Countering radicalization

From Liz Berry, Lydbrook, Gloucestershire, UK

Peter Byrne points out that no classic intervention strategy to combat radicalisation seems to work and that the UK parliament’s human rights committee reported that the nation’s Prevent strategy may actually make matters worse. Suggested countermeasures were to encourage community engagement; to break down stereotypes, rehumanising collaborators; and encouraging empathy and compassion through brain training. Those most susceptible to the propaganda were identified as being uncertain about their lives, or having psychiatric problems.

Then I read Graham Lawton’s interview with Robin Carhart-Harris. Carhart-Harris reports that subjects on psilocybin experience profound feelings of connectedness to others. Even a single dose can make the subject more politically liberal and more connected to other people.

Is it worth a try? (New Scientist, 16 Sept 2017)

I am in favour of extensive trials of psilocybin. I would start with the right wing of the British Conservative Party, the leading Brexiteers and advocates of neo-liberal government policies. I would then move across the Atlantic and try the drug on members of the Tea Party, workers in the White House and top government panjamdrums who are undoing all those humane policies in health, the environment and so on. At which point so many angry sociopaths would be taking the drug that it would have run out. But, on the other hand, the planet might possibly have been saved. Worth a try? You bet!

  • Owen Bell

    Unfortunately there’s very little we can do as a society to prevent radicalisation. Naturally, I would prefer it if the British government defended its values better, instead of apologising for itself all the time. But sadly I think the values of the British upper and middle class won’t resonate with those most at risk of being radicalised. British deradicalisation efforts didn’t stop IRA terrorists in the Eighties, and they certainly won’t stop Muslim terrorists today.
    This is one area where contrary to the howls of the tabloids, Corbyn’s rise may be a good thing. Far from being a terrorist sympathiser, I believe Corbyn’s cosmopolitan social democracy and aversion to international institutions, be they NATO or economic institutions like the IMF, has more appeal than the social and economic liberalism that most British elites have adhered to. Corbyn’s policies of redistribution may also reduce economic alienation amongst the poorest (who disproportionately include the Northern Irish and British Muslims), even if they come at the expense of the average taxpayer.