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Extremism

Extremism

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Metadata

  • Author: J. M. Berger
  • Full Title: Extremism
  • Category: #books

Highlights

  • The total human cost of the African slave trade and the succeeding generations of hereditary slavery certainly run into the tens of millions, one of the gravest shames in the history of humanity and one of extremism’s greatest triumphs.34 (Location 261)
  • Perhaps most fatefully, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan at the end of 1979, triggering a decades-long sequence of events that has shaped much of the twenty-first century. (Location 289)
  • defining extremism is not a casual matter. “I know it when I see it” is not an acceptable standard when lives are at stake. (Location 348)
  • Social identity theory stipulates that people categorize themselves and others as members of competing social groups. The in-group is a group of people who share an identity, such as religious, racial, or national. (Location 511)
  • In and out are relative statuses. My in-group may be your out-group, and my out-group may be your in-group. For any given identity, you are either in the group or out of it. (Location 519)
  • Categorization is the act of understanding yourself to be part of an in-group and determining whether others are part of your in-group or your out-group. (Location 529)
  • Social identification is an act of self-categorization in which an individual decides that he or she is part of an in-group. (Location 531)
  • Often, in-groups are perceived to have more legitimacy than out-groups. In this context, legitimacy can be defined as the belief that an identity collective has a right to exist and may be rightfully defined, maintained, and protected. (Location 533)
  • the quest for legitimacy is a key element in many extremist movements. (Location 535)
  • In the context of this book, however, an extremist ideology is a collection of texts that describe who is part of the in-group, who is part of an out-group, and how the in-group should interact with the out-group. (Location 539)
  • Ideas and concepts are contained in texts, and a movement cannot adopt an ideology unless and until it is transmitted in a text. Without transmission and narrative, there would be no extremist groups, only individual extremists separately following their own self-designed beliefs. (Location 544)
    • Note: Artifact
  • While extremist sentiments often overlap with crime and war, the mere act of violence—even horrific, evil violence—is not inherently extremist. (Location 553)
  • Terrorism is a tactic, whereas extremism is a belief system. Because extremist movements are often small, they are motivated to adopt asymmetric tactics such as terrorism. (Location 566)
  • The major categories of extremism include racial/ethnic, religious, nationalist, anti-government, anarchist, classist, single-issue movements, and gender, sexual orientation, and sexual identity. (Location 569)
  • Nationalist extremism takes this to a different level, arguing that the nation must be protected by taking hostile action against out-groups. Sometimes this means taking action against other nations or the world at large, but nationalist extremism is frequently concerned with immigration—how citizenship is defined and bestowed. (Location 611)
  • Although both men and women take part in extremism, men are overwhelmingly overrepresented in extremist populations, especially where the commission of acts of violence are concerned. (Location 687)
  • This has at times led scholars and policymakers to underplay women’s involvement, but the overrepresentation of males (usually cisgender heterosexual males) as active participants is clear and persistent.15 (Location 690)
  • one of the most ubiquitous themes in extremist propaganda is the threat of rape—real or imagined—by out-group males against in-group females. (Location 704)
  • Extremism refers to the belief that an in-group’s success or survival can never be separated from the need for hostile action against an out-group. The hostile action must be part of the in-group’s definition of success. Hostile acts can range from verbal attacks and diminishment to discriminatory behavior, violence, and even genocide. (Location 735)
  • Extremism can be the province of state or nonstate actors, unlike terrorism, which after years of similar debate and ambiguity, has come to be understood primarily as a nonstate phenomenon. (Location 739)
  • The need for harmful activity must be unconditional and inseparable from the in-group’s understanding of success in order to qualify as extremist. (Location 744)
  • The call to action is inherent to this definition. For instance, it is not extremist to disapprove of a religion based on its tenets. But it is extremist to demand that all adherents of a religion be arrested or deported. (Location 751)
  • Violent extremism is the belief that an in-group’s success or survival can never be separated from the need for violent action against an out-group (as opposed to less harmful acts such as discrimination or shunning). (Location 758)
  • Radicalization into extremism is the escalation of an in-group’s extremist orientation in the form of increasingly negative views about an out-group or the endorsement of increasingly hostile or violent actions against an out-group. Radicalization is a process of change, not outcome. (Location 762)
