Islamic State should be a pathetic side show. A rabble of fundamentalist nutcases and disgruntled, bored youths running around the deserts of the middle east living out some depraved fantasy which seems half Qu'ranic literalism and half Grand Theft Auto. Yet this disjointed band of crackpots have managed to baffle the world's major powers and now carry out a serious terrorist atrocity in a major European city.
If it came down to guns, bombs, planes and military tactics then the silliest, weakest most pacifistic of western powers could crush them in a week. The trouble is it doesn't just come down to that. It comes down to will, and the west had collectively lost it's will to stand up for it's values, or even state them.
I think it's a form of cultural masochism. People with an essentially slave or subordinate mentality now have their freedom and they don't know what to do with it. It scares them. They now have to think for themselves, make moral judgements or drift around in a relativist quagmire clutching at fashionable ideas which later turn out to be wrong.
They hate the culture they have created and find the certainty and moral absolutism of radical Islam appealing. They can still have the same old enemy of the stodgy old conservative white men who disapprove. Their more repellent attitudes can be blamed on their poverty and lack of education, which is our fault. Their radical and violent tendencies towards us can be blamed on our support for Israel and our imperialism a century ago. The continued failure of many Muslims to integrate into secular western democracies is our fault because we're racist.
They couldn't possibly, with a very few exceptions, go back to the culture they hated and I don't suppose most people now would have any real working memory of life before the cultural revolution of the 1960s, nevermind before the post WW2 welfare boom, or the certainties of a bold and confident British empire, run by white protestants.
Nor should we look to go back to these things. They were already out of date when they were overthrown.
What we have failed to do is create or evolve any sort of alternative which is both inspiring and inclusive enough to really motivate people to defend it, let alone evangelise it or wish to see it spread in the wider world. Instead we have a sort of loose buffet of ideas about a welfare state which is already essentially collapsed, freedom of expression so long as it doesn't go too far or cause any real offence, multiculturalism which is fragmented and divisive and gives no central values which all people living here can be expected to share.
We 'tolerate' everything without really standing for anything.
To me, we have many things that are worth standing for. We have had them for centuries, but they have become tarnished by imperialism, militarism and national, religious and racial chauvinism of a long gone era, and we have essentially thrown out the baby with the bathwater.