Radicalisation, Extremism and Propaganda

Schools, colleges and universities are now supposed to have policies in place to prevent “radicalisation” of students and prevent students from being subjected to extremist ideas. It is an unfortunate use of language. A radical is simply someone who believes something that is not  a generally held belief. An extremist is someone who simply wants to take his or her belief to the ultimate logical step. 

The policies are not intended to prevent students being exposed to extreme Buddhism or radical Christianity. They are intended to avoid students from being influenced by propaganda emanating from a certain sections of Mohammedans. By its nature propaganda is untrue either because it contains direct lies or because it lies by omitting important and relevant information. It is propaganda that has caused distress to the people in the world, whereas being radical has generally led to the improvement of humanity’s lot.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth century radical thought was against slavery and the slave trade, it permitted the practice of religions which dissented from the norm, and was against child labour and corporal and capital punishment. If you were to express sentiments  such as these in polite and influential society in London merely two hundred years ago. you would have been condemned  and shunned as a mad person.

I am very much in favour of students being exposed to radical thought but very much against them being exposed to propaganda. What is more important than all these anti radicialisation and extremism policies is that when students are taught they are taught logical and critical thinking, and taught to be curious and enquire, rather that to accept spoon fed the ideas of the present elder generation, because without doubt many of those ideas will seem extreme and wrong in a hundred years from now.

What we call things is important. We should stop calling propaganda “radical” and extreme”. It may or may not be those; what is most important is that it is propaganda and untrue.

2 Responses

  1. Religions are the worst offenders.

    Without exception, they promote a way of life based on myth rather than fact.

    It is curious that since we were students in the 60’s religious belief has again become more entrenched in the wider society yet the wider society’s altruism, and moral wellbeing have diminished. Post war Britain was pragmatic, pro-peace and best of all turning aetheist.

    Unlike the extremists of the 60’s, who fought for humane treatment of animals in chicken sheds, slaughter houses,medical research, zoos and circuses, we now accept cruel slaughter of animals in the name of religion.

    Similarly, despite our equality laws espoused by extremists in the 60’s, we fail to criticise barbarous treatment of women in Saudi Arabia in the name of religion.

    Despite the obvious connection with superstition, we no longer laugh at certain religions’ refusal to eat pork and give it reverential treatment in menus.

    Like you, I suspect that anyone in an educational establishment who espouses ideas based on independent thought, morality, real facts, respect for others etc may well be labelled an extremist if it suits Big Business/Government. Anyone who questions the establishment view may well be ostracised.

    One only has to look at the treatment of scientists who question the establishment view on global warming. They are labelled ‘sceptics’ Galileo was convicted of heresy yet his ideas were based on observed facts whereas the papal authority was based on a story book written 1500 years before.

    Unfortunately, there are too many (unpleasant) similarities with our present society.

    • as someone once wrote “the truth will set you free”.

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