Moderates and Extremists
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15-01-2011, 09:00 PM
Moderates and Extremists
Hey, erbody.

I've heard something repeated in these forums and I can't wrap my head around it.

Some people blame moderates for extremists (feel free to re-frame or refute that assertion).

From what I gather, the primary complaint is that moderates support extremists by not reigning them in or that without a moderate base, there would be no extreme.

This is why this doesn't make sense to me because this is the way I understand it.

Everyone is a member of a society. That's a human genetic imperative. Unavoidable. Everyone is a member of a cultural group. That's a human memetic imperative. Unavoidable.

Every individual in a cultural group can be plotted on a range based on their beliefs/sensibility/leanings, whatever you want to call it. The vast majority occupy the centre of the range simply because it is the most accommodating to everyone. But no matter how many people occupy the centre, someone will occupy the extreme. Unless every single person was plotted at the exact same position on the range, which is an impossibility. People occupying the extreme can be slightly off from the moderates, or way out in wackyville, but they cannot ever possibly be eradicated. Couple this with the fact that the moderate position is exclusive and will always marginalise some demographic, meaning that there is always a force in play that creates the extreme.

So I guess my question is, how can moderates be blamed for something that is inevitable and beyond control?

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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15-01-2011, 09:03 PM
RE: Moderates and Extremists
You talkin bout my signature, homie?

"Ain't got no last words to say, yellow streak right up my spine. The gun in my mouth was real and the taste blew my mind."

"We see you cry. We turn your head. Then we slap your face. We see you try. We see you fail. Some things never change."
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15-01-2011, 09:57 PM
 
RE: Moderates and Extremists
I'll admit I'm not completely clear on what your talking about, political moderates, religious moderates, any old moderate? About the only intelligent thing I can add would be for religious moderates. A religion say Catholicism cannot exist without members to support it. The vast majority of those members are moderates i.e. they give their $5-20 a week, but very little else. However they keep the institution alive so that priests can rape children, and extremists can try and take away woman's rights, or ban book, boycott movies etc... Maybe that's not what you're asking
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15-01-2011, 10:08 PM
RE: Moderates and Extremists
Yes, in not reigning in extremists, moderates become part of the problem. All it takes for evil to take control is for good people to do nothing. I don't remember who made that statement, but history have proven it to be true. Nothing man made is unavoidable. There is always those who can stop something, if they see it coming and act in time. They can also refuse to support, or even tolerate, a system that nourishes extremism.

When I find myself in times of trouble, Richard Dawkins comes to me, speaking words of reason, now I see, now I see.
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15-01-2011, 10:20 PM
RE: Moderates and Extremists
Hey, BC.

In part, yes.

Hey, Dregs.

Any ol' moderate: however, the cultural group of choice to attack round here; naturally, are religious groups.

What I'm saying is that extremists cannot help but exist. No moderate, no matter how determined, can eradicate the extreme. Also, humans cannot help but exist within cultural groups. So it seems odd to blame moderates for being a part of a system beyond their control.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Mattt
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15-01-2011, 10:53 PM
RE: Moderates and Extremists
The moderates wouldn't get flack for any of this if they ever tried to stop the extremes. The reason they get flack is that they don't even bother to try while the rest of us who are not religious do.

If it's possible or not is a totally different matter then why people are so hard on moderate religion.
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16-01-2011, 09:04 AM
RE: Moderates and Extremists
Ghost

I think you somewhat misunderstood the point. It's not that anyone believes that moderates are responsible for creating extremists. I think you're exactly right that in any groups the majority are going to be in the center position, which by default will be labeled the "moderate" position, and then you'll have extremes. So, on that point you're exactly right.

The issue, though, is where the center, or moderate, position lays. When you've got a lot of people who are what I'll call "culturally religious", meaning they go through the motions but don't agree or believe in the literal notions of religion, what seems to happen is they create a cover, and a tolerance, for the extremes. For example, in most western democracies the attendance at religious services is way, way down. That tells me that most people are more culturally religious then actually religious. But, for some reason saying anything negative about religion is still a big social taboo. People won't do it. Now, if people do not really believe all this, why do they feel such a need to defend it? I don't think there is any easy answer to that, but I do think that when moderates are willing to defend all attacks on religions, they are also defending and giving strengths to the real crazies in the world.

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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16-01-2011, 09:10 AM
 
RE: Moderates and Extremists
(15-01-2011 10:20 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, BC.

In part, yes.

Hey, Dregs.

Any ol' moderate: however, the cultural group of choice to attack round here; naturally, are religious groups.

What I'm saying is that extremists cannot help but exist. No moderate, no matter how determined, can eradicate the extreme. Also, humans cannot help but exist within cultural groups. So it seems odd to blame moderates for being a part of a system beyond their control.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Mattt

You're right, extremists will exist no matter what. If someone is really that screwed up in the head to believe his religious text to be literal, then no amount of logic will convince him or her otherwise and extremism will persist. I think the greater issue is whether or not these extremists are allowed to operate.

