The forms of social authority capable of motivating individuals to engage in acts of violence and terror are not constant across all societies. Differing social structures, as well as different cultures associated with them, affect which modes of persuasion and manipulation work best to generate the worst sorts of behavior.
Trying to understand why some people become politically radicalized to the point of being willing to engage in violence – and willing even to engage in terrorist acts as a defined subset of that violence – has by now occupied an entire generation of scholars and policy analysts. Especially in the nearly 17 years since the attacks of September 11, 2001, theories from several disciplinary origins have proliferated and are now sufficient to fill entire libraries. Such is the sprawling state of thinking that it has become almost impossible to get one’s arms around the entire extant literature. To encompass the entire field in the present circumstances is not just a day job, but a veritable obsession if one is to have even a chance of success.
But for all the effort and literature, no consensus exists on an overarching explanatory template sufficiently robust to guide policymakers at various levels and in various countries.
Just one example of dissensus shows the practical problem. About a decade ago, Marc Sageman propounded a theory of “leaderless jihad”. It postulated a four-step process of radicalization and emphasized the new role of the internet as a distributed system of social mobilization. As part of his argument, Sageman all but dismissed structural predispositions or determinist arguments: namely, that terrorism is caused by the defects of the larger society or world order, or by predisposed personality types, both popular approaches in the early days after 9/11.
Bruce Hoffman criticized Sageman for exaggerating the impact of the internet and discounting the enduring central role of hierarchical terrorists organizations such as al-Qaeda. The two then debated the matter and others joined in, some taking Sageman to task for not crediting the internet with even more influence (since he played down the role of images as emotional stimuli). The ensuing debate helped to clarify lines of disagreement and to generate better questions, but it did not offer much help to high-level policymakers or to those responsible for homeland security and law enforcement in deciding how to apportion their resources and attention.
As noted in an earlier essay, dissensus has left a legacy of contextual differences among countries that have been targets of terrorist attacks. It shapes efforts by national authorities to deal with their problems. One result is that while Americans tend to grant pride of place to the power of religious ideas as such and discount less obvious sociological dynamics, most European authorities discount religious thinking and emphasize the social embeddedness of motivating ideas of all sorts. Both appear to be projecting frameworks that they assume, consciously or (usually) not, account for behavioral variance in their own social histories.
The analysis of political violence and terror is not my day job, and I do not pretend to have pondered the bulk of the literature that has been produced on it. The disadvantages of my circumstance need no elaboration. But just as one can better see a faint star in the heavens in one’s peripheral vision than by looking straight on, and just as creativity in the sciences often falls to those aware of but not inured to the methodological orthodoxies of the day, my circumstance may afford an advantage as well as disadvantage. I therefore hope to leapfrog most of the terrorism-specific literature and make a suggestion that might be worthy of consideration.
In essence, the suggestion is that the forms of social authority capable of motivating individuals to engage in acts of violence and terror are not constant across all societies. Differing social structures, as well as different cultures – related, but not the same things – affect which modes of persuasion and manipulation tend to work best to generate the worst sorts of behavior. Specifically, charismatic authority is liable to be much more effective in motivating or manipulating behavior among those reared in societies characterized by patrimonial and especially tribal social structures than it is in modern societies where authority has long been formalized and depersonalized. Moreover, and more importantly, charismatic authority is liable to be especially effective where and when pre-existent traditional authority is decaying or has broken down.
The sociologically tutored will note that we have just invoked Max Weber without even mentioning him. Though he is long dead, that is still not nice. To return to some basics, then, in his 1919 essay “Politics as a Vocation” Weber famously distinguished between three types of social authority: rational-legal authority; traditional authority; and charismatic authority. Weber also cited three delivery systems, so to speak, that combine to persuade younger people, in particular, to acknowledge the authority of elders: status; specialized knowledge; and social position. All three systems are at work in all three types of authority, but not in the same proportions.
Authority is the socially approved use of power as embodied in rules. It is, in other words, raw power legitimized in society at large such that its exercise is only indirectly predicated upon an awareness of uneven coercive potential. Rule-making and rule-enforcing is present in every human society; it is partly what defines our species as social. Not every test of wills can be allowed to devolve into literal fighting, or the group could not survive. Rule discipline is therefore socially functional, and the generalization of that discipline sums to authority.
