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Old 12-12-2009, 10:01 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Inaction and apathy among people with extreme views

After browsing this thread http://www.tfproject.org/tfp/tilted-...mpty-city.html I found myself wondering something.

Why the *vast* majority of people that have extremist views don't act on them. There are so many people that have political, social, and economic views that are way outside the norm, but yet, they don't really do anything about it.

In the aforementioned thread, and other threads, Pai Mei has talked about a return to a more primitive and simple existence. Other threads people talk about how communism would be the best system. Some say that an altruistic system of government and economics would be best. Other sites online that are dedicated to political extremists, like anarchists have thousands of members, and yet, I've never even heard of a single anarchist act, in my 24 years of living on this planet.

So my question is why do people that have extreme of very different opinions fail to act on them?

Is it a lack of options, a lack of money, a lack of motivation, a lack of others to join?

I know that deep down, I've always wanted to join some group of people that buy an island and try to form their own country/colony. I would do it/join, but someone else would have to do the leg work, I'd just like to tag along.

So what are your thoughts?

Oh, another big one. These tea party people are huge on talk, but they really do nothing.

(Hopefully this post made sense, my thoughts on the subject are a bit jumbled.)
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Old 12-12-2009, 10:26 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'd say it's the lack of ability to swallow the startup costs of whatever "revolution" would be involved.

I don't wanna give up my college degree, career, good name, freedom, etc. to do something that might get me killed.

I like my cushy little bubble of broken civilization. I'm a nobody just like everybody else.
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Old 12-13-2009, 02:42 AM   #3 (permalink)
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So many followers and so few leaders.
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Old 12-13-2009, 03:31 AM   #4 (permalink)
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It's like in chemistry - you have a hump of activation energy required to start a process, and then it self perpetuates from the energy generated. Think striking a match - the phosphor is unstable, but you can carry a match about in your pocket quite safely, but when struck it starts the flame which grows exponentially.

Crowds are the same - you need an event that gets the revolution moving.

As Xerx says, that's often a leader.
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Old 12-14-2009, 12:15 AM   #5 (permalink)
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nice metaphor there with the match - seems right on the money
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Old 12-14-2009, 12:26 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Poe's Law extends to politics, right?
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Old 12-15-2009, 10:11 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Hmm, so it's just the lack of a leader? I would have thought someone would have come around in one of these groups...
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Old 12-15-2009, 10:47 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Nothing to lose. Everything to gain. Thus, a (leader) emerges.

Just broad-scoping, most people in our society, among others (think anybody who has an e-mail address, working job, family matters) always has something to lose. Acting upon whatever radical reform they are proposing/demanding will, in most cases, be impossible to achieve single-handedly without outside help; and if they do foster contigents, then they may never see what they built upon come to fruition in their lifetime, so they rarely try if they consider this reality of starting a support from the ground up. Best 'they' can hope for is to latch onto another person, community, website's aim and express their opinions, venting frustration while seemingly "propagating the cause".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plan9 View Post
I'd say it's the lack of ability to swallow the startup costs of whatever "revolution" would be involved.

I don't wanna give up my college degree, career, good name, freedom, etc. to do something that might get me killed.

I like my cushy little bubble of broken civilization. I'm a nobody just like everybody else.
In my opinion, a good 'average joe' sentiment.

But even if someone exists out there with nothing to lose and a fervent message to spread to the masses, there is a good likelihood that the person in question is not very sociable in the first place, so it's more of a lone effort, perhaps supported by others afterwards if the word spreads.
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Old 12-15-2009, 11:31 AM   #9 (permalink)
 
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the first story

in the days just after the russian revolution there was a group of artist types called constructivists who argued that art as it had been understood was finished because, well, there had been a revolution and all. what would replace bourgeois art was making useful stuff for the masses, so industrial design say. the folk who had been part of this group (loosely used but whatever) who actually did abandon art making and start industrial design as their Thing for the most part disappeared into the history that most of us live in, the one that erases all traces of our passage. the ones who either kept doing art while saying that art was over we should all do industrial design remained more visible (for better or worse particularly once stalin showed up) as did the others who combined the two. this is the constructivist problem, the one that follows from moving away from being the people who say a certain thing should be done from a position that is not doing that thing and into the position of doing that thing.

