A Chasm of Meaning: Groups and Individuals

One of the real problems in the modern world is that almost no one really understands different value systems to any significant degree. As I’ve mentioned before for most of the world most of the time (the major exceptions are most of Europe and North America) the number one value is loyalty to the group, namely extended family, clan, tribe, ethnic group and religion (roughly in that order) especially against the oppositional other (that is other extended families, clans, ethnic groups and religions (again roughly in that order).

It is clear that Prime Minister Justin “Pretty Boy” Trudeau does not even begin to understand this. Now I’m used to the fact that many political leaders are disconnected from reality in dangerous ways, but Trudeau takes this to the next level. The idea that jihadis returning for the failed Islamic State would or could be “an extraordinarily powerful voice for Canada” is so misguided and wrong that it’s kind of terrifying.

There is no evidence that those who fought for the Islamic State think they’ve done anything wrong or that they would not go again if they had the opportunity. The primary motivation in going in the first place was to show their support for their Muslim identity against non-Muslims and there is no evidence that they even think in terms of heuristic western attempts to understand them like ‘radicalization’.

Here’s what returning jihadis are likely thinking: “I showed my support for my group (in this case Muslims like me) like a good and honorable person. It didn’t work out but everybody knows where I stand, and if I have a chance to stand up for my group again I will.”

It’s really that shallow, the complexity comes from western misunderstanding. If you understand how oppositional group loyalty works most of the continuing failures of the non-western world come quickly (and despairingly) into focus. But it’s a major meaning gap, westerners mostly cannot imagine finding meaning in life by supporting a group they belong to through an accident of birth and most non-westerners cannot imagine finding meaning in life any other way.

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