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Creating Jobs Will End Terrorism, Right? A Quick Peek Into Moral Development Theories

8 min read


Over an 8 year period the Obama administration pushed the idea that terrorism or crime for that matter is caused by a lack of opportunity. In the case of Islamic countries and terrorists it seems they believe it simply comes down to nations having bad economics; if only the entire world had a better economic picture then crime would cease. This is simply and demonstrably not true. The facts speak for themselves. Many terrorists came from middle-class backgrounds. And quite a few had privileged lives too. Yet Marie Harf a State Department spokeswoman laughably posited that Islamic militants would stop killing if only a job rich environment was available to them.

“We cannot win this war by killing them, we cannot kill our way out of this war. We need to go after the root causes that lead people to join these groups, whether it’s lack of opportunity for jobs.”

I’m not a scientist or a sociologist or a State Department spokesperson but I can tell that her statement is based in complete ignorance. I’m a regular dude with a keyboard but I know enough that making killers out to be victims in life because of their substandard social conditions and poor economics is simply stupid. Note that most poverty-stricken areas of the world have produced almost no terrorists. Ideologies and life choices cause people to become killers.

A study, even as far back as the 1970’s by Saad Eddin Ibrahim, noted, “The typical member of the militant Islamic groups,” Ibrahim found, could be “described as young (early 20s), of rural or small-town background, from the middle or lower-middle class, with high achievement and motivation, upwardly mobile, with a scientific or engineering education, and from a normally cohesive family.”

Regarding nature or nurture, as it applies to the philosophical and psychological debate on why crime happens, and terrorism for that matter, is replete with theories yet seems lacking in answers. The motives of men have long been questioned likely before Plato brought forth to a wider audience his own theories on law and justice. What I briefly write here on my Sunday morning cannot be answered, and has not been fully answered since it was first asked. That being noted, I do not believe the mind is a tabula rasa. I think we have some biological pre-conditions that are wired into us, yet some aspects of knowledge become experience as we live our life.

I too believe we have some biological factors that do not change, and a consciousness that is fixed yet there are some aspects of both that are open to flux. Our natures are fixed, and some aspects of nurture might change the way we perceive things but in the end our nature is fixed and cannot be modified. Asking whether one crime theory or another is more reasonable than the other stirs much debate yet I think this walks us into fallacious thinking. It is the false dilemma, the either or fallacy where there can only be two options-it is posed as ‘it must be this and it cannot be those’. However we arrive at one answer regarding moral development and personality disorders on crime shouldn’t mean we exclude other ranges of possibilities of answers. We are throwing out the ‘baby with the bath water’ so to speak.

I believe everyone has some degree of a personality disorder or psychological dilemma, similar to the concept of an ‘original sin’, these are predictors of crime; these are the initiators that promote radical reactions and influence people to do things the majority of society chooses not do. The majority of society, I think, has a deeper rooting in moral development by inculcation than those who have no influence (good peerage, safe environments in youth, stable parenting) at all. Lastly, we are biological engineered with a mental switchboard that allows us to assign a feeling tone to any stimuli. We solve problems by using the tool we continually develop, our brain. Good experiences (stimuli) and good teaching(morals) allow us to mature while bad stimuli keep us in a perpetual state of psychological blockage and bad hard-wiring. One bad dog-bite by a dog eliminates one hundred great experiences with it.

Decades ago Harvard University professor Lawrence Kohlberg developed his Theory of Moral Development out of Piaget’s own theory. I found it to be fascinating. His theory holds that, “moral reasoning, the basis for ethical behavior, has six identifiable developmental stages“.  The relationship with crime and moral development begins with cognitive development.  Kohlberg’s concept is simply that individuals pass through sequential stages of moral reasoning. He argues that, “at each stage, the decision of what is right and wrong is made for different reasons. Crime can be explained by arrested development of moral reasoning at certain stages.”  If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s got to be a duck.