  • Extremism emerges from social ecosystems in a manner analogous to weather. (Location 773)
  • we cannot understand hurricanes if we do not understand tropical storms, and we cannot understand storms if we do not understand wind and water. (Location 775)
  • This subjectivity and changeability can make it very difficult to determine who’s in your in-group and who’s out. Extremist movements are overwhelmingly concerned with taking the subjectivity out of that question. (Location 898)
  • How members of the in-group should interact with members of the out-group. The last element is perhaps the most important distinction between mainstream and extremist identities. (Location 902)
  • An identity movement does not become extreme until the in-group starts to adopt hostile attitudes toward the out-group or -groups. (Location 936)
  • example of British Israelism also drives home an important point about extremist identities: they are fluid. Although extremists laboriously work to crystallize the definition of the in-group in any given moment, over time the definitions change in response to shifting circumstances. (Location 982)
  • For most people, personal identity consists of overlapping circles of belonging, such as “I am an American, and I am also ethnically Irish, and I am also Roman Catholic, and I am also an environmental activist.” (Location 988)
  • For extremists, a singular identity often emerges from these circles of belonging. (Location 991)
  • Extremist ideologies define constrictive or exclusive identities and enforce rigid boundaries between in-groups and out-groups. Ironically, this quest to promote greater group cohesion can itself fracture the in-group. Shared negative attitudes toward outsiders can help strengthen bonds around certain in-group members,10 but they also put pressure on members of the in-group to adopt more hostile attitudes toward the out-group. When this happens, the unity of the in-group comes under pressure. (Location 993)
  • Christian leaders soon became eager to winnow these competing creeds into one “true” religion. As part of that process, they crystallized a relatively recent concept known as heresy or apostasy, the belief that substantially wrong beliefs or practices can disqualify an otherwise eligible person from an in-group. In mainstream theology, heresy and apostasy are different concepts, with the former referring to wrong religious belief within an in-group, and the latter referring to a complete repudiation of the in-group.13 In extremism, these terms are often conflated, because extremists believe that certain kinds of wrong belief are equivalent to an explicit repudiation of the in-group. (Location 1036)
  • Extremism is distinguished from ordinary unpleasantness—blind hate and pedestrian racism—by its sweeping rationalization of why conflict exists and its insistence on the necessity of conflict. (Location 1193)
  • Extremism is related to prejudice, but it is a distinct problem. It is an assertion that an out-group must always be actively opposed because its fundamental identity is intrinsically harmful to the in-group. (Location 1195)
  • Conspiracy theories are among the most powerful and ubiquitous tools that extremist ideologues use to explain real or perceived problems afflicting the in-group, attributing them to secret machinations by a powerful cabal of elite out-group members. They transfer power from an in-group to an out-group using a dyad that relentlessly drives narratives toward extremism: The in-group is full of merit but lacking in agency. The out-group lacks merit but possesses extraordinary agency. (Location 1281)
  • The solution to this crisis requires the creation of a parallel subset of the in-group with the power to resist the out-group—the extremist in-group, which possesses high levels of both merit and agency. (Location 1286)
  • Research suggests that conspiracy theories usually arise from the desire to provide coherent explanations for complicated problems.6 The real world is messy, and while conspiracy theories are often arcane, they tend to be tidy. In the words of American historian Richard Hofstadter’s classic 1964 essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,”7 a conspiracy theory is nothing if not coherent—in face, the paranoid mentality is far more coherent than the real world, since it leaves no room for mistakes, failures or ambiguities. It is, if not wholly rational, at least intensely rationalistic; it believes that it is up against an enemy who is as infallibly rational as he is totally evil, and it seeks to match his imputed total confidence with its own, leaving nothing unexplained and comprehending all of reality in one overreaching, consistent theory. (Location 1292)
  • Radicalization is ultimately concerned with expanding the divide between in-group and out-groups. So while conspiracy theories are primarily concerned with explaining out-group behavior, they represent only half of the dyad. The maximum divide occurs when the in-group is characterized as meritorious but vulnerable. (Location 1323)
  • Although dystopian themes feature in a wide range of extremist movements, they have been particularly effective in right-wing and racist fiction over the last two centuries, including such books as Anticipations of the Future, a proslavery novel published in the United States prior to the Civil War, and The Camp of the Saints, a racist anti-immigrant novel published in France during the 1970s. (Location 1333)
