A. Barton Hinkle on ISIS, Communism, and the Lure of Violent Utopianism


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Is the Islamic State a nihilistic phenomenon? It certainly seems that way. Yet as A. Barton Hinkle observes, ISIS and its converts, such as Jihadi John, are not nihilistic. A nihilist is someone who believes there is nothing to believe in. The violent fanatics of the Islamic State, however, believe very strongly in the absolute rightness of their own Utopian vision for the world. What's more,  none of this is new. A century ago, Hinkle notes, another violent Utopian movement behaved very much the same.