Radical politics  

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"I'm sick and tired of hearing about all of the radicals, and the perverts, and the liberals, and the leftists, and the Communists coming out of the closet! It's time for God's people to come out of the closet, out of the churches, and change America!", 1980, James Robison

This page Radical politics is part of the politics series.Illustration:Liberty Leading the People (1831, detail) by Eugène Delacroix.
This page Radical politics is part of the politics series.
Illustration:Liberty Leading the People (1831, detail) by Eugène Delacroix.

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Radical politics denotes the intent to transform or replace the fundamental principles of a society or political system, often through social change, structural change, revolution or radical reform.

The word radical derives from the Latin radix ("root") and Late Latin rādīcālis ("of or pertaining to the root, radical"). Historically, political use of the term referred exclusively to a form of progressive electoral reformism, known as Radicalism, that had developed in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries. However, the denotation has changed since its 18th century coinage to comprehend the entire political spectrum, though retaining the connotation of "change at the root".



The Encyclopædia Britannica records the first political usage of "radical" as ascribed to Charles James Fox, a British Whig Party parliamentarian who in 1797 proposed a "radical reform" of the electoral system to provide universal manhood suffrage, thereby idiomatically establishing "Radicals" to denote supporters of the reformation of British Parliament.

Throughout the 19th century, the concept of radical politics broadened into a variety of political notions and doctrines. Party politics in England began to favour moderate positions, marginalising other movements into more politically aggressive factions. As open advocacy of republicanism was illegal in France following the Napoleonic Wars, Radicals emerged under similar reformist ideals as their British counterparts, though later branched out to form the Radical-Socialist movement with a focus on proletarian solidarity. With the rise of Marxism, the notion of radical politics shifted away from reformism and became more associated with revolutionary politics. In United States politics, the term came to be used pejoratively among conservatives and moderates to denote political extremism, with the 19th-century Cyclopaedia of Political Science describing it as "characterized less by its principles than by the manner of their application".

During the 20th century, radical politics took political power in many countries across the world. Among these radical leaders were Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin in Russia, Mao Zedong in China, Adolf Hitler in Germany, as well as more mainstream radicals such as Ronald Reagan in the United States, and Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom.


Status quo change

The common feature to all radical political forms is a view that some fundamental change is required of the status quo. For an array of anti-capitalist forms, this manifests in anti-establishment reactions to modern neo-liberal regimes.

Concept of ideology

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy describes the radical concept of ideology to be that:

  • While social conditions exist "that are vulnerable to criticism and protest; ideology exists to protect these social conditions from attack by those who are disadvantaged by them."
  • "Ideology conserves by camouflaging flawed social conditions, giving an illusory account of their rationale or function, in order to legitimate and win acceptance of them."

This view reflects "a consensus among radicals of all stripes on the role of law as a Template:Wt force to safeguard the unjust relations of the status quo." This radical critique of ideology is especially prominent within post-leftism. Furthermore, in addressing specific issues some radical politics may completely forgo any overarching ideological plan.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Radical politics" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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