the second story

one day in 1919 the more anarchist wing of the french socialist party decided that world revolution either had or soon would arrive in france and they were ready for it because they said lots of times in the form of tracts and other stuff we're ready for this and what being ready for this meant was that there would be a general strike, one of those moments where everyone everywhere withdrew their consent from the existing order by just doing it as a population. fuck you existing order we aren't doing this any more.
if the population simply stops co-operating with the existing order, it would follow that there's not much left in the way of an existing order since being an existing order presupposes that people who live in a particular place think they is one so they act as though there is one. and so there is one.
and if you think about it, power that is granted institutions exists because that power is granted to them. that the institutions come to be legally framed such that they can act as though this granting was a one-off and from there enforce their prerogatives with violence is another matter.
anyway, so it is theoretically possible that if everyone in a particular place decided to simply stop playing along all at once that this would constitute a revolutionary action because of the whole problem of the existing order not really existing from that point forward because people stop thinking and acting as though it does exist.
so one day in 1919 the anarchist-leaning wing of the french socialist party (which was at the time a hodge-podge of everything left) decided that on another day not long afterward there would be a general strike so they called a general strike then they went out that morning as if they would find a general strike except there wasn't one.
so much for that.

a sequel
other times there have been general strikes like hungary in 1956 and much of what i said above turned out to be true, the existing order stopped existing pretty quickly and people set up forms of direct-democratic goverance and things worked pretty well and everything was pretty exciting except that the soviets didn't find it funny to see a worker-driven revolution happening in a place that was supposed to already have had one so they sent alot of tanks in and rounded up alot of people. it was ugly. so much for that.


meanwhile back in the good ole us of a

here in the good ole us of a people in the main have no way of withdrawing consent and are every day inundated with the workings of a cultural machinery that would have you imagine the only alternatives worth considering are the ones that you can buy retail and so which already exist which must mean that the existing order can cater to all your consumer needs and since the ability to consume is political freedom or an expression of that it follows that it's a pretty difficult thing to imagine how you'd go about doing stuff that would result in a different social arrangement when you're quite sure from much of what you see that any different social arrangement should be available retail.

you can't withdraw consent by doing stuff like not voting because the way votes are counted only include the votes that are cast not the votes that aren't cast and you can't use blank ballots to protest the lack of meaningful choices because they won't be counted either so no matter what happens someone wins an election and the percentage is always an aspect of 100 and so no matter what happens the outcome appears to be legitimate and besides politics in america is like retail and so it doesn't really affect you.

you could say that dissent is also a form of retail that enables a particular demographic to console itself by dressing itself up intellectually in strange clothing. that way you can still enjoy your little slice of collapsing empire and imagine that you are advocating something different because the people you read about advocated in and so by identification, which is kinda the center of consumption really (it allows you to imagine that an elvis jacket lets you express your individuality).

collapsing empires do not seem real fertile places for revolt because your frame of reference is still knit into that of the existing order and so moves with it but as collapse happens something starts to feel funny and since you can't quite put your finger on what that is that now feels funny it is often the case that folk retreat even further into their routine, which enables them to maintain an illusion of stability in a sliding situation.

whether folk recognize that function of routine or not isn't obvious but one thing that's as clear as a general strike is that you can read off motivations of anxiety and denial in that retreat if you are so inclined to do such things.

but periods during which people are retreating into their routines and trying real hard not to look because there are scary bad things happening that may in the abstract disrupt the cycle of buying things and the democracy for which that stands are not real fertile times for radical social change on a grand scale.

but everywhere if you look people are experimenting with new things often on a small scale that you could see as basic critiques of this sad old imperial order that is sliding into beigeness and irrelevance in slow-motion all around us.

so i don't know what the op is talking about.
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Old 12-15-2009, 02:54 PM   #10 (permalink)
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As one of TFP's official Evil Rightwing Extremist Terrorists In Training*, I'd like to weigh in on this one. Being that my "extremism" runs to an individualist rather than collectivist paradigm, I can speak specifically only about myself, and only generally on the views of others.

Many or most on the libertarian right refuse currently to take direct action because:

1: Libertarianism disallows the initiation of the use of force. Starting a revolution is initiating the use of force. Ergo, no startage.

