The Real Truth Project: Notes From the Radical CenterPosted: June 28, 2011
The Real Truth Project / Hal Morris
Notes From the Radical Center
Posted by ontologicalcomedian
One problem with the idea of “Radical Center” or “Radical Middle” is that there are too many radical centers. A lot of people have taken up one or the other as a slogan (or “brand”, I might say — but I’d rather not).
The feeling of belonging to one or another side of a momentous conflict is so seductive and feels so natural and right. I think it is a sort of feeling of “coming home” and being “at home”. Our true home, however, the environment to which we seem best fitted, is the Stone Age, and we can never get back there.
To be blunt, there is something about being, or thinking we are, on one side of a momentous conflict that tends to make us stupid. It is so much more comfortable to feel one belongs to the Donkey Clan with its long history of standing up to (and sometimes dominating) the Elephant Clan — or vice versa belonging to the Elephant Clan etc.
Or, belonging to the clan of progress, of throwing off old prejudices or its opposite, the clan of opposition to the insane/wicked/dangerous/… direction that the world will go in if we don’t stop and look to the past. I am trying to describe both clans as they would tend to describe themselves (something rarely done), rather than trying to define both sides from within one of them.
So my “standing for the center” is a shorthand for saying I above all distrust, the standard extreme positions the place and time I live in, and would recommend this sort of critical attitude to those in other times and places.
Also, any pure and simple ideology that fails to ask, when in power, “Is this really working?” is likely to become dangerous. So whenever we perceive ideologies tending to make people blind to reality, that is something that should be addressed with passion by my ideal radical centrist.
While I don’t believe in “triangulation” and consider it mostly a standard slander that extremists use against centrists, I do put a lot of stock in respectful argument. It may lead to mere compromise, but ideally it may also lead to the right approach for the circumstance. It is almost always safe to say that either side of any broad dichotomy can be right sometimes and wrong other times. Whether it is no taxes and shrinking government vs using government in various ways and someone having to pay for it; whether it is internationalism vs isolationism, or unilateralism vs consensus and alliance building, or freedom vs restraint, I say both sides of every pair is right some of the time, and it is when both sides tend to argue respectfully that we are most likely to see government grow when it is needed in some way, and pruned when functions that are no longer useful; to use force when appropriate and only when appropriate and to balance freedom and independence with the broadest practical spread of general well-being, and sufficiently equal opportunities to not end up with a de facto caste system.
When in place of mutual respect, there is each side demonizing the other, or the sort of “party discipline” that leads to “winner take all” government, then we get a dangerous sort of lurching back and forth between extreme options, and projects that take time and consistency to succede are started and abandoned, causing wasted time, money, and too often lives.
[to be continued?]