« The Weeds

The building blocks of radicalization

2022-01-07

How does someone get radicalized? What do political scientists see as the building blocks of political violence? Is there anything we can do to stop radicalization? One year after the insurrection on January 6, 2021, Vox policy reporter Jerusalem Demsas talks with Peter Neumann, a professor of security studies at King’s College in London, to answer these questions. 

References:

Vox’s Zack Beauchamp on where the crisis in American democracy might be headed

Peter Neumann’s paper: The trouble with radicalization

A Q&A with a French philosopher about the fear of replacement within white nationalism

Colin Clarke writes for Politico on what happened after January 6

Northwestern University research about the perceived threat of a racial demographic shift in the US

Hosts:

Jerusalem Demsas (@jerusalemdemsas), policy reporter, Vox

Credits:

Sofi LaLonde, producer and engineer

Libby Nelson, editorial adviser

Amber Hall, deputy editorial director of talk podcasts

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
The first animals put on trial the first street her at the Superbowl, the first crime involving quail adds and lemurs criminal is the first of its kind. Since two thousand fourteen, we ve been reporting on the most curious crimes. It's the craziest story, I've ever heard, and to think that I lived, it is kind of hard to grasp, sometimes discover the unexpected side of true crime, sometimes funny, sometimes scary, always human, I'm Phoebe Judge, But- and this is criminal now part of the Vocs media upon gas network. I am, I wish our co host of New York Magazines- Pivot podcast, if you and a pivot, unfiltered insights into tech, business politics and more be shorter check out pivot. Am I a the three day conference, the challenges convention
by me and my pivot, CO host Scott Galloway, you'll hear me from top players in the industry in America's most Byron City and emerging tech, cub visit vocs me events, dotcom, slash pivot. Am I a slash podcast you apply to attend and see you in Miami February, fourteenth to sixteen
hello, unwelcome to another episode of the weeds on the box media potash network. My name is Jerusalem. Damn says we're taking the show on January six, twenty twenty, which is a year after the storming of the capital, and I was really interested in talking about radicalization terrorism. The far right with an expert who could Marcus through some of the social science research. Here I so excited to call up Professor Peter Newman he's a professor of security studies at the Department of WAR studies at kings, college, London and he's written several books on all those topics, including a bunch of papers on home, grown radicalization and the farm, and I'm excited for the conversation. Iraq dear welcome Peter Jerusalem, sent for
things. First, we're gonna be using the word radicalization a lot and it feels important to have a more specific grasp on what that word actually means. I think, for me, part I often see people using the term to describe you, the individual process, by which some one becomes willing to engage in actions that we consider outside the bounds of regular political expression and Yo to go onto the road to violence and take on the sort of tactics that we would consider illiberal or undemocratic expression. So is there a better way of defining that or thinking about it? No, I think not actually pretty goods. I would always distinguish between two types of radicalism mission. There the cognitive radicalization which involves beliefs and talked about that whereby people
become so extreme and their belief system that they are willing to overthrow a democratic system, they are no longer willing to tolerate others, views or expression and then there's violent radicalization whereby people expressly engage in violence in order to pursue these objectives and its impact distinguished the two of them, because, even though its true that cognitive radicalization often is a precondition for some, becoming bonnet. That doesn't necessarily have to be the case, and so you can be, for example, a racist rights without in violent about it, but most people would still say that's a pretty extreme opinion or pretty radical view to hold so common Two radicalism, I believe, is a thing bust it's also clear that it's not violent products and it's not necessarily criminal, but it's still a form of radicalism.
you ve written about the sort of the different models of radicalization that access and there's a lot of metaphors like stare, Kayser Pyramid or conveyor belt that are thrown around that serve. Describe the gradual process by which some one can get immersed in these ideas. What are the social science tell us about? Which model seem to be the best fit for. understanding the process by which people become radicalized, end ain't know, if you can talk specifically, may be about what happened to folk, of January Sex, if, if are models that apply to them, I think that it's really a mistake believed that there is a sort of holy GRAIL that there is a model that is the best fit for every type of radicalization. There's plenty of models and theories out there, and I ve that. Many of them are basically. What I found is that, although the all very defend- and they emphasise different factors and that's what a lot of the academic debate is about there, sir elements that they have in common.
One element, for example, is grievance. People do feel aggrieved and often that creates a so called cognitive opening, where people believe that they have to do something about something a second element is emotional needs. Often, being a member of an extremist group feels quite envy grazing for people who are part of it. They feel that they have a strong identity. They feel that they are part of a family. They feel that they are compiling an adventurer AIDS very exciting, it's about powered by dominant, sometimes so These emotional needs are often fulfilled by extremist groups. A third element is, of course, ideology in order for something to become politically motivated, violence or politically motivated extremism. There has to be lady, rational to it, and so people at some point. have to learn a justification which doesn't necessarily have to be very sophisticated, doesn't necessarily involve months of study
