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The Voice of Radicalism


Understanding Radicalism - The Inheritance

Definition

Radicalism, which comes from the Latin word radix meaning 'root', gives the sense of a 'root and branch' or fundamental approach to politics, rather than one that 'makes do and mend'. Radicalism suggests complete rather than gradual change. Although traditionally associated with the left, Radicalism is also used as a label to describe extreme right-wing parties, such as the Italian Fascists, the German Nazis, and the British National Front.

Radicalism in Britain

In British politics 'radical' has lost much of its meaning. Even the Conservatives, the opponents of Radicalism, now use the term to recommend their policies. Today, an electoral appeal has to be 'radical' if it is to gain the support of voters eager for change. Yet the mainstream parties and their voters do not really want a radical change to the social and political order. Like the radish ( radix), modern radicals are red, or socialist, on the outside but white on the inside.

Radicals in Britain

' Radical' is still used to describe the policies or the character of parties, but Radical is no longer the name of a party or faction. In the mid-nineteenth century, those Liberals wishing to show how progressive they were, described themselves as Radicals. Workingmen's Liberal Associations often called themselves Radical.

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