Do you worry about becoming "extreme" in your views?


#1

If I’m being honest with myself, I probably haven’t been a Centrist since I was an edgy teenager watching the Atheist-side of YouTube (before they decided to make money complaining about Feminism nonstop/become Conservatives). And even then, I’m not sure. But until recently (current events), I haven’t actually had to address where I stand politically, to anyone, including myself.

Fast forward to now, and I’m a Socialist (Democratic & Libertarian).

What defines “extreme” or “far”? Is it worth worrying about.


#2

I think there’s this attitude out there that “extreme anything is extremely bad,” and while that’s not entirely useless it’s kind of ridiculous? Anything taken to the extreme means anything and I don’t think that’s a wise call to make.

So I wouldn’t say worrying about being “extreme” is too much of a concern, but in less abstract terms its always good to consider what’s important to yourself and others and not lose sight of that. Sometimes what’s important might change as you learn new things, and that’s OK too of course, but its good to always be extra-critical of things that might change those views I think.


#3

Could you give an example of something good and extreme? To say that “extreme anything is bad”, while not necessarily true, is, I think, a reasonable view. It goes back to Aristotle. Excess is vice.


#4

It’s worth noting that conceptions of “extreme” are relative/not ahistorical. There was a time when liberalism as written by Enlightenment philosophers was considered grotesque radicalism by 17th century reactionaries. What might better frame the question is asking if one is ever worried about one’s views becoming unreasonable or illogical. Historically, “extreme” has been used as politically coded language to manipulate beliefs about left-wing and progressive policies.

That’s not to say that a danger doesn’t exist, though. Contemporary groups representative of “bad” radical thought (i.e. ideologically justified violence), like ISIS, or groups like serious neo-fascists do exist outside of the accepted historical boundaries of reason, and people do assimilate into those groups.


#5

I haven’t been worried about becoming extreme, I’ve been worried that I’m speaking from a place of too much ignorance to justify my… level of… I can’t really find the word. Conviction isn’t it… more like the conviction combined with the fervor with which I engage the people around me. I’m fairly certain in my convictions, and I’m not speaking from a place of complete ignorance by a long shot. But I know I end up saying things that I’m confident can be backed up but which I’m unable, in that moment, to back up.

That said, I find the idea that “both sides are equally bad” as detestable garbage. We’ve been, at least in America, fed a history that leads us to believe a certain narrative about the world that leaves a lot out. We’ve been taught that being in the middle is the right place to be. It’s the status quo. “Sure, some things have been bad, and might even be bad! But don’t get that upset about things.” If you get too loud you’re seen as a problem. Such as people who claim reverse racism (or even the ones who say “it’s not reverse racism! It’s just racism!!” …) is a thing. It’s not. The power dynamic is so ludicrously imbalanced it’s astonishing people don’t see it.

Take Martin Luther King Jr for example and how he is often used by white folk to speak out against protests that turn the slightest bit violent. Or even blocking highways. These people want people who want change to sit down and write change.org petitions and that’s about it. The status quo is comfortable, and I admit to fairly strongly want to cling to some parts of it myself. anti-racism and anti-colonialism can get pretty uncomfortable for a white person.

But violence coming from the left is nowhere near the same as violence from the right. In general, the left is fighting against oppression. It is not always pretty, but it’s fighting for liberation. It is fighting against something that destroys anything that crosses its path. Somebody punching a literal, self proclaimed nazi is self defense. white supremacy is not a recent phenomenon, it’s just more comfortable showing its head. That’s a thing to fight against. That’s a thing to get mad about. People on the left getting angry and violence towards those on the right isn’ because they’re different. It’s because the people on the right want women, poor folk, and people of color dead.

Also apologies if I lost the plot somewhere in there. I just kind of stream of consciousness-ed it and as I’ve said before I’m not always super good at organizing my thoughts


#6

Fam, Donald Trump is president of the USA like I don’t think having strong ideals constitutes being extreme or bad especially in times like these. As we’re seeing w/ neoliberal centrists and the Democrats being a party of “no ideology”/no conviction makes them susceptible to the whims of fascists and right-wing powers, or at the very least a not very effective opposition power.

