I described it as:
    At its essence, it is about an unwavering attachment to a set of beliefs about the nature of the world and its purpose. As with all beliefs that are fully subscribed, it results in consequences through human agency that are motivated in large measure by a loyalty to its world view. It has both a dimension of reward (Paradise) and punishment (Hell) for believers and its precepts are rigidly enforced through aggressive and often-times violent means.

  71. mespo727272 says:

    Nazism is criminalized in many parts of the world and that’s where were headed in the discussion.

  72. Blouise & Bron,
    Seems to me the problem is not the belief system itself, but acting on that belief system when such action results in harm or death to others. Unfortunately, some belief systems include a “call to action” that results in harm. It is certainly not limited to fundamentalist Muslims. We have our own religious fundamentalist domestic terrorists as well.

    Outfits such as the Westboro crowd are offensive, but AFAIK, they have never called for the assassination of gays. However, many LGBT people have been murdered or assaulted based on the belief systems of other religious fundamentalists.

    On the other hand, some so called “right to life” groups have no compunction regarding murdering doctors and nurses, and terrorizing patients who are in enough psychological distress already. Right to life indeed! I have trouble wrapping my head around the psychological makeup of a person who advocates right to life, but sees nothing wrong with putting a bullet through the head of an OB/GYN doctor.

    This is not a new phenomenon. Benois Brasseur, my Huguenot 10x great grandfather, got out of France one jump ahead of Cardinal Richelieu’s hangmen. When he got to the colonies in 1629, he could not Anglicize his name fast enough. Changed it to Benjamin Brashear.

    Then there was that charming fellow Torquemada. He “saved” at least 2,000 people’s souls by torturing and murdering them.

  73. blouise says:


    I’m not a Neville Chamberlain by any stretch of the imagination, nor am I a pacifist. I like a good war as well as the next guy but I know religion and I know history.

    The main message in Islam is brotherhood and community. The only festival they celebrate is prefaced by a month of fasting and the food saved is then distributed to the poor. Great emphasis is placed on taking care of the weak. The culture is collective more than individualistic … brotherhood and community.

    We have to be very careful, in my opinion, that we don’t threaten the culture that is the community. Our history in such matters isn’t exactly admirable.

    However, I don’t want to prejudge your ideas before you’ve put them down on paper, so to speak, so I will satisfy myself knowing I have let you know what my concerns are and, hopefully, find that they were groundless.

  74. bron98 says:


    interesting observation. But does rooting out fundamentalists have an impact on Islam in general?

  75. mespo727272 says:

    Chuck & blouise & bron:
    With 2 billion adherents,”Islam” as a term is not really all that helpful in deciphering what groups of adherents actually believe. (Nor is “Christianity,” for that matter). It is like using the term “fish” to describe the multitude of creatures in the sea. What I am trying to postulate is not war against that particular set of religious ideas (which as you say contains many benign notions) generally but war against one particular strain which advocates violence as a means to their ends. It’s no different than waging war against Nazis while preserving the German society even though some overlap is inevitable. It’s not the idea which is so troubling as it is the actions based on the ideas. We can never outlaw destructive ideas but you can outlaw organizations which act in furtherance of those destructive ideas and who promote those ideas to the detriment of us all.

  76. Mike Spindell says:

    The discussion of criminalizing certain beliefs systems is one I find difficult. In France post Charlie Hebdo, the arrest of that comedian for hats speech certainly seems creepily ironic. However, I know that a large part of Hitler’s. rise to power was the ability of Goebbels and Strausser to publish effective anti-Jewish propaganda. Today we are seeing the ressurection of racism as a springboard to elective office. It is a difficult connundrum around which I’m trying to wrap my head.

  77. blouise says:

    But does rooting out fundamentalists have an impact on Islam in general – Bron to blouise

    Fundamentalism isn’t necessarily bad which is why clarity in the definition is so important. Fundamentalism is at the root of Congregationalism which was the religion of the Pilgrims. Back to basics with Scripture as the guide eschewing Kings, bishops, etc. with each individual responsible for his/her own relationship with God, a path the Congregation supports for each of its members. They were Separatists not Reformers and in their early days criminalized by the establishment which is why they fled to Holland and then boarded the Mayflower for the New World.

    We just have to be careful with our definitions when determining what aspects are to be tackled. Taking action without careful thought could create a problem far worse than the one we’ve got and saddle future generations with unacceptable guilt.

    I trust mespo but would I trust someone who follows after him?

  78. blouise17 says:

    In short, bron, I’m not sure rooting out fundamentalism from Islam is the responsibility of anyone but Muslims.

