Radicalization in the 21st Century

The history of radicalization starts from the beginning of the first millennia when the spread of religious groups a fought against each other with the aim of colonizing large populations with their doctrines. Christians fought against Muslims just as Muslims fought against Christians. Then it seemed acceptable to force the populace accept religious doctrines from other faiths. The situation did not stop there, it continued into the twentieth century when intra-religious fights started.  Christian Protestants fought against Christian Roman Catholics, Sunni Muslims fought against Shia Muslims.  All these happening were consequences of radicalization. However, it did not only happen within the religious sphere but also in social and economic spheres; capitalist ideologies fought against communist ideologies and vice-versa.  Socially, the white race fought the black race, just as it fought the Jews without justification.  In this regard, it means that radicalization, which is more psychological has existed ever since, but previous measures to curb the situation did not target emotional and psychological spheres of perpetrators. Furthermore, previous radicalization were not well organized as the current ones, therefore, society did not view it a threat to security or people’s well-being.

            Notably, radicals have always led to changes in economic, social political and spiritual sphere in human life; this is because such people engage with ideological messages that cause them to transit from mainstream beliefs to extreme views.  An example is a politician under dictatorship leadership deciding to champion for democratic leadership; in this analogy, dictatorship is acceptable and so is part of the mainstream belief. However, when the individual learns about the benefits of democracy and continuously engages with democratic ideologies he or she moves from the mainstream belief to an extreme ideology of democracy, in this case he is radical and so radicalized.  Therefore, radicalization is good for the society if it champions legitimate causes from the society. We should not equate radicalization to terrorism, when radicalization includes acts of violence then it becomes a menace. The question is; should we fight radicalization or terrorism?

             Social psychologists have attempted to explain reasons why people become radicals, among the reasons postulated include the person’s motivations; for instance, seeking excitement or something thrilling.  The need to affirm identity in religious, racial, ethnic or any other in a situation where the society exercises seclusion or marginalizes particular groups is another reason.  The above example of a radicalized politician may be due to marginalization.

             Different approaches should be used in addressing different radicals. A mentality change is crucial for the success of anti-radicalization measures; however, this requires deliberate organizational, ideological and political changes so that there is no excuse for being radicalized. A simple example is peoples’ understanding to morality; notably, morality is subjective; therefore, when some people practice what a section of the society regards as immoral or amoral tolerance should be exercised and logic used to change perception. Importantly, people should learn that we live in a culturally, racially, socially and religiously diverse world; but marginalization should be avoided.

 Imagine this, a preacher who decides to kill prostitutes because God hates prostitution and he-the preacher is serving God? Is that not radicalization?