The Latin word radix means “root”, and is where we get the word ‘radical’.
The Peasants’ Revolt in England in 1381 showed that people have a boiling point. It showed that the toleration of oppression, corruption, exploitation, and injustice had reached a level that people could no longer handle.
This revolt was actually inspired by ‘Lollardy’, or Christian Radicalism. Christian leaders were re-examining their principles (or their roots). Mainstream Christianity (like today) had moved away from key teachings and practices of Jesus such as ‘turning the other cheek’ and ‘rejecting materialism’.
This historical revolt was a precursor to many other revolts that have happened since throughout the world, and it has been analysed by Marxists ever since.
One of the points we could draw from an analysis of the event is that, while Marx observed that religion was the opiate of the people, a more accurate assessment may have been that organised manipulation of religion for political gain was in fact the principal opiate (as it continues to be in many places).
The Roman Empire saw how Jesus’ revolutionary views were gaining steam and were the first to institutionalise the religion, in attempt to stop its socialist ideals from spreading.
The same has happened right up to this day, where we see prominent US politicians in particular claiming to be Christians but rejecting the radical views of peace, equality, and anti-materialism.
Nonetheless, there are forces like the twentieth-century priest Camilo Torres Restrepo who, through going back to the roots of Christianity, could not avoid becoming a socialist. Martin Luther King was yet another example of this.
Governments and the Church tried to kill the resulting Liberation Theology off before its inception, but the fact is that, as people truly begin to analyse the roots of their beliefs, its is difficult to separate socialism and Christianity.
Whatever religion or school of thought we may adhere to or sympathise with, it is important to be radical and to have a deep awareness of what we are aiming to defend. It is key to ending hypocrisy, and key to encouraging intelligent debate.