  • The dystopian genre has long been popular with mainstream audiences, making it attractive as an extremist recruitment and propaganda tool.15 (Location 1345)
  • dystopian narratives, especially fictional stories set in the not-too-distant future, can be more empowering than conspiracy narratives alone because they often contain a strategy for preventing or reversing the corruption of society. When present in fiction, this can include protagonists whom extremist adherents may find relatable. (Location 1352)
  • When “traditional social bonds were being weakened or shattered,” millenarian and apocalyptic movements were more likely to emerge.20 (Location 1394)
  • Other extremist groups, notably Islamic State, have employed triumphalism to great effect. Al Qaeda built its propaganda and ideological platform on the premise that it employed terrorism because the movement was too weak to fight and win wars. Starting as early as 2011, the Islamic State in Iraq (which later became Islamic State) began to flip that narrative, using its propaganda to boast of strength and catalog successes. When Islamic State seized Mosul and declared itself a caliphate in June 2014, this provided a vindication of its triumphalist rhetoric and spurred the rapid growth of the organization into a global threat. (Location 1409)
  • Terrorism is defined here as “public violence targeting noncombatants, carried out by nongovernmental individuals or groups, in order to advance a political or ideological goal or amplify a political or ideological message.”39 When carried out by a governmental actor, I would call similar public violence oppression (see the next section) rather than terrorism. (Location 1523)
  • H. J. Ingram, “A ‘Linkage-Based’ Approach to Combating Militant Islamist Propaganda: A Two-Tiered Framework for Practitioners,” International Centre for Counter-Terrorism—The Hague 7, no. 6 (2016); H. J. Ingram, “The Strategic Logic of the ‘Linkage-Based’ Approach to Combating Militant Islamist Propaganda: Conceptual and Empirical Foundations,” International Centre for Counter-Terrorism—The Hague 8, no. 6 (2017). (Location 1628)
  • Pedro Domingos, “The Role of Occam’s Razor in Knowledge Discovery,” Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery 3, no. 4 (1999): 409–425. (Location 1639)
  • A study of more than four thousand jihadist radicals found that their average education level was considerably higher than the general population.5 In a study of Palestinian terrorism, researchers found that higher levels of both education and economic achievement positively correlated with membership in Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.6 Despite these findings, no one advocates for reducing educational opportunities as a way to counter violent extremism. (Location 1791)
  • But neighborhoods that have an unemployment problem may not be more prone to produce violent extremists. They may simply produce violent extremists with an unemployment problem. (Location 1805)
  • Although radicalization almost always involves the adoption of a specific ideology, the process of adoption is more instructive than the contents of the ideology. When the study of radicalization as a process becomes fixated on contents, the results are a bewildering mess that distorts analytical efforts. A content-driven approach produces a menagerie of competing theories that make sense only in the context of a single movement at a single point in time, such as arguments that extremism is caused by colonialism or religious fundamentalism.12 When these theories are applied to other movements—even very similar movements—they often fail. (Location 1832)
  • As Hannah Arendt writes, citing Plato, political entities “do not spring from oak and rock,” but neither do they “spring from within our particular and individual selves.” (Location 1858)
  • categorization takes place when an individual adopts a collective identity. A number of experimental and research studies have demonstrated that simply understanding oneself to be part of an in-group correlates with a tendency toward discrimination or hostility against out-groups. This does not necessarily apply in every context. For instance, groups that were placed in competitive settings developed negative attitudes about out-groups much more strongly than groups that were placed in cooperative settings. But groups that were placed in a neutral context also developed negative attitudes toward out-groups, suggesting that the tendency to develop negative attitudes about out-groups is—to some extent—hardwired, either in the minds of individuals or as a necessary byproduct of many contexts in which we interact socially.27 (Location 1979)
  • When we categorize someone as a member of a group we assign the group’s prototypical attributes to that person, and view them through the lens of the prototype; seeing them not as unique individuals but as more or less prototypical group members—a process called depersonalization.29 (Location 1992)