2: Many people recognise that, for reasons which remain the topic of debate, much of the population of the US (and indeed most of the western world) is if not hostile towards, then neither terribly receptive towards such ideas. While winning AmRev1 may have required only 30/10/3% support, they recognise that any such action today would require much broader support and would be a much harder sell. Additionally, with some percentage of 300-ish million people to win over, such a "sell" would take far longer and need to be far more complete. Not being willing to kill or imprison people to change their minds has some significant drawbacks when you're in the revolution business.

3: Most on the "extreme right" (racist asshats like the Nat'l Alliance, Aryan Nations, etc. not included**) recognise that any such revolution would be horrendous for both sides. Casualties would be utterly murderous. The winners, whoever they were, would have to be comfortable with the idea of killing somewhere north of a million people, and would furthermore sustain similar losses themselves; very few people are willing to enter the company of Pol Pot and Idi Amin without a -very- good reason. Most on the "extreme right" find nothing short of out-and-out aggression (such as forcible gun confiscation, foreign troops active on US soil, forcible land confiscation or large-scale "disappearances) to be even worthy of consideration as a "very good reason" to get into a gunfight. Willingness to sustain those kinds of casualties takes one HELL of a provocation.

My personal objections run in these veins, as do (in a general sense) those of most individuals with whom I discuss such matters. Nobody -wants- to start a fight, because those kinds of fights SUCK, real hard. They recognise that such a fight may be unavoidable, but in the main they are much more interested in winning the "soft war" through education, outreach, and propaganda, than they are in winning the "hard war" at the potential expense of their own and the certain expense of many others' lives.

*No, really, ask Janet Napolitano or Morris Dees or Mark Potok.
**This bunch are really entertaining. They all seem to think that once TSHTF, every white person in the country will simply join up, grab a gun, kill a few niggers and Jews without breaking a sweat or taking more than token casualties, and then the whole thing will be over and won and Whites will rule the world again. These people are the very definition of "deluded, asinine, divorced-from-reality moron." This view is probably related to the fact that NA types view blacks as incurably stupid, Jews as incurably cowardly, and everyone else as some mixture of the two, and therefor utterly incapable of resisting The Might And Righteous Wrath Of All White People Everywhere. They seem to have gotten their tactical and psyop information mostly from watching "Birth Of A Nation" late at night.

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Old 12-15-2009, 04:11 PM   #11 (permalink)
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what roachboy said...

i'm neither as verbiose nor as eloquent...

(not on the fly, anyway...)

but, i studied the same history...
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Old 12-16-2009, 07:14 PM   #12 (permalink)
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It occurs to me that, as Americans, we are bombarded daily with news about extremists acting on their beliefs. It is the prevalence of these supposed extremists that fuels the anti-Mesopotamian sentiment that is quietly and not-so-quietly spreading among the western nations. Take switzerland, for example, and their recent ban on building minarets http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/30/wo...inarets&st=cse, or any fox news broadcast on any day ever. Anyway before I get too off topic, the point is that it surprises me that one would post that there are rarely any extremists that act on their views when the entire justification for the multiple wars we Americans are in at this very moment is that there are extremists all over the world ready to die for their beliefs at any moment. If you take conglomerate-controlled news media seriously, and I think most people do, given the US invasions of the middle east, extremism is widespread and rampant.
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Old 12-16-2009, 07:53 PM   #13 (permalink)
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How about this:

I'm surprised there is not more domestic terrorism/terrorism in the US.
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Old 12-16-2009, 07:58 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Complacency is something that effects people across the board. If you're complacent, just the same as you don't speak your mind to the powers that be you're not going to take up arms against anything. It'll probably be years before terrorism against the people actually responsible for America's woes comes to pass, if ever.
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Old 12-16-2009, 08:02 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I've always wondered this too. In the end I've come to the conclusion that its really easy to talk about having extreme views but acting upon them is just too difficult for most people. In most cases your going to need to have an infrastructure to support you, an economic structure, a place to worship or congregate, a governing body ect. In most cases an extreme viewpoint often puts you in the minority and their simply aren't enough people or resources around you to make it work. When you considered the time it takes eeking out a living and raising a family more often then not those views wind up being discarded or severely diminished. In other words most extreme views are just a pipe dream and nothing more.

