Productive Depolarization: How Transformational Work Can Heal Humanity

Slideshare Presentation

Abstract submitted for Passion Talks 16, held August 12-13, 2016 in Mt. View, California.

America is experiencing a level of political and cultural polarization not seen since the 1960’s.  In this talk, I will explore how productive work can be a powerful tool for breaking down the assumptions, habits, and tribal structures that contribute to social polarization. I will start by presenting a simple conceptual model of the causes of polarizations, then discuss two case studies from my experiences at MIT and Apple demonstrating how to use that model to bring together mutually suspicious communities. I will end with suggestions for how technologists, entrepreneurs, and activists might leverage this model to better achieve their societal and business goals.

Biography

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Radical Comprehensivism

By: Billy Rojas

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Radical Centrism is many things and from that fact arises the need to
redefine RC philosophy, indeed, to reconceptualize it.  Here is a new way
to think about Radical Centrism, to spell out its implications, and to
talk about it coherently.
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This new approach both simplifies RC but also makes its complexities
clear to all. The following verbal road map deserves in-depth discussion,
taking ideas wherever they may lead, but  first we need the map.
This is that map.

What is Radical Centrism like?

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RC resembles the following viewpoints, not necessarily closely, but enough
to say that there are obvious similarities. The list is as all-encompassing as
was possible at this time; it may be expanded in greater detail in the future.
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In traditionalist American terms, RC is a combination of the ideas of
Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison.
In real life it once took  form in the first term of the presidency of
George Washington when both Jefferson and Hamilton served in
the general’s cabinet. The ideas of Ben Franklin were very much part of how
people thought in that era and, needless to say, the Constitution itself was the
creation of James Madison more than anyone else even though there was
considerable influence from others.
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To this we may add the pioneering work of Hannah Adams, the founder
of Comparative Religion in the United States in the early 1800s. Although
I have not studied him in any depth so far, what I know about
John Quincy Adams suggests that he was a prototype for RC also.
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In the real world of the 19th century two European enemies help define
Radical Centrism, Louis Napoleon III and Otto von Bismarck. This primarily
refers to Louis Napoleon’s first ten years in office, not his final years when he
became an adventurist who made a number of reckless decisions that
were costly to France. But in those first years Louis Napoleon lived up to his
nickname, “Saint-Simon on horseback,” and the crux of RC in many ways
is Saint-Simonian philosophy that ultimately gave the world the social sciences
and such things as city planning and government sponsored scientific
research and development. The internet, anyone?
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Bismarck was not a Radical Centrist in any modern American sense except one,
and it is crucially important:  Do whatever it takes to make things happen for
the good of the nation; let nothing stand in the way. Bismarck’s Realpolitik
was nothing if not flexible and opportunistic, but underwritten with the view
that about everything it is essential to be realistic and let “ideology” follow
from successes and from learning from out mistakes and failures. RC is based
on  principles, of course, and Bismarck’s disregard of most principles whenever
it suited his policies was a huge weakness in his system and led to his downfall,
but he nonetheless taught the extreme virtue of effectiveness.
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In some respects you can consider Abraham Lincoln as “America’s Bismarck”
-but with morals. In fact someone who sought diligently to do
what is morally right/
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RC is also, in a sense, the direct descendent of the Pragmatism of C.S. Peirce,
William James, John Dewey, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. Radical Centrists
are naturally selective in what they borrow from our pragmatist forebears,
