Dead Vole

Extremism

Posted by CarlD on May 21, 2008

“Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice; moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue” – Barry Goldwater.

“The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who, in time of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality” – John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr., paraphrasing Dante.

Well, there you have it. Something that the left and the right in U.S. politics agreed upon quite recently. The ’60s which, as we all know, were the good old days of activism what with all the draft card and brassiere bonfires. Of course, what they did not agree upon was what the correct content of extreme moral commitment ought to be. That’s the tricky part. How to find such agreement whilst shouting from up on those holy mountain-tops.

Extremism makes nuances and opportunities disappear. Here’s a more common example. On another blog by a respected colleague and its comments I read a compelling account of interpersonal dynamics in which the two options boiled down to getting to talk however you want or being silenced into complete servility. This is a classic extremist analysis. The first option is the dream of complete empowerment. The second is the nightmare of total oppression. These extremes do not describe many real-world situations. Living as if they do must be very stressful.

2 Responses to “Extremism”

  1. […] To my mind these posts are all related, and what relates them is relationships. Specifically, LS like many other people I know is disappointed by the distance of real relationships from ideal ones. Blogger to commenter, internet user to user, all of us to democracy, humans to the truth. In each case there’s a hope for something special to happen, a desirable better way to do things, and a letdown with what we actually get. Underwear and socks for Christmas again. Although we’re outside my way of thinking about things, I do see the point. In each of those spheres of relationship things are not as they ’should’ be. […]

  2. […] To my mind these posts are all related, and what relates them is relationships. Specifically, LS like many other people I know is disappointed by the distance of real relationships from ideal ones. Blogger to commenter, internet user to user, all of us to democracy, humans to the truth. In each case there’s a hope for something special to happen, a desirable better way to do things, and a letdown with what we actually get. Underwear and socks for Christmas again. Although we’re outside my way of thinking about things, I do see the point. In each of those spheres of relationship things are not as they ‘should’ be. […]

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