The current forms of “extremism” are media and money-fueled, false, pseudo-ideologies. “Fundamentalist” religion has absolutely nothing in common with Islam or Christianity as cited by their founders. It’s based on interpretations of interpretations, like the “pass the message” communications exercise in which the message ultimately becomes totally different.
“Fundamentalist” politics is simply a matter of becoming more extreme and getting airtime
. The politics are based on nothing more or less than money and self-seeking ambition at the expense of the public. The expense is huge and the rifts in society caused by extreme political positions are dangerous.
They’re both political, in fact. Historically, the religions were political forces in the past in all societies. Their common behaviours are no coincidence. “Extremism” is a weapon, not an ideology, in practice.
The pattern of behaviour for extremists is simple enough:
Creation of dogma
Recruitment of those unable to argue with or accepting of dogma
Progressively more confrontational
Progressively denying or distorting known facts, and demanding acceptance of the false versions of facts
Threats, actual violence
, and polarizing communities
Terrorism, real or implied
There are those who’ve always thought that creating fanaticism was a good idea. Idiots are believed to be useful, and fanatics never argue with their “beliefs”. They accept any information they’re given as fact.
Manipulation of large groups is pretty common, if clumsy and shoddy, in the West. The creation of Astro Turf groups is now so normal it’s like a McHappy Meal for political groups, instantly available whenever required. These largely useless, cosmetically presented groups include a large amount of image and a much smaller amount of real politics.
The “Islamic” form of this process is a very cynical exercise. In the midst of the poorest communities in the world, pseudo-religion, as preached by anyone with enough guns and money, is a currency. It’s certainly not any kind of religion. The people remain poor, the “terrorists” prosper. This is actually anti-Islam, in terms of the original. The religion was never intended to be the basis of oppression, any more than Christianity. After the extremely and vicious bloody civil war in which the Prophet emerged victorious, the idea was to create a society, not a jail. Terrorist groups routinely breach every principle of Islam on a daily basis, particularly the word "peace", which is what the word Islam actually means.
The common thread is fanaticism. Fanatics are associated with every war and every act of persecution, every genocide, and every form of oppression. The Inquisition was based on a completely false version of Christianity, and was never anything but a socio-political form of systematic oppression. Manifest Destiny was the excuse for the genocide of Native Americans. The White Man’s Burden was the excuse for instant exploitation and huge numbers of deaths in Africa, Australia, and South America, with a bit of hypocritical pseudo-Christianity thrown in.
If you’ve ever read The Gulag Archipelago
, you’ll remember how easily Marxism/Communism was turned into an excuse for persecution. This was done on a multi-generational basis by power groups which were as anti-communist in fact as their opponents were claimed to be in theory. There was never any such thing as Stalinism as an ideology. It was a methodology of systematic oppression, taken up by Saddam Hussein among others for selective repression. Mao’s Little Red Book became the dogma for the Cultural Revolution, an act of madness which affected nearly a billion people for years. Mein Kampf was rarely read in full, but it became the dogma for Nazism.
Every single aspect of these “ideologies” was nothing more than distortion of facts. It was simply intended to put politicians in charge of nations using fanatics as tools. This is also usually believed by non-thinkers to be a “clever” way of gaining power.
There’s nothing clever about it. It’s just exploitation of situations using people who can't think for themselves. The fact that all of these ideologies failed is self-explanatory. The fact that failed ideologies are endlessly revived is also obvious. The theory of fanaticism is basically the same as the theory of cheap labor- Fanatics don’t question and will do whatever they’re told to do. They don’t need management or wages. They’ll die for whatever stupid “cause” is available. There’s always some idiot prepared to blow themselves up or kill people for any mirage of belief.
If insanity is the inability to tell fact from fiction, all fanatics are insane. If it’s the inability to recognise the rights of others, they’re insane. If it’s the ability to produce false doctrine which directly contradicts itself, they’re insane. If fanaticism promotes psychotic acts, it’s insane. An insane society, in fact, is run by insane people, acting on their delusions.
The decades of pointless violence in the Middle East and elsewhere have achieved exactly nothing and never will. A collection of bomb-happy jihadis does not constitute a form of Islam. It constitutes a form of insanity. Whatever they do, nothing changes. However many people die, the situation gets worse, not better. The fact is failure, the result is more acts which lead to more failure.
Political fanaticism, as it now is, is an industry. Extremist politics includes:
Paid writers producing totally false statements as if they were true
Paid politicians acting purely for the interest of their sponsors at the expense of the public
Hate groups and hate crimes
Bizarre statements and threats against political opponents
Outright lies and distortions of issues
Sabotage of effective government
Association with crime groups (extremely common historically)
Crimes of the privileged, without prosecution
In short, the pretense of politics and the fact are total contradictions. Politics, by definition is the art of dividing society. In this case, even the politics themselves are divided into pretense and facts. The fanatical politician claims to support democracy and law while actively doing everything possible to damage both. The fanatical lawmakers are actually against the laws. In many cases, the society itself falls apart as a functional body in the process.
Is that sane? Could it ever be?
It’d be nice to be able to say that democratic politics is a counterbalancing act, in which voters have the ability to remove politicians and “restore sanity”. The observed fact is that whichever generation of lunatics is involved in extremist politics, the result is simply more of the same. The insanity is that those doing these things know perfectly well that they’re doing so much injury to the society which gave them office.
Even less sane, at least in theory, is the fact that the remains of old fanaticisms persist, adding their irrelevance and promoting old hatreds. This is the 21st century. The huge opportunities for humanity with its new technological abilities are being obstructed by politics on an hourly basis. From stem cells to decent medical care, obstacles are created systematically, despite their obvious benefits. Can that be sane? Globalization is preached, when it makes money, but the rest of the sermon is pure bigotry, even against the people with whom the preachers are doing business. Another contradiction, typical of insane politics.
Call it what you will, doublethink
is the core ideology, and doublethink, in practice, is applied insanity. Doublethink can be applied endlessly, in endless self-contradictions, and presented as ideology, fact or expedient excuse.
The Robber Barons still exist. The Old Regime still festers. The ancient ignorance of religious zealotry, first mentioned in the Bible, continues online. The delusions of the privileged continue to resent the democracies which created the ability to have the privileges.
You’ll notice that none of these “beliefs” or “clever methods” are new. Fanatics aren’t innovators. They take their ideas from the past, which is why they’re so incompatible with anything to do with the future. (I read 1984
as a kid, and was stunned to see that anyone thought that doublethink was a new idea, let alone a way of doing things.)
Zero tolerance for fanatics
The gruesome result of “enlightened” democracy has been to tolerate the intolerant.
This abuse of democracy cannot be accepted, in any form under any conditions.
Freedom of belief is one thing. Infringing on the rights of others is totally different.
If you claim rights for yourself, you must acknowledge the rights of everyone else.
Nobody has the right to threaten or abuse others.
Freedom is not negotiable.
The fanatics and their obscene industry of human suffering must go. There’s no place for insanity in a sane society. Threats and hate speech must be met with all legal avenues of retaliation. Actual violence must be met with implacable, relentless force until the violence permanently stops. The right to defend against insanity, in effect, has to be enforced to the hilt.
The choice is more of the same, or a very different world.