FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Murky World of Deradicalisation

It has attracted money and the implementation of programs, another standard diversionary tactic common in many societies.  It is all touted as a good bit of social engineering, a form of anger management by other means.  The basis of that problematic term “deradicalisation” entails the erroneous idea that telling a person something should not be done politically is necessarily going to be effective.

The subjective analogue on deradicalisation with Hamlet is apparent: “for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”  So, the teachers, pedagogues, social workers and lecturers have sought to persuade those young incipient jihadis that somehow, finding numerous virgins at the end of the tunnel of martyrdom is a bad idea.  Best be a model citizen, seeking a dull job and treating politics, essentially, as a politician’s business.  A country’s leaders can simply go on with their meddlesome ways, creating mischief overseas while proclaiming the virtues of stability at home.

The idea of deradicalisation starts off on a misstep, a malformed idea. It assumes that a person is going to turn rotten and rush off to the Middle East at any given moment unless the instructor nips such ambitions in the bud with appropriate ideals and suitable options. It also assumes that ideas, however developed or reasoned, can be cordoned, quarantined and varied.

Nor are the scholar squirrels and analysts entirely clear about what the initial stage – radicalisation – actually means.  (The same goes for the term terrorism, a multi-headed beast of multi-headed meanings.)  Criminologist Kris Christmann has advanced no less than eight separate models on the process of deradicalisation while placing his finger on ten theoretical models.

A gaze through the literature is bewildering, whether one soddens ones feet in Taarnby’s eight-stage recruitment process, wades through Wiktorowicz’s al-Muhajiroun model, or slugs through McCauley and Moskalenko’s twelve mechanisms of political radicalisation.  Variety, in this world, is not the spice of the life so much as a muddle in the middle.

Little wonder then that Christmann’s report for the British Youth Justice Board Preventing Religious Radicalisation and Violent Extremism suggests, citing previous studies, that general scholarship on this is “impressionistic, superficial and often pretentious, venting far reaching generalisations on the basis of episodic evidence”.[1]

It also assumes that a person is only permitted to think in a certain, pleasing way: the orthodoxy of the state, the wisdom of the technocrats and politicians who supposedly operate on a Platonic plane of high reason.

This, essentially, amounts to a form of cerebral amputation, a reverse brainwashing supposedly designed to respond, as a targeted sonic boom, to the brainwashing methods of the madrassa. It is a political strategy designed to neuter the potentially radical subject, while also instilling a dull, mute conformity. It is, in short, reactive, pre-emptive, and unimaginative.

While this should not be taken as a hearty endorsement of the gun toting antics of an Islamic State recruit, the state obsession with curtailing a youth’s understanding of political or religious destiny (in Islam, there is no functional difference on this point) is doomed to fail.  All states insist on their brand of radicalisation, whatever the popular ideology of the day.

The attempt by such countries as the United States, Britain, France, and Australia to claim clarity above the radical politics of the Middle East also suggests a remarkable confusion.  Deradicalisation programs are themselves facing an impossible end: attempting to convince youths that they not take up arms against a state that itself is engaged in war in Muslim countries, or that their adventurist spirit must somehow be channelled.

Added to this is the parallel legal world that has grown up in response to terrorism, known more broadly as the counter-terrorist response.  As Irfan Yusuf noted in 2016, there were 64 separate pieces of counter-terrorism legislation and measures introduced onto the law books between 2001 and 2014 in Australia alone.[2]

The icing on this system, in turn, is the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program.  Be it in legislation or in the CVE program confusion reigns over what constitutes an actual terrorist act, and what constitutes radicalisation itself.

In Syria, an epicentre of the radicalism debate, radical groups do battle against a form of secular violence; secular violence, through the Assad regime in Syria, is reasserted as a defender against radicalisation. It would be far more fitting to say that war is of its own accord the great agent of radicalisation, the fulcrum behind inspiring others to join it like moths to a flickering flame.

The general burden of proof for deradicalising youth tends to fail at the conceptual level. What it has led to is a sprawling set of programs with false assumptions. The obvious question, though one that is persistently ignored, is how a teenager with a spotless police record might still wish to seek glory in a distant land behind a gun.

 

Notes.

[1] http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/16198/

[2] http://www.smh.com.au/comment/deradicalisation-programs-do-they-work-20160426-gofgi3.html

More articles by:

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
David Yearsley
Bikini by Rita, Voice by Anita
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail