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"Extremism" is an enemy image used to designate ideas which the speaker perceives as threatening or otherwise unwelcome, for example if the commercially-controlled media are describing any economic value sets other that neoliberalism. The phrase has a tenuous meaning in law, but is being used as a replacement for the more old-fashioned word "terrorism".

Concept.png "Extremism" Glossary.png 
(plastic word,  enemy image,  polarising perspective)Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png 4
Interest of• Active Change Foundation
• American Freedom Alliance
• Jessikka Aro
• Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism
• Commission for Countering Extremism
• Counter Extremism Project
• Julia Ebner
• Hany Farid
• Jon Hazel
• Shima Keene
• Media Diversity Institute
• Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens
• Muslim Contact Unit
• National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit
• Jan-Willem van Prooijen
• Alex Schmid
• Richard Titley
"Extremism" is used as a more modern replacement for "terrorism", one that is used to facilitate the criminalisation of ideas as well as just actions. It polarises the world into the normal ("mainstream") and the abnormal, unhealthy ("extreme").

"Extremism" is an enemy image used to designate ideas which are unwelcome to the speaker. The establishment uses the word with negative overtones (often implying a connection with "violent extremism", a.k.a. "terrorism"). Commercially-controlled media have used it to refer to a wide variety of alternatives to neoliberalism.

Official narrative

The Western commercially-controlled media often use the word "extremism" is conjunction with "religious", particularly "Islamic" - (i.e. "Islamic extremism"), sometimes in the compound "domestic extremism", but rarely in conjunction with other religions. The word is a flexible one which lacks much of a proper definition. It is pejorative and exonymic - i.e. people use it to put down other people, and never apply it to themselves.[1]

Denial by UK Police

The Canary reported in 2018 that “Despite widespread evidence to the contrary, including a PREVENT training presentation from the police describing anti-fracking protesters as extremists, the police argued in court that anti-fracking protesters were not viewed in this way.” [2]


As is common for enemy images, "extremism" is a plastic word - i.e. has lacked a clear and consistent definition.[3] In 2014, the UK government defined extremism as "vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs".[4]

By 2018, the definition given at the website for the Commission for Countering Extremism added another sentence: "We also regard calls for the death of members of our armed forces as extremist."[5]

Sociology professor David Miller has suggested that corporate media appear to be stoking fear of Islam by very disproportionate reporting of "Islamic extremists".[6] This is does as a component of the "war on terror" narrative used to facilitate the changing of laws purportedly intended to fight "terrorism". Once passed, the lack of a legal definition of "extremism" or "terrorism" means that they are routinely used to facilitate social control such as mass surveillance of entire populations. An "extremist" becomes anyone who expresses dissenting opinions to that which the nation state promotes.

Google trends indicates a spike in usage of the word in April 2009

In practice

The lack of a proper definition have allowed different agencies within the UK government to use the word "extremism" in contradictory ways.[7] The purported 'research' into counter-extremism is so unempirical and vague as to not really merit that term. Nafeez Ahmed has referred to it as "astonishingly crap".[8] Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan police commissioner promised when the Met's "anti-extremism unit" was set up that it would target serious criminals rather than peaceful protesters, but it has been used against senior UK Green party members Caroline Lucas and Sian Berry.[9]


The word "extremism" was first used in the UK parliament in 1919 about miners.[10]

Violent overtones

Full articles: Violent extremism, Non-violent extremism

The label "extremism" is use to try to promote fear event of peaceful protest ("non-violent extremism"), enabling a more modern, somewhat subtler form of lèse-majesté. Such ideas form the core of the public pretext used by the Internet censorship projects being carried out by the deep state.

The LSE blog asked in 2011 “Should these extremist views be allow [sic.] in society with the risk they could incite some to violence?” [11]

In 2017, the Senate Judiciary Committee today the House and Senate intelligence committees were preparing plans to counter “extremist content and Russian disinformation online.”[12] Julian King, European Commissioner for the Security Union, announced that corporations must remove "extremist" material from the internet within hours, if its uploading could not be prevented altogether.[13]

The phrase "violent extremism" is an increasingly common phrase which appears to be used as a replacement for the word "terrorism", which also is problematic as regards definition. Although the label "extremism" is associated with violence, some governments have used the phrase "non-violent extremism" when drafting legislation. Alex Schmid of the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism argued that “the distinction between “non-violent extremism” and “violent extremism” is not a valid one.” [14]

In schools

The FBI has been borrowing from the UK's PREVENT programme, encouraging high schools to report anyone who criticises government policy as potential future "terrorists", warning that “anarchist extremists” are in the same category as ISIS.[15]

Political spectrum

Full article: Political spectrum
A graphic from commercially-controlled media which illustrates that the political center is occupied by corporate media. This suggests that the more a groups diverges from this opinion, the more inaccurate and mendacious is its reporting.

The notion of "extremism" is used in conjunction with the metaphor of the political spectrum to create two enemy images - "extreme left" and "extreme right". The metaphor casts these two as opposite, so it is testimony to its inherent oversimplification that many of these groups often have so much in common that people may not agree on what which is which.