but their view that practical considerations are central to any viable politics
is indispensable.  Keep in mind that Pragmatism was not a “liberal” or
“conservative” philosophy. Peirce was a conservative, Dewey was a liberal,
James was an eclectic, and Holmes was liberal OR conservative,
depending on circumstances.
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RC is also related to Populism and Teddy Roosevelt’s Progressivism. As a
matter of fact, TR must be regarded as the greatest exemplar of Radical Centrism
in American history.  He was liberal and conservative, forward looking and someone
who had the deepest respect for American traditions. He was pro-industry and
commerce yet was committed to conservation and necessary regulation of
business. And he had no use at all for cronyism, corruption in politics, nor
for limited horizons. He thought globally.
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There are criticisms which can be made of Teddy Roosevelt but he was a man
of his times and we should not forget that most Americans of that era were
racialist to some extent, including William Jennings Bryan. What makes TR great,
for that matter which brings respect to Bryan, was that they made exceptions
that paved the way for expanded views of civil rights in later years.
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The Populist element in Radical Centrism is associated with its 19th century
democratic ethos, unwillingness to be deferential to monied elites, yet at the
same time focused on the future, on the best available ways to govern the
nation, to run the economy, and make sure that American education serves
people’s needs.  The Populists also understood the importance of Socialist
ideas  -speaking of Democratic Socialism and the Social Gospel- and sought
alliances with America’s working class. About this they were selective,
as are today’s Radical Centrists.
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The presidents who best exemplify something of Radical Centrism in the
second half of the 20th century are Dwight D. Eisenhower and  John F. Kennedy.
It should be said that some presidents simply cannot be considered Radical
Centrist in any meaningful way yet were great leaders in their time to whom
we all owe a debt of gratitude, such as James K. Polk
and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
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Two presidents whom many people would like to forget also deserve mention,
LBJ and Richard Nixon. Each, to some extent, maybe more than generally
acknowledged, had some Radical Centrist values, in Nixon’s case some
that might have become important in future years. However, this does not
stop me from enduring hatred of Nixon for his despicable conduct while in office,
nor from disrespecting Lyndon Johnson’s war policies. Radical Centrist ideas
offer no guarantee that someone won’t make mistake, even horrible errors
of judgement. At least we can look at these two figures as object lessons
in what not to do and learn from their failings.
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The social leader who is closest in spirit to RC in modern times was
Martin Luther King, Jr.
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American thinkers no longer with us who come the closest to Radical Centrism
include Marylin Ferguson, Michael Kelly, Claire Booth Luce, and (sometimes)
Daniel Bell. We should also mention H.L. Mencken, who, although
he was a self-professed libertarian, was also a champion of American
writers from all over the political spectrum based on the merits of
their work  -which is as much of a Radical Centrist outlook as anyone
can have. Mencken was also unclassifiable in some respects. He certainly
ridiculed creationists during the Scopes trial, but at the same time he
attended Pentecostal camp meeting services nearby and took a
genuine interest in the people there and in what they had to say.
Also Mencken could be funny as hell.
Thus we might add to the list of  “honorary Radical Centrists” the names
of Mark Twain, Groucho Marx, and Johnny Carson.
Among non-Americans who deserve recognition for contributing at least
some ideas to Radical Centrist thought we should single out  John Stuart Mill,
Hegel, Leopold Senghor, and possibly Friedrich Hayek  -although I have
not studied Hayek sufficiently to be make a determination. These names
merely give an impression, there are still others who deserve recognition.
And any list of Radical Centrist forebears would be incomplete without
mention of Sri Aurobindo.
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Radical Centrism is like all of this.
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Elements of Radical Centrism

