Saturday, 23 March 2019

"Of all the 'anti-concepts' populating our cultural atmosphere, 'extremism' is the most ambitious in scale and implications -- to hold the degree of a characteristic, regardless of its nature, as evil -- is an absurdity... But 'don't bother to examine a folly -- ask yourself only what it accomplishes.'" #QotD


"Of all the 'anti-concepts' populating our cultural atmosphere, 'extremism' is the most ambitious in scale and implications; it goes much beyond politics... 
    "To begin with, 'extremism' is a term which, standing by itself, has no meaning. The concept of 'extreme' denotes a relation, a measurement, a degree. The dictionary gives the following definition: 'Extreme, adj. -- of a character or kind farthest removed from the ordinary or average. 2. utmost or exceedingly great in degree.' 
    "It is obvious that the first question one has to ask, before using that term, is: a degree -- of what? 
    "To answer: 'Of anything!' and to proclaim that any extreme is evil because it is an extreme -- to hold the degree of a characteristic, regardless of its nature, as evil -- is an absurdity ... Measurements as such have no value-significance -- and acquire it only from the nature of that which is being measured. 
    "Are an extreme of health and an extreme of diseases equally undesirable? Are extreme intelligence and extreme stupidity -- both equally fare removed 'from the ordinary or average' -- equally unworthy? The examples of such absurdities can be multiplied indefinitely... 
    "But 'don't bother to examine a folly -- ask yourself only what it accomplishes.' What is the 'anti-concept' of 'extremism' intended to accomplish in politics? ... 
    "The purpose [has always been] to revive that old saw of pre-World War II vintage, the notion that the two political opposites confronting us, the two 'extremes,' are: fascism versus communism... 
    "It is obvious what the fraudulent issue of fascism versus communism accomplishes: it sets up, as opposites,  as two variants of the same political system; it switched the choice of 'Freedom or dictatorship?' into 'Which form of dictatorship?' -- thus establishing dictatorship as inevitable in fact and offering only a choice of rulers." 
          ~ Ayn Rand, from her article 'Extremism: The Art of Smearing'
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