Now, legal-rational authority is the dominant form of authority Weber recognized in the advanced Western countries of his day a century ago. It is associated with the bureaucracies of modern states, and with governments of nations. And nations, in turn, being composed of so many people that the vast majority are unlikely ever to lay eyes on one another – even if still in some attenuated sense most West European nations at base are composed of large extended families – require a facility with abstractions to create a sense of social unity.
That facility with abstraction is, in turn, almost invariably a by-product of mass deep literacy, a critical but often overlooked social-historical datum. And that facility with abstraction also enables a sense of individual agency with it. or a relatively keen sense of what some social psychologists call “interiority.”
With it as well comes a modular conception of social roles: a man can be tethered to a family, but also to a profession, a social class, and even to a faith community different from that of his parents. Where legal-rational authority is prevalent, specialized knowledge is usually more important than personal status or social position as a vehicle of persuasion.
Traditional authority is power legitimized by longstanding cultural templates, invariably of religious origin or at least religion-infused, and that corresponds to a social structure encompassing a smaller number of people who are usually more literally (genetically) an extended family or clan. Traditional authority is thus associated with ethno-linguistic, or “ethnic”, groups (often overlapping with sectarian groups), even ones that today compose communities nested within heterogeneous modern states.
So, for example, traditional authority dominates among the Muslim “emirates” of Northern Nigeria, with their “big men”, patronage networks, and the rest – not the legal-rational authority of the Nigerian state, such as it is.
In the traditional situation, levels of deep literacy are lower than in societies characterized by legal-rational authority, facility with abstractions (magical efficacy excluded) is less robust, and the range of modular identities is narrower. In traditional authority, with a patrimonial social structure frequently still defined by agnatic lineages and where endogamous marriage is common, social position is usually more important that specialized knowledge and status as a vehicle of persuasion.
Charismatic authority is, as Weber put it, authority legitimated by extraordinary personalities capable of inspiring devotion and obedience. Given the physical limits of personal persuasiveness under pre-modern and pre-literate technical conditions, charismatic authority was limited to smaller groups than those that make up a modern state or even an ethnic group. After all, even the most charismatic individual can shout only so loud and can be seen from only so far away. It best corresponded, and still does, to tribal social structures. Status is usually more important than specialized knowledge and social position.
Charismatic authority thrives in lightly institutionalized settings characteristic of relatively non-specialized social structures (and, as we will see, de-institutionalizing ones). Charismatic personalities are associated most closely with shamans in pre-modern societies characterized by mythic consciousness, but also with an array of notable figures in the social transition to traditional authority marked by the gradual movement from myth to religion. What is the difference between the two?
The mythic consciousness equates roughly to animist conceptions of the world, a world suffused with magic and emotional consanguinity, and that moves through the law of metamorphosis in which anything can turn into anything else. Deities are immanent, not transcendent. Word magic prevails: Knowing the name for something gives one power over the thing named. Power is highly personal, hence the predominant role of status in eliciting conformity with authority. Social order is not highly differentiated in part because labor specialization is minimal. Authority is exercised solely through the power of oral language, emotionally piquant and often mystical in its cohabitation with religious ideas. Its mode of narrative can be almost dreamlike; music, dance, and other art forms often supply elaborative elements to rituals of a mythic whole. All of this is characteristic of tribal societies as cultural anthropologists have described them.
Religion, on the other hand – Abrahamic religion at least, but also most others – is based on scripture. There can be and usually is miraculous (read: magical) stuff going on in all stories of origin, but the narrative, having taken written form, cannot repeatedly accommodate anything turning into anything else at someone’s whim. There is a logical rigor inherent in the narrative and in the way it is read or otherwise conveyed from those few who can read to those who cannot. That communication may be emotionally infused, but the lexical content of the scripture limits the sheer emotional power of the words. Such narratives are not dreamlike; they tell coherent stories with more or less fixed and hence learnable causal and moral points. Supportive arts exist but at a greater remove from ritual. Religion based on scripture is not for shamans but for priests and, occasionally, prophets. The deity is or becomes transcendent instead of, or sometimes as well as, immanent (in the concept of the soul—the deity within).