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RC is based unabashedly on the principle of “cafeteria politics.” Picking and
choosing good ideas is the essence of  Radical Centrism. The idea is to choose
the very best ideas and concepts and put them together in workable, coherent
ways to create a political program  -or a philosophy of life.
This hardly overlooks the important role of criticism in RC, by which is meant
something along the lines of movie or theater criticism. A production is actually
looked at with care, it is studied, problems are identified and, when possible,
a critique is written that has helpful and productive purpose.
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Radical Centrism is also market oriented. This means that we prefer market
solutions to problems. However, it is vital to be objective about market
limitations; some things markets do poorly or not at all. We regard the notion
that markets can solve all problems as false on the face of it.
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Similarly the libertarian notion that freedom is the universal solvent for all
political questions we regard as ridiculous. What about responsibility?
What about compassion? What about right vs. wrong? Or is it a matter
or indifference when some people advocate values that undermine the
foundations of American culture? Part of what Radical Centrism is all about
is, to the best of our ability, identifying what is morally right based on
objective criteria, identifying what is morally wrong, then fighting like hell
to see the right prevail and the wrong rejected and totally repudiated.
In effect, to use analogy, Radical Centrism is a ‘missionary religion.’
Actually it isn’t a religion at all, it is a philosophy, but to make a point…
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The philosophies as such that have some views in common with RC include:
Existentialism, the idea that there is no substitute for experience.
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Existentialists whom Radical Centrists think the most of are Soren Kierkegaard
and Nietzsche, both, however, very selectively. Nietzsche veered far too close
to nihilism and Kierkegaard was often pre-scientific. This has little to do
with Sartre or Heidegger. To the extent that he can be considered
an Existentialist this definitely includes Dostoevsky. In a sense you can
call Radical Centrism “neo-Existentialism” because of RC stress
on adventure and experience. Some things you cannot learn unless
you experience them.
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Selectively, with Radical Centrist interpretations, are:
  • Empiricism -the need to rely on concrete evidence and objective logic
  • Realism -an honest outlook on life, including honesty about our perceptions
  • Surrealism -acknowledgement that the unconscious matters in human creativity
  • Scientism -reliance on science to provide reliable answers to questions
  • Historicism -the view that there are patterns in history that have meaning
  • Cosmopolitanism -the attitude that human diversity is generally for the good
  • Ecumenism -in the interfaith sense primarily
Not really philosophies per se, but very important are:
  • Reformism -strong preference for political change through constitutional processes
  • Originalism -interpretation of Amendments by reference to their original intentions
  • Futurism -social forecasting as crucial to viable -testable- political ideas
  • Functionalism -the view that the place of religion in the public square should be evaluated on the merits of what faith groups actually do, the social functions they provide the community, and other objective criteria
  • Transformationism   -considerations about major changes such as enhanced human intelligence,  extended life span, biocomputers as human prostheses, and other developments sometime associated with the “singularity” effect, are also worth serious thought. Maybe not for any near term future, but certainly in the coming decades.
It is essential the Radical Centrists take some interest in all of these possibilities
because eventually there will be no choice but to take them very seriously,
indeed, they will be part of our future.
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The science of Sociobiology is indispensable to Radical Centrism at least
as I see RC and understand sociobiology itself. This says that human beings
are the product of evolution, and that there is no real question that
evolution is scientifically valid theory  -that is, an explanation for  what
happened in the archaic past from about 5 million BC to the present
during the rise of Cro Magnon people to world dominance.
Since we are descendents of primates, and still very much are primates,
many  human characteristics reflect this past and are intrinsic to human nature.
There are Alpha males, there are characteristic ways of doing things in
social groups that invariably work in favor of survival, such as the drive
to co-operate, “friendly” competition within groups to sort out the most
capable and identify the weaker members, fierce opposition to encroachments
on territory, female reticence  vs male assertiveness in sexual relationships,
and much else.
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In opposition to philosophies that say we are just about infinitely plastic
(or elastic) in terms of what we can make our lives, sociobiology tells us
that there are good ways to do things, bad ways to operate, and a variety
of inclinations and imperatives that are for our good and that basically
are necessary for the survival of the species. This says, in turn, that
philosophies of total elasticity  -such as gender feminism-  are based
on false premises and should be discredited. This also says that anti-evolution
