July 13th, 2005


It seems like we now know who the bombers were.

No names have been released yet, but it seems like we're talking about four young men from West Yorkshire (just across the hills from here.

Friends and neighbours are saying the usual things. How they were quiet, religious, sports-loving, normal.....

A Member of the House of Lords was saying last night that no normal person could understand such depravity.

Don't give me that. Young people (young men in particular) are ignorant, suggestible and "ardent for some desperate glory". Here in Europe in the 20th century whole generations of young men marched off to perform unspeakable horrors and give their lives for a succession of gimcrack, intellectually contemptible ideologies- imperialism, fascism, national socialism, communism. They were fooled.

But willingly fooled.

I was a student radical. I was part of a gang that over-ran a building on campus and occupied it for a fortnight. I didn't understand the politics and had only the faintest idea what our aims were supposed to be; I was simply riding high on the glamour and excitement of it all. I don't suppose I'd have blown myself up for the cause, but then no-one was asking me to. If I'd have fallen into other hands, had another type of ideology pumped into me, who knows?

I wasn't particularly alienated. I just wanted to give myself to something bigger and (as I fantasised ) nobler than myself. I was crying out to be cannon fodder.

And for males in late adolescence, early adulthood, that's normal....