And a priest or a prophet, under the right conditions, can use scripture and its fixed lessons, rules, and rituals to reach out beyond the small group of the clan and the larger tribe. When that happens, the sway of charismatic authority can spread, temporarily at least, to larger groups, depending on the technology of transmission available. It can last as long as the charismatic individual lives, after which it either evaporates quickly or slowly, or else become institutionalized, at which point charismatic authority morphs into traditional authority, generally embedded in religious culture.
The former describes Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, which failed to institutionalize itself, and the latter William Miller’s premillenarian cult in 1830s’ Ohio, with the Millerites institutionalizing themselves eventually into the Seventh Day Adventists. It is possible that the differing social structures of present-day Uganda (still largely tribal) and mid-19th century America (largely modern) account in part for the failure of the former and the success of the latter to institutionalize itself. To emerge and be sustained, institutions must correspond to attitudes in people’s heads: if the broader social order displays institutional artifacts of culture, it will occur to people to institutionalize their social project, and models will exist showing how to do that. If not, institutional innovation is more difficult and less likely to occur.
Such a transitional movement from myth to religion, as defined here, characterizes the history of Islam from the start. Mohammed was a charismatic tribal figure (some contemporary sources say he was afflicted with epilepsy, and his seizures were seen as visitations from God) whose message achieved trans-tribal power, or authority. That was in part because his 7th century social context in Arabia consisted of a hinge point between older oral and rising written cultures, and a material context that mixed smaller tribal social structures with larger proto-ethnic patrimonial ones in what was at the time a pluralizing environment in the Hejaz, largely on account of a burgeoning caravan trade.
Mohammed managed to unite most of the squabbling tribes of Arabia and, through the power of the Abrahamic narrative, used his charismatic authority to supercharge what Anthony F.C. Wallace famously called a “revitalization movement” – what everyone today calls the result of that particular episode simply Islam. With the passage of authority to Abu Bakr and subsequent caliphs, charismatic authority institutionalized into traditional authority – in other words, to authority embedded in culture, in this case a vastly transformed religious culture.
This same basic pattern recurred long after Mohammed passed from the scene. To take only a few better-known examples, note Ibn Tumart, the charismatic leader of the Almohads in the 12th century; the Mahdiyya movement of late 19th-century Sudan (Muhammad Ahmad bin Abd Allah); the Sannusiyya movement of early 20th century Libya (Muhammad ibn Ali as-Senussi); and of course al-Qaeda (Osama bin Laden) and the Islamic State (Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badri) of recent times. All these movements, and several others that could be cited both within Sunni and heterodox sectarian communities, began in a tribal context and expanded out to spread charismatic authority to larger groups, ultimately to be institutionalized (or fail to do so) as traditional authority, or fused to greater or lesser extent with existing traditional authority, once the charismatic figure had passed from the scene.
That said, the movement from tribal-scale/charismatic to ethnic-scale/traditional authority applies to every inhabited continent and religious community, not just to Arabs and Muslims. The model for political mobilization and identity building in post-independence era sub-Saharan Africa, for example, often depended on charismatic tribal figures like Kwame Nkrumah (Akan), Jomo Kenyatta (Kikuyu), and Julius Nyerere (Zanaki) being able to extend their personal authority to the larger ethnic and/or state levels. Every society was at one point tribal by way of social structure, many became ethno-traditional over time, and some have since become modular-modern.
Within this spectrum of social structures, charismatic authority can arise anywhere so long as means of communication are available. Virtually every recorded example of a chiliastic premillenarian movement involves at some point the extrusion of charismatic authority into a broader social sphere. Here is a short list: Bar Kochba, with an assist from Rabbi Akiva, leading the Jewish Zealots of the 2nd century against Roman occupation, on the model of the Maccabees leading a similar but successful revolt against the Selucid Greeks about 300 years earlier; Zhu Yuanzhang leading the Red Turban Rebellion of the White Lotus society against the Mongol Yuan dynasty in the 14th century; Thomas Müntzer leading the Peasants’ Revolt of 1525 in what is today Germany; Hong Xiuquan fomenting the Taiping Rebellion in mid-19th century China; and Wovoka leading the Native American “ghost” or “spirit dances” of around the same time. With the partial exception of Wovoka and the Ghost Dancers, none of these episodes arose from within a tribal social structure.
