Political Extremes: A conceptual history from antiquity to the present (Extremism and Democracy)
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The Western tradition of the constitutional state, with its ancient roots, defines political extremes as the epitome of that what must be absolutely rejected. It highlights tyranny, despotism, despotic rule, non-autonomy, ruthless enforcing of interests as ‘extreme’, contrasting this to a virtuous mean which guarantees moderation. In this volume, the culmination of twenty years of extensive research, Uwe Backes provides a conceptual history of the notions "extreme" and "extremism" from antiquity to the present day.
The terminological history of political extremes had been related for more then two millennia with the term mesotês used in the Aristotelian ethics and the theory of mixed constitution. Both doctrines influenced the republicanism of the North Italian city states and later the United States of America as well as British parliamentarism. The positions of moderation and extremes were not joined until the course of the French Revolution with the distinction of right- and left-wing, and this is how it still exists today in the intellectual-political geography. This unique source based study reconstructs these developments from ancient times to the present.
Tracing the history of the concept of political extremism from Ancient Greece to the present day, this is an invaluable resource for scholars of democracy, extremism and political sociology.
and ‘the corrupt elite’.13 Yet another variant of deﬁnition was suggested by Paul Lucardie. His argument is based 180 Political extremism on the model of mixed constitution: slightly provokingly, he speaks of ‘democratic extremism’, meaning political trends – such as certain kinds of anarchism – which take the principle of democratic equality to the extremes and thus undermine the liberal/constitutional components of representative democracy.14 Fundamentally diﬀerent from such analytical
mentions the institutions of the dual kingdom, the senate and the ephorate.42 The mixed constitution of the Nomoi knows the council of the thirty-seven iron guardians43 and, additionally, a nightly assembly44 to which, among others, belong the ten eldest iron guardians, the head of the education system (the highest civil servant of the state) and deserving priests, twelve civil servants from the highest state court of justice for the supervision of all the authorities and the system of religious
In one’s own case, this is an excess of what is unqualiﬁedly beneﬁcial, and a deﬁciency of what is harmful; in the case of others, though the general result is the same, the proportion may be violated in either direction. In case of an unjust action, to have too little is to suﬀer injustice, while to have too much is to commit it.81 In both cases, injustice belongs to the realm of the extremes; justice, however, lies in the middle. In the light of this reason for ethically valuable action, which
‘citizen kingdom’. Louis-Philippe explained his governmental course as follows: ‘We are seeking to keep ourselves to the proper middle – equally distanced from the excesses of the people’s power as well as that of royal power’. To the ‘friends of liberty’,25 he promised to dam the revolutionary chaos, simultaneously decidedly working against any miscarriage of justice. The larger the rift between constitutional theory and practice became, the more intense the controversies regarding the
in haggling over opinions, he can act as a Jewish broker. The Jew lives oﬀ tolerance, as without it he would have long since been exterminated. The Jew is lazy and cowardly as well as criminal and cowardly, which is why he hates the fanatic who denounces these traits as undigniﬁed and deplorable’.50 The Germans should become fanatics and radicals to conquer ‘international Jewry’ in the ‘ﬁnal battle’ (‘Endkampf ’). Unvarnished ‘racial hygiene’ and eliminatory radicality more than ever before