Do you think being a radical or an extremist is necessary, or is it rather dangerous ? Do you think moderating your speech is the best way for making a change ? I have been called a radical in my opinions and an extremist in my acts. Putting aside the pejorative meaning of these terms, I came to agree that I am radical … and so should everybody else.
I notice the words “radical” and “extreme” are used in a very ignorant way, pejoratively, and so perceived by most people as negative. Radical people pursue a complete reform, they fight an issue at its roots, while extremists hold political views that exceed the ordinary, or the reasonable according to common interpretations. Now that the definitions are settled …
In our society, people are expected to moderate their speech in fear of coming out as intolerant, or narrow-minded. The ruling powers, as represented in mainstream media and educating systems for example, do not encourage us to take positions, and lead us to adopt a passive behaviour. So they cultivate this moderation – or as I like to call it, mediocrity.
Yet moderation does not often lead to real tangible changes. Every social change in History was promoted by radical movements, with ideas that were considered extremist at that time : democracy, racial justice, labor movements, abolitionnist movements …
Revolutions make evolutions.
In fact, being radical means being coherent in your opinions, being logical, upright. It means fighting a problem at its roots, instead of hiding behind “normality” and a moderated speech. Tolerating an opinion that you believe is wrong does not only not lead to progression, but also approves the current state of things.
Actually, extremism is already present everywhere around us. Our opinions are not flexible – not moderated – on murder, on rape, on torture. We are radical about these subjects, because they involve a victim. In some countries, these are accepted by the legislation, but it does not mean we have to tolerate them, and be passive about it. We protest against these practices because it is not their freedom to do so.
One person’s freedom ends where another’s begins.
Our behaviours are extreme as well : (over)consumption is extreme, the life and death conditions of animals are extreme, capitalism is extreme, racism is extreme in some places … Extreme acts are only called so when society decides it, more particularly when it pleases the ego of the privileged.
To summarize, denying our opinions to tolerate the ideas of the privileged is a superficial behaviour that will not solve the problem, but only interfere with the movement. Being radical only means being coherent and logical when you truly believe in something, and it is the least we can do at our level. The real change in mentalities begins with us, through indignation and rebellion, toward the changes we want to see in the system.
Clicking on “Continue reading” will open the original full version of the article, with more precise and illustrated information, and the references that helped me to write it.