How and when does charismatic authority, generally associated with pre-modern tribal societies, manage sometimes to push through into socially larger and more adumbrated, more materially advanced, and more literate, cultural forms? It can do so, assuming again that means of communication are present, when extant authority structures, and the stories of credit and blame they tell, lose their capacity to persuade, in other words, when they fail to account for the social realities people see around them. There are would-be charismatics in all places and at all times, but they do not “take” unless the plausibility structures (Peter Berger’s term in The Sacred Canopy) of the status quo are to one extent or another in decay. Myth maintenance is incumbent in all civilizational zones; there is no such thing as a creedal-free human culture. When the stories told by the authorities stop working, a search ensues for stories that will work, at least to staunch the collective cognitive crisis of the moment.
If the collapse of the creedal anchors of a society is advanced enough, a market for charismatic authority, and aspects of the mythical thinking associated with it, can emerge even when modern social structures and cultures predominate. When that happens, the avatars of metaphor again suffuse political language to a degree even more vigorous than usual.
Eric Voegelin was perhaps the first to point out the similarities between explicitly religious creedal systems and the mass-movement ideologies of the early 20th century: fascism and communism. José Ortega y Gassett was perhaps the first to show their highly emotional nature, their dismissal of reason, and their shrouding of legal-rational authority in the charismatic trope; he wrote in 1930, before Hitler came to power: “The Fascist and Syndicalist species were characterized by the first appearance of a type of man who did not care to give reasons or even to be right, but who was simply resolved to impose his opinions. That was the novelty: the right not to be right, not to be reasonable: ‘the reason of unreason.’”
The main technologies of that era that enabled the rapid spread of charismatic authority in modern or modernizing societies – newspapers and especially radio – led other governments to want to control those technologies, minding their capacity to stimulate mob-like and potentially violent political behavior. Hence, for example, the creation in the United States of the Federal Communications Commission in 1934.
These totalitarian movements each had their charismatics and attendant cults of personality: Mussolini and Hitler, and in minor drag Franco and Perón in due course; Lenin and Stalin, and Mao Tse-tung. These were all proverbial men on white horses come to save “the people”, always defined as an embattled social monolith.
Both leftwing and rightwing forms of populism today also feature charismatic leaders, would-be charismatic leaders, or paler forms of the type. Some people even insist that Donald Trump is charismatic! The rise of populism in the current moment is, of course, a symptom of the decay of prior elite authority for its failure to tell stories and be believed. And the technology of transmission has now moved beyond radio and even television to the internet.
Now that we have defined our terms and set them in socio-historic motion, so to speak, how does all this translate back into our problem with contemporary radicalization, and the violence that stems from it?
It should be obvious to those with a keen awareness of realities in the Arab and Muslim worlds today. Radical Islamist entrepreneurs, those who wish to foment violence within and outside Muslim-majority societies, are appealing in the main to individuals who no longer believe the stories of credit and blame that either traditional (in the region mainly) or proto-legal-rational authorities (in the West mainly) are telling them.
Alas, the weakness of the Arab states, especially the crypto-modern, non-monarchical ones, is widely understood; so is the weakness of peripheral Muslim states like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and even Turkey and Iran. The Arab state elite narratives held sway in the immediate post-independence period, feeding off resentment against colonialism and visions of pan-Arab renaissance, but decayed over time due to a variety of deficiencies: the administrative failure to provide basic services, generate broadly shared economic growth, overcome the divisions of class and sectarian heterogeneity, and more besides.
Hisham Shirabi’s theory of distorted modernization in the Arab world, which he called neopatriarchy – a decrepit halfway house between patrimonial and modern forms – still rings basically true, especially when shorn of its own Marxian distortions.
One result of these deficiencies was the emergence of would-be Arab charismatics to compensate for the inability to become functionally modern. Gamal Abdel Nasser was, of course, the most famous of these, and his deployment of Radio Cairo to stir and manipulate the Arab masses is of course well known. But even far more effective leaders, like Habib Bourguiba, deployed charismatic forms of persuasion to rule and to instill change from above in a patrimonial society.
