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19 July 2019

Left wing radicalism linked to sympathy for violent extremism

The more strongly someone agrees with the ideas of revolutionary left-wing groups, the more likely they are to sympathise with violent extremism, finds a new first of-its-kind study.

Riot police in London
Riot police in London

Dr Daniel Allington, Senior Lecturer in Social and Cultural Artificial Intelligence at King’s, led a team of researchers from Goldsmiths, University of London, and the University of Bristol on the study which used an innovative survey to measure sympathy for violent extremism and alignment with values similar to those promoted by revolutionary left-wing groups.

Dr Allington said: “Unlike some groups on the far right, revolutionary socialist groups do not promote violence directly. However, our findings suggest that the ideas that they promote could serve to make political violence seem justified. I’m not talking about wanting more funding for the NHS – there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m talking about the idea that a revolution would solve our problems.”

The team found that the more somebody agrees with what they call ‘revolutionary workerism’, the more likely it is that he or she will sympathise with at least one form of violent extremism. Sympathy for violent extremism was also found to decrease with age, and to be higher among males than among females.

Commissioned by the UK Commission for Counter Extremism, the research will feed into the Commission’s report on all forms of extremism, to be released later this year.

Read the paper here:

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Daniel Allington

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