As I recently wrote in Fairer Globalization blog, there is a lot of anxiety around the world about whether traditions can be maintained in a globalized world. In Japan this week, I picked up a copy of the Daily Yomiuri, which featured an essay titled "'Headless monster' changing society."
Its author describes how leaderless movements or "headless monsters" can emerge more easily from blogging and wired communities. As we have seen numerous times in South Korea, in China, a blogger was empowered to make change. A blogger forced the closure of a Starbucks in Beijing's Forbidden City.
But the author wonders if such movements could lead to more sinister results:
...what makes me uneasy is the frequent and recent occurrence of copycat crimes. Every time details about an offense--types of lethal weapons, methods and relationships between culprits and victims--are reported, imitations of those crimes emerge. Fortunately, as reports of this kind also tend to become quickly obsolete, the chain of copycat crimes breaks in most cases in Japan after a spate of a few imitative offenses.
Meanwhile, I dread the assumption that Islamic extremists are in a situation similar to the above-mentioned ones. There is a strong possibility that they, too, have collectively become a headless monster, with Osama bin Laden sighted in the far background after rootless developments due to immigration and urbanization, involving them first in anticommunist campaigns and then in anti-U.S. ones and sectarian strife.