What exactly is a radical? It is someone who holds extreme views and openly challenges the views of the establishment. Actually, to be more accurate I should say someone whose views are considered a major threat to the status quo. No one’s views are inherently extreme, but this label is bestowed by those who believe what is “normal.” Radicals are despised by moderate leadership. They are denounced by skeptics and pragmatists. They are feared by the comfortable. Without radicals, there could be no real progress.
I am a radical because I believe in supposedly crazy ideas like UFOs. I am a radical because I oppose just about every accepted idea that is dear to average people. Above all, I am a radical because I want revolutionary change – and because I will try to make it happen.
But I have not always been a radical. I used to be a reformist, one who believes that all problems in society can be fixed with minor adjustments, one who believes that old ideas can be modernized and should never die. Reformists eventually become part of the establishment or part of the radical fringe. This is because their basic premise is always proved wrong: positive change doesn’t happen through fine tuning; it happens when someone has enough courage to rip out the dial and install a new one. Many former reformists are now staunch establishmentarians who pretend to want reform when all they really want is power. In fact, most politicians are like this – they started out with good ideas but got sucked into the corrupt system. I hate the establishment with such a passion that I took the other path and became a radical. Basically, I just couldn’t stomach the hypocrisy encouraged by the system. I believe that big changes are really necessary, and that they can only be achieved if we go to the root of the problem.
The word “radical” is derived from the Latin word for root. Radicals don’t like to deal on the superficial level. If the tree is dying, the problem is probably down underground where nobody wants to look. Forget about trimming a few branches, because it won’t do anything. The tree might look a little better for a while, but then it’ll die anyway. If the tooth is rotting, the dentist doesn’t spend all his time and effort whitening the surface; instead, he drills down deep, which produces some temporary pain but will solve the problem in the long run. This is just the way it is with our society. You might think the politicians mean business when they do a patch-up job, but it’s nothing more than a media stunt designed to fool the public. No pain, no gain. It’s really true. Take a look at all those fat people who constantly go on fad diets – they don’t want to give up their chocolate, their greasy steak, etc., so they quit the sprouts every once in a while and pig out. The people who lose weight and keep it off are the ones willing to permanently adjust their lifestyle, the ones who start eating responsibly and exercising regularly. Those who look for the easy solution never find it; they just get fatter. It’s the same with teeth: someone who is too lazy to brush won’t benefit from whatever high-tech toothpaste he buys.
If the members of our society refuse to think and act maturely, they can elect any demagogue they want and it won’t make a crapload of difference.
Having said this, I should warn the childish populace that their phony democracy, their outdated religion, and all other such things are about to crumble. We radicals understand this and therefore try to build new ideals and institutions. Some radicals – myself definitely not included – want to bring out the wrecking ball and carelessly rip down everything. They fail to realize that a far worse situation would likely emerge as a result. But since radicals always are around and always prevail when things get bad enough, it would be wise for the public to seriously consider radical solutions before it’s too late. Delaying long enough will mean tragedy, because the insane tend to prosper during times of turmoil.
I am radical because I’m angry, but also because I’m hopeful. It’s not too late to resurrect our society… yet.