Prevent Watch

Extremism: A book by John Berger

Written by John Berger and published in August 2018, this book attempts to understand what extremism is, how extremist ideologies are constructed, and why extremism can escalate into violence. The blurb for the book states that “Berger offers a nuanced introduction to extremist movements, explaining what extremism is, how extremist ideologies are constructed, and why extremism can escalate into violence”. Berger shows that although the ideological content of extremist movements varies widely, there are common structural elements:
  • that it arises from from a perception of “us versus them”;
  • that it is intensified by the conviction that the success of “us” is inseparable from hostile acts against “them”;
  • it differs from ordinary unpleasantness (hatred and racism) by its “sweeping rationalisation of violence”.
Using case studies and examples from around the world and throughout history, from the destruction of Carthage by the Romans—often called “the first genocide”—to the “apocalyptic jihadism of Al Qaeda”, America’s new “alt-right,” and the anti-Semitic conspiracy tract The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Berger “describes the evolution of identity movements, individual and group radicalisation”. The book is available on various sites through MIT Press. Related resources

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