Extremism vs Terrrorism

479 words | 2 page(s)

Terrorism and extremism are nebulous terms that have a host of negative connotations and stereotypes attached to their name. Some of these caricatures are sound, some of them are unsound. In order to gain a better grasp regarding the fundamental characteristics that radical organizations share, the following explores common themes in the statements of specific ‘extreme’ organizations. These organizations include the Council for Conservative Citizens, Earth First! and the Socialist Party USA.

There are many conflicting values that these organizations share. The Council for Conservative Citizens values Christian principles, a free economy and a large military (Francis, 2005). They view terrorism as violence and activities that threaten civil liberties. The Earth First values the environment, is against industrialization and anti-military. Domestic terrorism has been prescribed to this group as ‘an organization that causes the animal enterprise a loss of profit (No Compromise in Defense of Mother Earth, n.d.).’ The Socialist Party USA values equality, is anti-capitalism and against military intervention (Socialism As Radical Democracy, n.d.). They view terrorism as that which has a monopoly on the open market. There are many other statements attached to these organizations; however, the highlighted values are some of the most central principles of each organization.

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There are two commonalities that these competing statements share. One commonality is a quality that the statements lack, the other is a quality that the statements share. To begin with the former, all of the statements try to distance themselves from violence and emphasize peace. This is because extreme organizations tend to be associated with violence. By focusing on the positive, the statements distant themselves from the violence that tends to accompany radical movements.

A quality that all of the statements possess is that they are uncompromising. These organizations can be regarded as ‘radicals.’ The term radical stems from the Latin word radix, meaning to get to the root of a problem. All of the organizations believe that a particular system is inherently flawed. Rather than working with the system, the organizations desire to overthrow the opposed system by pulling it from the roots and seeding it with an alternative political philosophy.

One quality that is shared by extremists is dealing in absolutes. By dealing in absolutes, the organization refuses to work with alternative organizations that share competing values. This is not always necessarily bad; however, it is sure to cause turmoil and friction in an environment of competing ideas. In addition, dealing in absolutes can lead to insularity and bigotry. Sometimes, certain systems need to be abolished. In some instances, extremism is an abolition that must be abolished.

  • Francis, S. (2005). Statement of Principle. Retrieved April 30, 2014, from COFCC: http://topconservativenews.com/introduction/statement-of-principles/
  • No Compromise in Defense of Mother Earth. (n.d.). Retrieved from Earth First! : http://earthfirstjournal.org/about/
  • Socialism As Radical Democracy. (n.d.). Retrieved from Socialist Party USA: http://socialistparty-usa.net/principles.html

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