1 (esp. of change or action) relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough : a radical overhaul of the existing regulatory framework.
• forming an inherent or fundamental part of the nature of someone or something
• characterized by departure from tradition; innovative or progressive
2 advocating thorough or complete political or social reform; representing or supporting an extreme section of a political party : a radical American activist.
• (of a measure or policy) following or based on such principles.
3 [usu. as exclam. ] informal very good; excellent
1 a person who advocates thorough or complete political or social reform; a member of a political party or part of a party pursuing such aims.
ORIGIN late Middle English (in the senses [forming the root] and [inherent] ): from late Latin radicalis, from Latin radix, radic- ‘root.’
Are people afraid of radicalism? This fear confuses me because what is considered radical in the States would not be considered radical in many places (cough DENMARK), & also our conception of radicalism is entirely based on how far or close an idea lies in relation to the ideas currently in power. Just because an idea is in power does not mean it is an idea that works. There is a misconception that the United States figured out the best way to live and so there is no reason to ever shift things. This can’t be true when statistics show us that other countries have higher standards of living, higher per capita income, better health care, happier citizens, more equality for women, and higher education rates (cough DENMARK).
I’v been thinking about radicalism, because a professor of mine keeps making snarky comments about it. Just the other day he said that it’s okay for one person to be radical, because really who cares? But if a whole country is radical, then the country is in for serious trouble. My father would more or less accept this premise and add that this holds true for a whole country that becomes radically conservative. My father believes that leaning too much in either direction is dangerous. But if the mainstream position became what is currently considered a “radical position” then wouldn’t this position stop being radical by nature of its move to the center of society & politics? This wouldn’t end radicalism, it would just shift our conception of radical ideas. We will never reach a point where we cannot grow; we might, though, reach a point where we realize that we have other directions to grow in, besides up.
I included the definition of radical above; does that sound like a bad thing to you? Notice how radical is not defined as leftist, yet radical has become code for “far left”. Keep in mind there is not a clear dichotomy or even a spectrum for radicalism. Twists, tangles & knots make up the radical fabric.The Tea Party and libertarianism represent radicalism on the far right, while communism and anarchism might be considered radical on the far left. If you follow radicalism on the left and the right they both loop back and eventually merge (if you want to find the house they co-habitate then take a left seven blocks north from Ron Paul and go three miles past anarchy; it will be at the fork in the road).
Also, when did socialism, communism, feminism & poor become such bad words? Capitalism on the other hand is a word many Americans place on the mantelpiece like a shiny, gold trophy—right next to the family photo, war medal, and college degree.
I think that being radical is the best thing a person can be, because it means they are a dreamer. When I think of issues like immigration I don’t just think about getting rid of Alabama’s HB56 (an atrocity), I imagine an end of the nation-state or a world with colorful passports that list important things like the GPS coordinates of our birthplace and the names of our mothers (not numbers and official seals). Should we protest HB56—yes! But we shouldn’t limit ourselves to simply protesting or calling for more or less legislation. I read recently that any alternatives we conceive of right now are too entrenched in our limited conception of the world to offer us any real alternatives to our current system— our ideas cannot escape from appropriating capitalism, republicanism or “democracy”.
These problematic things worry me and make me want to go live somewhere else (cough DENMARK). My urge to just pick up and move prompted me to ask one of my professors at my previous “radical” college if he ever felt like giving up/in because things seem so overwhelming. He told me that we faced the fire (by we he meant radicals). But if we (and by we I mean us radicals) think more about it, the issue is not an insurmountable multitude of large but separate dilemmas—to quote Autumn Whitfield-Madrano from her blog the Beheld: “the status quo has an investment in keeping people divided and with diffuse power so as to keep power concentrated where it already is.” This is a radical idea. In other words all things problematic trace back to the issue of power. This reaffirms that what we should be fighting against is the status quo. Any shift away from mainstream subjectivities (or the status quo) forms a new branch of radicalism.
Do you remember a time when people used the word “radical” to mean awesome? As in “that spaceship is rad”. It seems that radical somehow became synonymous with “extremist” and “terrorist”. I’m not sure how this happened (cough FOX NEWS) but it’s a shame, because I think the word radical is, well, rad.
See you all in Denmark.