Extremism Is Inevitable

We shouldn’t be concerned about the rise in “extremism” because radicalization is inevitable and a historically necessary development after a period of degeneration. It is a natural process that dissolves a dying social order. The growth of “extremism” is a sign that a society is regenerating.

The following excerpt comes from Peter Turchin’s book Ages of Discord: A Structural-Demographic Analysis of American History:

“The cycle starts when the number of radicals is low and that of moderates high. Few naives are radicalized because they rarely encounter a radical, and the radicalization rate is low, thanks to the presence of many moderates. For the next 25 years the number of radicals continues to stay low, and the overall society enjoys a period of internal peace and stability. However, and more ominously, during this period the number of moderates declines as moderates retire from active political life. There are few new moderates because they arise only when radicals become disenchanted with radicalism, and the levels of political violence are too low to cause such disenchantment and, anyway, there are few radicals to convert into moderates. As a result, around the midpoint of the peaceful phase the number of radicals begins to increase, although initially very gradually.

Meanwhile, the number of naive individuals grows, primarily due to moderates retiring and new individuals becoming adults. Around year 25, however, naives start turning into radicals in increasing numbers. The growth of radicalism enters an autocatalytic phase (more radicals means greater numbers of naives becoming exposed, while fewer moderates cannot exert a dampening influence on this process). The numbers of radicals explode, so that the second half of the cycle is characterized by elevated sociopolitical instability.

Sociopolitical instability reaches a peak around year 40 and then starts to decline. This decline is because increasing numbers of radicals become disenchanted, as a result of high levels of political violence, leading to the rise of moderates. By the end of the cycle (year 50), the moderates reach their peak. Their collective influence results in the suppression of radicals, radicalism and instability, signaling the start of a peaceful phase (and the beginning of the next cycle).

The main lesson from this modeling exercise is that it is not necessary to assume there are distinct (or even self-aware) “generations”. Generations arise as a side effect of age structure and the dynamics of social contagion. Thus, most individuals who become adults during the peaceful phase (the first 25 years of the cycle) will never become radicals or moderates. Thirty years into the cycle, over 80 percent are naives. On the other hand, individuals who enter adulthood during the next 25 year period, the instability phase, have a high chance of becoming first radicalized and then “burnt-out”, and make the transition into moderates. Half or more of those cohorts who are in the young adult stage during the acceleration phase of instability (25-40 years into the cycle) will travel the radicalization-moderation path.”

This is interesting.

I hadn’t thought of it that way.

According to Peter Turchin, all complex human societies go through short and longer term historical cycles and oscillate between integrative and disintegrative phases. Periodically, complex societies go through these natural periods of radicalization and combustion. This is also true of the United States. There is no such thing as “American exceptionalism” in historical dynamics.

Why is the growth of “extremism” a constant throughout history?

Why are there long periods of peace, moderation and contentment which are inevitably followed by nasty periods of war, division, dissatisfaction and strife? Why do radicals suddenly begin to gain traction in some historical periods but not in others? Why is history punctuated by periodic crises?

It never seems to have occurred to progressive liberals that this could be a natural process like plate tectonics. In light of what we know about history, why on earth would the future be the eternal perpetuation of the present? Isn’t that about as stupid as trying to stop the wind? The world is now a radically different place that it was 100 years ago in 1920 which was a radically different place than it was in 1820. The growth of “extremism” was the source of many of those social changes.

Consider the Lost Generation which lived through the trenches of World War I, the decadence of the 1920s in America and the Weimar Republic in Germany and the Great Depression. They were living through the tail end of the Age of Romanticism in which most of Europe’s nation states had been created in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They took the spirit of the trenches, combined it with romantic nationalism and a desire to regenerate their decadent societies and the result was fascism.

Go back a century before to the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Europe was overrun by the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. There was a long period of relative peace that followed the final defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo which prevailed down until the Great War. The British Empire dominated the world from Queen Victoria’s time down to the World Wars after which it was exhausted and collapsed. The American Empire has dominated the world since 1945.

Are we to believe the American Empire will continue to dominate the world indefinitely? Isn’t it more likely that it will decline and collapse like all of its predecessors? In light of all that has happened over the last six months, why would the world look to the United States which has been convulsed by destructive riots and where over 150,000 people have died of COVID-19? Aren’t we clearly in decline?

Let’s be honest with ourselves: everyone knows we are decline. We know our society is in decline. That’s why we have more radicals. The former is the cause of the latter. The number of radicals will continue to increase until two conditions prevail: social stability is restored paired with a broader division of wealth. We have a bloated oligarchy that is desperately in need of an enema.

About Hunter Wallace 12367 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent

10 Comments

  1. Napoleone was born in Corsica Italy (Occupied by France still to this day ) and of Italian ethnicity, not French.

    The British Anglo world still coveys a complex he has a small build stature myth, however hidden historic facts state he was over 6 feet tall and towered over his men on horse back.

    The basic facts never taught in American/British schools concerning the subject of Napoleonic Code!

  2. What’s with the Luther picture? Uncle Marty was just a country bumpkin who wanted to read the Bible is all. Luther dindu nuthin’ Lol.

    The real extremists at rhat time were The Borgias and the corrupt Popes of that period. They did stuff that would make Jeffrey Epstein blush!

