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Journal Article

Citation

Alderdice JT. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 2009; 1167: 158-173.

Affiliation

Center for Psychotherapy, Belfast. alderdicej@parliament.uk

Copyright

(Copyright © 2009, John Wiley and Sons)

DOI

10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04510.x

PMID

19580562

Abstract

Enduring, violent, social, and political conflicts have often been interpreted as resulting directly from socioeconomic inequity. The advent of global terrorism is traditionally understood by the political left as representing a rational, albeit regrettable, third-world response to poverty. On the political right the alternative explanation tends to see the world in terms of the fight between good and evil--each side "Islamist" and "Western," characterizing the enemy in similar opposing terms. This has recently been popularized as a clash of religions, cultures, or civilizations. Most poor societies do not, however, respond to their circumstances with violence (particularly terrorism), and indeed it is often at the point where the socioeconomic circumstances of a society or a region are improving that there is a breakdown into violence. Starting in Northern Ireland and then exploring other regions, including Peru, Nepal, and the Middle East, the author's close observation of a number of societies where there has been persistent terrorism has revealed that the response is an emotional and self-destructive one rather than being marked by rational economic self-interest or an essentially religious/cultural conflict; it is often the sense of humiliation, disrespect, and injustice that is the most toxic stimulus; and, insofar as there is inequity or cultural division, it is the component of "unfairness" or "injustice" that is the potent element in the predisposing mixture. "Righting a terrible wrong" or responding to unfairness and injustice is, therefore, a key to understanding and addressing such violent social conflicts.


Language: en

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