Of course compromise is traditionally seen as a big part of democratic politicking, but it all falls apart when what they want us to compromise on are the lives & wellbeing of people.


#7

I always scratch my head thinking about this because in a lot of senses, I find myself very often sticking to a strongly Relativist mindset, in that nothing has absolute truth or validity and instead relies heavily upon context. But I guess maybe that says less about my own views on something and more upon my views of interacting with the world.

The one thing I feel that keeps me grounded in any of this is to think the how and why people will have views that oppose my own. Its easy to just say someone is evil or maybe just an asshole, but I find value in being able to understand what has led someone to that point. In that way of understanding, maybe there can be a conversation to find ways that are positive and constructive.

I know that’s a pretty idealist mentality, but I just want to find what is best for as many people as possible rather than enforce my own personal perception and motives as being those which are the most valid.


#8

the only real worry i have about being too extreme in my views is my attitude toward people who don’t share them? like i’m an anarchist and i think it can definitely be easy for me to get dismissive about anyone who isn’t, but that kind of very insular mindset is a big part of why the american left is such a mess at this point. i’m not gonna go shake hands with nazis or conservative republicans who actively want me dead but it’s definitely important to be open to people who i might disagree with but who have at least some of the same values as me. and like i may be very skeptical of it but i’d still much rather live under socialism than what we’ve got now, and i’m certainly gonna welcome any reforms that help people even if it’s not nearly enough.

like basically i don’t think being “extreme” in your views is an issue in itself? it only becomes a problem when it winds up meaning that you completely reject anything or anyone that doesn’t align perfectly with them. but also like @MOHOPSOUL pointed out, too much compromise is dangerous and gets you things like neo-nazis marching in the streets, or hillary clinton as a presidential candidate


#9


#10

I’m legitimately curious about when you say “The American Left” whether or not you mean the democrats and liberals or actual left left. Because the overton window has shifted so far to the right that so many people view democratic right-of-center as “left”


#11

Extreme and good? Tony Hawk probably fits the bill. :wink:

But I mean it really depends on your perspective and I guess the context for what’s “extreme” so it’s a hard answer. Democrats tend to label anyone to the left of them as “extreme” when getting even a few “extreme left” ideas into the mainstream US political discourse would be extremely good. Though if you listen to conservative talk radio you’d get the idea that even the scraps the Democrats leave to the left is somehow some terrible extremism destroying the country.


#12

Everything having shifted so fat to the right that Fascism is mainstream again is bad, very bad. But it can and should be used to the Left’s advantage. Basically everyone who doesn’t flirt with Blood & Soil Fascism is Left now, in the US. At least that’s the prevailing narrative. So the actual Left should take this opportunity to radicalize Left-of-Center, Liberals, and even Right-of-Center people. What better evidence of the failings and possible death of Centrism than the nations response to a candidate (Hillary) that promised more NeoCon/NeoLib bullshit, that was effectively letting a Silver-Spoon suckling fail-son of a business person who said some neo-Fascist shit own the White House?

People want change,no matter who’s offering it at this point. I genuinely think that the people who want the Neoconservative/Neoliberal order to resume as normal pre-2016 election are a very vocal, very small minority. And if you give most people an out, they’ll take it. So the actual Left in North America (and Europe while we’re at it) need to be offering people an out from the current crisis, AND an unwavering, strong, and militant-if-need-be opposition to Fascism.

I say take notes from Rojava, the Kurds are basically doing what the Left everywhere should be. And they’re literally fighting multiple Fascist armies on multiple fronts while building a Libertarian Socialist society from the ground up, AND helping their not-at-all-Libertarian, Marxist-Leninist allies to the North of them out not just by offering revolutionary solidarity; but by offering them a place in Rojava to rest, and train, and fight alongside them! If you want to talk about “Uniting The Left”, look no further than Rojava. Anarchists, Marxists, Left-Of-Center (rare but they’re their) from all over the world, working together, building together, fighting together. All for a better future.

