Radicle Roots or Radical Roots
Written for the IE Freedeom Skool "Development toward Sustainable Communities" Workshop Introduction, Summer, 2011
This title plays off several meanings of the word radicle. Using both it’s spelling and two separate, but interrelated, ideas we emphasize making a strong connection to the words Latin origin. That is, the word “radical” (spelled R-A-D-I-C-A-L) stems from the Latin word (ray-dix) radix meaning “root” and can be used to describe, “going to the root or origin of (something).” That “something” could be as simple as changing the way you react to the world around you—going to the root.
In botany, the word radicle (spelled R-A-D-I-C-L-E) is the first part of a seedling, or plant embryo that develops. It is the first part that emerges from the seed during the process of germination. The radicle is the embryonic or the “sprouting root” of the plant; the part that grows downward in the soil and thus creating the root. If the “radicle” begins to decay or is damaged in any way, the seedling begins to shutdown—eventually causing the death of the seedling and therefore a new plant will not grow (taken from Wikipedia).
Western Radicalism and it's Demonization
The term radical, in regards to how most of us see it, can be used to describe an opposition to government, social hierarchy or authority. It can also be seen as a social movement, or an ideal that goes against the stream of the institutionalized society. The word has been given a negative slant in the western worlds, particularly in the United States, as seen in pre-World War I with the extinction of the old left, the anarchist/socialist inspired labor movements and later with post-World War II "New Left" movements, that started in the 1960s. The tactic used, in regards to labeling and snuffing out radicalism during this time was two part, one with the red scare and communism and then creating the Espionage Act (1917) and Sedition Act (1918).
Today with the post 9/11 America. Using words like extremism and terrorism attached to the word radicalism has created a sense of tension around anything considered not pro-American or mainstream status quot. This tension is manipulated to stamp out anything that slightly resembles a counter movement to the normative and labeling it a radical movement as being associated with some form of evil or wrongdoing. With this being said, the term “radical or radicalism”, whether a political movement or social movement, should be taken back and redefined from its modern usage and recreated to empower the new movements of today, where people are demanding change to such things as immigration and education.
Re-thinking Radicalism and Revitalizing the Meaning
Using the idea of nature, sustainability and community to discuss and interact with the term radical, gives a new meaning to community and ourselves. So the metaphor, in regards to sustainability and the word radicle or radical, is that as a person who chooses to be “radical” you choose to make decisions or to go to the root of an issue, critically analyze and question its existence. As well, you choose to come up with new solutions, fertilize and cultivate new community, and therefore plant seeds. As each seed or person, starts to “radicalize” or sprout, a new plant is grown—one that is grown in better conditions and provides healthier yield or output. And so in-turn, a healthy community is built, one that empowers, one that sees through the social stratification’s of race, gender, class, and power. Thus creating an even better world, starting with each person—one person at a time.