The role of the M1 in the violent radicalisation of extremists – and the internet
“Trust is good, but control is better,” said Lenin – allegedly. It is understood by all governments around the world. Dictatorships just go for the latter and damn the former; democracies go for the latter while pretending the former.
It’s a problem – especially for western democracies. Because what they can’t control, they fear. And the only solution is to exert control while not destroying trust. That means scapegoats must be found; scapegoats that can be blamed for the control and therefore maintain the trust.
The internet is scary for governments. The problem is how to control the internet without destroying voters’ trust. And the solution is the (several) horseman of the apocalypse: blame it on the terrorists, paedophiles, drug runners, money launderers and anyone else they can think of.
So when the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee published its latest report on “Roots of violent radicalisation” I approached it with trepidation – fearing that the internet would be blamed as the cause of terrorist radicalisation and therefore in need of control.
At such times it is always worth reading Volume II, where they tuck away the written information that doesn’t get into the full report. Deep inside this is a gem, from Professor Clive Walker. “Attendance at universities and the use of the internet are not inherently greater vulnerabilities to society than the use of the MI motorway by the 7/7 bombers to reach their targets or the fact that, no doubt, they shopped from time to time at a supermarket to purchase peroxide.”
The danger is that our wonderfully wise governments might take him at his word, and start placing armed road blocks at every entrance and exit to our motorways as well as taking control of the internet and nationalising our supermarkets with the inclusion of a police franchise in each store.
Needless to say, Prof Walker’s view does not get reflected in the official report itself. Here, quite bluntly, it is declared that “the internet does play a role in violent radicalisation,” but there is no mention of the equally scary M1.