being or debating texts, it can be very, very simple and that's four eggs, but to some extent what we see in the case of January sick. A fourth element is a social element, even though we do have blown both extremism is sometimes called most kind. The seas radicalization. I still group based people- are being influenced by groups of free and were so called influences, charismatic figures etc? And so, if you add up those poor elements, green vans, so The process, ideology and emotion needs Europe the of the building blocks of processes, radicalization and buds day no precise sequence that this kind of model suggests it gives you tools that you can use in order to analyze individual radicalization processes, because in most of them you will find these elements popping up in different ways and forms
and after major events like January, sex or other sorts of terrorist actions occur, whether it's you know, Dylan Roof in South Carolina or the El Paso shooter. Things like this on there's a lot of attention in time spent trying to understand the individual psychology of people who undergo these radicalization events and end up in these places. How are you full is it to understand the specific individual process of radicalization that happens and in a person, verses, undermining the larger context by which that radicalization gets weapon eyes into becoming a problem? So I mean, this is exactly the point, so it depends on what discipline your from. Obviously, if you're psychologist- that's your primarily looking at- and I think it is useful. However, I being political scientist, I always emphasise also contextual factors. I do think that this in person in a day
in context, probably would not have done what he or she has done so at all. It always starts with the political context. So if you take, for example, the Iraq war In two thousand and three afterwards in two thousand for two thousand and five, you had a huge insurgency thousand. and thousands of people got radicalized into extremist groups are what we would consider to be extremely groups, including outside in Iraq, very same people. Five years before, probably would not have done anything. It was in the context of the american invasion of Iraq. That created a different situation that made them radicalized. Of course they have agency and they did stuff about it, and there are people who didn't drastic lies, even though the context was very bad, but overall the context is what facilitates individual processes is asian,
see that separates people who become radicalized, blue, don't or their specific context that have to occur or any kind of necessary preconditions that have to occur to get someone to the place where they behave. This way sure, and that's where a lot of come in to it. So, yes, you do have a similar contacts applying to everyone and then some People get radicalized, other people do not get radicalized. So, even if you account for everything, if you count for individual predispositions, maybe someone is more assertive aggressive, by personalities. Maybe some people are perhaps more interested in ideology, exec, etc, etc, etc. We know that most people engaging and violence are male, for example. So if you account for gender as well, even if you can, for all of these factors. You still end up with a lot more people do not become radicalized and people who do and
where contingency comes in, I think in many cases having studied many of these biographies, it kind happens to be an accident. You know you. run into someone who is an extremist, and you exposed to that person. Was another person doesn't know. Anyone who was an extremist does not become exposed to that, and therefore, even though he is kind of similar does not become an extremist Contingency is is also a fact that the reason why it is so complicated is because usually right, colorization is such a rare event. It such a rare event that, even if you operate with a lot of macro variables like poverty of socio, economic factors, gender, etc, etc. still not enough to explain such a rare event you no distinction earlier, that I'd like to dive into a bit more about the different stream? Cognitive, radicalization and behavioral radicalization, and a cognitive
where such as you said, is, is the idea that someone's taken on these sort of more extreme ideas on this, engaging with ideologies that are considered outside of the mainstream in some way? And then behavioral is actually taking action like on January six, the people who would actually beat up the capital police officers or engaged other sorts of building the noose, or things like that, which are obviously very extreme actual actions and what it this distinction become important radicalism. Research end as I was reading into it, feels that there are people kind of reject. Even the idea of radicalization is a phenomenon. Why does not happen and in how are those things related, while those are all citizens of, I mean to start with the last one I do except that there is a lot of criticism of the term radicalization out there, Obviously it is something that you have to be very sure about how to use in order to use it. I do think it exists, at least the people criticise it
whenever I challenge them to come up with something better than than that. they kind of did they kind of bail and the idea behind radicalization simply expressed. Is that no becomes an extremist overnight. No one becomes a kind of ghosts. bed at night and wakes up in the morning storming the capital or blowing up the building. So there has to be a process and that's what radicalization is, but you can call it something different, but it Basically, the bottom line is to try to understand how does one turn into a bomber war, How does someone turn into someone who's, storms the capital and was to assassinate the vice president of the United States right in that, can involve logical elements, social elements, psychological elements, political contextual elements, and The standing was studying. Radicalization is basically trying to understand what factors in what sequence?
in what relation to each other played a role that I understand radicalization even though open to- and I accept a lot of the criticism and I do think that the term is sometimes being abused by political leaders who basically describe their opponents as extremists, whereas radicals so that this the point. The way I use it, I am, you know, pretty confident about it, so I do think we we do in every society. Have a lot of people who are a cognitive extremists in every society. You have, for example, a lot of places. or racist attitudes are still very common. Very few of these, people engage in violence. I do think that addressing the cognitive problem, for example, requires different instruments from addressing the violent problem, so
