Which brings us to the nub. J.M. Berger’s social identity theory of extremism argues that extremist ideologies are rooted in a ‘crisis-solution construct’ where ‘in-groups’ facing what they believe are existential crises think they can only be solved through radical, supremacist and often violent means. To see how it affects us now, we need only look at two of today’s most threatening extremist ideologies: jihadism and the far-right.
As the researchers Milo Comerford and Jacob Davey of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) have noted, jihadism is based upon a supremacist vision of Islam devoted to establishing an Islamic state ruled by the strictest Sharia law. There is a religious duty to defeat unbelievers. The far-right, meanwhile, is rooted in ethnic, cultural or national supremacism, generally geared toward establishing an ethnostate. Terrorism is an accepted means by which to hasten societal collapse.
Right now, the far right is flooding social media with posts about ‘elites’ — like Jeff Bezos, the Rothschilds, George Soros and Bill Gates — and the ‘deep state’, both of which they blame for causing the pandemic. According to Chloe Colliver of ISD, the scale of all this is ‘humungous’. Jihadist groups like the Somalian Al Shabaab, meanwhile, claim that coronavirus is being spread ‘by crusader forces… and the disbelieving countries that support them’.