I do not want to get in the middle of the prophet cartoon controversy as I am an unconditional supporter of free speech and a free press – and I have many good Muslim friends.
But it is worth pointing to this recent upheaval as a possible example of the power of self-organization. According to James Turner Johnson, Professor of Religion at Rutgers University, and as quoted in veteran CIA Michael Scheuer’s book Imperial Hubris, each Muslim has a personal responsibility to contribute to the fight against any attack by a non-Muslim on the Islamic faith, on Muslims, or on Muslim territory. This does not require the authorization by a central leader or leadership. Once Islam is attacked, it is each Muslim’s personal duty to fight, and he needs no one else’s authority, not even his parents to do so. In fact it is considered a sin not to do so.
If that’s so, no one has to call for violence for it to happen. As long as the story that Islam is under attack is a believable one, one that fits within the worldview of the followers, this kind of violence will emerge spontaneously. And the more you try to squelch it from the top down, the stronger the movement will become. This is not a command and control type environment – this is cultural/religious DNA-based self-organization at work.
It would be interesting to be able to harness that kind of self-organization power in the governance of societies, countries, and companies.
To see the cartoons in question – check out the Brussels Journal