Professor of criminology at the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts, author of numerous works on Freemasons, crime and terrorism, consulted by politicians of both the left and the right, in France and the United States, on all security issues, Alain Bauer is a key player in the fight against the destabilisation of societies.Interview By Gérard Legraud
– The phenomenon of fake news has transformed social networks not only into a tool for the cretinisation of the masses, but also for the fascisation of minds. How can we fight against this danger that threatens civil peace and undermines the values of living together? Is it possible to achieve effective regulation of the networks to counteract the spread of online hate?
– Alain Bauer: Several topics deserve to be addressed without prejudice. First, that of digital identity and the fight against trolls. Secondly, freedom of expression and its possible limitations. Finally, the Internet should be considered as a space to be regulated with a highway code: allowing freedom of movement while ensuring that the destination is reached alive. Restrictive devices similar to speed control, traffic lights, pedestrians or seat belts should be put in place to regulate cyber traffic. And for content, the removal of anonymity should greatly reduce the production and propagation of hate and break out of the current state of impunity where there is almost no capacity for punishment.
– Among the emerging forms of urban violence, Teenage brawls are undoubtedly the most worrying phenomenon, as they point to both the educational failings of the school and the dislocation of family authority. How can they be dealt with?
– Alain Bauer: This debate is as old as the world. Teenage gangs are not “emerging”. They are just more visible, but the problem remains society’s ability to control outbreaks of violence. We will fight by recreating social or sporting spaces that allow energies to be channelled and emotions and impulses to be controlled.
– The rise of populism has given new life to extreme right-wing groups by exacerbating various sectarian phenomena (survivalism, conspiracy theory, anti-vax movements, xenophobic militias, etc.). Do you think that this could lead, in the long term, to violent excesses of the terrorist type?
– Alain Bauer: This cannot be ruled out. It is already the case, more or less everywhere, in a more or less unstructured way.
– On the counter-terrorism front, for nearly a decade, we have been witnessing a double phenomenon: the destructuring of pyramidal forms of violence (terrorism, organised crime, etc.) and the rise of new types of “emerging violence” (survivalism, conspiracy, anti-vax, teenage brawls, etc.). What is your view as an eminent criminologist on these two developments?
– Alain Bauer: This process is rather century-old, but it works in a generally synchronous cycle. Since 1989, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the retraction of the Soviet Empire, after the process initiated earlier by the triple upheaval of 1979 (the taking of Mecca hostage in Saudi Arabia, the Islamic revolution in Iran and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan), the West believed in the advent of a society of happy consumers without adversaries or enemies. States then became ‘soft’ and allowed the emergence of committed, believing and violent devices without even trying to understand them.
– The emergence of ISIS in 2014 gave rise to a neo-jihadism carried out by actors who are most often self-radicalised and who carry out “low-cost terrorism” (knife attacks, battering rams and other rudimentary tools transformed into weapons of mass destruction). How do you analyse the genesis of this phenomenon?
– Alain Bauer: The Islamic State has indeed enabled a revolution in the business of terrorism. Without inventing anything radically different or new. But rather by allowing the fusion of all types of terrorism, operating modes, and operators in a single organisation, without distinction or selection. Including by accepting pure criminals with no militant past. This made it possible to break down the ideological wall between common law and political, especially in prisons.
– This ISIS neo-jihadism is characterised by a growing proximity to the world of banditry. What do you recommend to prevent more and more delinquents or common law prisoners from converting to jihadist terrorism?
– Alain Bauer: First of all, an attempt must be made to understand the diversity of paths. And this in order to put in place a diversity of treatment mechanisms, notably through an educational effort to clarify the real and complex nature of the divine message. Which, I admit, is quite complicated to do in a secular Republic!
– How can today’s “uber jihad” mutate to stay ahead of counter-terrorism efforts?
– Alain Bauer: It adapts spontaneously by evolving in a social and political space that is increasingly tense and naturally violent, while at the same time having a large media echo strongly accentuated by social networks. The emergence of the Islamic State has certainly changed everything. But everything will continue to change, with a programmed return to state terrorism on the horizon. A development made more likely by the intensity of the conflict in Ukraine.
8 May 1962: Born in Paris
1977: Joins the Jeunesses Socialistes
1988-1990: Advisor to Prime Minister Michel Rocard
2000-2003: Member of the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights. Elected Grand Master of the Grand Orient de France.
2003: Appointed President of the Observatory of Delinquency by Nicolas Sarkozy, then Minister of the Interior
2007: Member of the High Authority against Discrimination
2009: Published “Les 100 mots de la police et du crime” (Presses Universitaires de France)
2010: “Les 100 mots du terrorisme” (PUF) Les terroristes toujours écrivent ce qu’ils vont faire (PUF))
2012: “Histoire criminelle de la France ” ( Odile Jacob)
2014: “Le terrorisme pour les nuls”, with Christophe Souliez ( Editions First)
2015: “Une histoire de la médecine légale et de l’identification criminelle” (PUF)
The list of works is not exhaustive.