It should be clear by now that extremism is a human problem that goes beyond creed, class, and ethnicity.
As Ernest Becker stated, “doesn’t matter whether the cultural hero-system is frankly magical, religious, and primitive or secular, scientific, and civilized. It is still a mythical hero-system in which people serve in order to earn a feeling of primary value, of cosmic specialness, of ultimate usefulness to creation, of unshakable meaning. They earn this feeling by carving out a place in nature, by building an edifice that reflects human value: a temple, a cathedral, a totem pole, a skyscraper, a family that spans three generations. The hope and belief is that the things that man creates in society are of lasting worth and meaning, that they outlive or outshine death and decay, that man and his products count.”
In our human reach to matter and to count as Becker put it we must balance it with a global ethic of liberty and pluralism. A space where humans can debate ideas without it turning into dehumanizing rhetoric and dominating others different than us who find meaning in a different hero and belief system. The goal of Pluralism and liberalism should not be to have everyone think the same but to have the global ethic of liberty of conscience and expression without reactionary intimidation of violence whether from the state or groups.
If extremism has a common theme it is in its claim to superiority and its ability to dehumanize those it deems outside the superior group. Making violence not only acceptable to bring about the utopia but even necessary to destroy those who are different. Extremism is an attack on diversity. An attack that involves violence and force to bring about a monolithic society instead of a pluralistic society.
An extremist believes in their superiority and their particular utopia to a point that it is necessary to dominate and dehumanize those outside their envisioned utopia.
The challenge for the modern world is to make a global ethic of pluralism paramount without it changing other systems of belief by force or intimidation. There needs to be an umbrella belief in tolerance and pluralism that helps tame belief systems that have the potential to lead to domination and dehumanization. And that umbrella belief cannot become a will to power over others. That is the tight rope.