Understanding the Marathon Bombers

There are many who seek to explain the mystery of the Boston Marathon bombers — or all our killers that are fast becoming a part of our national landscape.

No doubt each of these unnatural figures has personal blame for what they did and for which they must be held accountable. We can explore the beliefs and ideologies which motivated their actions. However, this does not explain why killers of such diverse backgrounds keep appearing. There is a social factor that must be taken into account since it facilitates the appearance of these monstrous characters and destroys our only real line of defense against them. This factor is individualism.

For a long time, we have lived in a “golden age” of modern individualism. Our whole society was organized around the idea that each person was the sole architect of his own freedom and destiny. Each claimed the inebriating freedom to define a concept of existence, meaning and way of life. In theory, these individualists lived isolated, like atoms, in their own private worlds, pursuing their own self-interest.


However, in practice, this freedom could only work when people’s dreams did not collide. When working with others in modern society, we engaged in a “social contract” or partnership where each agreed to abide by certain rules so that each could seek one’s own advantage, fun or pleasure. Even the State was seen as a mere mechanism to facilitate or enforce these contracts in the pursuit of self-interest.

What happened in Boston is a signal that this “golden age” of modern individualism is now ending. Some people are no longer abiding by the rules. A new class of individualists has appeared which shares the same fascination with unlimited freedom, but with one major difference: they no longer feel restrained by the terms of any contract.

Classic individualists enshrined self-interest as the supreme “right” and instituted the rules by which they exercised their freedom to pursue it. Postmodern individualists make the “right” of self-gratification the only absolute right, and accept no restraints to freedom, even when such behavior is destructive of self and society. He absconds to virtual worlds of his own making where fantasy rules.

Free of all restraint, the postmodern individualist believes he can be whatever he wants to be — mass murderer, terrorist, jihadist or the Joker in Batman. He constructs his own fantasy and acts it out with terrifying deliberation. If individualism turned individuals into isolated atoms, its postmodern mutant split the atom, starting a chain reaction of devastating destructive power.

Some say that the solution is to return to the days of classic individualism where each looked after his own self-interest and fun, abiding by a minimal set of rules. The problem is that once large numbers of people have become postmodern individualists (as they have), there can be no return to this classic individualist normality. Our killers are already among us. There is no government or army in the world that can protect us from the multiple possibilities for disaster. There is no way to keep all potential threats under observation.

The only way for society to defend itself is to return to an order that re-establishes conditions for true freedom, not fantasy. Ironically, this order is not found in individualism. It is an illusion to think that individualism of any sort can be the source of our freedom and order in society. Modern society merely lived off the social capital accumulated in times past.

America enjoyed so much freedom not because we let everyone do whatever they wanted, but because we accepted the moral limits and values found in family, community and Faith. We were free because our law still reflected the natural moral law — valid for all peoples and all times — and which makes free people and markets possible. Our freedom lay in our virtue, not in our whims or vices.

When morality informs society, we have a social fabric that strengthens and supports the individual and prevents monster killers from appearing. Just as individual threads are woven together in a cloth, the individual inside the social fabric is gently held in place and finds true meaning and purpose in life. He is not a loose, dangling, purposeless thread, enslaved to whims and fancies that harm and weaken the whole fabric.

Subscription5.2That is why we must return to an order which by its institutions and principles anchors its members in reality. Inside the social fabric, the individual is protected from his own fantasies that lead him astray. Society is able to quickly identify and help those who need charity and aid. What we need is what I call “an organic Christian Society,” in my book Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go. Such a society is our only real defense against the monster killers now in our midst.

  • Greg Groebner

    Terrible analysis. No mention of the FBI, CIA, Mossad; much of which is a matter of public record. One of many incidents: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jun/30/fbi-terrorism

    • JCM

      I agree. It was whitewashed. But that was not the theme of the article, which was a philosophical analisis of liberalism, which emerged as one of THE dominant post-1789 ideology, and its logical and inevitable evolution (or degeneration, it depends what angle you take).

      The psychos have always been out there Greg, hence the labels “anti social”, “misfits”, etc. And were easily identified and conveniently locked away by the State. But when the psychos become mainstream, and hence, unperceived or un-noticed in bourgoise society and life — then that is where it gets a bit tricky. Only a select group trained in psycho-warfare can identify them, and actually use them. Could be the State, State related, could be “terrorists” — whatever or whomever it may be.

      One step to anarchy — if not its descent.

      Neo-Conservativism ideology (and its obnoxious-Nationalists, excessive Patriots, crypto-fascists, blind Militarists, obedient to the State, even its opression, defense of a few over the many, etc), Patriot Acts, “War on Terror”, neo-fascism — none can eliminate the process. It’s Police State can only contain it along with complicity of dumbing down its populations to be ignorant of the fact, or to keep a blind eye over it.

      Between the individual and the modern post 9-11 State I take the individual — any day. But there is a third option — community (spiritual life, intellectual life, family life) and intermediate institutions linked to the most remote comunity of a “nation”, “realm” or “people”. That for me trumps individual and State (Distributism comes close to mind). Abolish the God, and the State becomes God. Liberalism abolished god politically, Socialists went further — abolishing it socio-economically and culturally. That we see the State becoming God in our midst in Police State Amerika and its liberalism should not be surprising. Bad stuff coming our way, No matter how you slice it. It is Orwellian totalitarianism under a globalist Plutocracy, or anarchism (stimulated and backed by the same globalist Plutocracy) — islamism is just a ruse, a means to an end.

      Cheers mate.

  • Concerned Christian

    I work in the field of Social Care in England, and have seen the impact of what I believe to be the cause of the individualism you refer to today, this I believe comes in the form of, films, music ( to a certain extent ) T.V., Computers, and computer games. Please do not get me wrong in some ways this new technology has been very beneficial in a lot of ways, but if we look at the way in which the creative mind of a person can be used in a better way, for example preserving the planet so that each individual has sufficient food, water, shelter, then I can personally relate to the way in which things should change, then again I think as yourself that there is a change coming about, even if at the moment it should be minor.

  • Tom Toenjes

    Best insight into the present situation I have seen so far. Cant blame it on poverty, lack of education, global warming, drugs, booze, discrimination, and on and on PC “solutions”. Society as a whole is sick unto death and the sickness is in the soul. Only the teachings of Christ through the Catholic Church can effect the cure.