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> Political militants, plumbing the depths of extremity...
Political militants
Who is worse: Left or Rlght?
The extreme right wing [ 11 ] ** [26.83%]
The extreme left wing [ 8 ] ** [19.51%]
Neither (feel free to elaborate a third option you may have identified) [ 3 ] ** [7.32%]
They are equally bad [ 19 ] ** [46.34%]
Total Votes: 43
  
moif
post Mar 7 2007, 03:48 PM
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QUOTE(Nighttimer)
But being a right-wing reactionary means never having to say you're sorry. Or have any class either.
I saw the above quoted by NT in the Ann Coulter thread* and in light of recent developments here in Denmark I felt I had to react to it, but since my reaction would have been OT, I've decided to ask my questions in a seperate thread.

For those of you unaware of the further context of my questions, let me explain that Denmark has just been witness to several days of civil unrest and urban violence as self proclaimed anarchists and left wing radicals battled the police in the streets of Copenhagen.
Here is the BBC's reporting on the subject.
Here are some of my own musings.

I often see people from one side demonising the other and since I like to think of myself as occupying some sort of political middle ground, I often find myself in agreement with both sides on this issue. In other words, both sides have their black sheep. Where I disagree is in the scale though for it seems to me that whilst right wingers talk foul, left wings act it. It may be I am more to the right than I care to acknowledge so I'd like to pose some questions and see how others regard this issue:

Questions posed for debate:

What is the dividing line between main stream and the extreme (in other words how can you know when some one has crossed the line from the former to the latter?)

Is either side actually worse than the other?

Does political bias cloud the issue of judgement with regards to one's own political opinions? (By which I mean, are conservatives/socialists unable to disassociate themselves from the extremists who share some of the same opinons?)

How dangerous is western political extremism anyway?



*Note I make no objections against NT's characterisation of Ann Coulter

edited for grammar

This post has been edited by moif: Mar 7 2007, 03:52 PM
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Ted
post Mar 7 2007, 05:28 PM
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I saw coverage from Denmark – looked ugly.

Questions posed for debate:

What is the dividing line between main stream and the extreme (in other words how can you know when some one has crossed the line from the former to the latter?)


Each party has its left and right “wings” but overall few are what I would consider extreme including Coulter. To me “extreme” are people who advocate outright violence (not legal civil disobedience). We have little of this in the US because Socialism/ Communism are really quite weak. This is not the case in Europe and Scandanavia.

Is either side actually worse than the other?
No
Does political bias cloud the issue of judgement with regards to one's own political opinions? (By which I mean, are conservatives/socialists unable to disassociate themselves from the extremists who share some of the same opinons?)

Yes. One study I read documented that people from different sides of an issue often interperate the same facts very differently.

How dangerous is western political extremism anyway?

Not much in the US but far more so in Europe where the far left sill has some significant support. A resurgence of Communism could be ugly considering its horrendous past.


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Julian
post Mar 7 2007, 07:19 PM
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What is the dividing line between main stream and the extreme (in other words how can you know when some one has crossed the line from the former to the latter?)

Like Ted, I think the dividing line between views that are, shall we say acceptably divergent form the mainstream, and those that are unacceptably extremist is drawn at the point where people start talking abut the use of violence to further their political views.

Is either side actually worse than the other?

Not really. If I were to split hairs, the extreme right tend to foment hatred against people for who they are or what they look like, whereas the extreme left do the same thing against people based on what they think or how they act.

Given that nobody has any control over who they are or what they look like, but has a modicum of control over their thoughts and actions, I'd say the extreme right are very marginally worse than the extreme left.

Though it's like a competition to find out whether cow or buffalo chips taste better - no doubt there is a difference between them, but nobody in their right mind should swallow either to find out.

Does political bias cloud the issue of judgement with regards to one's own political opinions? (By which I mean, are conservatives/socialists unable to disassociate themselves from the extremists who share some of the same opinons?)

Yes. Since I am on the political left myself (the mainstream left, I hasten to add - I'm not about to argue for the use of gulags any more than someone here on my right - Ted, say, is ever likely to proselytise racism), I probaly am more inclined to feel less threatened by the far left than the far right. Not that I'm going to fall into the old European Communist groove of trying to make out like the Soviet Union was not as bad as it was painted and that even Stalin had his good points - no way. Easily as bad as Hitler, if not worse.

How dangerous is western political extremism anyway?

Given history, I'd have to say that it's potentially about the most dangrous form of extremism it's possible to have. However, at the moment, that potential looks set to remain unfulfilled for some time yet.

