What's Wrong with
A collection of links
Two social science models used by the U.S. government--"countersubversion theory" and "centrist/extremist theory"--wrongly assume there is criminal intent and activity behind all mass movements that are critical of the government.1
Centrist/extremist theory (sometimes called Classical Theory" or the "Pluralist School), lumps together dissidents, populists of the left and right, supremacists and terrorists as an irrational lunatic fringe.
The image of a democratic elite guarding the vital center against irrational populists has appealed strongly to many defenders of the status quo, but as a reading of US political traditions it is strikingly twisted and inconsistent.
Centrist/extremist theory denies the structural oppression at the core of US society; it obscures this country's long history of brutality and genocide; it lumps popular movements that fight oppression and supremacy with those that reinforce it.
Repression and Ideology:
"Violent Radicalization," "Extremism," & "Homegrown Terrorism"
How a d iscredited Social Science Model Fuels Efforts to Expand Government Surveillance, Infiltration, & Disruption.
How Police Justify Labelling Dissenters, Demonstrators, and Ordinary Americans as "Terrorists"
by Chip Berlet and Matthew N. Lyons .
Harms Civil Liberties
- Implies that Radical Ideas lead to Violent Activity
- Justification for Widespread Surveillance & Infiltration
- Violent Extremism & Homegrown Terrorism Bill
- Biased Lieberman Committee Hearings on Terrorism
- Demonization of Muslims & Arabs
- "Leaderless Jihad" Theories
Undermines Progressive Organizing
- Implies that Ideas Outside the Center are not Legitimate
- Narrows the Boundaries of Civic Political Debate
- Rhetoric of Centrist Democrats
Demonizing and Smearing Critics as "Wingnuts:"
- Encourages a Backlash
- Fuels Mobilization against Progressive Ideas
- Makes Organizing Harder for Progressive Activists
Background on Social Movement Theories