  • Uncertainty is uncomfortable and produces anxiety until it can be resolved. Most people deal with uncertainty in healthy ways, but many do not—enough to make a statistical difference. Although there are a number of ways people act to reduce uncertainty in their lives, one very effective strategy is to adopt a group identity that is “distinctive and clearly defined,” according to Michael A. Hogg, head of the social psychology program at Claremont Graduate University and the creator of uncertainty-identity theory, which seeks to describe the connection between uncertainty and extremism.37 (Location 2028)
  • entitativity, defined as “the property of a group, resting on clear boundaries, internal homogeneity, social interaction, clear internal structure, common goals, and common fate.”39 (Location 2048)
  • The structure of an extremist ideology is designed to be filled with content providing a high level of entitativity, and extremist narratives tend to become more complex over time, drawing on an ever-wider variety of information sources. The more content is generated, the more entitativity accrues to the movement. (Location 2069)
  • Efraim Benmelech and Esteban F. Klor, What Explains the Flow of Foreign Fighters to ISIS?,. NBER Working Paper No. 22190, National Bureau of Economic Research, 2016, http://www.nber.org/papers/w22190 (Location 2115)
  • Extremist ideologies build on previous ideologies and evolve to fit the times. (Location 2238)
  • Extremism is a socially transmitted disease. Ideologies are transmitted when one person communicates with another. When communication technology changes, extremism changes as well. (Location 2239)
  • For extremists, access to social media was a game changer. Extremists had been largely priced out of the broadcast revolution, but social media provided an inexpensive platform to reach massive audiences, emphasizing virality and controversy over social norms. (Location 2255)
  • Social psychology research strongly suggests that feelings of uncertainty make people more susceptible to extremism and empower the specific elements of extremism discussed in this book, such as in-group identification, out-group hostility, and crisis-solution narratives (such as conspiracy theories). (Location 2282)
  • All of these factors—social media, technological changes, cheap travel—are part of an environment in which relatively small groups of people can have an outsized impact on global politics. Islamic State, which has disrupted world politics and led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, represents a miniscule fraction of the world’s population. Even measured against its eligible in-group, Sunni Muslims, active Islamic State supporters are less than a fraction of 1 percent of the available population of recruits. Through tactics such as terrorism, superempowered superminorities trigger substantial social and political uncertainty, which they then offer to resolve through ideology. Terrorism fuels extremism among the perpetrator’s eligible in-group as well in as counterpart out-group movements. For instance, jihadists and right-wing extremists can feed each other’s narratives in a symbiotic manner.8 (Location 2309)
  • President Obama spoke more directly to the issue in 2016: Groups like ISIL are desperate for legitimacy. They try to portray themselves as religious leaders and holy warriors who speak for Islam. I refuse to give them legitimacy. We must never give them that legitimacy.15 (Location 2369)
  • the framework discussed in this book suggests that attacks on the legitimacy of extremist groups are likely to fail because legitimacy is the most central component of an extremist in-group’s identity construction—the most highly developed and best-protected asset that any extremist group possesses. (Location 2380)
  • The escalation of radicalization from al Qaeda to the Islamic State was informed, in part, by internal and external criticisms of previous jihadist strategies and tactics.18 (Location 2391)
  • politicians and policymakers often gravitate toward programs that address the so-called root causes of terrorism. These typically focus on discredited explanations for extremism, such as poverty, lack of education, and undemocratic governance. Although these structural factors are not proximate causes of extremism, there is good reason to believe that dramatic uncertainty-producing changes in these social and political tent poles may be linked to increased extremism. The experimental evidence for this premise is strong. Additional research should examine how this potentially works in the real world by studying the emergence of significant extremist movements in historical context. (Location 2420)
  • well-intentioned policies designed to aid people who are suffering should not be conflated with policies to combat extremism. These are separate pursuits and should be pursued separately. (Location 2435)
  • The new communications technologies that empower extremists can also be used to detect their arrival and diagnose their importance. Both the rise of Islamic State and the resurgence of white nationalism were clearly visible online before most analysts acknowledged their changing threat.23 (Location 2454)
  • Deep dives into specific ideologies such as jihadism and white nationalism remain vitally important, but we must also acknowledge the category-defying nature of extremism belief in order to combat it most effectively and to respond quickly to the rise of new and unexpected movements. We must understand extremism as it exists in the real world—an enduring part of human society that transcends demographics. (Location 2468)

public: true

