Was the Brexit vote a sign of radicalization? A jihad for the very soul of Britain?


Was the Brexit vote a sign of self radicalization? A self-brutalising attempt to take care of one’s own community, whatever that may be, in an age of mobility and ceaseless change?

Yes, even though that might sound rather extreme.

According to Marc Sageman, a psychiatrist and former CIA case officer, communities aren’t enablers or facilitators of radicalization but they can be the reason for it. In other words, a young man or woman may decide to attack a system if they think it fails their people.

Mr Sageman’s , whose new book is titled ‘Misunderstanding Terrorism’, believes that radicalization is a community rather than an individual phenomenon. (Click here for David Ignatius’ Washington Post column, which touches on the subject.)

A jihadist group, suggests Mr Sageman, emerges out of political protest. Jihadis want to hit back when they perceive an attack on their community, or an attempt to marginalise it. Mr Sageman has studied 34 campaigns of political violence that occurred over 200 years. More than 80 per cent, he says, indicate that people embrace violence when they feel their community is being attacked. Okay, so the case for or against Brexit did not set off a jihad exactly, but there was a decided attempt to close down debate.