“Left-Wing Extremism” Vs. Right-Wing Extremism

You hear it at least once a day, if you follow the news at all. “Both sides” are really too extreme these days. “Both sides” need to listen to each other and be more reasonable. “Both sides” are equally angry, equally violent, equally insane, equally radical.

No, that’s not quite true. While you do hear the “both sides” narrative quite a bit, you’ll actually hear about “left-wing extremism” more than “right-wing extremism”. There’s a reason for that. And it certainly isn’t because there’s actually more “left-wing extremism”. Quite the opposite. It’s because the right-wing extremists control the forum and promote the narrative that will deflect from their own intents and actions. We’ve already discussed how this tactic manifests in the imbalanced framing of “left-wing” terrorism, which, contrary to the narrative, is far less common than right-wing terrorism.

Major media outlets, including the “ultra-liberal” New York Times, get in on the act plenty, putting right-wing values and left-wing values on the same footing.

“Common ground”. Sane and reasonable people are supposed to be trying to find common ground with Q-Anon MAGA Cultists.

Here’s a perfect parroting of this trope by the guy who’s now running Twitter (into the ground.) Along with a spot-on response to it.

The popular narrative is that it’s more extreme to forgive student loans than to try to overturn an election. Not only is it absurd to try to equalize left and right, but Musk is totally full of musk when he claims that he is in fact making such an effort. His platform has been an unabashed forum for right-wing conspiracy theories, spin, and alternate reality. All the while, of course, maintaining that the real problem lies with the Left. As when he tweeted this:

Which also suggests that he himself hasn’t become more right-wing. Also a falsehood. This is another common thread in the media: that not only is the Left more extreme, but it has become even more extreme in recent years.

It’s true that the Left has moved slightly to the left in recent times. But the Right has moved considerably farther to the right, as shown in this graph from Pew Research.

One common meme circulated to bolster the Increasingly Extreme Left trope is the assertion that if JFK were around today, he’d be a Republican. To which the only appropriate response is “horse feathers”. Or something along that line.

There’s some truth to the observation that President Kennedy, and many other Democrats in the past, held stances that seem rather conservative by today’s standards. But the Republicans of today are not conservative. On the contrary, they are extremely right wing. And the right wing is rabidly, radically regressive.

The thing that the Increasingly Extreme Left story fails to take into account is that these assessments are generally made in relative terms. The Left is said to become more extreme if it moves farther away from the Right (or even vice versa).

But extreme, by definition, indicates being farther away from a norm or center, not from another entry on the spectrum. The extreme point in a planet’s orbit is the point farthest from the sun, not the point farthest from another planet.

Furthermore, society, like the universe itself, is always on the move. And many people fail to consider that society is becoming more liberal, despite the best efforts of right-wingers. As indicated by this spinoff of the above cartoon, courtesy of Astral Code Ten

If you’re trying to resist or undo social evolution, you certainly are more extreme than someone who’s trying to keep up with it, or even help nudge it along. Particularly if your methods include book banning, persecuting LGBTQ people, establishing theocracy, suppressing votes, and staging violent insurrections.


  1. This is how authoritarians operate. Move the goalposts and unilaterally redefine terms to suit their propaganda.
    Everything they hate is now “woke/CRT/Marxism”.
    Everyone they hate, “hates America”.

  2. Quit redefining Definitions. WOKE: It means (Awareness of injustices of any kind). ANTIFA: Short for (ANTIFASCISM) Remember WWII..
    BLM: Black lives matter. Part of our scrappy history and present social practices. All of these have been twisted into racial definitions of a negativity towards White people. Stop it.

  3. I also see the term “woke,” being cited by Conservatives to imply some sort of fake and/or hip attitude that foolish liberals are using to discredit Trump. But when you ask any of them to simply define that term, they don’t answer? Yes I am sure that black Americans are demeaned as part of it, But being “woke,” as defined by conservatives, also means a widely used but meaningless word used to discredit all things dem.

  4. Some years ago, it was still possible to discuss political issues in left-wing circles in Canada where I live, and make arguments with integrity, based on personal conviction. Today such discussion is practically impossible. Activists barge in and extinguish any dissenting voices. As a result, people of integrity who believe that CSJ orthodoxy is BS, have LEFT any such groups or organizations in frustration. The dogma is that white skin, past-50 age, and European background are now synonymous with evil incarnate, and are therefore fair game for reverse discrimination and intimidation. OK then. There are now increasing numbers of people who were willing to help the cause of social justice. But now they are saying “We’ve seen enough, we’ve had enough, GTH!”

    • It’s impossible for me to evaluate the significance of your personal experiences and observations (especially since I have little exposure to conditions in Canada), but your use of what sounds like straw men (e,g, “white skin, past-50 age, and European background are now synonymous with evil incarnate”) and your use of the term “CSJ orthodoxy” make your views sound highly suspect. But even if we assume everything you say is completely spot-on, it really has no bearing on the matter of comparing “left-wing extremism” with right-wing extremism.

      • Interesting use of the word “evaluate” as in “I don’t know if your personal experience has any VALUE.” As for straw man, I used myself as an example. Back to the topic: is CSJ movement extremist? It started out with a laudable sentiment: eliminate discrimination. The question is how. Easy: promote the victims of discrimination by pushing the formerly-privileged toward the bottom of the social hierarchy. This is obviously going to lead to violence. As soon as the newly-discriminated against find that the roles have been reversed, they would claim the same right to fight back. The idea is similar to Marxism: designated social villains. So maybe not extremist TODAY, but on the way to be. The first country that turns from a democracy to a CSJ paradise will be an interesting test case.

      • By “evaluate”, I meant determine whether your comments were based on any broad database or simply cherry picking personal experience. And now you’ve pretty much answered that question. Without addressing the matter of how your supposed observations from personal experience relate to the comparison of right-wing extremism with putative “left-wing extremism”. As for the accuracy of your perceptions, it’s very telling that you equate a striving for an end to discrimination and oppression as an effort to turn the tables on the oppressors, thereby “pushing the formerly privileged toward the bottom of the social hierarchy”. (Why would there need to be a hierarchy at all?) And “This is obviously going to lead to violence”? Wow. Just wow.

  5. It appears the paranoid fantasies of “white victimhood” are also contaminating the “Great White North”. Resentment leading to revulsion, and ultimately to fear of a looming “great replacement” follow an all-too-familiar pattern. The projection of violent impulses completes the characterization of white nationalism.

    The promise by a strong man to “Make Canada Great Again” would seem to be the next step for our fellow North Americans. And we know how that sort would react to losing an election. Democracy quickly takes a back seat in their drive for power. No wonder they project violence towards those they dread and do not understand.

    Why do you suppose they fear mistreatment if their hierarchy were reversed? Haven’t they set the standards of decency and fairness?

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