Extremism, a disease of our times, has spread its tentacles all around. Of its many defining determinants; at least three are noteworthy.


One, the extremism that those in power exhibit. They go in with tanks and bombs where patient force backed diplomacy can work, seek to destroy what requires careful reconstruction, advance division and hate where understanding and bridging of differences is needed, and abandon the path of justice and fair play for pure partisanship. All this naturally promotes deadly and debilitating extremism.


 Two, in the absence of a credible and participatory system of politics and a reliable justice system, political groups often frame their concerns and solutions in an extremist manner. When a non-credible political system leads to the unconstitutional imposition of the rule of a specific elite, party, ethnicity or institution over the ‘rest’ the response of the rest is often cast in extreme ethnic, religious, anti-elite or anti-institution character. Hence through exaggeration of their legitimate concerns, they construct a victimhood scenario. In countries where credible political and legal systems do not exist, many would buy into victimhood framing. The causes of discontent may be numerous. They could be political, cultural, sociological, economic and moral.(Examples are East Pakistan, Kashmiris, Palestinians, Naxalites or even Balochistan).


Three, perpetual discontent breeds frustration, irrationality and desperation and a mind that will almost effortlessly take to extremism, like fish to water. They have virtually no stake in the dominant socio-political and cultural milieu. Morally too they find it repugnant. The milieu is often framed as the ‘evil’. From this repugnance they often derive justification to destroy the other. They opt for the anarchistic, nihilistic or messianic route to worldly and heavenly salvation.