religious dogmas are unacceptable and should be overtly rejected.
On that subject, while not all Church Fathers made an issue out of Creation,
of those that did, like Origin and Augustine, their view was that the story
in Genesis was allegory and not intended to be taken literally. Moreover,
the Bible itself describes evolution in Wisdom of Solomon in the Apocrypha,
a collection of books that the translators of the original KJV insisted belong
in the holy book.  Chapter 19 puts things this way:
“…as the notes of a lute can make various tunes with different names
though each retains its own pitch, so the elements combined among
themselves in different ways, as can be accurately inferred from the
observation of what happened  Land animals took to the water and
things that swim migrated to dry land…”  New English Bible translation.
The RSV has it that “land animals were transformed into water creatures,
and creatures that swim moved over to the land.
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We cannot reasonably expect that a writer alive when this was written,
about a century before Christ,  could have phrased things the way that
a scientist like Darwin was able to do in the 19th century. However,
it is no problem at all to see this passage as prefiguring the theory of
evolution. If most Bible commentators seem ignorant of this material
and habitually restrict their opinions to Genesis,  that is too bad for them,
for “Wisdom” offers us directly relevant observations that are consistent
with evolution.
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Are we “children of God?” That may be a figure of speech but to the extent
that it presupposes purpose in nature, teleology at work in the on-going
processes of evolution, it can be taken as a statement of truth. That is,
creation, no matter what else may be the case, comes with built-in potential
for the rise of intelligent life and the development of scientific civilization.
Potential, when actualized, is purpose.
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This can be conceptualized in many different ways. My preference is based
on the model found in Tantra, a Creator God and Creatrix Goddess who
work in tandem to bring about the world as we know it in the universe
that we are aware of. But Wisdom of Solomon says approximately the same
thing since its subject matter, for the most part, concerns the action of Wisdom
-the Shekhina, aka Holy Spirit in feminine form-   as co-creator along with God,
Together they establish the natural order.  And this order has evolved
to get us where we are today -through natural selection that, as random
as it appears, has had the effect of generating intelligent life and civilization.
Radical Centrism, in other words, presupposes a world view that is consistent
with intelligent religious faith.
At the same time it presupposes a worldview that tells us to be students
of human prehistory and that we need to have basic knowledge of primatology
so that we are better able to identify what we are as “rational animals”
(how Aristotle characterized us) or intelligent mammals. Some things
simply do not work, and gender feminism heads the list.
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In other words if you are looking for an affirmation of traditional Christian faith
or traditional Atheism, you will not find it in Radical Centrism. To put it in such
words with, I think, real justification, RC is all about affirming truth, not doctrine.
But this said, Radical Centrism stands for all those American traditions that
have served us well throughout our nation’s history. Mostly this means the
kind of spirit infused into out culture by way of sincere Christians  -who gave
us universities, hospitals, and an ethos of fairness toward all people. But there
also were the contributions of people who were not especially religious or who
held beliefs that were out of the ‘mainstream.’ Hence an entire literature
with figures like Thoreau, Edgar Allan Poe, Jack London, Eugene O’Neill,
Margaret Mitchell, Ralph Ellison, Robert Frost, and Ray Bradbury
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Radical Centrism, as much as feasible, rests on a foundation of scientific method.
For a comprehensive discussion of what  this means, and believe me the subject
is vast, see O.E. Wilson’s 1998 book, Consilience. There are a good number
of details in the text to take issue with, and some things Wilson simply did
not see,  but this comes as  close to a Radical Centrist textbook as currently
is available in print in the modern world.
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Briefly, scientific method means formulating an hypothesis based on verifiable
observations, then testing that hypothesis to determine if it is true.  The system
of  logic employed is induction  -although  in arriving at a testable hypothesis
deduction is perfectly legitimate. Pragmatism adds that we may also get to
the truth through the process of abduction, working with fragmentary information
and making sense of it through devising alternative scenarios and eliminating
those that prove untenable.
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Also important, Radical Centrism is a form of “systems thinking.” Just about
everything in the real world comes to us via systems, whether in nature or
in society. The fundamental question to ask in determining truth of almost
any kind is: How does the system work?  If you don’t know that, you
don’t understand much of anything by definition. And once you do know
how a system operates you can test ideas (values, principles, etc.) in terms
of how they function to get results.
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Hence Radical Centrism might be called “evaluationism” because a major part