The eventual result of the extrusion of charismatic forms into Arab political life, against the backdrop of incomplete or failed modernization, is that political discourse in most Arab countries has long since decayed into a kind of parallel pantomime in which leaders, media, and the public use words as mere gestures to protect themselves from harm, not to actually debate problems and issues. Most of these societies are stalled; some are falling apart thanks to massive serial eruptions of sectarian and ethnic identity politics. The stories that national leaderships tell fall increasingly on the cynical ears of frustrated young populations.
All people essentially need a three-legged stool to participate stably in society and, in turn, to contribute to the stability of the society at large: identity, community, and purpose. People need to have a sense of who they are, who they can reliably associate with to mutual benefit, and from that community find their purpose in society. To the extent that people lose one, two, or all three of those identity anchors, they soon float in a mist of anxiety, and in their near panic to reestablish connections they may be drawn to almost anyone or any organization promising relief.
That is why, in the context of the hollowed out Arab nationalist narratives of our day, Leninist-like organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood thrive in urban areas often ripe with recent arrivals from the countryside – those recently cut off from family and folk tradition; in other words, from the webs of traditional authority, weakened in many cases by the onslaught of rapid change.
That is also why those who are among the first in their families to escape illiteracy are so easily wooed by the appearance of intellectual sophistication in sermons plied by radical preachers. Forty years ago, cassette tapes embodied a new technology that worked for Rouhollah Khomeini as well as for Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki, and many others mostly now deceased.
It is also why television became and remains such a powerful medium in the contemporary Middle East for the spread of radical ideas – note the popularity of Yusuf al-Qaradawi broadcasting sermons from Doha, to take just one example – because relatively few among the targeted audiences are deeply literate and, reared in tribal or patrimonial social structures, they are attuned to the aesthetic of such appeals. They may be able to read lists and menus, but true and deep literacy is still relatively rare in the Arab Muslim world; and deep literacy in Arabic and other Middle Eastern languages among those living in minority Muslim communities in Europe is rarer still.
As to those Muslim minority communities in Europe, where most of the Salafi-sourced terrorism perpetrated within Europe comes from, Olivier Roy first and many others since have made clear that the kinds of people – mostly young, unmarried Muslim males – who become Salafi-professing terrorists are not embedded in traditional Muslim family networks, nor do they typically have madrassa-level educations in their own religious cultures. They tend to be attracted to neo-fundamentalist appeals as refugees from anomie. They may or may not have personality types that predispose them to being “captured” by the charismatic social authority of others, but they clearly have been “shock” pluralized: exposed without much of a buffer or respite to ways of thinking and behaving that are at variance with their own early socialization, whether in the Middle East or in the laps of immigrant parents in Europe. And as such they may find themselves between worlds, confused, often alienated from family, and feeling very much alone. So, consider the following:
Every age, every culture, every custom and tradition has its own character, its own weakness and its own strength, its beauties and ugliness; accepts certain sufferings as matters of course, puts up patiently with certain evils. Human life is reduced to real suffering, to hell, only when two ages . . . overlap. . . . Now there are times when a whole generation is caught in this way between two ages, two modes of life, with the consequence that it loses all power to understand.
It would be hard, perhaps impossible, to improve on these words as a general description of what young Muslim Arabs are experiencing today, in the region and perhaps especially in Europe –words written in 1927 by Herman Hesse in Steppenwolf to describe the agony of the post-World War generation in Europe. The powerful echo we hear in them today suffices to emphasize the truth that the underlying energies of political violence are not restricted to any one ethnicity or faith community. It also suggests the kind of unstuck circumstances in which the appeal of charismatic authority will be strongest.
The charismatic mode of establishing authority over others can work within any social structure or culture, given circumstances that are sufficiently unusual. But it works most readily on targets who are in the main pre- or non-deep literate, who are cut off from the stabilities of traditional authority and the peer anchors of mimetic learning modes tied to family. It works best on those who feel put upon by isolation, perceptions of discrimination (real or imagined), frozen or downward-slanting social mobility and status, and, often enough, sexual guilt and frustration.