the example of racism- is a good one. Under the first first amendment in your country, for example, you can be a racist, you, you are free to hold racist views. No one can punish you for that. Still people in society in United States would recognise that racism is a problem that needs to be fought. It needs be not, however, with law enforcement, but it needs to be politically. You need to come what racism within society, whereas if Iraq, says tools, racist abuse them blows up a building like let's say, for example, at church, or something like that. That's him if a law enforcement, because that involves a criminal act, this is that is not acceptable in a society and obviously the instruments that are needed to countries are different from the ones that are needed to counter cognitive radicalism. One of the objections I've heard to this distinction between the cognitive and and the behaviour of migration issues that you know it he supposes that it part of
why the action, the behavioral action happens, because the cognitive action, whereas there's another model, which is just that you know there are a lot of violent people if their randomly distributed in the population. Summum are going to have racist abuse in some of them will have other types of extremist views. But one thing it's been put out recently. Is that a lot of people who storm the capital were mean a very regular individuals. They were people who were office. Workers are bankers, you flew in, and you know, came to Washington DC and found themselves sort of swept up an odyssey. Those are separate from the groups that we ve, seen like the oath keepers and proud poison, and people were a part of organised, far militias, but I mean is it even necessary to hold radical views. Take actions like this sea would be, I be more nuanced and that, in the sense that I completely agree that they are people that I basically followers They are joining these events, because bodies of them are part of it or because they feel it
exciting, and that's why I was talking about the same of excitement that is involved emotional needs that are fulfilled by participating in an extremist act or in an extreme his group, and they are not. to ideological. But these this would not be taking place if there were now at least some people who were rationalizing all of this in an ideological or cognitive way that our creed, the ideological pool, and that are telling people that, by doing what they are doing by engaging in these acts of violence, their acts be doing something positive because down the point of the ideology. That's really important point about the ideology. No one to see themselves as an aggressor. No one wants to see themselves as some doing harm without necessity, what the ideology. Does it creates in your mind, if you want a switch, a justification that allow
you to engage in violence and feel that your justified for doing so that that that you, inside, Defending Europe people rather than attacking other people, and someone has to do in order for these events to happen. I agree totally not. Everyone is equally affected by at the oligarchy. Not everyone is an ideal log. Not have one sits down at home. Studies text is cetera. There are some people within that movement were basically doing the ideological work and other people following them, and that's why I'm I'm you know sceptical about people would say it's all about I'd, Yalu g and everyone is- and I do not that's clearly not the case, but someone within the movement has to define what's right and what's wrong, and under what conditions. Violence is justified and that's basic. The ideological work that goes into an extremist tibet-
all right, we weren't, take a quick break. But when we get back we're gonna diving all a bit more about the types of people that get radicalized.
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The first animals put on trial, the first street her at the Superbowl, the first crime involving quail adds and lemurs criminal is the first of its kind. Since two thousand fourteen, we ve been reporting on the most curious crimes. It's the craziest story, I've ever heard and to think that I lived, it is kind of hard to grasp, sometimes discover the unexpected side of true crime, sometimes funny, sometimes scary, always human, I'm Phoebe Judge, But- and this is criminal now part of the Vocs media upon gas network. And we're back so today the vast majority of people charged with crimes from the January six insurrection, approximately eighty seven percent, according to one figure on don't ennoble
two formal organizations. You know, although some these groups were in organizing before January. Sixth, we ve seen research recently that shows that there are a lot of just random free agents like we were talking about and an loan wolves. But I also want to talk about the oath keepers end the proud boys and the role they play at the end of last segment. You're talking a little bit about I'm, who plays a role in defining when violence against except gold vining the bounds of eighty ology, defining the bounds of when radical acts become unacceptable. Part of the political framework that, on these so called free agents, are now participating in, and so some people have kind of framed the events in January six, as descended from. Of course, I think that the Turner Diaries where we saw the imagery of the noose outside the capital being erected, but also others, are saying that the idiotic just kind of being defined by more normal republican political officials. Folks, like Donald Trump, who is giving a speech beforehand, telling people that they need to save the country saved democracy by stopping what was happening in the capital the time so
who is doing this kind of defining power in in and what the events January sex was it Republican regularly officials was it. These extremist groups like who is actually leading the charge here. Why I think it was all of them freely. I think, within a lot of these extremist movements, you find people at very extreme of the extremism that are pushing the boundaries and that are saying things that are not even acceptable to other people of that particular movement. And then they are people more in the main stream were literally couldn't quote mainstreaming some of these beliefs and that, of course, what's happened. In my view, over the past four four and a half years, but Donald Trump, being an office and being empower he's, not as far as I know, openly or express the explicitly advocated whites premise, his beliefs, but he's mainstream a lot of the concepts that allow people to get into that and
once you buy into Donald Trump you're watching, took Carlsson and you're getting deeper and deeper into the weeds, and you end up with the proud boys with the oath keepers who give you the unvarnished truth, as they would say, and you have different gradations of of concept. Being mainstreamed, that's what's particularly important and dangerous. I think also about John we sex, because it was the beginning of what some he call mass radicalization where large, Seconds of the population are affected by extremist views and where the whole, system is being no long. Were accepted by people and that's it. more dangerous. I would say then individual acts of terrorism, because if you have a third of the population that doesn't accept.
