Reacting to the militant risk: Decivilizing in the name of civilization?
Introduction Within the West, notable shifts in political and civil societal consciousness can be noted. Freedoms that were previously considered to be synonymous with Western ‘civilization’ are disappearing into possible oblivion to be replaced by increasingly pervasive surveillance within a framework of repressive social control mechanisms to counter the challenge of militant Islam. These forms of psychological and legalistic constraints are part of a broader approach that also includes the militaristic strategies within the ‘war on terror’ that are being undertaken to defend Western peoples, their values, way of life and ultimately ‘civilization’. Yet the paradox of using contradictory methods and practices in the name of civilization has attracted only limited concern across the West. Clearly events like the war in Iraq have aroused considerable levels of dissatisfaction and anger. By comparison, the insidious erosion of civil liberties and deteriorating community relations have attracted meagre opposition. Equally, in the aftermath of the September 2001 attacks on America, the death of thousands of Afghan civilians became a rarely read footnote to the ‘war’. Why these acts, both military and legalistic, can be implemented with little popular protest requires examination if we are to begin to understand why ‘civilized’ peoples are allowing social, cultural and political precepts to be surreptitiously eradicated, in some instances seemingly unintentionally. By understanding why this is being allowed to happen, the tentative process of considering the consequences to the West can commence. This chapter is dedicated to exploring these issues, principally within the United States and, to a lesser extent, the United Kingdom.