Spiked article on modernity and 9/11

In: Uncategorized

5 Sep 2006

I have a short article on Spiked on how hostility to modernity has become embedded in Western society (pasted below). It is part of a collection of articles looking at the fifth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks:

What strikes me as most odd about the response to the 9/11 attacks was their representation as a specifically Islamic fundamentalist reaction to modernity. They were seen as mainly rooted in the caves of Afghanistan, the madrassas (Islamic schools) of Pakistan, and the desert sheikdom of Saudi Arabia. Hardly anyone seemed to notice that hostility to modernity has become mainstream in Western culture.

The enormous gains of civilisation are constantly being called into question. What were once, rightly, seen as huge benefits to humanity are now viewed with anxiety. The water that we drink and use to clean ourselves is seen as a scarce resource. Cheap food – which has liberated us from the curse of constantly living on the edge of starvation – is blamed for causing obesity. Long-distance travel is stigmatised. Cars are blamed for causing pollution and contributing to global warming. Aircraft are also accused of damaging the environment and the passengers they carry are criticised for undermining local cultures.

Attacks on modernity have their origins in the West rather than the Middle East. If a war is to be fought it should be against the ideology of anti-modernism emanating from Western societies.