This answer has proved to be highly controversial. At time of writing, it had the most up-votes of any answer to the question (10), but also 7 down-votes. In the comments there are two minor quibbles that get resolved, but no explanation of why the answer deserves a down-vote.

As the author, I thought it was a fairly straightforward explanation of why something would be classified as extremism with clear examples from American politics. It's kind of hard to find sources for this kind of thing, none of the other answers which were not heavily down-voted have meaningful sources, so I don't think a lack of sources is the answer.

What's going on here?

4 Answers 4


The question is "What does “far-right extremist” mean?"

That's a very difficult question to answer objectively. The user is asking for an "exact definition" of a term which is defined differently by different people. "Political extremist" is a heavily loaded term in general. Calling people extremists can be just an ad-hominem attack to discredit political opponents. Or it can be warranted. But anyone accused of extremism will usually protest being labeled that way, no matter if it is warranted or not.

If someone would have posted this question today, I would have closed it as "primarily opinion-based". But the question is from the time before I was a moderator and already has several answers. So it's too late for that now.

The problem is that your answer begins with "I think the only consistent answer is..." and continues with a wall of text.

Well, what if I think differently?

  • Maybe I think your definition goes too far?
  • Maybe I think your definition doesn't go far enough?
  • Maybe I disdain people which I call right-wing extremists, but my reasons for hating these people center around aspects you didn't even mention?
  • Maybe your definition applies to me, but I don't consider myself a far right extremist and now I feel you are mislabeling me?
  • Maybe I am in fact one of the few people who self-identify as far right extremists, but I don't feel that your description represents my views accurately?

Well I could start a discussion in the comments, but I learned that Politics.SE is not a discussion forum. So what else do I do when I disagree with your definition? I downvote your answer and upvote one I agree with more.

That's why you should avoid answering opinion-based questions in general: they are a minefield of politically motivated voting. If you do decide to answer them, try to not answer them with your own opinions. You could try to answer them by quoting the opinions of relevant political scholars or definitions used by relevant political organisations. You should also try to provide a balanced picture which contrasts different definitions and highlights their differences.

  • 3
    I'm not sure I fully understand why it would be possible to downvote but inappropriate to explain why one down-voted.
    – lazarusL
    Jun 28, 2018 at 14:07
  • 7
    The very Stack Exchange reputation system denies your last paragraph; a +10/-7 answer is really +100-14=+86 rep. points, so unless you piss off literally everyone with your answer to a politically motivated question, you would inevitably find people who agree with what you say and give you surplus of reputation. I could name tens of Politics.SE users who do exactly that. Jun 28, 2018 at 14:36
  • 2
    Sorry but this entire answer reads as a giant ad for a "the question should have been closed as subjecive/opinion-based, on sight, within 5 minutes of posting".
    – user4012
    Jun 30, 2018 at 4:17

I am one of the downvoters on your answer. In my opinion, the answer was not useful because it didn't empirically demonstrate that it was true. It was an interesting argument, but struck me as your own argument being supported by a thought experiment. Is there evidence that it is true?

Over all, I'd say that if we were sitting down to coffee and chatting about this subject that I would love to hear about your view and this hypothetical situation. That same answer doesn't work well here on SE because it isn't factual and it isn't backed-up.

I couldn't say why the other downvotes came about, but the question itself has been controversial. This chaos can trickle down to an answer. Although it didn't result in downvotes, my answer to that question also proved somewhat controversial.

  • Thank you for sharing. So the logic was sound, but it needed a real life messy example or an appeal to an academic's authority rather than a clean hypothetical. Thanks!
    – lazarusL
    Jul 2, 2018 at 20:17
  • 2
    @lazarusL I didn't comment on the quality of your logic. My point was just that answers should be backed-up. In my case, I backed-up my answer by summarizing the comments of an expert on the subject. Testimonial evidence isn't the best, but it's the best I could find. You could back-up an answer through research, public reports, or your own experience or expertise. Whatever is appropriate and available. Jul 2, 2018 at 20:58

I, myself, am ambivalent about the answer, and here's why.

One one hand, I strongly agree with your argument about how the whole left, right, far-left, and far right model is an unfair and in some ways inaccurate model.

On the other hand, I feel like it is possible to decipher what someone means when they say "far-right extremist", and the focus of your answer isn't really about how to do that.


The problem I see with your answer is that the left is always correct. Making it easy to tell the difference -- a little bit wrong and you're the right, very wrong and you're the extreme right.

Your basic point would be better served by having your second scenario be of the extreme left, where the leftist idea would be considered by most to be wrong/evil -- bonus points if racist agree with it.

  • Are you saying it's biased against the left, or the right?
    – lazarusL
    Jul 17, 2018 at 10:52
  • @lazarusL: you give 2 scenarios, one where the right lines up with racist, and one where the right sees the light and agrees with the left and not with the racist. The right doesn't always agree with racist, yay. Yes, it's biased in favor of the left. Your comment about ISIS was better. Along those lines, what would be more balanced would be to give a scenario where the extreme left was bad, and the middle left gets lumpled with the right.
    – jmoreno
    Jul 18, 2018 at 0:33
  • That's really interesting. Thank you for sharing, this is the kind of answer I was looking for when I posted this question. I thought I gave a bunch of really honorable and reasonable reasons unrelated to racism why people on the right would support a policy that racists would also happen to support for unrelated reasons. As a conservative, I am completely fine with admitting that repugnant extremists occasionally support the same causes as me, but for completely different reasons. I thought the main point of my answer was that "right" extremists don't share much with the rest of the right.
    – lazarusL
    Jul 18, 2018 at 12:51

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