By nation state


China used the meme of "extremism" in 2017 to sharpen social control measures in the majority Moslem province of Xinjiang. These measures have seen many people interned in "re-education" camps, and restricted dress, cultural life, banned "abnormal beards" etc. These were claimed to be measures to fight "extremism".[16]


In 2016 the mayor of Cannes banned full-body swimsuits known as "burkinis" from the beach, stating that they are a "symbol of Islamic extremism".[17]


In 2019 Russia was jailing Jehovah's witnesses under laws about "extremism".[18]

United Kingdom

In September 2021, Sky News reported that extremism, racism, homophobia and conspiracy theories are flourishing in British schools due to a lack of internet censorship. Conspiracies about 9/11, immigration, Bill Gates and COVID-19 are the most common. The website, Educate Against Hate, is promoted by the Department of Education[19]



Page nameDescription
"Domestic extremism"An enemy image used to try to justify repression of alternative ideas
"Extreme left"One pole of the highly suspect "political spectrum". A tool in the divide and conquer strategy of party politics.
"Extreme right"One pole of the highly suspect "political spectrum". A tool in the divide and conquer strategy of party politics.
"Non-violent extremism"An enemy image used to try to justify violent repression of those who advocate non-violent change.
"Violent extremism"A drop in replacement for "terrorism" that was followed by "non-violent extremism", a term used to frame the justification of violence towards the explicitly non-violent.
Proud BoysA FBI affiliated "opposition" group.


Related Quotations

"Non-violent extremism"“It can even be argued that ‘non-violent extremism’ is a contradiction in terms. While there can be non-violent and violent radicals, it makes, in my view and based on the distinction between radicalism and extremism elaborated above, less sense to distinguish between violent and non-violent extremists.”Alex SchmidMarch 2013
2021“The Biden administration is revving up for a war against an enemy which the feds have chosen to never explicitly define.”James Bovard19 June 2021
Commission for Countering Extremism“Engaging widely and openly on extremism and Britain’s values across the public sector, communities, civil society, and with legal and academic experts. We need to make the case for tackling extremism and the harms it causes, beyond terrorism, in our communities.

Producing a strategic assessment of the threat we face from extremism, and the current response. This will consider the prevalence, concentration and range of extremism that exists in this country, identify the drivers of extremism, and review the success of current approaches in tackling it.

Advising Ministers on the Commission’s future structures, work programme and the appointment of further commissioners. This advice will in part be informed by the Lead Commissioner’s engagement with stakeholders.”
25 January 2018
Commission for Countering Extremism“the Commission will play a key role in the ongoing fight to counter extremism in the UK. It will:
  • Identify extremism and advise the Government on new policies to tackle extremism, including whether there is a need for new powers.
  • Support communities and the public sector in confronting extremism wherever it exists.
  • Promote British values and community cohesion – including ensuring women’s rights are upheld.”
25 January 2018
Tom Cotton“Waterboarding isn’t torture. We do waterboarding on our own soldiers in the military.”Tom Cotton
Tom Cotton““It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system. Thus, we are writing to bring to your attention two features of our Constitution—the power to make binding international agreements and the different character of federal offices—which you should seriously consider as negotiations progress.

First, under our Constitution, while the president negotiates international agreements, Congress plays the significant role of ratifying them. In the case of a treaty, the Senate must ratify it by a two-thirds vote. A so-called congressional-executive agreement requires a majority vote in both the House and the Senate (which, because of procedural rules, effectively means a three-fifths vote in the Senate). Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement.

Second, the offices of our Constitution have different characteristics. For example, the president may serve only two 4-year terms, whereas senators may serve an unlimited number of 6-year terms. As applied today, for instance, President Obama will leave office in January 2017, while most of us will remain in office well beyond then—perhaps decades.

What these two constitutional provisions mean is that we will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time."”
Tom Cotton
Internet/Censorship“Radical and extremist Islamic propaganda distributed in Europe continues to feed off events happening outside Europe. The Internet is one media outlet, perhaps the essential media outlet for this propaganda.”6 November 2007
MLK“A doctrine of black supremacy is as dangerous as a doctrine of white supremacy. God is not interested in the freedom of black men or brown men or yellow men. God is interested in the freedom of the whole human race, the creation of a society where every man will respect the dignity and worth of personality.”MLK
Theresa May“There is to be frank, far too much tolerance of extremism in our country.”Theresa May2017
Nonviolence“preventing violent extremism is not enough; rather all extremism – Islamist and other – ought to be prevented, given the bloody track record of extremism in power in the twentieth century and beyond. Rather than distinguishing between non-violent and violent extremists, we should distinguish between extremists and non-extremists and support the latter against Islamists at home and abroad. Governments should challenge and resist all extremism, whether it is violent or not, whether it is Islamist or not.”Alex SchmidMay 2014
Religion“Some years ago, a leaked MI5 behavioural study of pathways to terrorism concluded that there was no single profile or pathway to violent radicalisation. It also found, contrary to conventional assumptions, that religious conservatism tended to act as a bulwark against extremism.”Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed13 February 2015


Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:British extremists are importing tactics from the US hard right. Their target? Family drag showsArticle22 June 2023Tim SquirrellThe Institute for Strategic Dialogue has identified a new terror threat in this article published by Tim Squirrell, its head of communications, in the Guardian.
Document:Someone said they wanted to see me trapped in a burning car and watch flames melt my fleshArticle22 October 2021Nadine DorriesAfter the murder of MP David Amess, a crackdown on "internet trolls" is being demanded by most politicians. The UK's new Culture Minister Nadine Dorries is pursuing new overreaching legislation regulating Big Tech. The "Online Safety Bill" will abolish online anonymity and empower internet censorship. There are fears that it will be the end for freedom of expression in the UK.
Document:The Astonishingly Crap Science of 'Counter-Extremism'webpage17 March 2016Nafeez Mosaddeq AhmedAn expose of the crass lack of any valid scientific basis of government strategies to fight radicalisation. Nafeez Ahmed agrues that the "most academically accurate concept to capture this absurd level of crappiness is ‘bullshit’".
Document:The new alliance between anti-vaxxers and the far right is a deadly threatArticle1 August 2021Paul Mason"Though they claim to be “peaceful”......by setting themselves up as the victims of genocide, the anti-vaxxers give themselves permission to threaten violence.....Those behind the “crime” are said to include governments and the World Economic Forum (WEF)" because the real fascists are the ones that oppose oppressive government mandates and forced injections.
Document:Unthinking extremism - Radicalising narratives that legitimise surveillancepaper26 October 2015Ben Harbisher
Document:Weekend Clashes Emblematic of Political Violence Around the CountryArticle16 October 2018Anti-Defamation LeagueThis ADL blog post from 2018 outlines instances of "terrorism", blamed mainly on the Proud Boys during first two years of the Presidency of Donald Trump. Since then, they were revealed to have links to FBI informants.
Document:Why We Need to Remember Srebrenicaarticle3 December 2015Zarah SultanaZarah Sultana, then a student at the University of Birmingham, wrote an article about her trip to Srebrenica
Document:Why some people are spreading false rumours about the Texas gunmanArticle9 May 2023Shayan Sardarizadeh
Mike Wendling
The BBC factchecks the recent 2023 Allen, Texas outlet mall shooting regarding the alleged Nazism of the Hispanic shooter
File:FBI-Extremist Symbols 2006.pdfreport9 November 2006(U//LES//FOUO) The Colorado Information Analysis Center has received information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Joint Terrorism Task Force (FBI/JTTF) regarding extremist symbols, tattoos and terminology. The following is a guideline for possible identification of members and or activists related to the individual groups
The Power of UnreasonpaperAugust 2010Jamie Bartlett
Carl Miller
A critique and deconstruction of an 'Official Narrative'-type paper on 'Conspiracy Theory' from the 'think-tank' publisher Demos. It includes an exchange of correspondence between its authors and a Wikispooks editor which is continued on the discussion page.


Official examples

Extinction Rebellion
Charles Murray
Stewart Rhodes


4star.png 11 February 2019 Robin  A helpful expose
An useful expose of this piece of Orwellian language.
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  1. One look on a search engine will conform the standard usage..
  2. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-27777892
  3. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-27777892
  4. https://homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2018/01/25/factsheet-on-the-commission-for-countering-extremism/
  5. http://unwelcomeguests.net/672
  6. Document:Radicalisation - UK.gov gets itself in cluster-muddle over 'terrorism'‎
  7. Document:The Astonishingly Crap Science of 'Counter-Extremism'
  8. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/apr/28/police-anti-extremism-unit-monitoring-green-party-caroline-lucas-sian-berry?CMP=share_btn_tw
  9. https://www.rt.com/shows/going-underground/536411-nhs-healthcare-provision-decline/
  10. http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/waronterror/2011/04/19/freedom-of-speech-extremism-terrorism/ LSE Blog , 2011-04-09
  11. https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/10/31/pers-o31.html
  12. https://news.sky.com/story/eu-commissioner-sir-julian-king-warns-tech-firms-over-extremist-content-11095602
  13. https://www.icct.nl/download/file/ICCT-Schmid-Violent-Non-Violent-Extremism-May-2014.pdf International Centre for Counter-Terrorism , May 2014
  14. http://www.alternet.org/grayzone-project/fbi-has-new-plan-spy-high-school-students-across-country
  15. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/04/china-uighurs-ban-long-beards-veils-xinjiang-170401050336713.html
  16. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37056742
  17. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-politics-religion/russia-jails-jehovahs-witness-adherent-for-six-years-over-extremism-idUSKBN1YH132
  18. https://news.sky.com/story/extremist-views-flourishing-in-schools-thanks-to-dangerous-online-content-teachers-say-12400993