Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Radicals and radicalization

with one comment

A common complaint or family of complaints, and a highly annoying one, from some Leftists is that those on the “Right” would become “radicalized” if they are exposed to certain sources—and therefore these sources must be censored or removed from the Internet, those exposed to these sources must be “de-programmed”,* or similar. (Overlapping, we have issues like “angry young men”, as discussed in [1]. Indeed, much of that discussion is relevant here.)

*Something particularly perverse; as it is the Left that tends to adopt a quasi-religious belief and fervor, engage in deliberate indoctrination, and/or take on something sect-like.

Not only is this use of “radical-” dubious*, but the idea violates the right to make up one’s own mind, the approach is highly hypocritical, the claims are almost always misleading, and the whole thing often seems more like excuse making.

*Cf. excursion. However, I will often use the poorly defined everyday sense below, for consistency.

To begin with the excuse making, this is not necessarily a matter of finding a “reason” to censor, although censorship might be a large part of it, but it centers more, I suspect, on being able to “discredit” the opinions, arguments, and ideas of someone without having to resort to actual (counter-)arguments, facts, and logic—where the Left tends to fare very poorly. Neither the sources of this alleged “radicalization” nor the “victims” must be trusted—because of “radicalization”.

In fact, this “radicalization” often amounts to nothing more than learning how much various politicians (in particularly of the Leftist persuasion) lie and how incompetent they are; where real science says something radically (hah!) different from what Leftist politicians, journalists, social “scientists”, and activists claim in order to further their agenda; what other views and perspectives exist on a certain matter; etc. This especially with an eye on how the Leftist house of cards might collapse on too close an inspection, e.g. when someone is not content with “proportionally more Blacks are X-ed than Whites—structural racism!!!” and actually takes into consideration that “after adjusting for the proportion that Y-s, there is no difference in X-ing” or, even, “after adjusting for the proportion that Y-s, fewer Blacks are X-ed than Whites”.*

*Where X and Y can refer to a great many thing, e.g. being frisked on the street (X) after behaving suspiciously (Y) and doing poorly in college (X) after being admitted on a lowered standard (Y). Note that this does not even require any claims about e.g. underlying differences in I.Q. distributions, albeit well documented, as it is enough to look at cause and consequence beyond mere skin color. (And, no, I do not count being Black as part of “behaving suspiciously” above.)

In this, we might even have the paradoxical result that exposure to “radicalizing” sources might actually move someone away from a radical position…

Often the Leftist distortions can be subtle and hard to see through. For instance, I grew up (in Sweden) with an image of Cuba as a mostly harmless country, trying to do its own thing, and only failing because of U.S. embargoes and whatnots. My readings of fiction as a young boy included a family that had gone to Cuba to volunteer as farm workers to help the poor people—but not one word was spent on the overall situation in Cuba, including how Socialism invariably seems to cause poverty.* News reporting “critical” of Cuba, encountered when I was a bit older, could mention the unfortunate situation that a trained physician might prefer to drive a taxi to working as a physician, as it payed more,** but bigger problems often went unmentioned, the market mechanisms involved were not truly discussed, and there might well have been a subtext of “ungrateful taxi driver, who took the free education and then did not earn his keep”.*** Etc. As late as five years ago, almost to the day, I wrote “Cuba, […], was never that bad”, but that claim seems optimistic in light of information that I have encountered later, even if we give Cuba a pass for the civil-war phase and the immediate aftermath—no, Cuba was no second Cambodia, but it was likely worse, not better, than most of (the non-USSR) Eastern Europe. (In case of both Cuba and Eastern Europe: once the dust had settled.)

*This was a very long time ago and I have no clue about the book’s title and author, except that both were Swedish.

**The stated premise was that education was very cheap, but that post-graduation salaries were unimpressive. In the comparison with a taxi driver, there were likely additional aspects of tips, probability of being paid in U.S. dollars or other foreign currencies, and/or the opportunity to take money under the table.

***A subtext that is not entirely unjustified, but which ultimately fails on the lack of choice. If the aspiring physician had the option to pay his own way and then to earn market rates as a physician, but chose to take the free education and the government set rates, the point might hold. As is, he had the choice between becoming a physician on Castro’s terms or not at all.