I'm also convinced that some people put forth these extreme view points to simply sound cool, different or deep while never having any intention of following through on them. For example I knew many many people in college that were very hard line in their outside or extremist views. They lived the life (as much as one can on their parents money while living in a dorm room), talked down to others, lectured, protested and then graduated. Its amazing how many of them became businessmen who own nice homes, cars and just about every modem amenity that money can buy. Really sometimes its just a phase.
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Old 12-16-2009, 09:58 PM   #16 (permalink)
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How I wish that extremists were as extreme in their actions as they were in their beliefs (big talk).

The world would be a far more interesting place. Good thing thinking is A) cheap-as-free and B) generally private.
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Old 12-16-2009, 11:04 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plan9 View Post
How I wish that extremists were as extreme in their actions as they were in their beliefs (big talk).
Only they're overcompensating with their big talk for their inferiority. If they had no such inferiority, they'd not be talking as big. It's a paradox.
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Old 12-17-2009, 09:32 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Riddle me this: Which came first? The suicide bomber or the cause to die for?
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Old 12-17-2009, 09:51 AM   #19 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Riddle me this: Which came first? The suicide bomber or the cause to die for?
false bind.

how about the socio-political or economic conditions and lack of any sense that there is meaningful redress inside the existing political system that makes of an action like suicide bombing and the political frameworks that orient it a viable-seeming alternative?


of course there's always a certain percentage of wingnuts who'll approach such actions otherwise, but in the main these are political actions shaped by particular types of experience of particular social and political situations.

these are most often pretty specific states of affairs--situations like the israeli colonial occupation of the west bank and gaza for example.

and these states of affairs have to be pretty fucked up for folk to decide that the best alternative they can imagine for themselves is blowing themselves up.
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Old 12-17-2009, 09:57 AM   #20 (permalink)
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I'm not sure what you're suggesting, but I'm thinking it's similar to general strain theory. Let's say that Mad Bomber / Martyr was motivated by three things: We have "failure to achieve goals" (like having a house without bullet holes in it), "loss of something valued" (mommy got blown up by an Israeli tank shell), and "negative treatment" (yeaaah). They're all objective types of harm, really. Add in the anticipated harms and inability to cope with the stresses in a manner other than fight or flight and you've got yourself an entire population that, given the chance, will bust a cap in The Enemy.

The Bomber and the Cause is a prime example of social science fun... the fun that the chicken and egg game had when I was in 5th grade.
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Old 12-17-2009, 10:24 AM   #21 (permalink)
 
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you're thinking about political action as if it were a criminal thing, comrade.
what that lets you assume is that the institutional situation is somehow neutral, so motivation comes down to pressures placed on an isolated individual or discrete network.
the problem with that is simple enough: it makes no sense to assume up front that the institutional/political situation is neutral.
so political action is not a form of deviant behavior.
it may well be---and in a colonial situation typically is the case--that most everything about the dominant apparatus would be understood as deviant-to-unacceptable in a non-colonial situation. and the prerogative of domination is that you (vague...were you in that situation of dominance) get to define the rules.

rules are not neutral simply because they're rules.

this isn't to say that there's not a wingnut factor--but the wingnut factor is evenly distributed it seems--there's tons of wingnuts in legit society whose attachment to the trappings and "causes" of "legitimate" society is every bit as pathological as are those of anyone who chooses for whatever reason to engage in another type of action.

going back--assume for a minute that you're in a palestinian refugee camp where your family has been since the late 40s. you can't move around the west bank because of all the "security" in place to protect the (illegal) settlements. there's very little in the way of economic activity and less in the way of prospects for the future and you are as you've always been entirely cut out of anything remotely like a conventional political process, so even if you were to organize others and attempt to pressure the state or authorities to address problems---deep structural problems that impact on you every day---there's no-one to talk to.
year after year the same.
no prospect of an end in sight.

it would seem to me that this situation would define your options in a pretty stark way and that thinking about and responding to your world---even at the level of trying to imagine it otherwise (which can be a source of consolation as much as a political mobilizer) leads you to no alternatives but "extreme"----violent maybe nihilist action.

the problem lay in the colonial situation itself, really. *that's* what defines the range of alternatives. you want to address "extremism" in a case like that, the key lay in, o i dunno, the dismantling of the settlements and everything that attends them and recognition of a viable palestine, yes?

or it lay in pathologizing dissent in order to make violence directed against it easy to carry out.
which is what treating it as a criminal action does.
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Old 12-17-2009, 10:31 AM   #22 (permalink)
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"Political action" (violence) is almost always a crime to one side of the debate, isn't it?