Intimacy of the president does not accept the legitimacy of the election, doesn't except legitimacy, therefore, of every decision that is being taken by that system, how Can you maintain that system? That's what's dangerous about this particular event. Yes, the stormy The capital could have gotten much worse, but subsidy. de, we seem very large. segments of the population continuing to be even these ideas and continuing to refuse to accept Judy Missy up system, one that comes up a lot of people when they hear this sort of thing. Is that what is defined as the bounds of radical, unacceptable radical opinion is like very much up for debate. Obviously a lot of things that we would considered radical opinion two hundred years ago, for instance, that in a block
and should have full access to the political and social and cultural institutions. United States in Saint Protections is what Americans are very radical belief and you could paint the same picture of like there being somewhat more mainstream politician sort of gradually introducing those ideas into the mainstream and and the more cortical radical groups on bringing into the for you. No ideas of racial and political equality, and you know it the process itself is not what the issue is. It seems that there is pre work that has to be done to define what is an unacceptable, unacceptable idea and that there is now a growing segment of the population that no longer agrees with many liberal intuitions that exists. The United States, that is unacceptable to have fascistic beliefs, and so how do you do that work without undermining the democratic norms of place like the? U S where free speech and free expression is supposed to be in a paramount, both principle everything you say is correct and end. Of course, what's mainstream is defined by contacts it
defined by time and the whole book stairs does a great intolerancy out there called the radical reader the has texts but different times in american history, where different groups were essentially being described as extremists. People who were are doing in favour of abolishing slavery. People who argued in full very of giving women the right to vote people who were arguing paper of civil rights table all describe extremists and all to some extent, a passage good, bye, bye, bye. The authorities at different points in time was now a days. Those views are obviously hopefully mainstream. Now the problem is with this particular movement that we saw a year ago. Is that perhaps for the first time in american history, this is a radical movement that and go in the direction of more equality for more people, but actually to turn back the tide and action.
once too narrow down what is considered to be mainstreamed and certain nonsense. It's a regressive move it's a reactionary movement- and I can't kind of remember, any move, and recently that would have been as powerful in bang that message what that would have succeeded getting the legions of about a third of the population so that I think what makes it It was all the periods radical movements in american history with century about broadening and making freedom available to more people. This is the first one that act. he wants to narrow down the scope of freedom in american society, one of the thing that has been talked about. A lot is this idea of the conflict, the great replacement theory when we're talking about mainstreaming ideas that are radicalizing folks. Is you know this is an idea that gained a lot of purchase in France and the now is kind of hopped over to United States. The sense
Spiro has projected that racial minority groups will make up the majority of U S national population by twenty. Forty two, I am, of course that's what happens. There is up for debate due to expand the definition of whiteness who knows, but in aid by current definitions. That's what we're we're, seeing and you know there is a study that I saw from Northwestern University researchers that looked at California's majority minority shift and saw that politics, the failure to what American started, leaning more towards our Publican party and expressing more conservative views more strongly than they had beforehand, as the ship goes under way. So shall we be expecting this sort of trend to continue like our? We is? Is the response January six, just more more of these radical actions or or what's a future as as this becomes more mainstream? I can tell you that this let theory the great replacement. By of a no come you, french intellectual, if you one that this has become a very popular both sides of the Atlantic and basically argue,
is that there is a conspiracy going on whereby the elites Western countries are systematically trying to replace their own populations and they are doing this out of different interests. The economical leads to a it because they want cheap labour and lecture leads. The professors and the journalists and the intellectuals are doing it out of self hatred want to undermine the strengths of nation, and that's why they're replacing white european populations with what they considered to be inferior, pop nations in the european Context, Muslims in them context all sorts of outside Hispanics people from Africa, etc, etc, and that of course, a conspiracy theory. It's not actually true that day, We believe it to be true and date. Think there's a master plan working and the particular dangerous point about that is that it's all
We see it sir, it's it's it's a conspiracy theory directed at immigrants, but it's also at the same time a conspiracy theory directed at the elites within society, because they are essentially the root cause they are the ones were behind all of this and the such nonsense. I Joe Biden for them is as much of a problem as the immigrants coming into the country because Joe Biden, they believe, is surely the man the mind behind all of this and, of course it also and connects to even anti semitic theories, because there are people saying basically the p behind all of the even the people behind Joe Biden, those are the Jews and so there you are again in classical far right, a tree which has really awful, but by saying great replacement, which is essentially something that Donald Trump even has talked about. Europe make it sounds slightly more sophisticated and and you're sick,
