[ by Charles Cameron — a curious similarity between the courtroom appearances of the Orlando and Jo Cox killers ]
The Orlando killer’s court appearance is featured in the upper panel below, the appearance of Jo Cox MP’s killer in the lower panel:
It is generally true that one’s name stands for one’s entire identity — which in my own case would include my personalities as a father, friend, poet, blogger, game designer, analyst of apocalyptic, lover of the beloved. To give an ideological response — a motto — repeatedly, when asked one’s name would indicate an uncanny degree of single-mindedness, of focus, of purpose.
Scott Atran‘s work, eg his paper, Devoted actors sacrifice for close comrades and sacred cause, would be of interest here:
Studies across cultures suggest that the strongest forms of primary group identity are bounded by sacred values, often in the form of religious beliefs or transcendental ideologies, which leads some groups to prevail because of nonrational commitment from at least some of its members to actions that drive success independent — or all out of proportion — from expected rational outcomes. For such “devoted actors,” rightness of in-group cause often leads to intractable conflicts with out-groups that become immune to the give-and-take common to “business-like” negotiations.
Thus, our interviews with United States officials familiar with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (now self-proclaimed “Caliph” of the Islamic State) and his close circle, including General Douglas Stone, who commanded Camp Bucca where they were held, suggests absolutely committed “purists,” completely devoted to their idea of Sharia and the Caliphate, and willing to do anything for it, to use violence to instill blood lust among their followers and terror among enemies, who were no match for them. Unconditional commitment to comrades, in conjunction with their sacred cause, may be what allows low-power groups to endure and often prevail against materially stronger foes: since World War II, revolutionary and insurgent groups (e.g., the Islamic State) have beaten armies with up to an order-of-magnitude more firepower and manpower because of devotion to comrade and cause rather than typical reward structures, like pay and promotion (e.g., Iraq’s army).
All of which ties in with what I was saying four days ago in Firefights, breath, & meditation about “tightly focused” vs “wide-angled” awareness.