As it applies to Islamic hate ideology the indoctrination into this mentality begins early in a child’s moral development and there is little chance to leave the barrage of propaganda. What kind of societies are children being raised in? They are being raised in societies where authority is internalized but never questioned. Reasoning is based on the norms of the group to which the child belongs. They do not draw a distinction between their own identity group and those outside it. They devalue or dehumanize anyone that does not agree with their way of thinking. How so? They kill homosexuals, abuse women and animals, kill children and adults alike with impunity.  We have seen young children taught to murder to the delight of their trainers. There is a constant call to violence against members of other groups that do not follow their way of thinking. Their way of thinking teaches a sense of supremacism over the rest of mankind. With this kind of dogma being pushed, how then can anyone navigate their way out of it? Political correctness, multiculturalism, and a litany of other foolish reasons is abetting its growth, all in the name of tolerance.

Regarding Kohlberg’s theory, crime data can be compared and contrasted to the various stages of development, especially during Stages 1 and 2 where it is stated that criminals think their criminal behavior is permissible as long as they are not punished for it; there is no obligation to people or society. In the hedonistic Stage 2, children do what satisfies their own needs. I think this falls in line with those who enact terrorism because they can impact a large portion of the populace and seem indifferent to the damage it causes. It appears that people who take into account the feelings of others have a stronger development of morals and concern for society. Islamic Terrorists, as they are called, exploit others weaknesses by being more brutal than most people would ever choose to be; it seems a certain personality type gravitates to this type of behavior where they commit crimes and remove themselves from a positive involvement in the society. Moral Development Theory seems more relevant to explaining why crime happens although there has been much criticism of the theory as being sex biased. I will not elaborate; there is a plenty of data out their to sift through and make your own conclusions.

They brainwash the young


How about radicalization? It seems to fall in line with this perverted ideology too; this is not about religious intolerance as much as it is about supremacy of one person over another. At every given opportunity to step away from making a bad choice the radicalized person chose otherwise. Economics didn’t play into it.

Obama’s buy in on the Social Structure theories tries to explain crimes by social classes, but with the accessibility of technology to all classes of society, this theory could be discounted. Strain Theory attempts to blame crime on the lack of opportunity for people rather than focusing on greed. General Strain Theory seems to focus more on all classes being frustrated, ala the Langston Hughes poem, a Dream Deferred; but it seems to me excuses are made to justify criminal behavior. Moral Development Theory simply states those who do not mature in a sequential order are prone to commit crimes.

When do criminals stop being criminals? They stop being criminals through a human maturation process, when they become a contributing member of society and no punishment or consequence can change that unless they ‘choose’ to stop their criminal actions. Criminals (especially Islamic Terrorists) construct their own world view, live by their own set of societal rules, and construct their cognitive abilities through self-motivated action. Society does not tell them what to do, in fact, I believe committing the crimes is a way of showing society they make their own rules. They are raised to dislike anyone that does not agree with their point of view, and women and children are nothing but property, to use to further their goals.

Gang violence and human sex trafficking are two forms of crimes in Islam that could be considered caused by this same theory. Societies and individuals who have a regard for human life and human welfare share universal features of moral understanding. Some seek to discount Kohlberg or Piaget’s theories because they believe the educators only focused on Western morality. Yet what is morality? If there is moral relativism, then does any form of morality matter or make any sense?

Does this look like the bomb factory of an uneducated and economically deprived person?


If eating children is allowable in some cultures and disgusting in other cultures, why should anyone find it repugnant at all? If all society had a refined sensibility, to where all of us had a sensitive and compassionate heart, would this mean crime would stop? How do you define crime? Utopian societies do not exist and it is foolish to believe crime can’t occur in economically rich societies. Various forms of crime occur in rich and poor neighborhoods. Radicalization occurs with the educated and uneducated alike. An MI5 report on radicalized UK Muslims noted that 60% came from the middle-class and were economically and socially well off.

Doing the right thing, because it’s the right thing will never stop crime and for that matter, Islamic terrorism. I feel that Kohlberg came closer to understanding the motives behind criminal behavior than the other theories. It leans some on the human mind knowing the difference between right and wrong. It also leans on the development of the psychological mind going through sequential development. This means there is an inter-relation between two distinct ideas; the sterility of morality coupled with the emotion of psychology and the initiator of human consciousness. The other theories submit to one modality or another to explain criminal behavior. In the end, I believe more research coming through technological breakthroughs will be able to adequately answer this question, time will tell. But by that time it could be too late.

I think we can call it as we see it; looks like a duck, quacks like a duck…boom.









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