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Radicalism

Posted by Kragghle , in Wisdom Nov 07 2012 · 206 views

:kaukau: A common term thrown about in the contemporary world when it comes to worldviews and analyzing the opinions of others is "radical". This word applies when one person holds views that end up on the extreme end of a spectrum.

Now personally, I feel that when someone holds a basic philosophy that if they truly believe in it they will follow through on it to the extremes of its implications. This is called being purist. There's nothing wrong with that, other than that sometimes a purist is forced to compromise and the result can often get ugly. That gets into a whole different ethical argument.

What I notice, however, is that "radical" is inherently an insult when I think its technical usage is actually relative. Whether or not you're radical depends on what you're comparing your views to. For example, the U.S. and the U.K. have some different mainstream values. If a Briton were to look at American culture and its politics in particular, that Briton might be inclined to say that Americans of both parties are radical. As we know, America has two main political parties, Republicans and Democrats, which fit into the stable two-party system that keeps itself in check, but both of those parties are closer to another end of an ideological spectrum that Britain is different on. Between them, it is my understanding that the Democratic party has more in common with British ideals than the Republican Party, so while in America the Republican party might not be seen as controversial but not particularly radical, with the exception of a few members, in Britain almost all Republicans would automatically be considered extremists.

This is a generalization, of course, based upon my understanding. Even if these statements aren't fully true, however, for the sake of the logic of this piece and my ability to articulate a point, let's just assume accuracy.

Now, if we were to turn the tables. From the viewpoint of an American Republican, British policies are extreme and radical, or at least when compared to the norm established by American political compromise.

Let me reiterate this point, but this time using something other than politics for example (although that was perhaps the most literal real-world application of these thoughts). I believe in avoiding physical contact with a partner until marriage, including kissing and the holding of hands. I've followed this logic to its natural conclusions and have even considered avoiding emotionally sensual scenarios like staying up late together. There are people who disagree with this conclusion, some more strongly than others. Fortunately, there are those who don't feel it applies to them but appreciate my view here. However, given that these views are uncommon and I take them to their natural conclusions, I am technically a radical when it comes to my relationships views. However, I no longer sense that i am a radical when I am around a group of people with shared values of how to respect the opposite sex.

From my view, I wouldn't call the views of others who don't believe in being so strict in a relationship radical. I don't necessarily call them right, though. I have my views for a reason, after all, and I believe in those reasons. Which leads me to my next point.

Just because someone is radical, doesn't mean that they're wrong. As it has been described, radical views and behaviors are merely taking basic values and following them through to their fullest implications. If the value at its core is correct, then the extreme will also probably be correct, especially if balanced out with other correct values. Keep in mind that a perfect person would be a radical, by the virtue that perfection is an extreme condition compared to the flawed nature of human beings. Superman, therefore, while not literally perfect, would count as a radical compared to other heroes in his resolve to follow up on his belief that all life is sacred. You know what? I'm pretty sure he's right.

Now, where the term "radical" gets used the most as an insult is in politics. Now let me make this clear: radicals are embraced by their own kind, who are usually the true believers in a cause and in an ideological thought process. Woodrow Wilson was a radical because he was an idealist. The reason why radicalism is often troublesome in politics is that it ruins the system of compromise that America has been founded on, and thus everyone gets hurt, even if someone believes in the right ideal. Sometimes one side will succeed and get a radical agenda past, which one might judge as a good thing if they agree with those ideals but others might judge as a bad thing if they belong to the other side of the debate. When it doesn't work, it causes political instability and opportunities for overzealousness. In American politics, people debate whether or not that's a good thing. Some people appreciate radicals of their kind in government, others don't. I'm not taking an official stance on that. I'm only pointing out the natural results.

Likewise in real life, radicalism can complicate things as you come across other people who disagree with your views. Fortunately with the kissing example, these disagreements are nothing that affect me, but there are other radical differences in views that can cause a lot of damage. What I would suggest is that these individuals should be slightly open to compromise. Perhaps that's a conversation for another day, and it depends entirely on what system of ethics you use. Willingness to compromise, for example, comes from the use of utilitarian ethics.

I still walk away from this with a few solid conclusions. Radicalism is just being a purist. It is just a relative term and is neither inherently good nor inherently bad. It's just a comparison, much like the word "change". However, like "change", it can end up either objectively for better or for worse, although we humans tend to be incomplete judges when it comes to evaluating them.

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Toa Nidhiki05
Nov 07 2012 02:34 PM
I agree, radicalism itself isn't bad. Anti-slavery advocates and suffragists were radicals in their day. Radicalism can be bad too, like the Nazis, Communists, and Fascists demonstrated. But the term is being abused in politics to demean people.
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SkyLandOceAnna
Nov 07 2012 03:15 PM
So from my understanding, which may be wrong, radicals believe in something to the extreme. If this be true, then I can see why it would be characterized as not being itself bad or being good. I think in some cases, it could be construed as good as long as the extremity of it doesn't go overboard, where it would then appear bad. As with your opinion on relationships, I am exactly the same way, and I have been told by my friends that it is too extreme for them, just because they have had sex and kissed and held hands. I, however, don't believe such things should be done until at least marriage. I don't mind them trying to change my mind, but they never will, and hopefully they'll get used to that fact. I think that society has changed a lot and that people are doing these things at younger ages as the years go by and that it is affecting many lives as such. I understand it is their decision, so I won't judge, because it isn't my duty. I just wish things could be like they used to in this instance. Thank you!
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I agree on the radicalism point. Extremes are not inherently bad.

- 55555
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Jean, Mm. Speaking as a radical of sorts, I can agree with this to an extent. Being a radical doesn't automatically make one a purist. There have been "middle way" radicals before. Purists, if I am using the term correctly, don't tend to compromise much. Or at all in some cases. Being so certain they are right that they will refuse to review evidence in a non-biased manner. This essay also assumes humans are fundamentally flawed, considering the civilization we have built and considering our lack of any advantage besides our intellect (tigers, for example, have nasty teeth and claws...compared to our finger nails, which as best, are mildly annoyed if we haven't trimmed them inawhile, we lost most natural offensive options by the time we went bipedal I believe, I can check the fossil record if needed) the fact we managed to triumph over all other forms of life and become the dominant species on this planet tells me that if we are flawed, those flaws are far from crippling. I'm not certain we are, do individuals have faulty wiring sometimes (Murderers, sociopaths etc)? Yes. But that's like one computer out of a million breaking down. Doesn't mean the whole line of computers is ruined. We have biological flaws certainly (our spine is *not* ideal. We got screwed over there) but mental flaws like those you are implying? Considering the massive amount of differing cultures we have created, I am doubtful of any lasting species-wide mental flaw.

Skyland: Saying "someone will never change my mind" tells me you aren't taking it logically. I try to make choices based on evidence and logic, not what I "feel" is right. What I feel doesn't matter. Reality does.
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SkyLandOceAnna
Nov 08 2012 04:44 AM
I understand Basilisk. Thank you!
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This entry is, like, totally radical dude
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