Like Ted, I think Europe is more at risk of serious extremism that America (for now). Unlike him, I think it more likely that the extreme right becomes resurgent in the face of immigration than that the extreme left will. Quite apart from anything else, the moderate centre and mainstream left has had the something of the upper hand in recent times, and giving political extremists a bit of what they want tends to keep them in check somewhat.

But then, this might be because of my leftward bias. (Just as Ted's fear of leftists is probably influenced by his right-leaning position, at least compared to me wink.gif )
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Grendel72
post Mar 7 2007, 07:52 PM
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What is the dividing line between main stream and the extreme (in other words how can you know when some one has crossed the line from the former to the latter?)
Violent actions are completely beyond the pale, but IMHO anyone, including Coulter who promotes and incites violence is an extremist as well.

Is either side actually worse than the other?
Right now, conservative extremists, from abortion clinic bombers in the US to the taliban in the middle east are by far more extreme and dangerous.

Does political bias cloud the issue of judgement with regards to one's own political opinions? (By which I mean, are conservatives/socialists unable to disassociate themselves from the extremists who share some of the same opinons?)
I don't think so, really. There are extremists on all sides, but you won't find representatives of ELF speaking at major liberal gatherings.
I am strongly in favor of gun ownership rights, which is generally a conservative political position in the US. You can't go to a gun show in the united states without seeing genuinely extremist right wing groups having a large presence. I'm talking KKK types. They are welcome at gun shows in a way that genuinely extremist groups like the ELF are not welcome at liberal organizations.

How dangerous is western political extremism anyway?
Political extremism is all of a stripe, and is all dangerous. To stipulate "western" political extremism in order to give an out to groups that aren't as bad as the taliban is to set low expectations for humanity, and to give them room to move in that direction.
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Landru Guide Us
post Mar 7 2007, 09:08 PM
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QUOTE(moif @ Mar 7 2007, 03:48 PM) *

[b]What is the dividing line between main stream and the extreme (in other words how can you know when some one has crossed the line from the former to the latter?)

Is either side actually worse than the other?



Problem is how you define violence. Civil disobedience is a traditional American mode of political action, going back to the Boston Tea party, through Thoreau's night in jail, the women's suffrage movement, and the Civil Rights movement. The fact is much of the progess in this country in aligning our laws with the Constitution wouldn't have happened without civil disobedience. African Americans would still be sitting in the back of the bus and women wouldn't have the right to vote, had it not been for protestors who had the courage to break the laws then in effect and demonstrate "illegally."

Needless to say, all these people were called "extremists" by the people in power who wanted to keep their privileges.

That's a lot different for Contra Death Squads, whose whole purpose was to make sure people didn't obtain their rights by using murder and intimidation by armed gangs.

I don't look at property damage in the pursuit of protecting or expanding the rights of American citizens as violence, but rather as Civil Disobedience, which is as American as apple pie.

This post has been edited by Landru Guide Us: Mar 7 2007, 09:11 PM
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aevans176
post Mar 7 2007, 10:06 PM
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QUOTE(Julian @ Mar 7 2007, 02:19 PM) *

Not really. If I were to split hairs, the extreme right tend to foment hatred against people for who they are or what they look like, whereas the extreme left do the same thing against people based on what they think or how they act.

Given that nobody has any control over who they are or what they look like, but has a modicum of control over their thoughts and actions, I'd say the extreme right are very marginally worse than the extreme left.


Another whuuu????

Conservatives judge people based upon how they look? Good Lord. This is a good one. Please provide examples, as I don't see this one to be even close to reality in my opinion.

I think BOTH sides are judgemental based upon what each other thinks, and most importantly this is why there are two parties. In my opinion, conservatives are most concerned with issues centering around morality, while liberals are concerned with issues revolving around social consciouness (& other social issues). Liberals are most often the champions of the minority, while many conservatives tip their hat to the majority.

I would never say that conservatives or liberals are better or worse, but I suppose we'll see how this board reacts. I'd say there will be a number of liberals and a handful of conservatives who make inane statements of value about this....

QUOTE

I don't think so, really. There are extremists on all sides, but you won't find representatives of ELF speaking at major liberal gatherings.
I am strongly in favor of gun ownership rights, which is generally a conservative political position in the US. You can't go to a gun show in the united states without seeing genuinely extremist right wing groups having a large presence. I'm talking KKK types. They are welcome at gun shows in a way that genuinely extremist groups like the ELF are not welcome at liberal organizations.


WHAT THE _ _ _ _ ????
Grendel, this is bordering on absurd. First of all, Gun Shows don't welcome the Klan. Texas is the home of the gun show, and really most of the time it's a huge redneck gathering and/or (depending on the show) a very high end collectors show. Every now and again manufacturers sponsor shows and it's a little more industrial (cops, fed agents, etc). Hunting and personal protection are big industries in the US, BUT NOT conservative political gatherings. I dabble in collectables, and even have sold at shows. I've never in my time in Texas ever even seen a skin head or Klansman.

Seriously, I think the Taliban and abortion clinic bombers are good examples... but what about people like guys like Timothy McVeigh. I surely wouldn't say he was conservative by any stretch... in fact quite the contrary.

When it comes to most zealots, I don't know that you can blame a party or ideology. Christianity, for instance, might contain a fruit cake or two. Are they conservatives or just fruit cake Christians? Muslims in contemporary history are most likely to blow things up for God, but realistically that's not an American issue (i.e. American Muslims generally aren't bombing things).

[quote]
I don't look at property damage in the pursuit of protecting or expanding the rights of American citizens as violence, but rather as Civil Disobedience, which is as American as apple pie.[/b]

I definitely disagree. Did Martin Luther King's sit in's and marches destroy property? Of course not. In America in 2007, destroying property just might cause violence. Civil disobedience isn't lowering yourself to the levels of those you oppose (or worse). I think you can cause a ruckus and still retain class.
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Landru Guide Us
post Mar 7 2007, 10:30 PM
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QUOTE(aevans176 @ Mar 7 2007, 10:06 PM) *
I definitely disagree. Did Martin Luther King's sit in's and marches destroy property? Of course not. In America in 2007, destroying property just might cause violence. Civil disobedience isn't lowering yourself to the levels of those you oppose (or worse). I think you can cause a ruckus and still retain class.


I don't know, the protestors who ended the Vietnam war and saved thousand of lives seemed to disagree with your claim, and history seems to be on their side. As I recall there was more than a riot or two in the anti-war movement. Looking back, if that what it took to end such a useless destructive conflict, it was well worth it. As a famous man once said, "Democracy's a messy thing" -- I guess he meant it's OK for Iraq but not us.
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moif
post Mar 7 2007, 11:35 PM
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One of the factors I think is most compelling with regards to political extremism is an ignorance of the other. It seems that often people form opinions on personal perceptions that rely on an intepretation of available information. So, for example, Julian see's conservatives as being people more likely to make decisions based on ethnic identity or skin colour where as aevans is amazed at this observation.

I'm not sure Julian is either right or wrong because I can see the reason why he might think that (its also a pretty common perception in the UK left) but at the same time I think I disagree with him. Opposition to Islam in the UK for example is often regarded as a racist perspective, and yet Islam is an ideology that transcends race and the distinction between those opponents of the Islamic ideology and mere racists is deliberately ignored in order to indirectly associate the one with the other. This continued trend of labelling all opponents of Islam as racists is an example of what I deem to be extremism.

For, the other point to consider with regards to political extremism is the meaning of the term 'extreme'. What does it mean? For me an extremist is not just some one who will resort to volence but actually some one who is unwilling to compromise. I think that is my definition of extremism. The unwillingness to even entertain consideration of an opposing perspective.

Obviously I have my own bias. I try to stay in the centre and entertain any and all persepctives so for me, extremism is the opposite of my own personal approach.

Regarding the two main political ideologies at the fore in western politics, I find that European socialism is far more extreme than any European conservative perspective and that the opposite is true in the USA. This would also explain why there is so much bad blood between the two at the moment. Europe's socialists hate the USA (hate is not too strong a word to describe the depth of emotion I am witness to these days) and I feel the opposite may also be true for many American conservatives, though not possibly to the same extent.

There is a popular line in Europe that runs: "I don't hate America, just Bush". I hear this one a lot and I don't believe it any more. A lot of the time people who make this statement go on to list all the things that that they hate about the USA and the gist of it revolves around over indulgent self-consumerism. Something which GW Bush might promote, but can hardly be held responsible for.

I also find socialists are much, much more apt to resort to violence as a means of political control and a testament to this lies in the fact that I have never heard of any conservative advocating revolution. I have heard of abortion clinics being blown up and stuff like that, but I'm not convinced this is an action based on any conservative ideology. I don't agree that religious extremism is a conservative ideology either, nor even nationalism. The recent rise of the nationalists in Europe has not happened at the expense of conservative parties but at the expensive of main stream socialism and most of Europe's religious extremists (and 90% of our Muslims) vote social democrat (Labour)

Revolution however, is violent extremism, and the left wing in Europe has a fondness for revolution, militant political action and revolutionary movements. In this regard one can understand why so many socialists feel a sympathy for the Palestinian, and Islamic cause. They identitfy, rightly or wrongly with what they perceive as a justifiable struggle against the great crime of the capitalist western world. The riots we've just witnessed in Denmark were not unique. Such things happen all the time in Europe and the pattern is always the same. Youths in black and denim, often sporting 'Arafat style' scarves attack the police and any symbol of the USA they can find (McDonalds being the favoured).