One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter goes the jingle, no?

...

I like how you've detailed the wingnut factor.
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Old 12-17-2009, 11:58 AM   #23 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
"Political action" (violence) is almost always a crime to one side of the debate, isn't it?
not meaning to be a pain but the phrase in quotes and the word in brackets aren't synonymous.

anyway, it's true what you say, but my point went kinda beyond that. since we're talking on a meta-level about how to understand something about political action...what i was basically saying is that there's a perfectly reasonable debate to be had about which framework to use to get the understanding part up and running, yes?
the criminology approach is a choice---as is my more sociological approach---each comes with advantages and disadvantages.
so the logical next move i suppose would be to weigh them out.

the line between criminology and sociology more broadly is kinda murky, and i know that within crimonology there's more and less sociological approaches to understanding the same questions.

seems to me that reduction to a matter of how abstract or general social tensions converge on an individual is maybe best a way of thinking in general about how someone might snap...a political viewpoint then becomes one of a number of factors that can be used to explain the particular direction that a given snapping might go.
but that presupposes that the law defines the normal and actions which violate the law the abnormal in a kinda circular way.
the whole reason for the excursion into a hypothetical palestine was to argue that that assumption simply does not hold in many cases.
and a more sociologically oriented approach to the same intersection (law/legal institutions as over against political challenges or threats to those institutions whether real or imagine) relativizes this relationship even more.

so that's where i was heading.

yer up.
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Old 12-17-2009, 11:59 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Let's remember that criminal doesn't always mean wrong.
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Old 12-17-2009, 12:17 PM   #25 (permalink)
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I think its also difficult to describe what extremist is as well. What seems extreme to one person may be perfectly normal to another, the same applies to different countries and cultures as well. Often times when we describe something as extreme (we see people labeled extremist in politics/media everyday) we are describing something that just seems foreign or unusual to ourselves or ideology. A lot of what some people think of as extreme is often times very common and we see it everyday.

The question then becomes what really is an extremist view? Would a more appropriate label be outsider views? Something so different from the rest of it environment that its uniqueness forces people to label it as extreme? I don't know just thinking with my fingers I guess.
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Old 12-17-2009, 12:24 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Complacency is something that effects people across the board. If you're complacent, just the same as you don't speak your mind to the powers that be you're not going to take up arms against anything. It'll probably be years before terrorism against the people actually responsible for America's woes comes to pass, if ever.
The use of the word "complacency" makes it sound like you feel it's a bad thing. Like Wes Mantooth said, if you own a big car and a big house and a big family and a big ... big ... big ... why would you want it to change? If the law says we should stone hookers and christians and it's my job to find them why would I want to change my life? Unless I lack these basic amenities to life (yes, a yacht is a basic amenity and I want one) then I don't think I'm complacent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wes Mantooth View Post
I think its also difficult to describe what extremist is as well. What seems extreme to one person may be perfectly normal to another, the same applies to different countries and cultures as well. Often times when we describe something as extreme (we see people labeled extremist in politics/media everyday) we are describing something that just seems foreign or unusual to ourselves or ideology. A lot of what some people think of as extreme is often times very common and we see it everyday.

The question then becomes what really is an extremist view? Would a more appropriate label be outsider views? Something so different from the rest of it environment that its uniqueness forces people to label it as extreme? I don't know just thinking with my fingers I guess.
Ohh, I have a universal definition for extreme. Not minding your own fuckin' business. That's extreme.

Think about it, if we didn't have priests damning us to hell and politicians banning same sex marriage we'd be the ultimate society!

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Old 12-17-2009, 01:32 PM   #27 (permalink)
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The use of the word "complacency" makes it sound like you feel it's a bad thing. Like Wes Mantooth said, if you own a big car and a big house and a big family and a big ... big ... big ... why would you want it to change? If the law says we should stone hookers and christians and it's my job to find them why would I want to change my life? Unless I lack these basic amenities to life (yes, a yacht is a basic amenity and I want one) then I don't think I'm complacent.
I have a house and a car, but I regularly write my representatives, volunteer, and generally try to change things. I want things to change for other people. I'm greedy; I want others to live as well as I do, if not better. And I don't understand people that don't think like me because I've tried shutting myself off from the needy and with it comes crushing guilt and frustration.
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