of its task is to evaluate truth claims and decide which are right
and which are not.
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Radical Centrists are free to make borrowings from a number of disciplines,
such as:
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Psychoanalysis -especially the use it makes of ancient myths to conceptualize
and understand contemporary psychological realities,
Social Psychology  -which has given us another RC textbook, Jonathan Haidt’s
2012 opus,  The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided 
by Politics and Religion, and
Intellectual History, viz., History of Ideas. This refers to collective memory,
the deep pool of ideas that have made us who we are and that can be
drawn upon  -endlessly-  to learn how human beings think, which ideas
are most successful in the real world, how people learn, and much else.
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Radical Centrism is also based on mediation, upon the need we all have
to resolve disputes in win / win fashion as much as possible. This also
means that the skills of negotiation are important, skills in detecting lies,
and skills in identifying unacknowledged psychological “hang-ups” that may
otherwise make conflict resolution impossible.
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Radical Centrism also means something like military thinking inasmuch as
our species has engaged in war since the dawn of history. However, “war”
should be taken in a broad sense to include political campaigning, business
strategies intended to win market share against competitors, and so forth.
Not a bad idea to read Machiavelli, at least for self-protection, and the
classic, The Art of War, by Sun Tzu.
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Radical Centrism is also  -in the historical sense-  a form of utopianism.
It is vital to imagine possible (relatively) ideal forms of society and work
toward understanding both why we have not achieved such utopias
and what it might take to do so. Utopias give us a vision of what
society could become if we were able to function at our best
in the future.
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Radical Centrism is also, perhaps most importantly, a philosophy of education.
Everything that matters, it can almost be said, depends on education, whether
formal schooling or “lifelong learning” based mostly on “independent study.”
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Radical Centrism is the opposite of:
  • Anarchism
  • Ayn Rand’s Objectivism
  • Nihilism
  • Obscurantism
  • Moral Relativism
  • Essentialism
  • Deconstructionism
  • Totalitarianism in all forms, Nazi, Communist, or anything else.
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Some neologisms that carry a sense of what Radical Centrism is all about:
  • Adaptationism
  • Explorationism
  • Educationism
  • Social Innovationism
  • Self Actualism
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This has been a start toward creation of a comprehensive philosophy
of Radical Centrism. To say the same thing, RC is a philosophy
of comprehensiveness. Nothing important should be left out.
Radical Centrism is based on a comprehensive view of the world.
It is related to complexity theory and interactionism, as well as to
a variety of complimentary forms of thought.
It is not a form of “centrism” as usually understood. It is not a process
of triangulation toward the political middle. It is not a system of ideas
based on compromise even if we sometimes need to compromise
for pragmatic reasons.
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But some things we will never compromise about in any way whatsoever,
most notably homosexual psychopathology, Islam, a religion based on values
that are antithetical to any kind of decent life for individuals or for society, and environmental despoilation, especially strip mining of coal in mountainous terrain
as found in Appalachia.
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The Radical Centrist vision for economics is that of a society in which
the bottom line is “what is best for Americans and other people,”  not
what the powerful can get away with while amassing fortunes that
primarily serve only self-centered interests. Concepts like that in
Kelso’s Capitalist Manifesto -employee stock ownership-  should be
part of how we normally do business in the future.  As should ideas like
that of “Kingdom economics,” morality-centered economics that asks
what is the best for everyone in an economy based on Christian
ethical principles. The objective is fairness and rewards for everyone
based on true merit, not money manipulation, which should be outlawed,
nor upon the kind of economic leverage only available to the rich or
well connected. It means the end of everything once epitomized in the
movie, “Wall Street.”  This is our  goal, the creation of a new kind
of economics, something that needs to be developed that can
actually work and work effectively.
RC is about sharing, about caring about what happens to our fellow Americans
and others. It is about everything that promotes a sense of community,
starting in America as the beacon to the world.
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RC is an entirely new political and personal philosophy that is being developed
in the here and now, it is an  “adventure of ideas,” a “work in progress”
and a call for high order creative thought. All of this is Radical Centrism,
nothing else and nothing less. Radical Centrism is intended to lead us
to a new political order for the future.
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So, do you want to become part of the creation of a new political philosophy,
or not?  It is your choice.
—–
January 2, 2016

