Sunday, September 17, 2006

Roots of Radicalism

The word “radical” means digging down to the roots. As such, there will be a large number of different interpretations of the meaning radical. I read a few other sites vying for the keyword “radical.”

Many of the sites keying in on this word seem to be applying derivatives of Marx’s Material Dialectic to respective avenues of thought. The basic idea is that you use clever little tools like redefined terms and paradoxes to drill down to core conflicts of a subject.

The various things I read on radical education theory seem to be about raising class and political conscious so that the students will be more violent when they get older. Radical theories of labor want the workforce to become more violent. Radical Islam wants to magnify divisions between Islam and the West, etc..

This is in sharp contrast to what I think needs to be done. I think societies need to look at the core assumptions of their body politic and make sure that they are well defined and logically consistent.

When radicals look at the roots of a system, they want to find flames to fan so that they can ride the hot air into power.

Our great problem is that this modern approach to radicalism only knows how to tear down. It does not know how to build. Even worse, since radicals are trained to attack at the root level (the foundations) one can never even build any thing of substance on an idea, as the millions of termites trained in our Universities will exercise their dialectical skills to tear it down. Half way through any project, radicals will jump in and change the meaning of the terms in the debate.

This modern radicalism is one of our major problem of the day. Currently our education system teach methods on how to tear things down. (They call this critical thinking). Seems to me that the better approach is to teach people how things work, so that they can build on the stuff in place. In my opinion critical thinking starts by taking the effort to understand the people and processes currently in place. The critical thinker should then work to define those things that lead to benefit and those that do not, and should then work to preserve things that lead to benefit and find ways to mitigate problems.

In the classical view, critical thinking should be leading toward improvement. The modern radical definition of critical thinking (with all its paradoxes and conflicts) leads only to destruction. It is incapable of building, for any system half constructed on a system of paradox will be torn to the ground by the next avant-garde troop of thinkers.

Anyway, by digging down to the roots of radicalism, we might gain some clue to this strange process that is currently tearing the world apart.

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