asking that there's of reasoning behind it when, in fact it is really a conspiracy theory deserted repeat today by her keen Jefferson about The white backlash of the racial reckoning of on United States like it is just as much as a racial reckoning around like him. kinda people of color kind of you know showing the farms. That reason has done to them. It's also on white backlash, a normal part of that movement. So is this something that can even be stopped or mediated, or is it just in the wished expect to happen? Why I mean there's someone like Robert peep. Basically, data study after the storming couple last year, and he basically said this is the main, reasoning where the main factor in Bob behind but going there. Ultimately, I think not being american. I'm looking at this look at this from an outside perspective. I think there are two from ideas of America, there is a body
I would consider now the mainstream idea of America, which basically says everyone and be american, regardless of race or where they came from. But I see it is a mistake to underestimate how many bite Americans do not act he really by and to that end, do essentially think of America as a white, anglo saxon protestant nation which all at in the beginning. It kind of was but its evolved from that, and I think there is a very significant point, should not the population who hasn't made the step towards accepting the more pluralistic idea of America that is now mainstream, and that is being that has been a tick laid actually since every pray. then, since John F Kennedy, with the possible exception of Donald Trump. and when we say mainstream, you know, obviously it's its becoming stream culturally become instrument in terms of what is acceptable to say,
Without getting a bunch of negative media attention, but as you noted like there's a difference between that- and you know, I think a lot of times elites were surprised at the election Donald Trump because they assumed it was much more mainstream that it actually was and means dream, also being what with the dominant. You know if you pull what they believe. I would imagine that, there's a significant amount of people for going back even through who John F Kennedy and end end to now they have always said that primarily they would want America to remain. Like you know, a christian nation or an anglo Saxon nation or maintain those kinds of euro p and cultural traditions, and so you know, if you, if it, that has always been the case here. What does that mean then about what is considered radical in one's considered mainstream? I What it means is that leads, including a leads over the past few decades have kind of lost, hush or interest in what they
voters actually believed and stood for, and that that the fact that they surprised by the election of the trunk. The fact that they didn't see this happening, because this didn't happen overnight, shows that there was disenchant and a process of alienation that has played out over a long period of time, where perhaps the Leeds and people that are important in society. People that are educated have moved on, but have left a lot people behind that have simply not made the same development and that then ended up voting for Donald Trump. The it's easy. I mean it's it's easy in its right, obviously too, to accuse Republicans, but I think it's also correct to kind of to discuss at least to what extent Democrats over The-
decades, have actually lost touch with the people that they took for granted for a long time and that simply didn't move as fast as they themselves and I think, that's a failure that everyone has to reflect upon at that people always talk about of like poverty and poverty and economic inequality of being at the a prerequisite for taking right go political action, but there's your growing body work pointing to sort of Russia. If poverty and failed expectations rather the absolute poverty as what's leads to the sort of radicalization. You talk us through the social science there and what you're perspective is on. The role of economic circumstances saw it circumstances. I that's. One of the classical topics is poverty, a cause of terrorism and basically, every serious study that has been conducted for the past twenty years. It has shown that it's not that simple and that certainly just someone be Poor dozens
necessarily a cause I present to being extremists. In fact, if its extreme poverty Opposite, has been shown to be true, because people were extremely poor, a so preoccupied. With their own survival. They don't have time to think about engaging in politically motivated action. and you're completely right. Most of the studies that still make the case for economics I'm stances being important. They talk about relative deprivation. In all expectations which is essentially about you, comparing yourself to others and being unhappy about getting less Stan them, and often this is connected two narratives about justice in societies. So it's not even necessarily just about economic circumstances. It's your feet deprived relative to another group, because You have less, but also because you're getting let less respect or because you feel that
views are not being heard so typically economic strip stances apart, of a more complex narrative that involves political arguments as well and there's a line in a paper by am fester. Your at Georgetown, I'm Anatole, Levin he writes the unemployed or underemployed. Graduate is one of the most dangerous of all political actors and in paper who specifically talking about is on the greater cooperation in the Middle EAST, but you make this point that we often think of education as being a solution to both labour market problems, but also on to radically Seychelles, but because raised this point here, that elite overproduction could be part of the problem of why we're seeing increasing amounts of radicalization- and you know what you think about that idea. He used a colleague of mine, and I heard him make that point many many times and I actually think he's onto something. If you produce a lot of graduates like they did, in Pakistan and you dont have jobs for them. You
creating a situation where they have a lot of expectations. They are being targeted university that they have a great future ahead of them. There be given the intellectual tools to rationalize everything and then they end up being very frustrated As I said at the beginning of our conversation, grievance is one of the building blocks of radicalized so your creating a lot of grievance within society, and that, of course, a huge problems. Just giving everyone in giving everyone a degree, but then not having jobs in society is not necessarily. The answer.
