Radical, Religious, and Violent: The New Economics of Terrorism

Radical, Religious, and Violent: The New Economics of Terrorism

by Eli Berman
     
 

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Applying fresh tools from economics to explain puzzling behaviors of religious radicals: Muslim, Christian, and Jewish; violent and benign.See more details below

Overview

Applying fresh tools from economics to explain puzzling behaviors of religious radicals: Muslim, Christian, and Jewish; violent and benign.

Editorial Reviews

Foreign Affairs
The real gem of recent releases is Berman's brilliant analysis of religious terrorism. The value lies not only in what is learned about this form of violence but also in the elegance of the analysis. This is first-rate social science, with a compelling theory, strong evidence, and an accessible style.
—Sir Lawrence D. Freedman
New Scientist
In Radical, Religious and Violent, economist Eli Berman uses extensive sociological and economic data to examine the operations and internal dynamics of the few effective and resilient groups that mount attacks on civilians, and what they have in common. Whereas other authors have focused on the obvious but peripheral issue of how religion inspires individual attackers - it is rarely the primary motivation, as many studies have shown - Berman tackles the pertinent question of what makes radical religious organisations so much more deadly than other groups.
—Michael Bond
Critical Studies on Terrorism
At the outset, Professor Berman poses the question: 'Why are religious radicals, who often start out appearing benign and charitable and generally avoid conflict, so effective at violence when they choose to engage in it'? He approaches this question from the perspective of the discipline of economics - not in the sense of the influence of material or economic considerations, but from economics as a mode of reasoning. Its application to politics is not new. At the risk of sounding ancient, I should confess my admiration for Anthony Downs's pioneering 1957 work, An Economic Theory of Democracy. Downs was seeking to explain the contemporary tendency for policy convergence in two-party systems. He argued that convergence was a product of the parties' efforts to maximise their votes and followed from how voters were distributed across the political spectrum.
—Professor Adrian Guelke
From the Publisher
"According to Eli Berman, author of Radical Religious and Violent: The New Economics of Terrorism, violent radical religious organizations thrive by taking advantage of the absence of the State. By providing communities with important benefits in exchange for their loyalty, and at times their involvement, they are able to develop into highly efficient terrorist organizations. Interestingly, we find that various violent organizations shaping the politics of the Middle East today also rely on this very policy. Paula Mejia The Majalla

"I felt very privileged to be given an advance copy of Professor Berman's Radical, Religious and Violent: The New Economics of Terrorism. I immensely enjoyed reading it.... At the outset, Professor Berman poses the question: 'Why are religious radicals, who often start out appearing benign and charitable and generally avoid conflict, so effective at violence when they choose to engage in it'? He approaches this question from the perspective of the discipline of economics

• not in the sense of the influence of material or economic considerations, but from economics as a mode of reasoning." Adrian Guelke Critical Studies on Terrorism

"Professor Berman has written an engaging book that brings new insight to an extremely polarizing subject. He argues that many terrorists are actually more rational than we might like to think. And that, of course, is a chilling notion. The author is neither a pacifist nor an apologist for terrorists. He says, however, that if we stop looking at them as cartoon characters, we may do a better job of deterring them." Devin Leonard New York Times

"Professor Eli Berman deserves large credit for essaying a dispassionate analysis of the connection between religion and terrorism. Using the tools of his trade (microeconomics), he develops a plausible model for understanding some of those connections...[A] model of clear and accessible writing, accessible to a non-specialist without sacrificing rigor." Aziz Huq Just Books (Brennan Center for Justice)

"The most impressive effort yet comes from Eli Berman of the University of California, San Diego. In his new book, Radical, Religious and Violent: The New Economics of Terrorism, Berman says we need to start looking at how terrorist groups function as economic clubs...Berman sets out to understand what makes for an effective terrorist outfit, and, no surprise, he learns more often than not these are radical religious groups. However, the effectiveness of these groups is not a function of theology but of economic organization....Competing with terrorist groups in the service-provision business is hugely expensive, but by Berman's calculation it might be cheaper than the untold billions spent by western governments "protecting domestic targets from the terrorist fallout of rebellions abroad." Leonard Stern The Ottawa Citizen

"This is first-rate social science, with a compelling theory, strong evidence, and an accessible style." Sir Lawrence D. Freedman Foreign Affairs

