Has political radicalism to deal with problems ever worked out

Sorry, meant rational people – you need to have rational people implementing them.

Note to self: never post after the second glass, and never post before the second cup.


The OP pointing to the German response to the 1930’s great depression as negative radicalism, brought to mind the US’s response to the Great Depression via FDR which was also very radical and not at all gradual, yet basically turned out OK.


Look were that got us?

Folks in tricorn hats emblazoned with MAGA.

Both horrible examples. Working without the Black Panthers and Malcom X King and the civil rights leaders were able to get the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act passed. Then the Black Panthers were created and other radical organizations and they were able to get Nixon elected twice and almost nothing else.
John Brown made the Civil War more likely and peaceful emancipation less likely by getting the abolitionist viewpoint associated with traitors who wanted to murder white families in their homes.

I did say “generally.” I should have added “until recently.”

I think the thread is devolving a bit from the “political” part of the radicalism.

What politically radical thing has ever worked?

The civil war might be one if you don’t consider that basically a super majority of those here wanted it. (not much politically radical about that unless you consider GB to the be the central government with its central ideas stemming from there.)

FDR, again, not much politically radical about that either.

Maybe we need some examples of political radicalism, and then branch from there. Or a graph of what is mainstream vs what is radical, politically.

If rebelling against your monarch, and his decrees, and raising an army to resist them with violence doesn’t count as “extreme” I am not sure what does.

I would probably list the election of Trump as radical.

If you define radical as “can’t involve the land owning class” then basically none of the “radical” historical events could be described as such, except for the odd peasant or slave revolt here and there (and even those typically involved some leaders from the land owning classes).

Even the Haitian revolution involved some important land-owning freedmen on the revolutionary side (though it was never as simple as two sides, except for at the end when Napoleon decided to invade and reimpose slavery)

That of course is the nature of radical beliefs. What is a crazy fringe radical belief one day, is a blindingly obvious fact of life, upheld by conservatives as traditional principle to be preserved the next. This is doubly so during a time of war or revolution (it is very common that someone goes being a fringe radical, to centrist, to reactionary conservative without altering their beliefs on iota)

Abolition was absolutely a radical belief, and support for slavery was the mainstream. Over time that changed, but that doesn’t make abolitionism any less of a radical belief for most of its history.

Universal suffrage (even universal male suffrage) is definitely the same. That was absolutely a completely crazy loony out-there ultra-radical fringe belief, until it happened.

The various demands of the labor movements of the 19th and 20th century were considered extreme. People trying to organize labor were jailed for subversive activities, battles were fought between strikers and police, in some instances the government even used military forces.

The movement towards universal suffrage in Europe was fueled, not by the elites sincere belief that it was the right thing to do. Sure, some of them considered it correct in principle, but they thought it was too radical to introduce immediately and the chief driving force behind not postponing both voters right and right for laborers was a fear of bloody revolution.

I mean, you can just define anything that lead to good outcomes today as “not political radicalism”, but you won’t be considered much fun at parties.

Even beyond that: the Confederate philosophers considered chattel slavery among the finest of human institutions and envisioned a utopian slave-holding empire stretching across North and South America. They were delusional idiots, and to claim that the Civil War wasn’t spurred on by extreme ideology is ahistorical.

No “probably” about it – it precipitated the deterioration of political discourse, the debasement of the Office of the Presidency, and the normalization of lying as the primary means of presidential communication. It’s absolutely unprecedented. But the premise of the OP is that such radical developments don’t lead to good outcomes, and in this case the outcomes will be about as good as a bull in a china shop trailing a loose cannon.

However, there are examples of radical reforms that worked. The great post-war social reforms following World War II in Britain sought to address many of the great social issues in a series of radical post-war transformations, and among other things created, pretty much from ground zero, the highly successful National Health System.

So yeah the abolition movement absolutely counts as political radicalism that worked out eventually.

Plenty of people proposed various incremental political solutions, while the radical part of the movement said only the extreme solution of complete immediate abolition, was acceptable and were willing to take extreme illegal actions to further their cause.

Ultimately (after a civil war) their political radicalism prevailed, and immediate emancipation occurred.

Even though I don’t disagree with much of that, the reason I would list it as radical was mainly because we elected a non-politician to the office. Really unprecedented.

Well, if he’d been a general first…

I would possibly say that the Cromwell faction in the English Civil War was pretty radical for the time (some sub-factions, like the Levelers, more than others) and that the eventual outcome was pretty positive at least as far as establishing the Parliamentarian system of government there. But I’m far from an expert…

Didn’t the IRA basically win? They raised hell for years, and got a voice in government, less gerrymandering, and legislation that if a majority vote yes, they’ll join the Republic, then settled down.

Didn’t Osama basically win? He took the strongest nation on earth and with a single attack, sent us into a spiral of reactionary, spastic, fear-driven legislation formalizing a police state (Patriot Act), a whole new massive governmental agency devoted to spying, stealing from, and harassing citizens while performing bullshit security theater (Homeland Security, the TSA), and a craven, fear-mongering mindset that has led to militarizing local police forces and ever-greater trillions wasted on the (already largest and strongest in the world by far) military? Fear still drives huge chunks of our media and electorate too, and you can bet it helped put Trump in office. I would call that unbelievable, too-good-to-be-true success for Osama and the forces that hated our country.

naita also made great points on significant labor reform being a radical success story.