I want to things. I wonder, though, as you know, we obviously have more college graduate stand United States than we did. You know in previous years, but college graduates are are less likely to be taking extreme political action and they were friends in the seventies or before when we did see a lot of what a lot, but a significant number of individuals engaging in sort of violent, portable action or engaging with violent extremist groups. So we're a quick break again and then we get back we're gonna talk about what to do about all this radicalization. I am care, which are co host of New York magazines, pivot, podcast? If you and a pivot, unfiltered insights into tech, business, politics and more be shorter, check out pivot, am I a three day conference the challenges convention by me and my pivot, CO host Scott Galloway, you'll, hear and meat from top players in the industry in America's most Byron City and emerging tech. Up visit vocs me
events dotcom slash pivot, am I a slash podcast you apply to attend and see you in Miami February fourteenth to sixteenth and were back, sir There are obviously two ways or too broad ways that people can respond radicalization and there's this sort of police response? I won't talk about first, in responding with the law and the force of the law call unclear who's the political scientists had an odd that today and one the things that he points out is that there has been quite a bit of federal law enforcement activity in response January six today, He writes more than seven hundred individuals have been charged with federal crimes for their role. An insurrection, the city of Washington DC, has sued the proud boys and the oath keepers seeking severe financial penalties, given how paranoid many far right. Extremist groups are about being infiltrated. Many have gone underground and attempted to drop off the grid. To avoid further entanglement with the authorities that
to me seems like a success story of of police action, federal law enforcement response. Why can't we just continue doing now what you wages, have federal law enforcement action going after these groups repeatedly and domino taken him underground? They are so paranoid about infiltration and and being engaged. So why not have a full, insufficient solution to the problem? Why it started violence. Efficient solution to the problem for two reasons: number one, because no matter how hide. You try it will always be a sit back, a mole strategy in the sense that other people will turn up in different places, you will be unlucky. Some of the time, so bad things will still happen because in a free society. You cannot have a hundred percent policing everywhere so there may still be people committing acts of violence that you didn't know about, but Jane speaking you of course, right. I think you should go after them with law enforcement
much as you can, and if people commit criminal acts you should prosecute them bigger problem. The second reason by it's not enough, is an that's. What color talks about in his up? It is because you now have a situation where, instead of taking violent action, a lot of these people are basic. Spreading their beliefs into the mainstream you now have a situation where a third of the popular she and a significant majority of supporters of the Republican Party, for example. Do except the legitimacy of the election of job. I do believe that sometimes it is necessary to use violence in order to to get your way even in the United States of America, and condone the storming of the capital and too extend both. These people have not been successful in launching acts of terror. They ve been success in something that is much more important, which is to get
people to support the extremist views, and that is my more dangerous for the political system in the long term, then to have some people carry out, of violence, which is, of course tragic for the people were being who being hurt in them, but which is not. Ultimately, very dangerous for the stability of the United States of America you talk about how in or radicalization I'm folks are immersed in extreme is content for extended periods of time, their immersed with God, images and videos you describe several the pathways that researchers have identified. Things like creating a sense of moral outrage by crook, showing videos in conflict zones, but you're, not very you know Gung ho on supply side, measures of reducing radicalization, a veto banning these types of content or taking on these sites, use That kind of advocate for more demand side. Can you explain the distinction there and why? I think the latter is better principle.
very impressed that you found an article by me that is more than ten years, so that's great, but Like all academics, too, I have to some extent changed my views and and I am actually now much more gung ho, as you would say, in terms of taking down content. I do think that social media platforms do have a responsibility and if people increase, were incite violence. I think it over steps own community guidelines and they should invest more money and effort into removing that kind of content. I think it is very important that they do that. because it is toxic, the problem is that there is out of context, that people in the Tec, community disk as all full but lawful off but lawful. For example, conspiracy theories, a lot of concern Seed theories are stupid, their nonsense, but
it's not illegal to talk nonsense, it's not illegal to be stupid, and so, if someone wants to claim that bill gates is injecting people with kind of micro sensors that allow them to be monitored by Microsoft, that is, of course, idiotic, but it not illegal- and I think it's very, very dear called for social media companies, never mind the government. To decide at what point And idiocy at what point: stupidity becomes so problematic that you have to remove it from a website that is technically protected by the first amendment, and that is to conundrum that Overall, I would say it is still not only not advisable, I would say in many cases it is impossible really for the government I'm involved in that, because involves decisions that are really difficult. old- and that are a legal minefield. So yes,
it's about inciting violence. I do think that social media companies should should show more responsibly regards to a lot of the other content. It is really difficult and, of course, as we have seen with in in all of these cases recently at once, you once that say: Youtube. For example, star removing content the people whose com is being removed immediately feeling victimized their say. They are being discriminated against, are being victimized and it is perhaps as a kind of productive effect. So this is all very, very difficult and now interested in how they shift happened. How did you change your mind on this and what what kinds of evidence you come across. to be honest, it was so called islamic State ISIS Middle the middle of last decade was so active on the internet really before before. The middle of, decade. I had this naive, perhaps libertarian view of the marketplace,