title: Extremism longtitle: Extremism author: J. M. Berger url: , source: kindle last_highlight: 2019-06-22 type: books tags:

Extremism

rw-book-cover

Metadata

  • Author: J. M. Berger
  • Full Title: Extremism
  • Category: #books

Highlights

  • The total human cost of the African slave trade and the succeeding generations of hereditary slavery certainly run into the tens of millions, one of the gravest shames in the history of humanity and one of extremism’s greatest triumphs.34 (Location 261)
  • Perhaps most fatefully, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan at the end of 1979, triggering a decades-long sequence of events that has shaped much of the twenty-first century. (Location 289)
  • defining extremism is not a casual matter. “I know it when I see it” is not an acceptable standard when lives are at stake. (Location 348)
  • Social identity theory stipulates that people categorize themselves and others as members of competing social groups. The in-group is a group of people who share an identity, such as religious, racial, or national. (Location 511)
  • In and out are relative statuses. My in-group may be your out-group, and my out-group may be your in-group. For any given identity, you are either in the group or out of it. (Location 519)
  • Categorization is the act of understanding yourself to be part of an in-group and determining whether others are part of your in-group or your out-group. (Location 529)
  • Social identification is an act of self-categorization in which an individual decides that he or she is part of an in-group. (Location 531)
  • Often, in-groups are perceived to have more legitimacy than out-groups. In this context, legitimacy can be defined as the belief that an identity collective has a right to exist and may be rightfully defined, maintained, and protected. (Location 533)
  • the quest for legitimacy is a key element in many extremist movements. (Location 535)
  • In the context of this book, however, an extremist ideology is a collection of texts that describe who is part of the in-group, who is part of an out-group, and how the in-group should interact with the out-group. (Location 539)
  • Ideas and concepts are contained in texts, and a movement cannot adopt an ideology unless and until it is transmitted in a text. Without transmission and narrative, there would be no extremist groups, only individual extremists separately following their own self-designed beliefs. (Location 544)
    • Note: Artifact
  • While extremist sentiments often overlap with crime and war, the mere act of violence—even horrific, evil violence—is not inherently extremist. (Location 553)
  • Terrorism is a tactic, whereas extremism is a belief system. Because extremist movements are often small, they are motivated to adopt asymmetric tactics such as terrorism. (Location 566)
  • The major categories of extremism include racial/ethnic, religious, nationalist, anti-government, anarchist, classist, single-issue movements, and gender, sexual orientation, and sexual identity. (Location 569)
  • Nationalist extremism takes this to a different level, arguing that the nation must be protected by taking hostile action against out-groups. Sometimes this means taking action against other nations or the world at large, but nationalist extremism is frequently concerned with immigration—how citizenship is defined and bestowed. (Location 611)
  • Although both men and women take part in extremism, men are overwhelmingly overrepresented in extremist populations, especially where the commission of acts of violence are concerned. (Location 687)
  • This has at times led scholars and policymakers to underplay women’s involvement, but the overrepresentation of males (usually cisgender heterosexual males) as active participants is clear and persistent.15 (Location 690)
  • one of the most ubiquitous themes in extremist propaganda is the threat of rape—real or imagined—by out-group males against in-group females. (Location 704)
  • Extremism refers to the belief that an in-group’s success or survival can never be separated from the need for hostile action against an out-group. The hostile action must be part of the in-group’s definition of success. Hostile acts can range from verbal attacks and diminishment to discriminatory behavior, violence, and even genocide. (Location 735)
  • Extremism can be the province of state or nonstate actors, unlike terrorism, which after years of similar debate and ambiguity, has come to be understood primarily as a nonstate phenomenon. (Location 739)
  • The need for harmful activity must be unconditional and inseparable from the in-group’s understanding of success in order to qualify as extremist. (Location 744)
  • The call to action is inherent to this definition. For instance, it is not extremist to disapprove of a religion based on its tenets. But it is extremist to demand that all adherents of a religion be arrested or deported. (Location 751)
  • Violent extremism is the belief that an in-group’s success or survival can never be separated from the need for violent action against an out-group (as opposed to less harmful acts such as discrimination or shunning). (Location 758)
  • Radicalization into extremism is the escalation of an in-group’s extremist orientation in the form of increasingly negative views about an out-group or the endorsement of increasingly hostile or violent actions against an out-group. Radicalization is a process of change, not outcome. (Location 762)
