Julia Ebner’s ‘The Rage’, provides an extremely interesting insight into the inner workings of Islamist and Far-Right extremist groups, and the mind of the extremist themselves. She combines on the ground experience of such groups, with an outside online and statistical view in order to gather a multi-dimensional perspective of how these groups work, both within the UK and internationally.
The main point of this work is to show that there is a circle of ‘rage’ between both Islamist and Far-Right extremists; when one group acts in some way, it has an effect on the other, causing a kind of reaction from them. The reaction, Ebner argues, can be sometimes violent or non-violent but still extreme, in a way, they both rely on each other for their continued existence, Far-Right groups will use examples of Islamist extremism to claim all Muslims are at war with the west; whereas Islamist extremists will use examples of Far-Right extremism to claim the west is at war with Islam, both sides use the other as a form of justification for their beliefs. She also puts forward the idea that Islamist and Far-Right extremists are two side of the same coin, in that they both have similar desires for a future conflict between Muslims and Non-Muslims, believing that the two are somehow incompatible with each other.
I found the descriptions of the online presence of both groups some of the most interesting parts of the book, as both operate increasingly within online spaces in order to disseminate propaganda, as well as to recruit. Ebner illustrates that Islamist radicals tend to work quickly on Twitter, creating accounts and tweeting rapidly before usually being deleted by Twitter, they also use encrypted applications such as ‘Telegram’ in order to communicate. Far-Right radicals are often much more overt in their online presence, using social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, imageboards such as Reddit, as well as their own websites like Stormfront. For Ebner, the internet was supposed to bring everyone much closer, however it has increasingly allowed echo chambers and bubbles to form which extremist groups are able to manipulate for their own agendas.
The book overall provides a great degree of empirical evidence of both Islamist and Far-Right radical activities, the author also provides an interesting blueprint of how we can stop extremism. Ebner appears to advise a strategy of ‘mobilising the middle’ which involves creating louder voices for political moderates and having the courage to challenge extremist ideologies openly, stopping extremists from being able to intimidate people into submission through their propaganda. Ebner also states that there needs to be a change in how we approach information when confronted with it online, be more sceptical of the information we are given and think about things more logically than emotionally, from ‘mythos to logos’.
I’d say this book is a pretty good read if you are interested in how you as an individual can tackle extremism, as well as learning about how people become taken over by it. Julia Ebner, provides some very interesting details into the world of extremism, and a fascinating description of how it can be overcome.
Reviewed By Rob Johnston