The following is an excerpt of an interview with Dr. Rakib Ehsan, Research Fellow at the Centre on Radicalisation and Terrorism at the Henry Jackson Society – conducted by our World section editor Dan Mountain. This features in our fourth print issue, available now.
Find out how to get your own copy of the issue here.
Dan Mountain (D.M.): How have both the right and left allowed extremism to endure?
Rakib Ehsan (R.E.): Identity politics has become increasingly problematic in this country. The left has seen the electoral value in indulging in identity politics without taking into consideration the negative social consequences. It isn’t desirable from a national cohesion perspective and instead fosters group-based social division – which in turn can be exploited by extremist forces.
In regard to the right, typically, one would think the nation would feature prominently in their rhetoric. However, British conservatism has become so ‘market-centric’ – promoting free-market capitalism and prioritising the individual. Unfortunately, in the last few decades there has been aggressive promotion of materialistic individualism – an almost Darwinian ‘survival of the fittest’ perspective on economics. With this approach, you shatter the national community. Individuals don’t have a sense of connection and social responsibility, and the importance of human relations is neglected.
A secure and stable society is one which is free from the ‘balkanising’ effects of identity politics and the ‘atomising’ effects of market fundamentalism. A high-trust national society based on the principles of mutuality, reciprocity and co-operation should be the goal – especially from a counter-extremism perspective.
D.M.: You state an ‘unholy alliance’ between the regressive left and Islamic extremism in an article for Spiked Online, how is this the case?
R.E.: Both Islamists and the regressive left share a common ground in terms of their anti-Semitic beliefs – made apparent by the current Labour Party.
However, they also share a common enemy in ‘pro-assimilation conservatives’ – those who focus on assimilation over multiculturalism or a emphasise a robust integration framework, arguing that we have a dominant cultural standard underpinned by liberal democratic norms. They argue individuals should shed particular values incompatible with this dominant value system.
Instead, the regressive left will claim human rights allow people to exercise their religion however they see fit. Islamists will naturally agree because they are ultimately for the preservation and protection of their orthodox religious practices – which is incompatible with pro-assimilation conservativism in the Western context.
Read the rest of this article in the print issue, information on which can be found HERE.