The UK Prevent strategy is strongly criticised: accused of racism, human rights violations, and demonisation of the (Muslim) other. Outlining an original interpretation of these problems, the article draws on political theory to identify parallels between this controversy and Stanley Cavell’s critique of John Rawls’ Theory of Justice. Although aiming to avoid violence, Rawls limited the ‘conversation of justice’ in advance such that a democratic community could be deemed above reproach. Cavell claimed that this situation is detrimental in that it leaves the resentful other with no outlet to voice their grievance(s). The article argues that Prevent is problematic because it assumes the same premise as Rawls. Prevent restricts engagement between its participants through the requirement to adhere to ‘British values,’ which excludes sectors of the UK population a priori and undermines the very democracy that Prevent purports to defend. The article rejects the Prevent strategy on these grounds. It then proposes an alternative model for counter-radicalisation based on a Cavellian theorisation of democracy as ‘Emersonian conversation’ – comprising the virtues of listening, responsiveness, and a willingness to change on all sides. The article argues that Emersonian conversation provides a more effective basis for future UK counter-radicalisation policy.
|Journal of International Political Sociology
|Published - 4 Jan 2023