Gonz: A Radical Centrist Vision of Truth and Progress

By @mikecgonz
We believe:
1a) There are objective facts that exist independent of human experience
1b) These objective facts, when taken collectively, contain all of existence
1c) A fact is a piece of incontrovertible truth which exists at a specific point in time, or over a length of time
2) Under no circumstances can humans be perfect (or optimized)
3) As a result, humans can’t have perfect knowledge of facts 

Result: No claim by humans of objective truth can be correct. Humans can only have working rules. 

1) Humans can’t have perfect knowledge of facts
2a) Humans can improve their situation by applying solutions based on correct understanding of facts
2b) The human situation is the current state of either a single person, a group, or collective humanity
3) As a result, humans can improve their situation, but their application of solutions is imperfect 

Result: There is a distinction between “correct knowledge”, which can help humanity improve its situation, and “perfect knowledge”, which is an impossibility involving total understanding. 

1) Humans can improve their situation, but their application of solutions is imperfect
2a) Humans can improve their situation through careful study and application of innovation
2b) Innovation is anything created or concocted by humans that exists outside of nature
3) As a result, careful study and application of innovations can improve humanity’s situation, though imperfectly 

Result: Broad (ideological, say) rules don’t suffice in improving the human situation. 

1) Careful study and application of innovations can improve humanity’s situation, though imperfectly
2) Even though facts don’t change, our understanding of facts can change
3) As a result, our imperfection in applying innovations is a reflection of a lack of understanding 

Result: When we change our position, it’s not an admission that we don’t think facts are absolute- it’s that we were wrong. 

Overall, we’ve: 

a) retained eternal objectivity, and removed objective truth from the controlling hands of humans
b) removed human perfectibility from consideration (destroying communism), yet protected things like transhumanism and futurism as incremental enhancement
c) defended the ability of humanity to continue solving problems
d) wholesale destroyed broad “moral imperative” ideologies (socialism, modern progressivism, evangelicalism), in favor of incrementalism


A Radical Centrist Vision for the Future by Billy Rojas

RadicalCentrism.org is proud to announce a monumental new work by Billy Rojas:

A Radical Centrist Vision for the Future

100 New Constitutional Amendments for the 21st Century

This exhaustive treatise lays out a comprehensive vision of not just how to interpret the constitution, but how to update it to address governance and civic issues of critical importance to the American body politics.
You’re guaranteed to find many things you agree with, some you disagree with, and a few that will challenge you deeply.
Please read it over, then come share your thoughts with Billy (and the rest of us) on our forum.

 


Part 1 – 100 New Constitutional Amendments by Billy Rojas

A Radical Centrist Vision for the Future:

100 New Constitutional Amendments

Billy Rojas – RadicalCentrism.org – 2011

Update: The contents of this page have become part of the sub-site A Radical Centrist Vision for the Future100 New Constitutional Amendments for the 21st Century.

 

 


Zoasophy: Re-Engineering The PreFuture of Philosophy

From Dr. Ernie:

I am “done” with philosophy.

I’ve moved on to something I call “zoasophy”.  Zoasophy is related to Philosophy the way Engineering is related to Science — the goal is to actually build systems that work, not just think about them.

The word “zoasophy” means “liver of wisdom”, in contrast to philosophy which means “lover of wisdom.”  It comes from the greek word “Zoa” meaning life, as in zoology and Zoe Girl.  Not “liver” as in the bodily organ — that would be hepatosophy. 🙂

The foundational principle of Zoasophy is:

 The Truth is What Works 
 What Works is not the Truth 

That is, the ultimate test of truth is whether it actually works.  At the same time, just because something works does not mean it is true.  Truth emerges from repeated examination of results and competing hypotheses, as encapsulated in my Radical Centrist Manifesto.

As such, zoasophy shares much in common with pragmatism, in that we care about the “cash value” of ideas. But where pragmatism is traditionally analytic — trying to uncover truth — zoasophy is primarily synthetic, trying to construct useful (if imperfect) truths.  It is similar to what little I understand of Frank Ramsay‘s approach to truth. [Update: and, as pointed out by several people, the activism of philosophers John Stuart Mill and John Dewey, whom I need to learn more about].

Zoasophy is closed related to “prefuturism”, another neologism I toss around. The pre-future is — obviously! — what comes after the post-modern. 🙂

More specifically, a prefuturist believes we are continually creating a future with a deeper understanding of truth and reality, but we aren’t there yet — and never will be.  Everything we make is flawed and imperfect, and usually in some ways worse than what went before, but overall we can move things incrementally forward.

Thus, zoasophers believe in the improvability but not perfectibility of human constructs — including perhaps our selves. In particular, we believe that rational arguments can approximate but not quite capture the real world.  That is, our mathematical and conceptual models can become extremely good at capturing many aspects of the real world, but are only partial approximations, and must continually be tested against reality — especially in new contexts.

Ultimately, the real test of a zoasopher is not what they say, but how they live.  Or rather, their ability to actually live as they say they will, and achieve the results they claim for the reasons they provide.

Which is why, as a good zoasopher, I should probably stop talking about it and go back to practicing it…


The Left is Seldom Right: New book challenges old Right-Left terminology in politics

From our newest Centroid, Norman Berdichevsky:

Canadian Free Press – This is indeed a book that suits the times with the approaching American presidential election of 2012 in which a large segment of the public may be expected to follow the same trajectory of political thinking by rejecting the ‘glamour appeals’ of the Left with its penchant for identifying itself with so called ‘progressive’ policies.

