There are many perceptions of the causes of extremism. Exclusion and marginalization, as well as ideological and religious beliefs are often stated as prominent causes. These explanations are brought often a tangible idea that it basically is an alienation that gradually picks up ideology as an effective sanitized wearable jacket.
However, there is another dimension that is rarely discussed. The realization that all these perspectives takes place in a system context, which is not unique for extremism. Extremism is part of our society, as well as other phenomena that we do not like, so it’s there even when we are looking for to encapsulate it and maneuver it into an isolated corner. We should be much better to learn to deal with extremism as a phenomenon, admittedly terribly things that are there among us in our everyday lives.
Extremism is part of our social system which, although it is highly undesirable, we can not get rid of, precisely because it is part of the human environment and functioning, a cognitive parasite in a complex adaptive system. There is no single logical linear path where we once and for all can surgically remove extremism from our society, not even for a short while. If we seriously want to combat extremism it requires an understanding of the nature of the problem of infinity. The answer is a mirror image of the problem. Infinite persistence and constant adaptation measures are required to successfully moderate and counter extremism that is there in our midst.
Extremism is adaptive in nature. Extremism in its various forms is far more adaptable than our public institutions. When we design a work or a product of any kind, we know that in the moment – in our view – it is completed so begins the inevitable journey towards chaos, product determinant decomposition. Seeing something once and for all finished is a classic sin. Whoever knowingly or unknowingly are customizable will be able to follow along and even at times affect the journey towards chaos. Adapting to the changing environment is crucial. This attitude applies to both extremism existence as well as the fight against extremism. Extremism mutate to such an extent that the actions of public institutions – such as strictly based on detailed action plans and procedures binders tend to become stucked in their own detailed non-flexible structures and strict procedures. The old expression that “all plans are useless – all the planning is necessary” applies very well to how we should relate to extremism.
Extremism is acting in independent cells, with different – sometimes – leaders and sometimes seemingly independent activities but at the same time, these nodes at a glance, making them appear as if they were members and participants in a single large network. What we see is a complex self-organizing adaptive system. In a complex adaptive system operates a large number of actors with each other in an essentially unpredictable way. What makes the system survive and adapt to the environment and the threat is that it follows its own internal logic. A logic that is more successful than the surrounding environment – eg public institutions – the choice of organizational charts, business plans, policies, procedures and forms etc. This inner adaptive logic is not maintained primarily of classical organizational hierarchical command and control, instead it is so much more powerful than that, it’s all about strategic influence.
A strategic influence that makes it especially effective – sustainable and adaptable – in our information and network society. A strategic influence in the form of similar experiences and recognizable stories which are being retold in networks and groups of like-minded people. An heritage of common history. Only by challenging this story and offering a meaningful acceptable everyday reality can we moderate and combat extremism. A cognitive immunizetion!
In parts of Asia, with its long experience in combating violent extremism and terrorism it is now growing a deeper understanding of extremism and strategic influence. It applies for example issues relating to extremism and terrorism in Indonesia. Many findings, analyzes, conclusions and proposals for action are also relevant in a European context. It contributes through a adaptive complex systems understanding of the practices of a lonely wolf as the massmurderer and childmurderer in Oslo July 22, 2011, and the suicide bomber deed in Stockholm today, two years ago.
Radicalisation and management
Om förebyggande och motverkan
Klassförakt är inte rätt väg
Fryshuset om hur extremism bäst bemöts