  • Extremism emerges from social ecosystems in a manner analogous to weather. (Location 773)
  • we cannot understand hurricanes if we do not understand tropical storms, and we cannot understand storms if we do not understand wind and water. (Location 775)
  • This subjectivity and changeability can make it very difficult to determine who’s in your in-group and who’s out. Extremist movements are overwhelmingly concerned with taking the subjectivity out of that question. (Location 898)
  • How members of the in-group should interact with members of the out-group. The last element is perhaps the most important distinction between mainstream and extremist identities. (Location 902)
  • An identity movement does not become extreme until the in-group starts to adopt hostile attitudes toward the out-group or -groups. (Location 936)
  • example of British Israelism also drives home an important point about extremist identities: they are fluid. Although extremists laboriously work to crystallize the definition of the in-group in any given moment, over time the definitions change in response to shifting circumstances. (Location 982)
  • For most people, personal identity consists of overlapping circles of belonging, such as “I am an American, and I am also ethnically Irish, and I am also Roman Catholic, and I am also an environmental activist.” (Location 988)
  • For extremists, a singular identity often emerges from these circles of belonging. (Location 991)
  • Extremist ideologies define constrictive or exclusive identities and enforce rigid boundaries between in-groups and out-groups. Ironically, this quest to promote greater group cohesion can itself fracture the in-group. Shared negative attitudes toward outsiders can help strengthen bonds around certain in-group members,10 but they also put pressure on members of the in-group to adopt more hostile attitudes toward the out-group. When this happens, the unity of the in-group comes under pressure. (Location 993)
  • Christian leaders soon became eager to winnow these competing creeds into one “true” religion. As part of that process, they crystallized a relatively recent concept known as heresy or apostasy, the belief that substantially wrong beliefs or practices can disqualify an otherwise eligible person from an in-group. In mainstream theology, heresy and apostasy are different concepts, with the former referring to wrong religious belief within an in-group, and the latter referring to a complete repudiation of the in-group.13 In extremism, these terms are often conflated, because extremists believe that certain kinds of wrong belief are equivalent to an explicit repudiation of the in-group. (Location 1036)
  • Extremism is distinguished from ordinary unpleasantness—blind hate and pedestrian racism—by its sweeping rationalization of why conflict exists and its insistence on the necessity of conflict. (Location 1193)
  • Extremism is related to prejudice, but it is a distinct problem. It is an assertion that an out-group must always be actively opposed because its fundamental identity is intrinsically harmful to the in-group. (Location 1195)
  • Conspiracy theories are among the most powerful and ubiquitous tools that extremist ideologues use to explain real or perceived problems afflicting the in-group, attributing them to secret machinations by a powerful cabal of elite out-group members. They transfer power from an in-group to an out-group using a dyad that relentlessly drives narratives toward extremism: The in-group is full of merit but lacking in agency. The out-group lacks merit but possesses extraordinary agency. (Location 1281)
  • The solution to this crisis requires the creation of a parallel subset of the in-group with the power to resist the out-group—the extremist in-group, which possesses high levels of both merit and agency. (Location 1286)
  • Research suggests that conspiracy theories usually arise from the desire to provide coherent explanations for complicated problems.6 The real world is messy, and while conspiracy theories are often arcane, they tend to be tidy. In the words of American historian Richard Hofstadter’s classic 1964 essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,”7 a conspiracy theory is nothing if not coherent—in face, the paranoid mentality is far more coherent than the real world, since it leaves no room for mistakes, failures or ambiguities. It is, if not wholly rational, at least intensely rationalistic; it believes that it is up against an enemy who is as infallibly rational as he is totally evil, and it seeks to match his imputed total confidence with its own, leaving nothing unexplained and comprehending all of reality in one overreaching, consistent theory. (Location 1292)
  • Radicalization is ultimately concerned with expanding the divide between in-group and out-groups. So while conspiracy theories are primarily concerned with explaining out-group behavior, they represent only half of the dyad. The maximum divide occurs when the in-group is characterized as meritorious but vulnerable. (Location 1323)
  • Although dystopian themes feature in a wide range of extremist movements, they have been particularly effective in right-wing and racist fiction over the last two centuries, including such books as Anticipations of the Future, a proslavery novel published in the United States prior to the Civil War, and The Camp of the Saints, a racist anti-immigrant novel published in France during the 1970s. (Location 1333)