Extremist or not, they are still members of a major religion. Take Islam for instance. It is plagued by extremists. If all the moderates stopped attending religious services (since they really don't care either way), then these extremists would not go away. However, it would be much easier to isolate these extremists, remove their power base, remove their safe havens, and taken action against them so that they cannot function properly. Currently, because you have a region in the Middle East which is Islamic, even though many of these Muslims aren't particularly devout, extremists may find safe haven because they are merely part of the infrastructure of the religion.

However, without this infrastructure, they would become members of a cult, a laughingstock, a mockery of human intelligence. They would have no legitimate claim, nor would they have any sway in society. Right now, people may "dismiss" the extremists as misinterpreting religious texts, but people never dismiss the concept of religion itself. Yet, it is the very concept of religion that is responsible for extremism. Moderates like I talked about in the "Average Theist" thread couldn't give less of a shit about the true significance of the motions they go through.

Basically, and I am blanking on a good way to explain this right now, moderates preserve and pass on the religious concept. Most of those to which religion is passed down to will accept it as their moderate parents/friends did before them- as something that just is, and needs to be done, no matter how senseless. However, some will be introduced to religion, and take it literally. And so, moderates are helping instill extremism within the next generation.

I think it can be related to politics. Communism usually does not have any moderate elements. It is a totally extremist faction, at least when compared to the majority. The extremists do exist, but they never have any political success (especially following the Cold War). Naturally, people are attracted to the cultural ideas of the majority. If this majority idea is agnosticism or atheism, then religion is relegated to the lunatics, and it loses all credibility which it holds right now. Think of cults. They rarely ever last more than a few generations, or if they do, they never gain any influence in society. If religion is relegated to a cult of the few, I think the same will happen.
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16-01-2011, 09:17 AM (This post was last modified: 16-01-2011 09:55 AM by Ghost.)
RE: Moderates and Extremists
Hey, Godless.

If it's possible or not seems the central issue to me. Like if I got mad at you for not stopping gravity, that'd be pretty irrational.

Quote:The reason they get flack is that they don't even bother to try while the rest of us who are not religious do.

Do you mean that "the rest of us" try to stop religious extremists or try to stop their own non-religious extremists?

Hey, No. J.

What is meant by:
Quote: They can also refuse to support, or even tolerate, a system that nourishes extremism/

Hey, BnW.

Quote:The issue, though, is where the center, or moderate, position lays. When you've got a lot of people who are what I'll call "culturally religious", meaning they go through the motions but don't agree or believe in the literal notions of religion, what seems to happen is they create a cover, and a tolerance, for the extremes. For example, in most western democracies the attendance at religious services is way, way down. That tells me that most people are more culturally religious then actually religious. But, for some reason saying anything negative about religion is still a big social taboo. People won't do it. Now, if people do not really believe all this, why do they feel such a need to defend it? I don't think there is any easy answer to that, but I do think that when moderates are willing to defend all attacks on religions, they are also defending and giving strengths to the real crazies in the world.

There's a leap here that I'm not following.

Whether someone is devout or lapsed, they still are what they are. Everyone is affiliated with a cultural group. You can't not be. If you attack religion, you're still attacking a choice these people have made.

Are you saying that if a lapsed religious person defends attacks on religion, they're stopping you from attacking the extreme of the religion?

Hey, Truth Addict.

Quote:Take Islam for instance. It is plagued by extremists. If all the moderates stopped attending religious services (since they really don't care either way), then these extremists would not go away. However, it would be much easier to isolate these extremists, remove their power base, remove their safe havens, and taken action against them so that they cannot function properly... However, without this infrastructure, they would become members of a cult, a laughingstock, a mockery of human intelligence.

So the way for a Muslim to stop Muslim extremists is to stop being a Muslim?

Quote:Yet, it is the very concept of religion that is responsible for extremism.

See, this is my point. Religion isn't responsible for extremism, living in cultural societies with internal power struggles within an environment where there is inter-cultural competition, is. That is a reality that affects everyone.

Quote:Communism usually does not have any moderate elements.

Here I disagree fully. Communism, when compared to what you are used to might seem extreme, but within communist societies, there is a range upon which everyone can be plotted. And the majority will be plotted in the centre. If there were no moderates, Gorbachev's glasnost would never have been possible and Hong Kong would have simply been absorbed into China rather than left as a special administrative region.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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16-01-2011, 09:33 AM
RE: Moderates and Extremists
you bet I try to stop Atheist extremists. I confront them all the time when I see them. Sometimes you even get through to them.

All I ask is for other to do the same with groups they may be involved in.
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