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Rational Extremism


  • Wintrobe,Ronald


Extremists are people whose ideas or tactics are viewed as outside the mainstream. Looked at this way, extremists are not necessarily twisted or evil. But they can be, especially when they are intolerant and violent. What makes extremists turn violent? This 2006 book assumes that extremists are rational: given their ends, they choose the best means to achieve them. The analysis explains why extremist leaders use the tactics they do, and why they are often insensitive to punishment and to loss of life. It also explains how rational people can be motivated to die for the cause. The book covers different aspects of extremism such as revolution, suicide terrorism, and global jihad. The arguments are illustrated with important episodes of extremism, including the French Revolution, the rise of nationalism in Yugoslavia under Milosevic, and the emergence of suicide terror and Al Qaeda today.

Suggested Citation

  • Wintrobe,Ronald, 2006. "Rational Extremism," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521859646, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:cbooks:9780521859646

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Elie Appelbaum, 2008. "Extremism: Root Causes and Strategic Use in Conflicts," Working Papers 2008_02, York University, Department of Economics.
    2. Dong, Bin & Dulleck, Uwe & Torgler, Benno, 2012. "Conditional corruption," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 609-627.
    3. Elie Appelbaum & Eliakim Katz, 2007. "Political extremism in the presence of a free rider problem," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 133(1), pages 31-40, October.
    4. Friedrich Schneider & Tilman Brück & Daniel Meierrieks, 2010. "The Economics of Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism: A Survey (Part I)," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1049, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    5. Benno Torgler & Bruno Frey, 2013. "Politicians: be killed or survive," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 156(1), pages 357-386, July.
    6. Arye Hillman & Niklas Potrafke, 2015. "The UN Goldstone Report and retraction: an empirical investigation," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 163(3), pages 247-266, June.
    7. Berman, Eli & Laitin, David D., 2008. "Religion, terrorism and public goods: Testing the club model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(10-11), pages 1942-1967, October.
    8. Elie Appelbaum, 2006. "Strategic extremism," Working Papers 2006_12, York University, Department of Economics.
    9. Ronald Wintrobe, 2006. "Extremism, suicide terror, and authoritarianism," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 169-195, July.
    10. Wintrobe Ronald, 2013. "North Korea as a Military Dictatorship," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 19(3), pages 459-471, December.
    11. Elu Juliet U. & Price Gregory N., 2012. "Remittances and the Financing of Terrorism In Sub-Saharan Africa: 1974 - 2006," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 18(1), pages 1-42, July.
    12. Elie Appelbaum, 2004. "Union militancy and the probability of strikes," Working Papers 2004_4, York University, Department of Economics.

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