Well Isis are a bunch of ignorant fuckers and your instinct is to annihilate them. Wow wipe them out right? Well guess what I'm pretty sure that is the response they were hoping for when they burned a man alive in a cage. We've been having a very civilised debate about freedom of speech round these parts since they gunned down some cartoonists. There's a pattern here. The destruction of twin towers was a media spectacle not a comment on skyscrapers or unsustainable models of usury. These elements were part of the symbolism but not the debate. Al Qaeda are not a debating society no matter how hard we try and turn their slaughter of people into sense. Their actions are disruptive not logical and yet we, the West - the occident, somehow feel that there is a simple framework of cause and effect to be extracted. This can be distilled to an “eye for an eye”. Kurt Vonnegut spoke about the law of Hammurabi that somehow still grips our collective thinking today. The rule of an eye for an eye makes for a good Cowboy film but perhaps not such a developed civilised society. For a start did you know that this ancient Babylonian law only applied to the eyes of nobles. Damaging the eye of a servant could be simply paid for with money. Likewise "if a man strike a free-born woman so that she lose her unborn child, he shall pay ten shekels for her loss." The point here is that this paradigm is held up as an essential state but it was never seen as such even by the King who had it carved in stone. The pursuit of revenge sells cinema tickets but does not solve global terrorist issues.
So what is the alternative? I mean you can’t negotiate with terrorists and you musn’t show weakness. But should we continue to meet chaos with chaos? I'm not saying we need to be neoliberal touchy feely types but even on a basic, game of chess level, screaming for revenge is not the most reasoned response. Perhaps we could ask what would evolved humans do? Perhaps nothing. Perhaps we need to accept that Isis is Charlie. I mean we are all responsible. We all chose to accept that society is a realm of dog eat dog and that profit is the bottom line. We neglect our inner lives and this forces it out in a very ugly form. When he spoke of alienated jihadist wankers Boris Johnson was touching on a truth but he forgot to add that the culture created by rightwing global capitalism is the reason young men are alienated. We rely on the external symbol to objectify and sell. This is what sustains the myth of perpetual economic growth. Likewise the enemy is most comfortingly viewed as something separate – a symbol. Think about the almost unbelievable level of human depravity that emerged in Europe in the early twentieth century. In Hitler we had a focus for an idea of evil that needed wiping out but the energy that drove him was from a people who wanted revenge on the world for overlooking it. Revenge is not an evolved way of being and painful as it is to do so we need to move beyond it. To care for those who are here now. The young alienated jihadist wankers need to see humanity has the potential to be divine. It really does. To this end Vonnegut, a devout atheist, spoke of how the Sermon on the Mount made him feel good to be a human. This passage is about evolving beyond base instinct. It's just a decision. We are all connected. Isis is Charlie.