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Absence of constitutional means and biased social structure give birth to radicalism: Dr. Rasul Baksh Rais

“Absence of constitutional means, human freedom, unequal distribution of the wealth, biased social structure and weak law and order situation produce radical movements in the developing or developed societies,” said Dr. Rasul Bakhsh Rais, who addressed a “session on defining the Phenomenon of Radicalization in Pakistan” organized by the PIPS on January 2, 2009 at its premises. Dr. Rais is professor of political science at School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). He did his Ph.D. in Political Science from University of California, Santa Barbara, and served for 22 years at Department of International Relations, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad before joining LUMS. He is author of War without Winners and Indian Ocean and the Superpowers. He has published extensively on political and security issues in South Asia, Indian Ocean and Afghanistan.
Dr. Raies explained four points about the Phenomenon of “Radicalization”:

i) Radicalism primarily rejects existing means of political participation and finds existing social economic and political institutions inadequate to address the grievances of the society.

ii) Radicals and radicalism are about fundamental structural change in all spheres of societal life, including political relations, economic relations and social hierarchies.

iii) Radicalism popularizes new ideologies and questions the legitimacy and relevance of old ideologies and believes that old ideologies have no answer to contemporary problems.

iv) Radicalism creates a myth about change as constructive and progressive term.

Dr. Rais pointed out that communism or Marxism is considered as a radical ideology because it questions to legitimacy and advocacy of existing institutions. He mentioned that anarchism is close to the Marxism. Marxism and anarchism would insist that violent means are necessary and rather violence is the mean to over throw the existing system. Talking about religious movements he said we should examine them very closely as we cannot lump all of them together, even, we cannot lump Islamic religious movements together. Radical groups always have a radical ideology or a radical agenda.

Dr. Rais explained that the post colonial Muslim states failed to perform their fundamental functions of the state i.e. justice, social development, rule of law and order and security and safety of the individuals, human freedoms and constitutional values and institutions. In addition, he said, social and economic forces also play a vital role in the production of radicalization in Muslim countries. When people are not treated in the same way at social level and they don’t have opportunities equal to that of the elite classes, they are forced to think either it is their fate, which is written by Allah, or it is the existing system responsible for their deprivation. When they revolt against the system they declared as radicals by the elites.

Radicalization is a neutral term, Dr. Rais opined. There is need, however, to define it professionally. He said conservatives do not accept radicalism because it challenges the existing institutions. Although the era of radical or revolutionary changes has gone but it can take place when all other forms of political participation are closed, he professed.

Dr. Rais emphasized that the only solution to the existing chaos is a peaceful democratic non-violent struggle as violence is not going to pay. The address was followed by a lively question and answer session.