  • The dystopian genre has long been popular with mainstream audiences, making it attractive as an extremist recruitment and propaganda tool.15 (Location 1345)
  • dystopian narratives, especially fictional stories set in the not-too-distant future, can be more empowering than conspiracy narratives alone because they often contain a strategy for preventing or reversing the corruption of society. When present in fiction, this can include protagonists whom extremist adherents may find relatable. (Location 1352)
  • When “traditional social bonds were being weakened or shattered,” millenarian and apocalyptic movements were more likely to emerge.20 (Location 1394)
  • Other extremist groups, notably Islamic State, have employed triumphalism to great effect. Al Qaeda built its propaganda and ideological platform on the premise that it employed terrorism because the movement was too weak to fight and win wars. Starting as early as 2011, the Islamic State in Iraq (which later became Islamic State) began to flip that narrative, using its propaganda to boast of strength and catalog successes. When Islamic State seized Mosul and declared itself a caliphate in June 2014, this provided a vindication of its triumphalist rhetoric and spurred the rapid growth of the organization into a global threat. (Location 1409)
  • Terrorism is defined here as “public violence targeting noncombatants, carried out by nongovernmental individuals or groups, in order to advance a political or ideological goal or amplify a political or ideological message.”39 When carried out by a governmental actor, I would call similar public violence oppression (see the next section) rather than terrorism. (Location 1523)
  • H. J. Ingram, “A ‘Linkage-Based’ Approach to Combating Militant Islamist Propaganda: A Two-Tiered Framework for Practitioners,” International Centre for Counter-Terrorism—The Hague 7, no. 6 (2016); H. J. Ingram, “The Strategic Logic of the ‘Linkage-Based’ Approach to Combating Militant Islamist Propaganda: Conceptual and Empirical Foundations,” International Centre for Counter-Terrorism—The Hague 8, no. 6 (2017). (Location 1628)
  • Pedro Domingos, “The Role of Occam’s Razor in Knowledge Discovery,” Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery 3, no. 4 (1999): 409–425. (Location 1639)
  • A study of more than four thousand jihadist radicals found that their average education level was considerably higher than the general population.5 In a study of Palestinian terrorism, researchers found that higher levels of both education and economic achievement positively correlated with membership in Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.6 Despite these findings, no one advocates for reducing educational opportunities as a way to counter violent extremism. (Location 1791)
  • But neighborhoods that have an unemployment problem may not be more prone to produce violent extremists. They may simply produce violent extremists with an unemployment problem. (Location 1805)
  • Although radicalization almost always involves the adoption of a specific ideology, the process of adoption is more instructive than the contents of the ideology. When the study of radicalization as a process becomes fixated on contents, the results are a bewildering mess that distorts analytical efforts. A content-driven approach produces a menagerie of competing theories that make sense only in the context of a single movement at a single point in time, such as arguments that extremism is caused by colonialism or religious fundamentalism.12 When these theories are applied to other movements—even very similar movements—they often fail. (Location 1832)
  • As Hannah Arendt writes, citing Plato, political entities “do not spring from oak and rock,” but neither do they “spring from within our particular and individual selves.” (Location 1858)
  • categorization takes place when an individual adopts a collective identity. A number of experimental and research studies have demonstrated that simply understanding oneself to be part of an in-group correlates with a tendency toward discrimination or hostility against out-groups. This does not necessarily apply in every context. For instance, groups that were placed in competitive settings developed negative attitudes about out-groups much more strongly than groups that were placed in cooperative settings. But groups that were placed in a neutral context also developed negative attitudes toward out-groups, suggesting that the tendency to develop negative attitudes about out-groups is—to some extent—hardwired, either in the minds of individuals or as a necessary byproduct of many contexts in which we interact socially.27 (Location 1979)
  • When we categorize someone as a member of a group we assign the group’s prototypical attributes to that person, and view them through the lens of the prototype; seeing them not as unique individuals but as more or less prototypical group members—a process called depersonalization.29 (Location 1992)
