October 27, 2010

Let's Look At Our Own Radicalization

 Image from: RadicalGraphics

Omar Khadr is in the news again and it made me think of radicalization in a broader sense. I decided that if The West weren't so radicalized itself, individuals like Khadr (if he is indeed guilty) wouldn't be so driven to take action against us. Consider our own radical tendencies, for they are numerous.

We are Radical Capitalists and Consumers, and we are waging a Jihad against Nature. Our maintenance of an extreme system of global inequality perpetuates the conditions that force desperate individuals to take action against our brand of materialistic militancy.

Wikipedia has a bit of information on radicalization, and it made me think of how the term affects our own notions of freedom, capitalism, and consumerism:
Radicalization is the process in which an individual changes from passiveness or activism to become more revolutionary, militant, or extreme. Radicalization is often associated with youth, adversity, alienation,  social exclusion, poverty, or the perception of injustice to self or others.
This definition sounds like a description of the conditions and effects of the last 60 or 70 years of Radical Capitalism on individuals in our society. The 'youth market' is worth many billions of dollars per year. As a culture we increasingly face adversity, alienation, social exclusion, poverty, and the feeling that something is not quite fair in our free market utopia.
The U.S. Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 defines "Violent Radicalization" as the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.
 Again, this sounds like Western radicalized culture - we are promoting our extremest belief system for the purpose of facilitating our ideology of Radical Consumerism - "cheap, plastic crap for everyone".

Our environmental jihad has effects on the dispossessed in other countries, and they are forced to formulate a counter movement to balance things out simply so they can survive. Some day we may need to call on the Act of 2007 to save us from ourselves in our campaign to do violence to life everywhere.
The U.S. National Counter-terrorism Center states that there are no visible outward signs of radicalization. Changes in appearance during different stages of radicalization often are the same changes seen in individuals  who are not being radicalized, making it difficult to identify visible markers.
Look out - Radical Capitalists and Consumers look just like you and me! How do we identify those who wage war on the environment and the poor? Number of credit cards? MBA degree? Amount of off-site storage space? They could be driving hybrids to blend in with non-Jihadists.

According to the New York City Police Department, radicalization has a number of stages. Most Westerners have been through them all:
  • Pre-radicalization: ordinary life prior to radicalization (like England before Enclosure and Industrialization, or North America at the beginning of the 1900s)
  • Self-identification: individual comes to identify with the radical movement (I am a: capitalist, consumer, rugged individual, member of the middle class, perpetrator of progress...)
  • Indoctrination: they intensify and focus their beliefs (the lobbying, advertising, and media industries are richly funded organs of mass indoctrination that focus us on one belief - "You can buy anything you want... NOW")
  • Jihadization: start to take actions based on their beliefs (GOING SHOPPING regardless of inequality or environmental destruction, looking for a new planet, strong sense of entitlement leads to taking more than our fair share, profit above all, pump CO2 into the deep biosphere)
If we abandoned our Radical Capitalism and Consumerism, stopped our Jihad against Nature, and took only our fair share, perhaps the counter-radicals that are trying to keep the balance wouldn't feel that they need to hate and kill us.

The good news is that a recent study found that de-radicalization programs "can make a difference". There may be hope yet. For us, our brothers and sisters around the world, and the natural order.

Radical Capitalism and Consumerism are ideologies, after all. Not just simple facts. We can be successfully deprogrammed.

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