Excess and Extremism

EXCESS AND EXTREMISM….Vivian Gornick eulogizes Andrea Dworkin today:

Dworkin was our excess ? our inspired nihilist, our emblematic man-hater, everything that wouldn’t fly not only in Peoria but in New York as well ? and those who shrink from excess do not understand the requirements of a great social movement. In the end, it is the excess that forces the surge of liberal action that, ultimately, achieves only moderate change.

Italics mine.

This is a longtime source of bedevilment to me. Excess and extremism are the proximate causes of some of the worst catastrophes of history, and certainly some of the worst catastrophes of the 20th century. I am a sworn foe of excess and extremism and will continue to be.

And yet….Gornick is also right. Without people like Dworkin, I find it quite plausible that people like me would never accomplish anything. Needless to say, this is disturbing.

Discuss.

Support the Washington Monthly and get a FREE subscription