March 23, 2016

Islamists have struck again in Europe, this time in Brussels, where bombs at the airport and a metro train today took the lives of 30 people and injured hundreds more, with the casualties climbing as I write. The event has been headline and top-of-the-hour news all day—as were the attacks on the staff of Charlie Hebdo a year ago and the Paris rampage last November—whereas bombs and beheadings in Syria and Iraq are page ten news. But why?

It is not that the lives of the Belgians or French are more valuable than those of Syrians and Iraqis, who have been murdered by ISIS in numbers that are orders of magnitude higher. All lives matter to the people who live them. The real explanation has to do with the motives of the killers.

In Syria and Iraq, ISIS is one of many contenders in a civil war for control of failed, authoritarian, Muslim countries. Civil wars are notoriously vicious; motives, alliances, and tactics are complex. But why attack Belgium? ISIS made the laughable claim that the “country [is] participating in the coalition against the Islamic State.” Belgium has a tiny role in that coalition.

No, the real reason is the underlying motives of Islamist terrorists—and the philosophical ideas that underlie those motives. Attacking Europe is attacking modernity itself: the culture of reason, individualism, and secular politics. And the attack comes not from a vision of something better—Islamists in ISIS and al-Qaeda have no coherent vision—but from a hatred of what they see, but resent, as better.

Like most of my readers, I’m sure, I vividly remember September 11, 2001. I remember where I was when I saw the first images of the planes hitting the Twin Towers. I remember sending the staff home early to grieve, give blood, and otherwise deal with the tragedy; no one could concentrate on work. And I remember suddenly grasping the meaning of the event.

In “The Assault on Civilization,” which we published two days later, I said,

Civilization has always attracted parasites who wanted to steal wealth from those who produce it. But this phenomenon is different. The nihilists do not seek wealth for themselves. They want to destroy the wealth of others. They do not seek freedom from domination. They want to abolish freedom. They do not seek a place at the table of world commerce. They want to smash the table. They do not seek a better life. They glory in death. They represent the worst form of envy, the most vicious form of human evil. They hate us not for our sins but for our virtues, and they will not be appeased.

What I was describing was “the hatred of the good for being good,” Ayn Rand’s term for the malice at the heart of evil, which is so powerfully portrayed and explained in Atlas Shrugged. I had long understood that insight intellectually. But on 9/11, the visceral horror of what I saw gave the insight much deeper meaning. It rocked my world, as the event itself rocked the world we all live in today.

That’s what I see in the attacks today, as with so many other outrages and atrocities. As I wrote in The Ideas That Promote Terrorism, “to witness these things is to see the face of evil. We are dealing with evil men and evil deeds, for which there can be no excuses, no justifications, no explaining away.”

If you want to understand the roots and the reasons for Islamist terrorism, I invite you to visit our collection of commentaries on the subject: Modernity and Terrorism.





David Kelley Ph.D
About the author:
David Kelley Ph.D

David Kelley founded The Atlas Society (TAS) in 1990 and served as Executive Director through 2016. In addition, as Chief Intellectual Officer, he was responsible for overseeing the content produced by the organization: articles, videos, talks at conferences, etc.. Retired from TAS in 2018, he remains active in TAS projects and continues to serve on the Board of Trustees.


ケリーの哲学的著作には、倫理学、認識論、政治学の独創的な著作があり、その多くは客観主義の思想を新たな深みと方向性で発展させている。著書に 五感の証拠を、 認識論で論じたものです。 目的論における真理と寛容目的論運動の問題点に関するもの。 無抵抗の個人主義。博愛の利己的根拠そして 推理の極意論理学入門の教科書として広く利用されている論理学入門』も第5版となりました。

ケリーは、政治や文化に関する幅広いテーマで講演や出版を行っている。社会問題や公共政策に関する記事は、Harpers、The Sciences、Reason、Harvard Business Review、The Freeman、On Principleなどに掲載されています。1980年代には、Barrons Financial and Business Magazineに 、平等主義、移民、最低賃金法、社会保障などの問題について頻繁に執筆した。

彼の著書 A Life of One's Own:個人の権利と福祉国家福祉国家の道徳的前提を批判し、個人の自律性、責任、尊厳を守る私的な選択肢を擁護するものである。1998年、ジョン・ストッセルのABC/TVスペシャル「Greed」に出演し、資本主義の倫理に関する国民的議論を巻き起こした。

客観主義の専門家として国際的に知られ、アイン・ランドとその思想、作品について広く講演を行っている。の映画化ではコンサルタントを務めた。 アトラス・シュラッグドの編集者であり アトラス・シュラッグド小説、映画、哲学.



"Concepts and Natures:A Commentary onThe Realist Turn(by Douglas B. Rasmussen and Douglas J. Den Uyl)," Reason Papers 42, no.1, (Summer 2021); 近著のレビューで、概念の存在論と認識論への深掘りが含まれています。






The Party of Modernity, Cato Policy Report, May/June 2003; andNavigator, Nov 2003; プレモダン、モダン(啓蒙主義)、ポストモダンの文化的分裂に関する論文として広く引用されている。

"I Don't Have To"(IOS Journal, Volume 6, Number 1, April 1996) と "I Can and I Will"(The New Individualist, Fall/Winter 2011): 個人として自分の人生をコントロールすることを現実化するためのコンパニオン作品です。