The Success of Radical Extremism

After reading In The Shadow of Revolution: Life Stories of Russian Women, I’ve had a rather interesting realization. It would seem that extremist views are most effective in instituting change within a society. People rally behind extremist views with such zeal and enthusiasm. Unfortunately, moderation fails to capture people’s attention. This can be seen with The Bolsheviks and The Mensheviks. The Bolsheviks were extremist and radical, they wanted “to fight the Bourgeoisies to the end” (Fitzpatrick and Slezkine 53). On the other hand The Mensheviks were much less radical and moderate, they wanted to bring about progressive change whilst working with the Bourgeoisies. However, The Mensheviks captured a much smaller followership than The Bolsheviks. Extremism can be very dangerous as it lacks tolerance and often resolves to violence. My question for thought is this: Is extremist views more effective than moderate views for recruiting followers and advocating for change? Is extremism better?

One Reply to “The Success of Radical Extremism”

  1. Historically, I believe that the use of extremist views and practices has been majorly effective for those seeking a following, pursuing revolution, or trying to institute change in general. I think this was made evident in “The Shadows of Revolution: Life Stories of Russian Women” through its depiction of both the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks. The Bolsheviks had extremist ideas and promoted immediate change through further revolution, while the Mensheviks took a more central approach and sought to bring about change while working with the society rather than against it. Even though the Mensheviks had a moderate viewpoint that seemed achievable over time, the Bolsheviks roped in followers by offering promises of widespread socio-economic change and overthrow of bourgeoisie tendencies. In general, I think this point is applicable to most extremist groups that have emerged in the past.

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