RE: Extremism

From: Jerry Mitchell (
Date: Sat Jan 06 2001 - 16:49:39 MST

[Non-member submission]

I was simply pointing out that you could only tie the word extremism to a
set of ideologies relative to some other concept. I don't think it
cognitively efficient to use the word, meaning it doesn't add any useful
information to what's being said (other then the fact that the person using
the word thinks that what is being described is radically different from
"their" ideas). This was my point in interrupting the thread that was going
on. It's not a valid word. Sure you can say it, but what do you really mean
by using it? What your really saying is that an idea differs from your view,
or the popular view, or some other idea. It's a concept that implies a
range, but leaves out content, which is not a proper thing to do with
discussing ideas. How can you leave the content of a concept out and only
deal with its degree? That might matter for the purpose of comparing ideas,
but it has NOTHING to do with the truth of the idea. I for one cant find a
reason to keep this anti-word in our language. If someone can spot a real
use for this concept, please let me know.

Extremism cannot be separated from a particular cause; there is no such
thing as extremism in general, so appeals to extremist generalities, such as
liberty, health, honesty, etc. have no force; of COURSE everyone is for
freedom, health and honesty, and NO one is for slavery, illness and
duplicity. Extremism manifests when it is tied to the end of a position
spectrum in which people also populate the middle and even the other extreme
as well; the two most common extremisms in the US, as Aaron Lynch pointed
out in his memetic treatise THOUGHT CONTAGION, are the radical anti-abortion
and contraception and three-full-trimester pro-choice extremists, and the
ban-all-guns-whatsoever-anti-gun-nuts and
give-kids-criminals-and-crazies-tommy-guns-pro-gun-nuts; when these two
cross-fertilize, we have such logical atrocities as pro-life murders and
pressure to deny picketers free-speech rights even when they are not
harassing clients or orchestrating clinic invasions. Each swears by their
own camp's statistics, and equally swears that the opposing camps'
statistics are propagandistic lies, or that the wrong lesson is being drawn
from them. Neither extreme can admit to themselves that they actually ARE
extremists, so they portray the vast majority of the people who are
middle-of-the-roaders as either deceived and ignorant dupes or malevolent
and lying shills, or sometimes, illogical as it may sound, both at once,
especially when a pack of extremists is attacking someone who is not
extreme. Even when they acknowledge that they are not in the present
majority, each extreme will steadfastly maintain that they are the wave of
the future, and that when people become more intelligent or enlightened or
informed, they will flock to their side in droves. Though hesitant to admit
it, they generally find more in common with their doppelganger on the
opposite side of their pet issue (as both extremes are ruled by their issues
and obsessively and compulsively tend them, as people can be with their
pets) than with the apathetic and indifferent 'sheeple' who really don't
care that much one way or another. The best way to know when an extremist
is about to attack is to listen to them get indignantly defensive, which
typically happens whenever someone does not absolutely agree with them
concerning their pet issue; some sort of physical intimidation or verbal
flame is sure to follow.

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