the septemberists

Something To Live For

Human psychology continues to be basically what I’d predict - while still being startling at the same time. Specifically, getting people to settle down in families is a shockingly good way to make them stop being dangerously antisocial:

It was the most elite unit we [ie: The Palestinian Liberation Organisation] had. The members were suicidal – not in the sense of religious terrorists who surrender their lives to ascend to heaven but in the sense that we could send them anywhere to do anything and they were prepared to lay down their lives to do it. No question. No hesitation. They were absolutely dedicated and absolutely ruthless.

“My host, who was one of Abu Iyad’s most trusted deputies, was charged with devising a solution. For months both men thought of various ways to solve the Black September problem, discussing and debating what they could possibly do, short of killing all these young men, to stop them from committing further acts of terror.

Finally they hit upon an idea. Why not simply marry them off? In other words, why not find a way to give these men – the most dedicated, competent, and implacable fighters in the entire PLO - a reason to live rather than to die? Having failed to come up with any viable alternatives, the two men put their plan in motion.“

“So approximately a hundred of these beautiful young women were brought to Beirut. There, in a sort of PLO version of a college mixer, boy met girl, boy fell in love with girl, boy would, it was hoped, marry girl. There was an additional incentive, designed to facilitate not just amorous connections but long-lasting relationships. The hundred or so Black Septemberists were told that if they married these women, they would be paid $3,000; given an apartment in Beirut with a gas stove, a refrigerator, and a television; and employed by the PLO in some nonviolent capacity. Any of these couples that had a baby within a year would be rewarded with an additional $5,000.

Both Abu Iyad and the future general worried that their scheme would never work. But, as the general recounted, without exception the Black Septemberists fell in love, got married, settled down, and in most cases started a family…the general explained, not one of them would agree to travel abroad, for fear of being arrested and losing all that they had – that is, being deprived of their wives and children. And so, my host told me, that is how we shut down Black September and eliminated terrorism. It is the only successful case that I know of.”

I’m a crazy romantic and even I didn’t expect that tying guys like these down with wives and kids would have such a radical civilising effect. I wonder if this has any implications for gangs or other violent pests?


The Septemberists


thom browne and anthony goicolea team up for ‘the septemberists’