J.M. Berger is a writer and researcher focused on extremism as a Senior Research Fellow for the Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. His research encompasses extremist and terrorist ideologies and propaganda, including social media and semantic analytical techniques. He is the author of four critically acclaimed books, including Extremism (2018) and Optimal (2020).
Berger's most recent nonfiction book, Extremism (MIT Press, August 2018), was named an Outstanding Academic Title for 2019 and has been reviewed as "meticulous," "an excellent primer," "exceptional" and "elegantly written."
His debut novel, Optimal (2020), is a dystopian tale about a world run by algorithms and social media. Reviewers have praised it as "gripping," "absorbing" and "great storytelling." A member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association, Berger is currently working on his second novel, a fantasy epic grounded in his research on extremism.
Berger is also a research fellow with VOX-Pol and a PhD candidate at Swansea University's School of Law, where he studies extremist ideologies. As a consultant for social media companies and government agencies, Berger conducts research and training on issues and policies related to homegrown terrorism, online extremism, advanced social media analysis, and countering violent extremism (CVE). He is a member of the advisory board of the RESOLVE Network and a contributing writer to The Atlantic.
A PALER SHADE OF WHITE
Discussions of extremist ideologies naturally focus on how in-groups criticize and attack out-groups. But many important extremist ideological texts are disproportionately focused on criticizing their own in-group. A new research report from J.M. Berger uses linkage-based analysis to examine Siege, a White nationalist tract that has played an important role in shaping modern neo-Nazi movements, including such violent organizations as Atomwaffen Division and The Base. While Siege strongly attacks out-groups, including Jewish and Black people, the book is overwhelmingly a critique of how the White people of its in-group fall short of Nazi ideals. Siege’s central proposition—that the White in-group is disappointing, deeply corrupt, and complacent—shapes its argument for an “accelerationist” strategy to hasten the collapse of society in order to build something entirely new.
Related on GNET: The Out-Group in the In-Group