"To understand why suicide bombing has become more common, Berman contends, we need to stop focusing only on the motivations of bombers, and consider the 'hardness' of their target. As it becomes more difficult for terrorists to do damage, they are more likely to switch to suicide bombing...Unusually for a book about terrorism, Berman keeps it in perspective. Global terrorism is not the greatest threat to the world. Adam Smith's combination of markets, religious pluralism and tolerance are a winning combination. The more we can help poor governments provide basic services to their citizens, the less space we allow for radical rebels to fill the void." Professor Andrew Leigh Australian Financial Review

"Whereas other authors have focused on the obvious but peripheral issue of how religion inspires individual attackers - it is rarely the primary motivation,as many studies have shown - Berman tackles the pertinent question of what makes radical religious organizations so much more deadly than other groups." Michael Bond New Scientist

The Majalla - Paula Mejia

According to Eli Berman, author of Radical Religious and
Violent: The New Economics of Terrorism
, violent radical religious organizations thrive by taking advantage of the absence of the State. By providing communities with important benefits in exchange for their loyalty, and at times their involvement, they are able to develop into highly efficient terrorist organizations. Interestingly, we find that various violent organizations shaping the politics of the Middle East today also rely on this very policy.

Critical Studies on Terrorism - Adrian Guelke

I felt very privileged to be given an advance copy of Professor Berman's
Radical, Religious and Violent: The New Economics of Terrorism. I
immensely enjoyed reading it...At the outset, Professor Berman poses the question:
'Why are religious radicals, who often start out appearing benign and charitable and generally avoid conflict, so effective at violence when they choose to engage in it'? He approaches this question from the perspective of the discipline of economics
-- not in the sense of the influence of material or economic considerations, but from economics as a mode of reasoning.

New York Times - Devin Leonard

Professor Berman has written an engaging book that brings new insight to an extremely polarizing subject. He argues that many terrorists are actually more rational than we might like to think. And that, of course, is a chilling notion. The author is neither a pacifist nor an apologist for terrorists. He says, however, that if we stop looking at them as cartoon characters, we may do a better job of deterring them.

Just Books (Brennan Center for Justice) - Aziz Huq

Professor Eli Berman deserves large credit for essaying a dispassionate analysis of the connection between religion and terrorism. Using the tools of his trade (microeconomics), he develops a plausible model for understanding some of those connections...[A] model of clear and accessible writing, accessible to a non-specialist without sacrificing rigor.

The Ottawa Citizen - Leonard Stern

The most impressive effort yet comes from Eli Berman of the University of
California, San Diego. In his new book, Radical, Religious and Violent: The
New Economics of Terrorism
, Berman says we need to start looking at how terrorist groups function as economic clubs...Berman sets out to understand what makes for an effective terrorist outfit, and, no surprise, he learns more often than not these are radical religious groups. However, the effectiveness of these groups is not a function of theology but of economic organization....Competing with terrorist groups in the service-provision business is hugely expensive, but by
Berman's calculation it might be cheaper than the untold billions spent by western governments "protecting domestic targets from the terrorist fallout of rebellions abroad."

Foreign Affairs - Sir Lawrence D. Freedman

This is first-rate social science, with a compelling theory, strong evidence, and an accessible style.

Australian Financial Review - Professor Andrew Leigh

To understand why suicide bombing has become more common, Berman contends, we need to stop focusing only on the motivations of bombers, and consider the 'hardness' of their target. As it becomes more difficult for terrorists to do damage, they are more likely to switch to suicide bombing...Unusually for a book about terrorism, Berman keeps it in perspective. Global terrorism is not the greatest threat to the world. Adam Smith's combination of markets, religious pluralism and tolerance are a winning combination. The more we can help poor governments provide basic services to their citizens, the less space we allow for radical rebels to fill the void.

New Scientist - Michael Bond

Whereas other authors have focused on the obvious but peripheral issue of how religion inspires individual attackers -- it is rarely the primary motivation,
as many studies have shown -- Berman tackles the pertinent question of what makes radical religious organizations so much more deadly than other groups.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780262258005
Publisher:
MIT Press
Publication date:
09/30/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
314
Sales rank:
790,909
File size:
2 MB

What People are saying about this

Richard English

A brilliant study of terrorist violence, Radical, Religious, and
Violent
offers an innovative and powerful explanation for the lethality of violent religious groups. This is an important and compelling work by an outstanding scholar.

From the Publisher
"A brilliant study of terrorist violence, Radical, Religious, and Violent offers an innovative and powerful explanation for the lethality of violent religious groups. This is an important and compelling work by an outstanding scholar."—Richard English, author of Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA

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