Moreover, those socialized in pre-modern social structures typically have a weak sense of individual agency, and a much stronger sense of communal agency. The hierarchy of authority in Middle Eastern tribal and (somewhat less confining) in patrimonial societies discourages young and socially marginal individual males from having and articulating their own opinions about political and religious matters; all the more so for women in most such societies. Such people are not supposed to have ideas of their own, and the methods of traditional education that still dominate most Muslim societies, which rarely teach critical thinking skills, turn disposition into reality.
When thrown into social situations in which individual agency is the norm and is expected to be manifest in behavior, such individuals often experience a kind of cognitive ataxia. Many then go looking for someone to give them the opinions others have told them they are supposed to have. To get them they seek ersatz father or sheikh figures – and virtual kin networks related to them – like the ones they knew before. It is by no means unusual for such individuals to want to surrender agency to others, to relieve them of the responsibility of choice. We tend to focus analytic attention on leaders; but we would be wise to seek a better understanding of followers, without whom leaders would be unemployed.
These mostly youthful searchers are, then, strongly other-directed personalities, to use the language made famous in The Lonely Crowd (1961) – because their ur-culture and attendant social structure helped mightily to make them so. This is why charismatic mosque preachers in Europe have so many young men to recruit. Like moths to a flame they come, so to speak, soul-seared, often desperate, seeking identity, community, and purpose. Then, once hooked, peer pressure kicks in, pushing away dissonant thoughts as in any cult.
But even absent a literal community of proselytized believers, the internet really is, as Sageman argued, a potent recruiting tool for radicalization and violence within Western countries. Not only do internet chat rooms and connections establish instant virtual communities when literal ones are hard or impossible to form, but – and this is the key – no one can intrude on the transmissions.
In a normal social setting, a radical entrepreneur can only rarely monopolize the cognitive space of a would-be recruit. In face-to-face social encounters, multiple cues pointing in many directions are normally present. Third parties can express doubt or ask questions. The bubbles of enthusiasm that radical entrepreneurs conjure can be burst. But not in internet communications, which are sealed, close-ended transactions. Yes, the images attending the words from a charismatic figure can be powerful, even mesmerizing and all but hypnotic, evoking a kind of animal magnetism. We all know that images are better at communicating affect than rational analysis. But in addition to that, Salafi entrepreneurs are expert at cultivating their message to suit its receptivity in the charismatic mode.
Western societies have their own domestic terrorists, of course. Examples come to mind from Tasmania, Norway, Northern Ireland, Germany, Spain, and the United States.
Yes, in the United States we have Muslim lone wolf or internet-inspired violence: Fort Hood, San Bernardino, the Boston Marathon, Orlando.
But we also and obviously have experienced episodes of domestic terrorism that have nothing to do with Islam in any form. John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1859 qualifies as an historical example of domestic terrorism, no objective doubt about it.
More recently, of course, we have the Parkland, Florida shooter, the Las Vegas shooter, Dylan Root, the Sandy Hook Elementary shooter, and one could go on.
We have also suffered suicidal as opposed to simple homicidal episodes: Jim Jones most famously, but a few more obscure others too, like the Heaven’s Gate cult mass suicide.
But consider carefully: no one recruited these murderers. No charismatic figure manipulated them; no one persuaded them to do anything. No one sent them cassette tapes or links on the internet. There is no indication that any of them were outer-directed personalities. They were all, to every appearance, inner-directed individual actors, members of no group. They were all deep literate, too. The differences between them and radicalized Islamist terrorists, in the region and in Europe, could hardly be starker.
This means something. It means, in sum, that methods of persuasion and manipulation by radicalization entrepreneurs tend to work best when they converge with the dominant forms of authority in the social-psychological environment of their targets. Charismatic techniques don’t work well on individual-agency, inner-directed, literate Westerners, except in highly unusual circumstances when all hell has broken loose, such as the Steppenwolf-era conditions in the Weimar republic that enabled the rise of the Nazis. By the same token, legal-rationalist scripted modes don’t work well on patrimonial/tribal-socialized Middle Easterners, and on other peoples still bound to patrimonial and/or tribal social structures.
There is at least one obvious implication here for Western policymakers: avoid the rationalist fallacy in counter-terrorism efforts. Government messaging centers that focus on texts to be written, translated, and then conveyed one way or another to potential rank-and-file purveyors of violence in the region don’t work, and never will. Rank-and-file terrorists do not recruit themselves upon reading Sayyid Qutb essays in literary Arabic. This is no way to fight a so-called war of ideas.
