July 13, 2005

Stumbling and Mumbling on the causes of terrorism

Stumbling and Mumbling disects the commonly trotted out causes of terrorism, that is that it is all the fault of the west, and then pulls out a blinder that it might be possible to use economics to model terrorists with hatred replacing the role of money. A fasinating idea:
Such a market requires people who have an incentive to supply hatred – that is, politicians who see it as a way of winning support. It requires “hate stories” to be minimally plausible – that there be a demand for them. This requires people to believe that the object of hate is attacking them; for that object to be segregated from them (so they learn about it from politicians rather than personal experience); and for people to have little incentive or ability to learn the truth. It also helps if suppliers of hatred offer services to its potential customers. These could take the form of a “meaning of life”, some career, or protection services, as the IRA offered.

How plausible is this model? I don’t know. But it offers more insights than glib one-liners.


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