  79. blouise17 says:

    It’s a knotty problem ol’ mespo has presented and well worth discussing.

  80. Mike Spindell says:


    I do believe the fundamentalist mindset is bad in that it closes people’s minds to alternativess. I have known many people who are deeply involved with their religion and love of God, but yet were open to different ideas. The fundamentalism that I see as bad doesn’t allow for thought. The great scholars and teachers of all religiosity disciplines teach that questioning one faith is a deeply religious act, while the fundamentalists discourage it and react angrily towards someone thinking freely.

  81. I submit that

    1) If free will exists is immaterial. It is in our best interest as social creatures to behave as if it does and to behave as if actions have consequence. Why? Because an ethical or moral grounding is a limiter on the actions our unrestrained ids would wreak upon the world. A world without choice is a recipe for disaster. And

    2) That if said free will is a gift from God or simply an evolved adaptation for forethought and the rationality required to make choices is also immaterial. Why? Because in either case, the exercise of free will requires independent thought. Ergo . . .

    A) any ethical or moral system that advocates abandoning free thought is either against God or against nature or both and therefore . . .

    B) any abdication of free will to dogma or any other construct that constrains your ability to exercise free will and therefore free thought is either against the will of God (evil) or contrary to an evolutionary advantageous adaptation (unwise at best).

    Talk amongst yourselves.

    I’m a little verklempt.

    Oh. Wait. No I’m not. I’m a creature of reason.

    But feel free to carry on this wonderful thread regardless.

  82. blouise says:

    Are the religion’s scriptures a relative or an absolute truth? And if absolute, are parables or inconsistencies within those scriptures symbolic in need of interpretation?

    It’s my opinion that we are dealing with a difference in cognitive styles … black&white versus gray, if you will. A desire for certainty as opposed to comfort with uncertainty or field-dependence versus field-independence.

    Free thought is involved in both..

  83. Bob Kauten says:

    When you said you were a little verklempt, I was expecting Barbara (she’s buttah) to comment. What else could engender verklemptness in you?

  84. Bob Kauten says:

    Oops, Barbra. When talking amongst yourselves, please don’t mention my schlemielisch blunder.

  85. Blouise,

    Perhaps, but I think it goes beyond simply different styles to a fundamental difference in both perception and processing as they play off proclivity. All evidence of science to this point tells us that the universe is 1) analog and 2) probabilistic. At our root level of psyche, this presents a problem for the semi-aquatic plains ape that still lurks in our collective ids. They are wired for DANGER!!!!!!!/not danger and to seek certainty; a drive that probably originates in the need to feed as contrasted to irregular natural food source and would eventually lead to the world’s fourth oldest profession which is agriculture (after gathering, hunting and prostitution). These drivers are at their root fear based – the fear of predation and the fear of starvation (both forms of fear of death). Science has recently shown that there is a difference in political preference that can be traced to the amygdala (which governs fear and emotional learning as well as modulating memory) and the anterior cingulate cortex (which governs motivation, modulation of emotional response, anticipation and error detection). To simplify it further they are fear and reason respectively. Those with conservative world views (which fundamentalists can certainly be considered under that umbrella) tend to have a larger amygdala and a smaller ACC and vice-versa for those with a more liberal world view. When viewed with that information in mind, it may go beyond merely different styles of cognition as a matter of conscious processing and be a matter of different biology at the root. This presents a problem.

    The modern world has technology that has far out paced that older part of our ape brains, the amygdala. Our world is fraught with dangers and problems that defy emotional response as a primary response. Dangers and problems that require the ability to recognize and deal with problems that are “non-binary” (i.e. analog) as well as uncertain (i.e. probabilistic). The relatively “newer” part of our brain, the ACC, is far better equipped to handle those sorts of problems.

    It should come as no surprise then that those with larger amygdala might tend toward simplistic binary emotive solutions that can go so far as to abdicate free will/free thought in favor of being simply told what to do instead of grappling with a problem that their hardware isn’t equipped to “run the software” required to analyze the problem let alone fix it or come to terms with the notion that it may not be “fixable” at all. To them, the answer to existential crisis is to retreat into an often as not fictional framework based on bronze age fairy tales. Not because it is the correct choice or based in reason, but because that is what their mind does when presented with crisis.

    As a consequence, we may not be able to “get rid of fundamentalism” until we as a species evolve to the point where the ACC (or commensurate “newer mutation” of brain structure) overrules the amygdala as “the rule” and not “the exception”. Legislating it away as Mark suggests is at band-aid and perhaps a good first step, but it is palliative not curative.

