Generally, to be referred to as any one of: racist, sexist, ageist, chauvinist, fascist, terrorist, rapist, extremist, anarchist, antagonist, elitist, sadist and arsonist, is negative.
Then there are words that some will consider to be either positive of negative: activist, journalist, socialist, communist, capitalist, feminist, nationalist, economist, unionist, cyclist, motorist, loyalist, environmentalist, modernist, nonconformist, pacifist, fundamentalist, atheist (and the opposite theist), ecologist, leftist, optimist, populist, ecologist, evangelist, imperialist, materialist, separatist, collectivist, antiracist, opportunist, perfectionist, purist, rationalist, royalist, revisionist, absolutist, hedonist, lobbyist, pessimist, rightist and traditionalist.
Then there are “ist” words that are benign/neutral or even desirable: artist, bassist, specialist, technologist, scientist, tourist, chemist, harpist, psychologist, therapist, dentist, novelist, guitarist, receptionist, sociologist, anthropologist, biologist, Baptist, Methodist, evangelist, pianist, flutist/flautist, botanist, humanist, florist, typist, alchemist, tobacconist, canoeist, violinist, vocalist, soloist and a number of other words ending with the suffix “ist”.
So what does the suffix “ ist” mean, if anything? Seems to indicate one of three categories:
1) a person who performs a specific action or makes or produces something by playing a specific musical instrument or by operating a specific mechanical instrument or contrivance,
2) a person who specializes in a specific art or science or skill or
3) a person who adheres to or advocates a specific doctrine or system or code of behavior or that of a specified individual