In the UK there is a different trend. Under Thatcher, the militant left wing organized nation wide strikes that pitted people against the police. I was a child during that period and I remember the miners strike and the righting that took place when left wing extremists rose up against the conservative government. Its a poigniant contrast that today, under a labour government equally set in its ways and equally distrusted by the British public, there are no right wing militants organising violent protests that lead to street fighting and clashes with the police. That in fact the most ardent and outspoken opponents of the Blair government are left wing.

One of the justifications for using violence as a political tool bandied about by European far left socialists is 'nazism'. It is made abundently clear that these rioting left wingers see themselves as engaged in a struggle against such dark forces as capitalism, nazism and the main stream right wing parties they believe unite the two.

I have never seen a right wing riot happen in Europe. Never. No matter how extreme a right wing group or person may become, I have not seen any of them move from belligerent language to actual violence. I have seen neo nazi's marching but I do not recognize nazism as being akin to conservatism. I see nazism as its own thing, as an ideology that attracts people on the basis of an idelogy that transcends left or right wing thinking and appeals to people from right across the spectrum. A lot of people see nazism as being conservatie extremism, but I don't. I believe this is a deliberate generalisation used by extreme left wingers to excuse their own revolutionary fervor and which has taken root in the common left wing perception due to the cold war dichotomy and repetition.

At the same time, the link between socialism and communism is far more blurred and so the association between the main stream left wing and the extreme left wing is both harder to identity and easier to ignore. Its also easier to cross. Thus you get mainstream left wingers regarding a communist dictator like Fidel Castro almost with affection but viewing a creep like Robert Mugabe (apparently devoid of any political perspective beyond personal ambition) with honest disdain (and even calling him a conservative on occaision). I've seen it remarked on and I agree that western socialists are often hypocritical with regards to where they direct their condemnation. Right wing dictators, like Pinochet and Franco, get the full force of anger where as more left leaning dictators, like Saddam Hussein and Ho Chi Minh get a free pass ...and then there is Hugo Chavez hmmm.gif

If extremism is being unwilling to compromise then I say each side is equally guilty. But if extremism is a willingness to use or accept violence then I'd say the left wing were the the more extreme of the two.
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Ted
post Mar 8 2007, 01:03 AM
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QUOTE(Landru Guide Us @ Mar 7 2007, 05:30 PM) *

QUOTE(aevans176 @ Mar 7 2007, 10:06 PM) *
I definitely disagree. Did Martin Luther King's sit in's and marches destroy property? Of course not. In America in 2007, destroying property just might cause violence. Civil disobedience isn't lowering yourself to the levels of those you oppose (or worse). I think you can cause a ruckus and still retain class.


I don't know, the protestors who ended the Vietnam war and saved thousand of lives seemed to disagree with your claim, and history seems to be on their side. As I recall there was more than a riot or two in the anti-war movement. Looking back, if that what it took to end such a useless destructive conflict, it was well worth it. As a famous man once said, "Democracy's a messy thing" -- I guess he meant it's OK for Iraq but not us.

I was part of same and property was not deliberately destroyed in most cases. Fires might have been started in the street and college buildings were “occupied” but NOT trashed. The very far left “Weathermen” branch of the SDS was the exception not the rule and their membership was very small. Chicago go out of hand because the police over reacted IMO. So as one of the protestors let me be clear - you don't know what you are talking about.

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Landru Guide Us
post Mar 8 2007, 01:19 AM
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QUOTE(Ted @ Mar 8 2007, 01:03 AM) *

QUOTE(Landru Guide Us @ Mar 7 2007, 05:30 PM) *

QUOTE(aevans176 @ Mar 7 2007, 10:06 PM) *
I definitely disagree. Did Martin Luther King's sit in's and marches destroy property? Of course not. In America in 2007, destroying property just might cause violence. Civil disobedience isn't lowering yourself to the levels of those you oppose (or worse). I think you can cause a ruckus and still retain class.


I don't know, the protestors who ended the Vietnam war and saved thousand of lives seemed to disagree with your claim, and history seems to be on their side. As I recall there was more than a riot or two in the anti-war movement. Looking back, if that what it took to end such a useless destructive conflict, it was well worth it. As a famous man once said, "Democracy's a messy thing" -- I guess he meant it's OK for Iraq but not us.

I was part of same and property was not deliberately destroyed in most cases. Fires might have been started in the street and college buildings were “occupied” but NOT trashed. The very far left “Weathermen” branch of the SDS was the exception not the rule and their membership was very small. Chicago go out of hand because the police over reacted IMO. So as one of the protestors let me be clear - you don't know what you are talking about.