  3. On foreign policy, the American empire has already been getting trounced for almost a decade now. Gaddafi was the last decisive victory that the USA won. Then there was Ukraine, which was the pyrrhic victory that is strategically America’s loss in the end because it resulted in Russia becoming more active globally and working to disentangle itself from American economic power. There is Syria, where USA has not been able to meet its goals. The failed Turkey coup, if the USA truly backed that (Turkey claims so, for whatever that’s worth). Trump’s admin is just failure after failure, like the fake Venezuelan president that neoliberal morons comically trot out, who has no legitimacy in Venezuela. Hong Kong antifa riots, another failure. Iran, failure that resulted in a closer relationship with China. Even Europe is pivoting to Russia. Now think tank Americans believe they can win a cold war against China and have the CCP overthrown when they can’t even pull off a coup in a disintegrating South American state anymore.

    And the strange thing is that these repeated failures do not seem to have shaken the confidence of America’s policy goons that America will reign supreme until the end of time.

  4. Extremism occurs because the human is in the image of He who created us, and God’s chief impulse is to create.

    So, a human creates, starting with his own image of himself to his plans for himself, his family, and, perhaps, as well, his extended community.

    Even if we disregard the fact that, because this is a Fallen Realm, a man may choose a path intrinsically evil, there still remains the fact that, even on a good path, there are traps – from being too Machiavellian in removing obstacles to your goals, becoming too self-absorbed and seeing not much of what is around you, and or merely trying to get more and more advancet, to the point where something good becomes something else.

    Without a close relationship to Chryst, we are in grave danger of falling afoul of this minefield, and, thereby, doing damage not only to those around us, but, to ourselves, as well.

    That is why there is extremism – because of our intrinsically creative nature to select and attain goals, our own questionable judgement, and our distance from the Good Lord.

    And this is why Catholicism, both East and West, emphasizes a life of continuous spiritual cleansing, after baptism, via the sacraments.

    The process of confession makes us self-aware and subjects us to well-intended criticism; the process of loving a good lady, till death do us part, binds us to The Better Angels of Our Nature, via familial love, just as taking Communion and a daily prayer life continually integrate us and maintain us into, and in, a unity with God.

    These, and other things, are the methods by which a man can evade falling into ‘extremism’, but, as many men do not have these things, including, unfortunately, some very high men in the church, we are apt to fall prey to extremism, which, in and of itself, is a kind of prideful vanity – one of the 7 Deadly Sins.

    • LOL. I’m yet to encounter a Greek priest who didn’t have food in his beard as part of his theater, or a Roman priest who didn’t think he was special. For Northern Europeans neither have ever been very appealing.

      • @Krafty…

        Clericks do suffer from human problems, definitely, Dear Krafty, as do the rest of us.

        Fortunately, through the process of baptism, atonement, and sancitification, most of our problems remain no larger than petty pride and food stuck in the beard.

        Protestant clergy, on the other hand, I note at my daily trips to the online Christian Post, are frequently shooting themselves, their wives, their children, and or embezzling their entire congregation out of funds – something which I note does not afflict Eastern Orthodoxy.

  5. ‘It’s Gonna Blow – Be a Miracle if it Don’t’

    by Fred Reed

    “Smoking ruins, dead bodies, seething hatreds, and a country that can’t be put back together.

    No one is in charge in this collapsing shell game of a country.

    And BLM wants to go into the suburbs to get Whitey. God help us. Then it will well and truly blow. BLM doesn’t know how many white men are sick of the chaos and destruction, sick of BLM. They quietly say, “Bring it on. Let’s settle it.”

    https://www.unz.com/freed/its-gonna-blow-be-a-miracle-if-it-dont/

  6. All of this is very interesting, but I have a question for you…

    From my perspective, extremism isn’t “white supremacy” or “racism” or “bigotry.”

    All of those things are, to varying degrees, natural. Certainly what leftists call bigotry is actually just in-group preference, and perfectly normal. Where “bigotry” toward sexual degeneracy is concerned, it is likewise perfectly normal for healthy people with natural reproductive instincts to push against gender fluidity and other such nonsense.

    Similarly, racism isn’t unnatural at all. We all know this on the right. Racism is not even really a thing. Babies prefer the faces of people who look like their mothers. That’s why the Soviets wanted to take children from their mothers and raise them outside of families, such tactics brainwash children into upholding egalitarian beliefs.

    And white supremacy is the most Jewish word of all, completely distorting natural tendencies into some kind of pathology that only white people suffer from.

    So having said this, the current paradigm has flipped the script on what constitutes “extremism”. Real extremism is not racism or bigotry. Real extremism is transgenderism and negrophilia. Real extremism is constantly lecturing white people about our fragility and our privilege. Real extremism is self flagellation and kneeling.

    My concern is that the trajectory of crisis does not always restore things to true normalcy. Sometime the result of crisis is to normalize the extremism that is building up. During the period of decadence in France that brought on the revolution. The extremists were the people we now refer to as “classically liberal.” They became the “normal” people after they won.

    You can see where I’m going with that. My fear is that the end of this crisis will only come about when normality is completely obliterated, and white people have been genocided, not because sanity was actually restored.

    • That’s true. The “center” today is extremist from historical perspective. The goal of eliminating even basic natural biological categories like male and female is not “moderate.” Allowing private media and tech oligarchs to create and run social media Skinner boxes to socially engineer the populace is not “moderate.” The belief that society can replace law enforcement with social workers and community activity centers is not “moderate.”

      • @Dart…

        “The “center” today is extremist from historical perspective.”

        Absolutely – one’s man’s extreme’ is another man’s ‘moderation’…

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