Difference between radicalism and extremism

RADICAL“ can be understood as the position people take when looking for a profound transformation of the system they live in to achieve a very different system. As such, radicalism does not aim to transform systems at the expense of “the other”, and it is not inherently associated with violent methods.

EXTREMISM “Refers to a political agenda or conception of life that seeks freedom through deep transformation at the expense of other social groups. Extremism implies a notion of where these groups of “others” are subordinate to them. From this perspective, extremism focuses on violence while radicalism does not.

The terms “radicalism” and “extremism” are often used synonymously in everyday language. From the point of view of security authorities, there is a clear definition: radicalism is the forerunner of extremism and is not punishable. Security authorities draw the line when it comes to criminal behavior and speak of extremism when violence is seen as a legitimate means of pursuing one’s own political interests. Anti-fascist groups are classified in this concept in the same way as right-wing extremist groups. As a result, however, the differences between extremist groups and their goals (ideologies of inequality – ideologies of equality) are not recognized and complex social relationships are simplified.

DALGAARD-NIELSEN postulates the following definition of extremism and radicalism:

Radicalism means standing up for something alone or in a group – but taking the others into account. This is in contrast to extremism, where someone stands up for something at the expense of other people. Certain social groups are either attacked directly or they are harmed by the actions and methods of the extremists. If certain social groups are attacked directly, this form is referred to as “violent extremism”. Violent extremism is when one wants to dominate others with an act of direct violence together with like-minded people.

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