Are you ‘radicalised’?

When is ‘radical’ not radical? (Publish and be damned.)

WHEN IT’S attached to religion. I have no general objection to people expressing their religious beliefs. I have often expressed myself as a ‘militant agnostic’, rather than an atheist, because I don’t think I can prove the non-existence of ‘God’ any more than someone could prove to me the existence of “God”. Problematic isn’t it?

Radicalisation is consistently applied to religions — of late, Islam — although there’s nothing very “radical” about chopping someone’s head off. Other world religions have been, historically, equally as brutal.

The BBC are particularly bad. I had experience of this as an editor on the news desk at BBC Radio Leicester. Leicester of all places; possibly one of the most multicultural, ethnically diverse, cities in the ‘British’ isles. If you want Ukrainian churches; you’ve got it. Lebanese cuisine? You’ve got it! Asian cuisine? You’ve got it (although a lot of migrants of Asian descent in Leicester came from Uganda or Kenya following their expulsion from those countries). I have friends who have only ever been to India/South East Asia on holiday! Yes, some of them speak Hindi or Urdu but if you’ve never heard those languages spoken with a broad Leicester accent — you haven’t lived. You should hear me speaking French. It’s awful! Comrades/friends in Paris couldn’t understand a word I said. Imagine French spoken by someone from the East Midlands — it’s almost unintelligible.


‘Radical’ used to be associated with the political left. The Levellers, Chartists and the Suffragettes for example. Social justice perhaps? Today the term ‘radicalism/radicalisation’ is routinely associated with religious extremism. Not with progressive social movements but with beheading people; not very much progressive in ‘lobbing’ someone’s head off is there?

The revolutionary/radical left needs to reclaim the word. That’s not so difficult is it?

It is clearly more difficult than you might think. The so-called Islamic State (caliphate or empire, whichever you prefer) is not ‘anti-imperialist’ just because it is opposed to western Europe. I grew up in western Europe, for better or worse — possibly the latter. I even lived in Paris, France, editing an international magazine and working for an international news agency (unfortunately, you have to pay the bills). Many in Britain would probably regard my French connections akin to treason! Sod them!

Being a radical/revolutionary socialist is not a crime, unless you’re a dedicated reader of the Daily Mail or Express, the latter published by a pornographer, the former with a foul-mouthed bigot. That’s the ‘free market’ for you ✪

Copyright © Roland Wood for a Storyboard4TM, June 2015
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