by Paul Cudenec
After a few decades, you can get quite used to your opinions being perpetually categorised as “extremist”.
You watch what you say to work colleagues and certain family members, you express yourself anonymously or pseudonymously, you seek refuge with like-branded individuals and mentally set yourself apart from society as a whole.
This, of course, is what the label is intended to achieve: the marginalisation, stigmatisation and, eventually, criminalisation of dissenting views.
I have long been aware of the nature of this device and have sometimes sought to turn it into a badge of honour.
In the 1990s I penned an unpublished (and probably unpublishable!) novel called The Extremist and later nodded in the same direction with the sub-title of 2019’s No Such Place As Asha (“an extremist novel”).
But lately it has struck me that the “extremist” tag is fundamentally and outrageously unfair!
Is it really “extremist” to think that our society has taken a seriously wrong direction which urgently needs to be rethought?
Is it really “extremist” to seek to defend basic freedom from the encroachment of authoritarian police-state control?
Is it really “extremist” to object to the destruction of the natural world in the pursuit of material greed?
Is it really “extremist” to protest against resource-grabbing wars waged under false pretences at the cost of endless innocent lives?
Is it really “extremist” to be appalled by the ever-accelerating accumulation of wealth and power in the hands of a tiny gang of criminal sociopaths?
Is it really “extremist” to see through their lies, to investigate their activities and to denounce their insidious scheming?
No, of course it isn’t!
Until now, the “extremist” smear has been very effective.
It works even better than terms such as “unacceptable”, “fringe” or “beyond the pale” because it also serves to slice up dissenters into two opposite camps.
Once labelled “extreme left” or “extreme right”, we are supposed to cling to that manufactured allegiance, to adopt all the opinions peddled by its self-appointed leaders, never to agree with anything said by the “other extreme” and, indeed, to consider these rival dissidents as our principal enemies, instead of the power-nexus itself.
I said “until now”, because it looks as if the rigid “left-right” divide is finally breaking down, as people realise that the crucial battle is in fact between “below” and “above”, between “us” and “them”.
When the illusion has been shattered of opposing “extremes” flanking a moderate “centre”, the overall picture becomes a lot clearer.
It becomes apparent that the real “extremists” are those who are already extremely rich but want to get even richer; those who are extremely deceitful and dishonest in their dealings; those who have an extreme disregard for the lives and well-being of others and an extreme fear of real democracy, along with a deeply unpleasant propensity to use extreme violence to protect and expand their power.
The forthcoming collapse of their mendacious narrative and the long-overdue awakening of the people promises to be extremely interesting!