Sorry if I lost the plot there towards the end.

TL;DR: Yes, it’s a bullshit narrative. But use it! Point to the Conservatives and Fascists calling Liberals and Centrists “Left”, and “radicalize” (for lack of a better word) them.


#13

I agree that people too quickly jump to call their opponents “extremists”. Nonetheless, I think some views are extreme regardless of perspective. One example of an extreme view is the religious fundamentalist that all government laws should be taken directly from religious texts. Another example of an extreme view is the view that anyone deemed an enemy to the government for what ever reason regardless of whether or not they broke the law should be executed. It doesn’t matter if people who believe these views don’t consider their views extreme. Their views are extreme. I don’t see how one could argue otherwise. We might be wrong when we label certain views “extreme” just like we might be wrong when we label certain views “fascist” or “fundamentalist” or even “progressive.” But I maintain that some views are extreme in principle.


#14

oh yeah i meant the left-left! like, anarchists and socialists constantly yelling at each other instead of organizing and building solidarity (and like i’m definitely someone who is guilty of that failure to organize lol, i don’t mean to finger-point or anything)


#16

#17

Reminder to keep this a discussion and not turn the thread into a series of personal jabs.


#18

Agreed with much of the above. Most of us live under an extreme orthodoxy: capitalism. A specific corrupt take on that extreme ideology of private ownership above labour rights which appears to not even be working (wealth concentration and inequality are breaking the global economy, global warming will totally reshape value concepts, even small stuff like HFT breaks the claimed purpose of the markets). Any mild resistence to this is called “extreme” while literal Nazis are platformed as if this was acceptable politics.

I am less concerned with becoming extreme and more concerned by how the world I live in was so extreme to start with. The space for movement to the Left is virtually infinite (so far I’m yet to see any serious political talk of/implementable culling of the rich, we regularly talk of the politics of “not being able to afford” the survival of poor, marginalised, and disabled people) so on this side I see very little that is genuinely extreme.


#19

I think the way you get things done in politics is to have a broad base that supports things and continues to support you throughout your legislation.

I’d argue there’s different ways to get there. In a winner takes all system, I’d say extreme opinions are useless. If they get pushed through, the pushback in the next cycle will be all the bigger. At that point you’re not doing politics as much as playing tug of war with people’s lives.

In a representative government, I’d say extreme views are okay. If you go hardline all the way, base your politics on practicing opposition (the way unions in Europe often do. Sometimes you need to kick someone’s shins to remind them of the other perspective, but you wouldn’t want the union in charge or your economy would collapse in a week)

If you don’t, your best bet would be to find common ground on some elements so you can get in the coalition. Your voice would become a lot more powerful that way.

Look at the Netherlands. They have a representational government, and the Green Left party won some significant numbers. They’re not the biggest, but because the main party has no majority (you never really do in a diverse country), they’re looking at them as effective partners in ruling the country. If they now chose to limit the scope of their programme and bring nuance, they can actually push some things through that will stick in the long term. If they don’t, they’re condemning themselves to the opposition.

Approaching extreme politics on a purely individual level can be fun for discussions, but I think you might be intellectually dishonest with yourself if you think that can go somewhere.

Again, that’s not to say you’re wrong in your opinion; but political engagement gets to be more interesting when you can actually change things.


#21

I’ve been becoming more and more extreme in the past decade or so; maybe I’ll stop if anything ever stops being fucked up, but that sure doesn’t seem to be coming any time soon. For now I’ll continue with my guillotine dreams, thanks.


#22

My intention here is not to upset you, but to recap the ways in which I have bungled this interaction.

The last sentence of your initial post reflects what I see as a whole host of problems with many political conversations where I believe the least time intensive response is to look confused, then disappointed, then walk away.

This is what I should have done, instead of finding a picture of that action and posting it.

Your response, at a glance, seemed worded like disingenuous trolling. This was the wrong call, and responding to it at all was a further mistake.

So that’s three apologies I owe you.
Pardon.
Lo siento.
Sorry, Bub.
I hope I never owe you another one.