  86. Bob K.,

    “What else could engender verklemptness in you?”

    Such a large question deserves a Top 20 List.

    1) Cheesecake.
    2) Rachel Weisz.
    3) The thrill of discovery.
    4) Going reaaaal fast.
    5) Beauty wherever found.
    6) Finely tuned logic.
    7) Lyrical prose.
    8) Kitties.
    9) Puppies.
    10) The impermanence of the world.
    11) Big ideas.
    12) Clever ideas.
    13) Acts of random and unexpected kindness.
    14) Karma in action.
    15) Rachel Weisz.
    16) Songs in D minor.
    17) The susurrus of trees.
    18) The scent of a loved one.
    19) Mystery.
    20) Traveling without moving.

    In no particular order.

  87. blouise says:


    I agree 110% (because I suspect my ACC has adapted 😉 ). That’s part of the reason the cognitive differences occur. What concerns me is criminalizing what can’t be helped … off with your head because you have blue eyes.

    However, mespo is correct in suggesting something must be done to protect us from the crazies. I just don’t think a person can be viewed as crazy because cause he/she prefers to retreats inward in the fundamentalist manner, I.e. has blue eyes.

    Ironically, I am a liberal thinker preaching caution.

  88. blouise says:

    I swear my Kindle is AI afflicted.

  89. Mike Spindell says:

    My Kindle couldn’t possibly be AI afflicted because it simply stinks. Of course my model is much older than yours Blouise and depending on it while I await my laptop being fixed is making me stir crazy.

  90. Blouise,

    Caution need not be rooted in fear as it easily can be a product of prudence.

  91. blouise says:


    It just might be that Jeff Bezos plans to take over the world and Kindle is the tool.

  92. blouise says:


    Prudence … yep, that’s what I’m preaching. Thanx

  93. One of my favorites from The Fab Four.

  94. And as I am wont to say, one of the ways to gauge the strength of a composition is how well it holds up to rearrangement. I found this while looking up the original. Simply beautiful.

    A thousand pardons for the digression.

  95. Bob Kauten says:

    “Gene, your list has grown tiresome.”
    -Dieter, of “Sprockets”

    “Party on, Gene!”
    -Wayne, of “Wayne’s World”

  96. Mike Spindell says:

    Alanis’s version is very good.

  97. bron98 says:


    How do the scientists know the ACC and amygala are static? Maybe the persons life causes the difference and not the other way around?

  98. Bron,

    We are dealing with a proclivity that rests in a genetic predisposition. The answer is, in effect, probabilistic. While some individuals may fall out of the distribution as statistical outliers, the general assertion is sound to the main body of the population. Otherwise, they would not have found those trends. Nurture certainly influences nature, but it rarely overrides it. Even the scientists behind that discovery phrase their discovery as a likelihood and not a certainty.

  99. blouise says:


    The Amish would be marvelous subjects for such a study, except that they wouldn’t cooperate. But there you have a fundamentalist turn with very little proclivity towards violence, religious or otherwise.

  100. Mike Spindell says:


    A good question regarding the Amish as fundamentalists. Could it be because they allow their teens a time to act out and decide on whether to return to the life? Those that choose to remain after experiencing the temptations of the world certainly would seem to be accepting of the lifestyle without anger at its limitations.

  101. blouise says:


    And they are definitely a culture that has remained intact in spite of the larger culture that surrounds their communities. I’m sure they have their crazies but we never read about some crazy Amish dude shooting up a mall or suicide bombing a government building because the wider culture is threatening his Amish culture. They definitively don’t go along but, somehow or another, they seem to get along.

  102. Bob Kauten says:

    This just in!
    Bobby Jindal excoriates “no-go zones”! They must be real!!!!!
    You heard it here, first!

  103. You think that is something, Bob K., I’m going to get right out in front of Jindal and excoriate the Easter Bunny.

    Wascally wabbit.

  104. Bob Kauten says:

    That’s so cruel!
    How can the Easter Bunny, rascal that he is, make more little Easter Bunnies, if you excoriate him?

  105. Bob Kauten says:

    Bobby Jindal did warn that his party was becoming “the stupid party,” years ago.
    He’s now in an appropriate place to do something about it.

  106. Speaking of “no-go zones”, apparently the officials of Paris didn’t take lightly to Faux News reporting on that point.

    Paris Plans To Sue Fox News For Insulting The City

  107. Pingback: How I See the Way of the World | Flowers For Socrates

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