A Reminder About Radicals

I keep procrastinating my post about extremism, so in lieu of sitting down and writing about how radicals make an effort to be more extreme than their already off-center peer group, I’ll just quote a practical example of parallels between radicals in from The Politburo Diktat:

The parallels between neoconservative arguments, either in the form The Commissar is rebutting or in the form David is advancing, and annoying left-wing radicalisms, are glaring. Consider the following:

1. Both disdain traditional politics. A realist interested in democracy promotion in the Middle East would focus on building local democratic movements, which would defeat the Islamists politically rather than inflame them militarily. Likewise, a realist interested in civil rights would focus on building a longlasting political movement using legal and political action, and only occasionally nonviolent direct action. In contrast, both neoconservatives and radical leftists prefer the methods that don’t involve dirty politics.

2. Both view blatancy as a good in itself. Radical leftists judge people by how much they piss people off rather than by how much they achieve. Neoconservatives judge leaders by how many people they’re willing to kill rather than by how much positive influence they yield. In both cases, the emphasis is on trashing the Winter Palace rather than on administering Russia.

3. Both use the same old historical analogy even when it fails to work in other circumstances. Radical leftists point to the success of Martin Luther King, failing to mention that he had a huge amount of moderate infrastructure behind him, and that even then he couldn’t expand his tactics to anti-war and anti-poverty activism. Neoconservatives analogize every struggle to World War Two, even when it’s a war of choice against a population that hasn’t undergone German-style discombobulation and even when they don’t offer anything approaching the Marshall Plan.

4. Both tend to draw from the same pool of people. The leading intellectual neoconservatives used to be radical leftists holed in City College. David Horowitz’s politics were once left of Noam Chomsky’s. The focus is not so much on a specific cause as on general platitudes – freedom, democracy, equality, peace – combined with horrific methods of achieving them.

David is a commenter who complained that the Commissar’s “The war only creates more terrorists” argument was not sufficiently neoconservative; David responded to the above comment by denying that he’s a neoconservative, but even if that’s true, the argument he advanced was very pro-neocon.

2 Responses to A Reminder About Radicals

  1. SLC says:

    An article in todays’ Washington Post about the f****** born-agains counterparts on the left.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/20/AR2007022001575.html

  2. Ran Halprin says:

    Re 1, the problem is that if you try to impose democracy, it gives firepower to the nationalistic extremists (see pre-ww2 Germany, Iraq, PLO) that claim the leaders are traitors who pact with the enemy… Same classic Machiavellian tactic still works. None the less, seem as though it did work in some places (post-ww2 for instance).

    Perhaps the rehabilitation model used after ww2 should be used more often. Seems as though it works good in Japan, Germany, etc.

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