About Extremism and Nationalism


is an opposition to fundamental values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs

Extremism refers to an ideology that is considered to be far outside the mainstream attitudes of society. It can be used in a political, religious or economic sense.

Political agendas perceived as extremist often include those from the far-left politics or far-right politics as well as radicalism, reactionism, fundamentalism and fanaticism.

However, the labeling of activities, people, and groups as “extremist”, and the defining of what is “ordinary” in any setting is always a subjective and political matter.

There is no single pathway for radicalization. It is a combination of psychological, institutional, and socio-economical factors that lead to violent extremism.

Push factors drive individuals to violent extremism:

  • marginalization
  • inequality
  • discrimination
  • feeling of being persecuted
  • denial of rights
  • poor education

Pull factors attract individuals to violent extremism are:

  • organized groups that provide: services, revenue and employment, place of belonging, supportive environment
  • spiritual purpose – making Utopia
  • empowerment – adventure, humanitarian cause.

Contextual factors provide a breeding ground for violent extremist groups:

  • fragile states
  • lack of rule of law
  • corruption
  • criminality



Nationalism is an ideology by people who believe their nation is superior to all others. This sense of superiority often has its roots in a shared ethnicity.

Nationalists work toward a self-governing state. Their government controls aspects of the economy to promote the nation’s self-interest. They demand to be independent of other countries. They don't join global organizations or collaborate with other countries on joint efforts.

Because they believe in the superiority of their shared attribute, nationalists often stereotype different ethnic, religious, or cultural groups. The resultant prejudice keeps their nation unified.

Nationalism in the Balkans

 Nationalism grew in the 19th century as a result of Enlightenment thinking about equality, freedom, and democracy, and the concomitant political reforms and revolutions that gave voice to people who had previously been excluded.

Nationalist tensions emerged in the Balkans because of the spread of ideas of romantic nationalism as also the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire that had previously ruled over this area. The different Slavic communities in the Balkans began to strive for independent rule. They were jealous of each other and every state wanted more territory, even at the expense of others. Also, the hold of imperial power over the Balkans made the situation worse. Russia, Germany, England, Austro-Hungary all wanted more control over this area. These conflicts ultimately led to the First World War in 1914.

Ethnic  nationalism  was  a  key  factor  in  many  of  the  tragedies  the  Balkan  region  experienced  in  the  1990s,  and  a  tool  frequently  used  by  Balkan  polit-icians in order to strengthen their power.

What is the difference between nationalism and patriotism?

Nationalists’ feeling of superiority differentiates their nationalism from patriotism. Patriotism equates to pride in one's country and a willingness to defend it.

Nationalism, on the other hand, extends that to arrogance and potential military aggression. Nationalists believe they have a right to dominate another nation because of their superiority. They feel they are doing the conquered a favor. This encourages militarism.