Now, now, enough of your ad hominem attacks. Even a brief google results in showing various incidents of violence flaring up in the anti-war movement. I didn't say it was necessarilly unrelated to the Weathermen, so your comments on that are irrelevant. But not all the violent conflicts during protests were in fact Weathermen-related.

It's a peculiar thing how conservatives seem to feel the need to revise history at every turn.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A715042

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Ted
post Mar 8 2007, 01:42 AM
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QUOTE
Now, now, enough of your ad hominem attacks. Even a brief google results in showing various incidents of violence flaring up in the anti-war movement. I didn't say it was necessarilly unrelated to the Weathermen, so your comments on that are irrelevant. But not all the violent conflicts during protests were in fact Weathermen-related.

It's a peculiar thing how conservatives seem to feel the need to revise history at every turn.


Want to point out the deliberate violence outside Weathermen. I was there and I can tell you that 100s of thousands of people protested for years with very little violence. Yes we took over buildings but they were not trashed and this was not violence. Chicago gut out of hand because much of the very far left was there and looking for a fight – and they found one. Again the exception NOT the rule. I was there – you obviously were NOT.


And FYI I was not a conservative in those days. Not even close.
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Landru Guide Us
post Mar 8 2007, 01:51 AM
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QUOTE(Ted @ Mar 8 2007, 01:42 AM) *

QUOTE
Now, now, enough of your ad hominem attacks. Even a brief google results in showing various incidents of violence flaring up in the anti-war movement. I didn't say it was necessarilly unrelated to the Weathermen, so your comments on that are irrelevant. But not all the violent conflicts during protests were in fact Weathermen-related.

It's a peculiar thing how conservatives seem to feel the need to revise history at every turn.


Want to point out the deliberate violence outside Weathermen. I was there and I can tell you that 100s of thousands of people protested for years with very little violence. Yes we took over buildings but they were not trashed and this was not violence. Chicago gut out of hand because much of the very far left was there and looking for a fight – and they found one. Again the exception NOT the rule. I was there – you obviously were NOT.


And FYI I was not a conservative in those days. Not even close.



You're attacking a straw man. I never claimed most prostestors were violent. I pointed out that some were, and that certainly had an effect in the public mind. Reread my post.

Whether you were there or not doesn't change historical reality, so stop trying to personalize everything and attack people who disagree with you. It's a bad habit you demonstrate in virtually every post.
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Ted
post Mar 8 2007, 02:13 AM
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Why is everything personal with you. I am not attacking you but disagreeing with what you say.

Like “I don't know, the protestors who ended the Vietnam war and saved thousand of lives seemed to disagree with your claim, and history seems to be on their side”

I say your implication here is that violent demonstrations ended the Vietnam War. – is that a correct reading? If it is I disagree, its that simple.
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Landru Guide Us
post Mar 8 2007, 02:19 AM
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QUOTE(Ted @ Mar 8 2007, 02:13 AM) *

Why is everything personal with you. I am not attacking you but disagreeing with what you say.

Like “I don't know, the protestors who ended the Vietnam war and saved thousand of lives seemed to disagree with your claim, and history seems to be on their side”

I say your implication here is that violent demonstrations ended the Vietnam War. – is that a correct reading? If it is I disagree, its that simple.


Nice try, but not convincing. Claiming "you were there" at the protests (all of them?) and I wasn't was a cheap attempt to personalize an otherwise defective argument. Historical facts are facts. Whether you were at a protest or not doesn't change that. It is at best irrelevant, at worst an ad hominem attack

As to my assertion, it was simple: the protest movement that ended the Vietnam war invovled civil disobedience, including what was clearly violent property damage, as the days of rage in Chicago clearly were. The differential impact of the violence and the civil disobedience and the peaceful protest is hard to piece together, but they were all elements as an historical fact.

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Ted
post Mar 8 2007, 02:41 AM
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I was at many of the largest demonstrations including Chicago, DC, Boston (numerous). And “civil disobedience” and minor property damage at most – some of which was actually caused by police tear gas canisters going through store windows – was not IMO violent protest. IMO violent protest does not work. The Weathermen were disowned by the mainstream at SDS. Chicago did more harm than good. Millions in the street peacefully ended the war.
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post Mar 8 2007, 03:22 AM
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QUOTE(Landru Guide Us @ Mar 7 2007, 11:30 PM) *

QUOTE(aevans176 @ Mar 7 2007, 10:06 PM) *
I definitely disagree. Did Martin Luther King's sit in's and marches destroy property? Of course not. In America in 2007, destroying property just might cause violence. Civil disobedience isn't lowering yourself to the levels of those you oppose (or worse). I think you can cause a ruckus and still retain class.