ideas. You know the internet is great, let alone people to say stupid things. There will be more people out there who are using reason to combat it and the good reasonable, Opinion will always emerged victorious debts, was the view that a lot of people in Silicon Valley have and that's why, A lot of tech companies were so reluctant to actually take down content, not only because they thought it would be. Spencer, but also they actually believe that allowing that content to exist on the internet was positive thing, because people would start arguing with these people and they, convince them of the reasonable mainstream view and in the he's a vices. We saw that that clearly didn't happen. Ice It was in two thousand fourteen fifteen flooding the internet with propaganda that actually convinced want to go to Syria and fight there, and there were
The very little was done to engage with that content or to convince ice his people to change their mind. Obviously that didn't work and the only you could really get to grips with it to say? Well, you can't be on Facebook. Anyone you can't be. Twitter any more. We have to remove your content because you actually locating killing people and that's not right and think, even those social media companies at that point got they received so much political pressure that they caved essentially probably despite their better convictions. and started removing content, and today on me, stream, media, social media platforms like Twitter, like Facebook, Instagram, etc. It's really did to be a jihadist and have your profile up for more in twenty four hours and what people myself, I'm saying to the social media, companies is basically do the same for far right extremism. What you damaged it can be done in the case of
ices do the same for far right extreme isn't. I think they ve started doing that, but they could do more play more of an advocate for the libertarian perspective here and to cut to draw a distinction, like, I think, there's this obscene difference between the types of websites and Nuno Facebook groups that are actively recruiting for terrorist groups or to take violent political action. And then you know, on large platforms like Facebook or Twitter someone publicly saying there radical idea than having the opportunity for there to be a response. Letting the distinction here is both a look. What someone is advocating for and be whether it is a platform where there is actually an engagement of ideas occurring and while I you know, I think, I'm pretty very clearly in agreement with you on. You know banning the sorts of groups that are advocating this violent political action and getting rid of pages that are advocating people become jihadis, and things like that. I'm place like this.
spoke or even twitter, where there is quite a response and back and forth happening about these ideas, you know it seems like calling back to what you said earlier in the conversation about how a lot of people in and in the United States, and even other western countries do not share the liberal sentiments about small democratic norms that elite individuals have thought the basis for a long time, and if there isn't an opportunity for persuasion, then it seems like there's no path forward. So I guess what will be the path forward for you? If we don't have the opportunity in the public square, to have this sort of debate I think that it's three points the first one is. I mean, mean the priority is incitement to violence, so you have to draw the line at that point. If someone is inciting to violence, I think it needs to go everything else I do agree with you to some extent, even though we know that is.
Phenomenon in social Psychology called reactions and, The what it describes is that, if some is really convinced of a cause and you're trying to persuade him. Otherwise, actually your attempt persuade him or her may. she caught him or her to be I am even more committed to their laws and many of the people were on the internet and were sharing their views. There not kind of french citizens. They are pretty sure of what they think and a lot of the attempt to convince them otherwise and trust me. A lot of money has been invested in trying to to do that, including by governments, by and large failed saw. I sympathize with your view but I remain to be convinced of how can actually be done on scale right so I want to see the best mines and tech come up with ideas for how to convince
and engage people in conversations that our deep inside ideological holds and too if you want d radicalized em, I haven't, maybe it exists, but I haven't seen every goods model of that happening. And then the third wine is and there I actually agree with those such meagre companies. We to say, while we only taking down incitement to violence and reason did they basically said if it's a bad actor, if it's a bad actors, engages were insides violence even the videos, for example, where he or she doesn't incite violence, need to be taken down. So if they K K, K is publishing recipe or tells people to pray that will be taken down too, because the KKK generally as an actor that engages in incitement to violence- and just because some of the videos they publish are nice does
necessarily make it ok, right and so. Think again, one has to be But once did not- and I sympathise with the lot of your views, but in particular when it comes to the persuasion element. I've heard that argument so many times before and a lot of People say that I want to see how this works in practice, and so far no one has shown me, while maybe and find an anecdote of someone who has been persuaded, but no one has shown me how you could systematically utilised the internet, to bring people back into the mainstream, If someone comes up with that, I'm happy to change I cannot agree with you that it seems probably near impossible to convince some one who is arguing with you about you know either really far right or far left or right of use of their position that they should change it, but I would say that
it gets more about whose watching the, whose views and whether they see any counter argument common in an inner, especially for talking about the process of online radicalization. What you described in a lot of the research we talked about it is a slow build and if someone is presented with many alternatives along with that slow build, perhaps that could be a diversionary tactic for them rather than first and was already in the mix. Absolutely act, a hundred percent agree with you, you made an important point and a lot of the attempts that have been made to influence people online have not actually been about the people who posted stuff, but about the p. who, pure to end the people responded and who wanted more information- and so I think, that's the right way to focus on the people who are engaging with content rather than on the people were posting that content so you're? Absolutely right on that. This kind reminds me of Austrian, the famous quote from an austrian phosphoric Karl Popper about. We should cut
