By Ismail Royer
“Here we have bookish dreams, a heart unhinged by theories…he is a murderer, but looks upon himself as an honest man, despises others, poses as injured innocence.”
— Dostoevsky, Crime & Punishment
Radicalism or extremism is a tendency in the human heart that finds expression in diverse ideologies that are only superficially different. Because radicalism is a human potentiality, it emerges in organized, codified form in various guises in various times and places throughout history. These ideologies are less about a vision of God, man, and reality (though they are that) and more about expressing and ennobling diseases of the soul. These diseases can vary according to the person: narcissism, pettiness, jealousy, resentment for perceived slights.
To a great extent, then, the radical’s “belief” in ideology is only technical and superficial; the value of ideology to him is its capacity to give expression to his satanic impulses. That is why one sees sudden, seemingly inexplicable “conversions” to and from superficially different ideologies.
Thus the cure for radicalism lies primarily not in bringing the radical to an intellectual understanding that his belief is false–although it is, of course, false. Rather, it is the disease of the soul that must be treated. Treatment of the soul can be accomplished through true religion, insofar as true religion came to cure these diseases. Insight may also be gained from other doctors of the soul such as sound poets, novelists, or philosophers.
In essence, it is the diseases of the soul that must be purged, and if that can be done, harmful ideology will cease to have any meaning for the individual.