The Cuba example is a part of a larger trend: I tend to be overly optimistic about something Leftist and only belatedly find this out. In a next step, if I become more well informed and, as a consequence, am less and less willing to give the Left the benefit of the doubt, less and less willing to trust what someone on the Left says, less and less willing to X, Y, and Z—does that make me “radicalized”? No, it makes me more realistic (“realisticalized”?), less likely to make mistakes, less likely to be fooled, less likely to do harm unto others through faulty statements/advice, and, looking at the sum of all parties, fairer. If someone regularly cries “wolf” without cause, he has no right to blame his own lack of credibility on others—the blame is his and his alone.

It might very well be that those with a greater exposure to non-Leftist sources show a greater amount of anger (cf. [1]), but this is not a matter of radicalization and, more, it is perfectly justified in light of the immense scope of Leftist lies, defamation, and reckless behavior with the money, futures, and whatnot of others. We can discuss how constructive or destructive anger might be, but it is a perfectly natural reaction in light of the facts. Here there is, of course, an increased risk that someone would resort to violence, but (a) political violence is predominantly a Leftist phenomenon, (b) the issue is more likely to be natural tendencies combined with uncomfortable knowledge than “radicalization”, and (c) sometimes even violence is justified.*

*Those who would automatically claim the opposite usually have no objections to e.g. the actions of the French Resistance during WWII. (Note, however, that I do not make any statement on when violence would be justified—I merely acknowledge that such times and situations exist.)

A potential true source of problems is that sufficiently weak critical thinkers or those sufficiently marginalized might run through a gamut of opinions, eventually landing on a sufficiently poor non-Leftist opinion that it matches parts of the Left in its incorrectness, misguidedness, whatnot. Even here, it might be a lesser evil, but, more importantly, consider the main reason: that opinions considered “wrongthink” by the Left are driven out of the sphere of regular debate and, as a result, can develop with little outside influence and are never put to proper scrutiny and critique.* Vice versa, many who land there have, equally, been driven out of mainstream debate because of “wrongthink” or, even, an interest in a topic area considered taboo, without necessarily expressing an own opinion within that area. In as far as this causes something that would qualify as true radicalization, the Left has itself to blame. (And, again, the problem of true radicals is far greater on the Left to begin with.)

*No, screaming “Racist!!!!!!” is not critique. It is not even criticism. What it is, is hysteria.

A related issue is that much of the Left seems to operate on the belief that “if someone is exposed to an opinion, he will automatically adapt that opinion”. While this idea is ridiculous to a strong critical thinker, it does explain why the Left puts such emphasis on striking down other opinions over arguing in favor of its own, and why there so often is a “must agree in detail on everything” push. It is also very telling about the low ability to think critically typically found within the Left.

However, this allows us to segue to the Left and radicalization (indoctrination, whatnot): Consider, as a counterpoint, the systematic abuse of the education system to further CRT, (Gender-)Feminism, “action civics”, biology denialism, etc. These are much more worthy of labels like “radicalization” than almost anything found outside the Left—but does the Left do anything to stop them? No, quite the contrary. Certainly, by any reasonable standard, someone like Biden is more radical than someone like Trump, someone like Sonia Sotomayor more than someone like Clarence Thomas, someone like Gavin Newsom more than someone like Ron DeSantis, etc. Indeed, to the degree that the aforementioned Republicans can be considered at all radical, it is a sign of how far Leftwards U.S. society has already shifted and/or how far it deviates from the ideals of the founders, while the aforementioned Democrats are doing their darnedest to shift it even further and to make the deviation even larger.

Excursion of what radicalism is:
The root of “radicalism” is “root”; specifically “radix”, the Latin word for root. The core of the matter, then, is the wish to change society (or something else) from the root. Two immediate observations is that (a) this attitude is much more common on the Left, (b) it does not automatically involve e.g. a willingness to use unprovoked violence or other extreme methods (whether it automatically involves extreme opinions, except in as far as a radical position is automatically considered extreme, might be open to debate). There might even be room to argue a third/(c) that even a radical change is not automatically a fast change. While it is true that radicals often tend towards extreme methods (and fast change), especially when on the Left, it would go too far to equate “radical” with e.g. “evil”, “out of bounds”, “nutcase”.* (In all fairness, I cannot rule out that I have, in the past, slipped on this point myself—and in this particular text, to re-iterate, I often use the “poorly defined everyday sense”.)

*Although, a “radish” case might be made.


Written by michaeleriksson

November 19, 2022 at 3:45 am

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  1. […] to further sow discord, and to gain possibilities of later attacking these critics for, e.g., radicalization.) Of course, it also entirely misses the point of how many immigrants might be accepted in during […]

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