that any movement preaching intolerance, places itself outside the law and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal on basically saying that we need to stop giving unlimited tolerance to those who are actually intolerant, and it seems to be a very year Europe, more of a european approach, rather than american approach. I mean: do you see that kind of changing it feels like on the left side, the pendulum United States we're having more more people on taking on that position. While I I do think it's gonna be interesting to see if this is the current situation persists, because the and why? What you just said is considered to be. The european view is because in Europe we do have an experience of an extremist. and becoming so strong and so powerful that they basically took over the government, and abolish democracy, the fascist movement that took over power in ITALY and in Germany and the nineteen thirty's answer. as we have that history,
called catastrophic historical experience of. streamers becoming mainstream and becoming that democracy at becoming the majority and and virgin democracy by using the tools of democracy there less of a tolerance towards extremist views and America you have very confident view that yours system is so stable and your people, in the United States are so reasonable that they will always defend extremists now for the First time, perhaps we have twenty seven, where a bit a significant number of individuals are anti system. They, I defying the legitimacy of an election. I dont think I don't know, that has ever happened in american history, that more than a third of the population said this not the legitimate president, and it is understood certain circumstances, the legitimate to take violent action against the United States of America,
don't think that has ever happened before and the question is Did you do with that? That persists, how'd you deal with a third of your country's population that is permanently disenfranchised and even varying degrees, condones illegal action against the government. it's gonna. I dont know the answer to that myself because I deal with extremism and the assumption of extremism is dead. actually small numbers of people at the fringes of society that, the assumption behind behind them, concept of extremism, if you're no longer dealing with small numbers of people at the fringes of society, but you're dealing with a majority or need nearly a majority, then did the guy. completely changes? And then you are having a big political problem and that's the danger right now one of the things that are witnessing right now, is a Republican, some republican elites. You know creating justifications for what happened on January. Six, I mean Donald
his described actually Babbit as a martyr Tucker Carlson's, recently produced day movie. Patriot, purge, alternative history of January sticks than which the violence is a false flag. I mean, is it possible. Are their historical examples? Are political science, research that shows how convince a political movement to DE radicalized, especially when it arguably might be in there near term interests not to do so to be I don't know I mean. Maybe there are examples, but I think this is hitting the nail on the head there, because that's it Zaki the big failure of the Republican, already? I do think they have if you want patriotic duty to convince them, on followers that, yes, we lost the election, our guys out, but the election was legitimate and you have to accept the legitimacy of the new president. Just like Democrats rely currently accepted. The Donald Trump became elected president. I think this is this is
The ultimate pre condition of democracy, the ultimate pregnant not democracy is that the loser accepts the outcome right and Don't have that anymore and I do think it's Yeah of some extreme republicans to take to confront that there. I know that there are small number Republicans loose change. For example, what to do take that stand and were very courageous and we have a lot of threats coming against them, but the failure of of the mainstream of the Republican Party to stand up to. That is something that as you say in the short term, may benefit them, but I think even for them, be a would be disastrous in the long term, because for these people on the fringes. You will never be extreme enough. They will always push you even further and literally no limit to it, so I think it would be better for them to take a stand now and they are not doing that and that's a big failure.
Thank you so much for joining me stay Peter I'm. They said to have this conversation on folks here listening to this on January seventh, but we recorded this on January six than that, I'm sure in a lot of retrospective already, but I'm glad we are able to have this conversation and kind of get into social science research. So thank you again. Thank you. That's all for us too, Thank you to professor Peter Newman for joining us are producer, is Sophie Land. Let me Nelson as our editorial adviser in Bhopal is the deputy editorial director for talk podcast and I'm your story. Some damn says Darlin is writing or newsletter now so go to box. Stockholm slash weeds letter. I turn for that and will be back in your feeds to state with another panel discussion. Sudan,
If you want to disappear successful, I figured that successfully. You ve got to be on the job every minute of every day for the rest of your life criminal. With about cast about crying. I remember the prosecutor tell me why you're not going to see her husband for at least fifty four years- and I remember looking into into their news Cameron aims, and I said you wanna bet stories of people have done. I loved both had. I think I was addicted to the crime as well as the drugs people who have been wrong. I didn't know what to believe, but I don't understand it's a twenty or you'll how bad things happen, a good people. I do not understand that at all and it didn't seem fair and people who have got caught some place in the middle. My safety had route to John and asked John how's, the rat out to address a said where the rad was good, but it was gone. The wrong way
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Transcript generated on 2022-01-07.