Wednesday, March 27, 2019

J.M. Berger

J.M. Berger is the author of Extremism (MIT Press, August 2018). He is a research fellow with VOX-Pol and a PhD candidate at Swansea University's School of Law, where he studies extremist ideologies. From the transcript of his Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross:

GROSS: You say a crisis narrative is really important in creating extremist identities and extremist groups.

BERGER: Yeah. Extremist ideologies have three major components. One is identity. So that's the group you're in and the group you hate. One is a crisis narrative. So that's an argument that things are happening in the world, usually threatening but not always, that require decisive action to protect your identity. What we call the in-group is the group that you belong to. So the crisis narrative then leads to a solution narrative. And the solution for extremists is hostile action against what we call the out-group, which is the enemy identity.

And so the president and many of his allies in both, you know, mainstream politics and mainstream, semimainstream media are able to provide a just constant stream of crisis narratives. So this is just red meat that's out there for extremists to pick up. If everybody is talking about a crisis, then the question turns to, what kind of solution do you propose to the crisis? And that's where the extremists come in. So they come in with a solution that is deport everyone or create concentration camps or kill everyone.

GROSS: So a couple of great examples of crisis narratives would be there's a caravan of migrants headed our way. They're going to invade the country. What are some other crisis narratives that Trump has put forward?

BERGER: That caravan is a great narrative for these guys because it resonates with materials that they already know about. There's a lot of...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue