I recently wrote about David Cameron’s assertion that Britain has been tolerant for too long, that he would crack down on extremism even if said extremism violated no laws. Well, I ran across an address made by Malcolm X in 1964 at Oxford Union. Malcolm X was called an extremist; he didn’t reject the label. And the extremism of Malcolm X – what he called “extremism in the defense of liberty” – can hardly be rejected in retrospect.
It was this extremism, according to Malcolm, that was necessary to combat the extremism embodied in the state. Malcolm used the brutalization of the Congo, as well as Hiroshima, as examples of state extremism. In a modern context, we might also include the ongoing conflict in the Middle East that the UK continues to participate in.
It’s this extremism that I said must be followed through in the form of direct action, given that the extremism of the state can no longer be checked or remedied by the pseudo-democratic institutions in place. Malcolm said “the racialist does not understand the nonviolent language.” That’s as true today as it was when he said it in 1964. And it doesn’t only apply to the racialist. It applies to all institutions of slavery, of oppressive extremism, of state brutality and infringements upon our liberty.
I’ll leave you with these two excerpts from Malcolm, and the video. Enjoy:
I don’t believe in any form of unjustified extremism. But I believe that when a man is exercising extremism, a human being is exercising extremism, in defense of liberty for human beings, it’s no vice.
And when one is moderate in the pursuit of justice for human beings, I say he’s a sinner.
And I might add in my conclusion, in fact, America is one of the best examples, when you read its history, about extremism. Ol’ Patrick Henry said “liberty of death.” That’s extreme. Very extreme.
And I go for that; if you take up arms you’ll end it, but if you sit around and wait for the one who is in power to make up his mind that he should end it, you’ll be waiting a long time. And in my opinion, the young generation of whites, blacks, browns, whatever else there is, you’re living at a time of extremism, a time of revolution, a time when there’s got to be a change, people in power have misused it, and now there has to be a change. And a better world has to be built and the only way it’s going to be built is with extreme methods. And I, for one, will joint in with anyone – don’t care what color you are – as long as you want to change this miserable condition that exists on this earth.