Extremism and the Righteous Mind in Government Policy

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By R Carter

What’s really behind the extreme ideology of denying access to pain care by those who oppose opiates except in the most narrow of criteria, such as surgery, trauma or end of life care? Why does government regulation completely ignore chronic pain conditions when making policy regarding opiates? Is it a direct attack against those who are chronic pain patients?

I believe the answer to these questions is extremist behavior. An ideological mindset which has its roots in a moral goal, that of stopping opiate abuse, drug trafficking and the black market forces which prosper off these things. What makes these individuals run off the rails in their efforts is a flaw in character and behavior, one that lends itself to forms of extremism. Students of psychology and sociology should recognize this readily. Western culture today is a survival product of groups who had the ability to balance moral values and democratic processes. Every generation faces challenges to their democratic values and beliefs by those whose moral convictions while good, lack ability to balance convictions with their responsibility to humanity and the ideals of a democratic process.

What some perceive as a direct attack against chronic pain patients is in fact collateral damage from extremist behavior. Those who want to achieve a moral ideal but lack the ability to balance convictions with the social responsibility to adhere to a democratic process. They lack the ability to acceptance anything short of the ideal they are trying to attain. Failing to understand that perfect ideals are the exception not the rule. These individuals are often patriotic, genuine and sincere, but for whatever reason, have lost their way and become insensitive to anyone’s pain but their own.

We should pity some of these individuals; for they are as sick in their souls as those they sight as the worst examples of what they oppose. The goal should be to educate them, not reject them, bring them into the broader community of our democratic process. They must be made aware of the collateral damage they cause and the pain they afflict on others as they justify an end results. Show them how to eliminate a social cancer while protecting individual liberties and rights. This is democracy in action and a tenant which has made our nation great.

In a democratic society we start this process by voting into office those individuals who embrace the values of tolerance, inclusion, acceptance, long suffering, due process, equal representation and self-sacrifice.

I’ve listed below some tips that can help spot individuals who are prone to extremist behavior and therefore policies which produce collateral damage.

How to recognize extremist behavior. See also World Science Festival: The Roots of Extremism in your Brain

  • The four ingredients of extremist behavior leading to repression and violence.
    • Ideological identification with an exclusive group.
    • Support of extreme competitive behavior with opposing groups.
    • Justify moral or ideological violations when achieving an end.
    • A willingness to violate democratic principles to reach an end.
    • All these lead to:
      • Repression of opponents.
      • Denial of due process
      • Regulation without representation
      • Restricted commerce for opposed groups
      • Tolerance for indirect oppression of related groups
      • Repealing existing rights of opposed groups.
      • Ultimately a willingness to participate in various forms of direct and indirect violence, whether physical or monetary.
    • See also book: The Righteous Mind – Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt
    • Warning signs of extremist behavior :
      • Exclusiveness
      • Status symbolism
      • Racism
      • Bigotry
      • Argumentativeness
      • Closed minded to different points of view
      • Unwilling to engage those outside the group
      • Abusive or denigrating behavior towards others
      • Willingness to break democratic rules and traditions
      • Embrace conspiracy theories
      • Feels persecuted by those from opposing groups
      • Being secretive
      • Having a double standard or breaking agreements and promises
      • Sympathetic towards extremist ideologies
      • Identification with totalitarian forms of leadership

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Regulation Without Representation