In the first episode of this series on the US withdrawal from Afghanistan a question came up that went to the root of both the events leading up to the 9/11 attacks and instances of domestic extremism in the US today:
Why do comfortable people seek purpose in political violence?
While the attacks on 9/11 that started our two decades of military involvement in the Middle East were blamed on factors such as poverty and political repression, it could be argued the people who carried them out were relatively comfortable. The same could be said of the people who took part in the attack on the Capitol on January 6, one of whom flew there on a private jet.
To help get a better understanding of people who carry out acts of political violence, I asked Quassim Cassam of the University of Warwick to join me on this episode of YDHTY. Cassam has studied the philosophical underpinnings of political extremism and the conspiracy theories that drive them and written two books on the subject - Conspiracy Theories and Extremism: A Philosophical Analysis.