Friday, March 24, 2017

Contemporary Amokism

The Malay culture has a name for an enduring phenomenon: amok, as in running...

It encapsulates how a certain kind of disaffected male, invariably the sort who considers himself superior in some way — yet frustratingly unrecognised as such by wider society — elects to go on a marauding rampage to set the record straight.

His victims can be members of another race or another gender, but even more commonly a despised peer group or other reasonably well-defined demographic that he feels is impinging upon him.

Amok-style mass casualty events have become increasingly common in our modern world, especially in the United States, where the free availability of assault weapons clearly facilitates the phenomenon, yet cannot really be said to lie at the root of it.

Take away the guns and the attacks still happen, as we saw this week in Westminster. In this there is more than a grain of truth in the ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’ mantra disseminated by the NRA.

In the case of extreme Islamism we see a ready-made ideology which can be said to nurture and expand the potential of the underlying syndrome, whilst globalisation means that one’s hated fellow ‘citizens’ can actually reside several thousand miles away.

But if we are looking for a real underlying source for contemporary amokism, it is not religion or any other justification per se, but developments in digital technology which have permitted highly-amplified sociability and resentment-exchange between dangerous, sociopathic loners.

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