I don't know, the protestors who ended the Vietnam war and saved thousand of lives seemed to disagree with your claim, and history seems to be on their side. As I recall there was more than a riot or two in the anti-war movement. Looking back, if that what it took to end such a useless destructive conflict, it was well worth it. As a famous man once said, "Democracy's a messy thing" -- I guess he meant it's OK for Iraq but not us.


I did not know the term 'Weatherman' so I looked it up on Wikipedia and what I read there brought me back to reread what was being said here.

Landru Guide Us, I am not convinced that the anti war protests ended the Vietnam war. I see no evidence that supports such a claim. The war spanned ten years and the student protests were ongoing through out. Despite the peace marches and rallies, the war continued until it could no longer be continued. It was lost, not ended. South Vietnam was not a viable endeavour and nothing the US military did was going to change that. The collapse of South Vietnam was inevitable and the understanding of this is what ended the Vietnam war, not the protests. If South Vietnam had been stronger then the US military would still be camped in Vietnam today.

Its interesting though that the USA had such a group as the Weatherman. I never realised the anti Vietnam war movement was quite so politicized. I am not surprised however to learn that this group
QUOTE
was a U.S. Radical Left organization consisting of splintered-off members and leaders of the Students for a Democratic Society. The group referred to itself as a "revolutionary organization of communist women and men" whose purpose was to carry out a series of militant actions that would achieve the revolutionary overthrow of the Government of the United States (and of capitalism as a whole)
Link.

This fits the pattern I see all over. Both sides resort to violence (war) when in power, but there is a willingness on the left to resort to violent action to acheive political goals even when not in power that I do not see on the right.

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gordo
post Mar 8 2007, 03:49 AM
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QUOTE(moif @ Mar 8 2007, 03:22 AM) *

This fits the pattern I see all over. Both sides resort to violence (war) when in power, but there is a willingness on the left to resort to violent action to acheive political goals even when not in power that I do not see on the right.


That might be due to composition of groups. I mean why resort to violent protest when you can just win at the wallet level.

I think there is a reason the right has slowly over time become a political body for religion and big business pretty much, and its via those channels that such political moves are made.

This is probably what feeds into the idea of elitism amongst many viewers of the right. Big business and the church, though not all of it(religion in America) are the primary supports of the right in America today. Why else is the republican party so bent on going against global warming for instance? The reality though is big money, which has a base in the right is a supreme minority in numbers when looking at population. I think such also today is why you find a static in the gop because sects like libertarians are finding themselves with less and less of a voice. Plus these groups, like the neo cons, which are powered by big business and the church typically are blighting our system with partisan politics, but such is not considered close to violent protest or extremism?

I think this is why the democrats are selling out to the church more and more with candidates that have the supreme moral values of hypocrisy and so on, along with a rather almost non existent stance on global warming. Its all tactical or strategical warfare really. The composition of the respective groups leads to various actions though. The GOP really could not sell itself to the common person like the democrats attempt to because it could conflict highly with the primary interest holders in that party. Overall composition relates to actions, which is evident in how the groups pander politically for votes, they both are basically consumed and used like tools also by such bases.

I also disagree that we would still be in Vietnam. Bushco wont budge on Iraq because he has to power to basically not have to listen currently to anyone but his own company that he accepts, but thanks to votes, which don’t count in Florida(thanks jeb you good old boy), this can change. That’s what Vietnams future would have been, also the strenuous amount of political corruption at the time which evolved into something that allowed an actor with a bible to be elected wacko.gif













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Victoria Silverw...
post Mar 8 2007, 06:10 AM
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What is the dividing line between main stream and the extreme (in other words how can you know when some one has crossed the line from the former to the latter?)

Many ways, I think. Obviously, the use or advocacy of violence to obtain one's political goals. (I suppose there are very extreme situations where the use of force may be a necessary evil; when one must rise in rebellion against an oppressive government; but this kind of thinking is very dangerous. You and I probably think that force may be necessary when concentration camps are operating; but someone else may feel that force against abortion clinics or slaughterhouses is also justified. To avoid falling into this kind of trap, one must always doubt one's own convictions and submit them to constant scrutiny.)

Which brings me to another sure sign of extremism; lack of doubt. The person who has no doubt at all about her political beliefs is a fanatic.

Other signs of extremism include a great deal of anger when one expresses a political opinion; a tendency to attack persons rather than ideas; a willingness to bend the rules in order to obtain the desired political end.

I might point out that it is possible to have political opinions which are far outside the mainstream, and not be an extremist in the sense we are discussing here. For example, the fact that I support legal recognition of any form of marriage among genuinely consenting partners makes me quite a radical. However, I would never advocate the use of force, or any method outside the law, to obtain this goal, and I am quite willing to accept the fact that this goal is an unrealistic one.