  • Uncertainty is uncomfortable and produces anxiety until it can be resolved. Most people deal with uncertainty in healthy ways, but many do not—enough to make a statistical difference. Although there are a number of ways people act to reduce uncertainty in their lives, one very effective strategy is to adopt a group identity that is “distinctive and clearly defined,” according to Michael A. Hogg, head of the social psychology program at Claremont Graduate University and the creator of uncertainty-identity theory, which seeks to describe the connection between uncertainty and extremism.37 (Location 2028)
  • entitativity, defined as “the property of a group, resting on clear boundaries, internal homogeneity, social interaction, clear internal structure, common goals, and common fate.”39 (Location 2048)
  • The structure of an extremist ideology is designed to be filled with content providing a high level of entitativity, and extremist narratives tend to become more complex over time, drawing on an ever-wider variety of information sources. The more content is generated, the more entitativity accrues to the movement. (Location 2069)
  • Efraim Benmelech and Esteban F. Klor, What Explains the Flow of Foreign Fighters to ISIS?,. NBER Working Paper No. 22190, National Bureau of Economic Research, 2016, http://www.nber.org/papers/w22190 (Location 2115)
  • Extremist ideologies build on previous ideologies and evolve to fit the times. (Location 2238)
  • Extremism is a socially transmitted disease. Ideologies are transmitted when one person communicates with another. When communication technology changes, extremism changes as well. (Location 2239)
  • For extremists, access to social media was a game changer. Extremists had been largely priced out of the broadcast revolution, but social media provided an inexpensive platform to reach massive audiences, emphasizing virality and controversy over social norms. (Location 2255)
  • Social psychology research strongly suggests that feelings of uncertainty make people more susceptible to extremism and empower the specific elements of extremism discussed in this book, such as in-group identification, out-group hostility, and crisis-solution narratives (such as conspiracy theories). (Location 2282)
  • All of these factors—social media, technological changes, cheap travel—are part of an environment in which relatively small groups of people can have an outsized impact on global politics. Islamic State, which has disrupted world politics and led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, represents a miniscule fraction of the world’s population. Even measured against its eligible in-group, Sunni Muslims, active Islamic State supporters are less than a fraction of 1 percent of the available population of recruits. Through tactics such as terrorism, superempowered superminorities trigger substantial social and political uncertainty, which they then offer to resolve through ideology. Terrorism fuels extremism among the perpetrator’s eligible in-group as well in as counterpart out-group movements. For instance, jihadists and right-wing extremists can feed each other’s narratives in a symbiotic manner.8 (Location 2309)
  • President Obama spoke more directly to the issue in 2016: Groups like ISIL are desperate for legitimacy. They try to portray themselves as religious leaders and holy warriors who speak for Islam. I refuse to give them legitimacy. We must never give them that legitimacy.15 (Location 2369)
  • the framework discussed in this book suggests that attacks on the legitimacy of extremist groups are likely to fail because legitimacy is the most central component of an extremist in-group’s identity construction—the most highly developed and best-protected asset that any extremist group possesses. (Location 2380)
  • The escalation of radicalization from al Qaeda to the Islamic State was informed, in part, by internal and external criticisms of previous jihadist strategies and tactics.18 (Location 2391)
  • politicians and policymakers often gravitate toward programs that address the so-called root causes of terrorism. These typically focus on discredited explanations for extremism, such as poverty, lack of education, and undemocratic governance. Although these structural factors are not proximate causes of extremism, there is good reason to believe that dramatic uncertainty-producing changes in these social and political tent poles may be linked to increased extremism. The experimental evidence for this premise is strong. Additional research should examine how this potentially works in the real world by studying the emergence of significant extremist movements in historical context. (Location 2420)
  • well-intentioned policies designed to aid people who are suffering should not be conflated with policies to combat extremism. These are separate pursuits and should be pursued separately. (Location 2435)
  • The new communications technologies that empower extremists can also be used to detect their arrival and diagnose their importance. Both the rise of Islamic State and the resurgence of white nationalism were clearly visible online before most analysts acknowledged their changing threat.23 (Location 2454)
  • Deep dives into specific ideologies such as jihadism and white nationalism remain vitally important, but we must also acknowledge the category-defying nature of extremism belief in order to combat it most effectively and to respond quickly to the rise of new and unexpected movements. We must understand extremism as it exists in the real world—an enduring part of human society that transcends demographics. (Location 2468)