Several other practical policy implications can be teased out of this analysis, as well. One concerns the possibility that exposure to charismatic personalities, even exposure mediated by television and the internet, can evoke physiological reactions similar to those of addiction to certain experiences, such as gambling, sex, roller coasters, extreme sports, and others. Let these implications, however, await future posts.
*I thank Sara Brzuszkiewicz for posing the question of the relationship between charisma and radicalization, and I acknowledge helpful comments during the drafting of this essay from Anna Simons and Nathaniel Garfinkle.
 Marc Sageman, Leaderless Jihad: Terror Networks in the Twenty-First Century (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008).
 Bruce Hoffman, “The Myth of Grass-Roots Terrorism; Why Osama bin Laden Still Matters,” Foreign Affairs (May/June 2008).
 See Marc Sageman and Bruce Hoffman, “Does Osama Still Call the Shots? Debating the Containment of al Qaeda’s Leadership,” Foreign Affairs (July/August 2008).
 See my “Vive la différence?” European Eye on Radicalization, April 10, 2018, and the sources noted therein.
 Points emphasized by Ernst Cassirer in The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, volume II: Mythical Thought (1925).
 Anthony F.C. Wallace, “Revitalization Movements,” American Anthropologist
New Series, Vol. 58, No. 2 (April 1956), pp. 264-81.
 In my view, vestiges of charismatic authority endure even in modern, legal-rational forms of authority that have been, in Weber’s language, “desacralized” or “disenchanted”, not in their creedal content as such, but more in the syntax of its forms, or pre-lexical logic. For further explanation, see my “Can Americans Count to Three?: The Anglo-Protestant Basis of U.S. Foreign Policy,” The American Interest, March 9, 2018.
 It is possible that a given volatile situation can summon the charismatic personality rather than the other way around. That said, chiliastic movements and political movements striving to reshape social identities and circumstances invariably require charismatic leaders. The possibility of there being a chicken-and-egg puzzle here is therefore not important for practical purposes.
 On stories of credit and blame, see Charles Tilly, “Memorials to Credit and Blame,” The American Interest (May-June 2008).
 On Turkey, see the masterful analysis of Jenny B. White, “The Turkish Complex,” The American Interest (March/April 2015).
 Sharabi, Neopatriarchy: A Theory of Distorted Change in Arab Society (Oxford University Press, 1988).
 For a detailed definition and discussion of deep literacy, see Maryanne Wolf, Tales of Literacy in the 21st Century (Oxford University Press, 2016).
 In particular, see Roy, Globalized Islam: In Search of a New Ummah (Columbia University Press, 2004); a shorter presentation may be found in Roy, “The Challenge of Euro-Islam,” in Adam Garfinkle, ed., A Practical Guide to Winning the War on Terrorism (Hoover Institution Press, 2004).
 The question of the possible relationship between personality dispositions and terrorist recruitment, while overplayed in the early days after 9/11, is by no means uninteresting. And more: personality types may map onto empirical genetic data, particularly allele distributions in various haplogroups, detectable in terms of specific hormonal levels in discrete populations. On the other hand, personality types obviously are mixes of natural endowments and social/environmental circumstances, so that personality types, in and of themselves, are unlikely to explain much of variance in which we are interested.
 Again, there is nothing particularly Arab or Muslim about this phenomenon. Western literature is replete with stories of European country-to-city experiences in the general 19th-century move from what Ferdinand Tonnies called Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft. For an analysis and examples, see Peter Berger, “Moral Certainty, Theological Doubt,” The American Interest (May-June 2008).
 For an argument that sexual guilt and frustration play an underappreciated role in terrorist behavior, see my “What Orlando Doesn’t Mean,” FPRI E-Note, June 2016, and The American Interest Online, June 16, 2016.
 See here Philippe-Joseph Salazar (trans. Dorna Khazeni), Words Are Weapons: Inside ISIS’s Rhetoric of Terror (Yale University Press, 2017), especially pp. 93-98.
 Here see my “Testing the ‘War of Ideas’ Part II: The Futile,” The American Interest Online, January 15, 2016.