Is either side actually worse than the other?

It depends what you mean. I'm willing to accept your experience that the political left, in Europe, is far more willing to resort to violence than the political right. The situation here in the USA is somewhat different. For one thing, there hardly exists a true left in the United States. Even someone like me, who stands to the left of the Democratic Party, is still firmly middle-of-the-road compared to European leftists. There are, of course, a few violent thugs who call themselves "anarchists" (and who sully the name of that political philosophy, which can be a peaceful objection to all forms of government.) There are slightly more violent thugs on the far right here in the States, I think, of the KKK variety.

An issue which might be raised here is the question of religious extremism, which is inevitably mixed up with political extremism. Worldwide, there is no doubt that fanatical Islam is the most dangerous and most common form of religious extremism. Here in the USA, where this sort of thing is much less common, the Religious Right is probably more of a problem. I hasten to say that, with the exception of a few fanatics, the American religious right does not make use of violence or advocate its use. In this sense, they are not truly extremists. However, they hold very conservative opinions, and wield political power in ways which are often alarming to those of us who favor a secular state.

Does political bias cloud the issue of judgement with regards to one's own political opinions? (By which I mean, are conservatives/socialists unable to disassociate themselves from the extremists who share some of the same opinons?)

Well, sure. We all see the world through distorting lenses. I hope, however, that we are able to reject those who would pervert our opinions into fanaticism. I may be a strong advocate of animal rights, but I do not support the actions of the Animal Liberation Front in any way.

By the way, it's interesting to note that the dichotomy offered here is "conservatives/socialists." This may apply in Europe, but it doesn't quite work here in the States. I would generally be considered an extremely liberal American, but I am not a socialist. (There are some who would argue that anything except a completely unfettered dog-eat-dog free market is socialism, but this is a distortion of the term.)

How dangerous is western political extremism anyway?

I'll restrict myself to the USA. In terms of mass movements -- large riots and the like -- there is very little danger. However, the violent actions of fanatical individuals -- the murders of persons on the basis of sexual orientation and so on -- are shockingly common.

This post has been edited by Victoria Silverwolf: Mar 8 2007, 06:11 AM
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Bikerdad
post Mar 8 2007, 08:15 AM
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Questions posed for debate:

What is the dividing line between main stream and the extreme (in other words how can you know when some one has crossed the line from the former to the latter?)
Throwing tea into the harbor. In one sense, that pretty much covers it. Deliberate incitement or commission of violence. Knowingly, willfully and willingly assisting and supporting those who commit violence.

Is either side actually worse than the other?
Over the last 40 years, i.e. 2 generation, in the West/aka "Free World" aka "First World Countries", i.e. Western Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, the Left is far, far worse. This is especially true over the last 20 years.

If somebody can point to "right wing" riots in the above countries on the scale of the WTO riots that are now routine, have at it.

If somebody can point to Left wing political commentators being assaulted on college campuses, have at it.

Tree spiking, arson, theft, piracy, these are acts of left wing political militants.

And finally, we have that bulwark of the Left, the unions.

The fictional Irish-American philosopher, Mr. Dooley, said, “This country is ruled by courtesy—like the longshoremen’s union.” This comment gets at the heart of the continuing controversy over unions, which remain the most controversial private (or quasi-private) organizations in our society. Controversy derives from the fact that unions are departures from a naturally competitive labor market and their power to extract economic concessions ultimately rests on their ability and willingness to use force. Unionists promise to deliver monopoly advantages to their members and their power to deliver on their promises rests on the ability to deny businesses and government agencies access to labor, the crucial input in the production process.

Even when all members unanimously agree to withhold their labor services from an employer in order to enforce demands for more pay and better working conditions, a union controls very little of the available labor in the economy. Simple withdrawal of labor by organized workers is rarely sufficient to enforce their demands, and therefore, they resort to violence or threat of violence to prevent other workers from entering the labor market and “undermining labor standards.”
Unions and Violence - Morgan O. Reynolds

Does political bias cloud the issue of judgement with regards to one's own political opinions? (By which I mean, are conservatives/socialists unable to disassociate themselves from the extremists who share some of the same opinons?)
Sometimes it "clouds" their judgement, other times, no. If a particular observer determines that the injustice/danger/whatever of the situation requires violence to redress, then he is unlikely to be disassociate, and there's no "clouding" going on. Conversely, if one fails to disassociate when violence isn't necessary, especially by one's own judgement, then yes, their bias is likely clouding their perception of the matter.

How dangerous is western political extremism anyway?
To individuals unlucky enough to get in the path, fairly dangerous. For western societies as a whole, moderately. I suspect that the danger is greater currently in Western Europe than it is over on this side of the Pond, and even less so in the Pacific.

now, to respond to what others have written...

**************************************************************

QUOTE(Julian)
Though it's like a competition to find out whether cow or buffalo chips taste better - no doubt there is a difference between them, but nobody in their right mind should swallow either to find out.
thumbsup.gif laugh.gif laugh.gif

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QUOTE(grendel)
the taliban in the middle east are by far more extreme and dangerous.
hmmm.gif
I may be mistaken, but I'm not entirely sure that the Taliban qualify as "western poltical extremism."

QUOTE
There are extremists on all sides, but you won't find representatives of ELF speaking at major liberal gatherings.
PETA? Or here's one of my absolute favorites:

Paul Watson, elected to the Board of Directors of the Sierra Club in 2003. highlights from his resume...

Co-founder of Greenpeace
Board member of the Sierra Club
Is responsible for ramming, scuttling, and sinking a slew of fishing boats
Oversees the anti-logging-industry group - Coeur du Bois
"There's nothing wrong with being a terrorist, as long as you win."


Of his 1979 sinking of a commercial whaling vessel, Watson stated, "I set out from Boston in the Sea Shepherd with a crew of 19 volunteers…I hunted down, rammed, and disabled the pirate whaling ship Sierra…[We] fired up the engine and made for the Sierra, which was in the middle of the harbor. I hit her at full speed…." Although this attack failed to sink the Sierra, Watson and his crew returned for a second attack on the vessel and "blew the bottom out of her and permanently ended her career."
...
In 1992, despite his animals-first/humans-last stance, he threatened to sink a fleet of ships reenacting Columbus' voyage of the discovery of America on its 500th anniversary if the participants did not sign an apology for Columbus' mistreatment of American Indians.


Please, lets see your list of folks in the West with similar violence in leadership of a major organization on the Right, after their violence.
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QUOTE(Landru Guide Us)
I don't look at property damage in the pursuit of protecting or expanding the rights of American citizens as violence, but rather as Civil Disobedience, which is as American as apple pie.

So you don't consider deliberate arson to be violence? wacko.gif sour.gif
Ramming and sinking ships isn't violence because its property damage?
Rioting, as long as they restrain themselves to torching cars, tossing bricks through windows, etc as "violence"
I guess that means you must consider bombing an abortion clinic as "Civil Disobedience". sour.gif

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AuthorMusician
post Mar 8 2007, 09:20 AM
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You might be a political extremist if:

Your room is plastered with posters of some big political hero, Adolf or Che'.

The weekly shopping list includes fuel oil, fertilizer, pipes and stick matches.

Your blog title includes one of these terms: Stop the, Save the, Preserve the, Americans for, Institute (of any kind), or Holy Crusaders.

The common response from you when any crisis hits is either nuke 'em or protest 'em.

When you suggest world domination by the United States, you look around and say, "What?" When you suggest that we abandon all modern tech in favor of a 17th century lifestyle, you look around and say, "What?"

There's a shrine to Mama in your walk-in closet.

There's an evil-doer around every corner, or everything everywhere is totally screwed.

It's all their fault.

Extremists on both sides of politics are equally as dangerous, for they suffer from the same derangement of believing themselves to be absolutely correct beyond any shadow of a doubt, and are thus god-like. It's very creepy to be near one of these types. When your skin crawls in the presence of derangement, that's a pretty good sign that you are not an extremist.

I can't draw an absolute line, as I see degrees of derangement. Some types simply talk too much. Others take action but don't do violence, only annoying and sometimes infuriating things like shout in your face or torch a flag. The really bad ones kill people, most commonly with bombs, sometimes with guns, and less often by booby traps. Arson's used too, and I categorize it as a subset of bombing.

The psychology of extremism is probably pretty close to murder. It starts out slow, builds and eventually blows up. Poverty seems to be correlated, especially for far-left extremism. Far-right has a distinctive military character about it. Here's where lines really blur, especially in a country where the Constitution supports a well-regulated militia. I guess the FBI and ATF do the regulating, sometimes with undesirable results. And then we have the freedom of speech thing that extends to living in trees to stop the logging, family planning clinic demonstrations and the like.

When it comes to which side has done the most harm, I can't get Oklahoma out of my head. It seems to me to be the worst thing done so far, if we restrict it to just Western extremism. The GWoT and 9/11 seem to have distracted extremists in this country, or more likely, the law enforcement has gotten stronger.

So another sign that you might be an extremist are the guys in black suits who keep hanging around your house. Or that might be schizoid paranoia, which isn't good either.

This post has been edited by AuthorMusician: Mar 8 2007, 09:28 AM
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