Image001

The Left is Seldom Right, Norman Berdichevsky

To all Conservative and Independent friends tired of the constant Right-Left invective in politics…..If you would like to stage an exciting event with a dynamic speaker….I believe your members will find my new book ‘The Left is Seldom Right’ challenging conventional wisdom and both novel and insightful. I would be pleased to speak about the book before your group.

Listen to two recent radio interviews; Go to  Tea Party Tribune radio show   and/or

Both interviews begin about ten minutes into the program.

I  argue that  the political terms Left and Right,  have often become stale clichés but that the Left has a vested interest in maintaining use of this terminology due to the pronounced left/liberal slant of the media, Hollywood, and many “celebrities”, artists and writers. My book also alerts the public to the imminent dangers of militant Islam and how Jihad has been tactically endorsed by both the Far Right and Far Left in the past

With best wishes,

Dr. Norman Berdichevsky

p.s. You can find my website at nberdichevsky.com. More details about my book below…

Read the rest of this entry »


Christian discussion of Radical Centrism –2009

A very intelligent take, or at least one that mirrors my own. 🙂
from the site : Jesus Creed

January 9, 2009

Third Way as the Radical Center

Adam Hamilton’s Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White: Thoughts on Religion, Morality, and Politics is a perfect blog book. I would love to see a host of evangelical churches using this book for group studies and discussions. It will surely bring out how it is that many think about various topics; it will also reveal what folks think.

What Hamilton makes clear to me is that the Third Way is not the way of compromise; instead, it is the way working out a Christian view of things regardless of which “party” prefers that option. It is a refusal to be an ideologue, a refusal to say “liberal is always right” or “conservative is always right.”

Do you think the middle is expanding? Do you see a trend for those on the right to move to the middle? Is a radical center attractive to you? Both politically and theologically? Overall, what do you think of this book?
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The Honest Way to Teach Comparative Religion

An Open Letter from Billy Rojas to the Harvard Divinity Bulletin
http://www.hds.harvard.edu/news/bulletin_mag/

Editor:

A letter by Leo Shatin which appears in the Winter/Spring 2011 issue of HDB deserves serious comment. It is all well and good to teach about religion, following the template of Comparative Religion or similar programs, and do so starting at the public school level. As a retired teacher of history and Comparative Religion myself I can hardly argue with that premise.

This is crucial in a pluralistic democracy which is home to hundreds of millions of people who identify with a multitude of faith traditions. And it is crucial for anyone who intends to have dealings with people who live in other nations –India, China, Ethiopia, Iran, Japan, Brazil, Russia & etc– which do not share many of the assumptions and values that are foundational to American culture. It is a really good idea to promote the kind of education which allows US citizens to get along with each other and to understand the outlooks of the peoples of the Earth.

Cyrus the Great understood exactly this principle in the 6th century BC, which is what his famous Cylinder advocating religious tolerance throughout the polyglot Persian Empire was all about. And we can find similar sentiments expressed in such diverse sources as Malachi 1: 11 in the Bible, the Lotus Sutra, and Ludlul Bel Nimeqi, “I will praise the Lord of Wisdom,” of ancient Mesopotamia.

All of this said, however, Shatin made a vital point. If we are to teach religion truthfully shouldn’t we , as he put it, “incorporate historical instances and examples of misuses of religion” ? The reasons should be so obvious that further elaboration is not necessary. But there is an implication within this excellent suggestion that must be spelled out so that its importance is not lost.
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Billy Rojas: 10 Principles of Radical Centrism

A great summary of general principles we seek to follow. — Ernie P.

Prepared by :  B Rojas  /   Nov 8 , 2010  /  Revised  Nov 10,  2010

10 Principles of Radical Centrism

( 1 ) RC is anti-partisan, it is more than “non-partisan”
This principle should not be taken too far. About specific issues partisanship
may well be in order. And there is respect for partisanship when it is appropriate,
such as among leaders of a political party, or at various “inspire the troops” events.
But party-line thinking is abhorrent to RC. It is axiomatic that each major party
will be wrong about 40 % of the time, with the 20 % difference ( between the two
parties ) in the category of uncertainty ,  or right-and-wrong .Obviously this general
idea  also applies to “other” parties or political philosophies.

( 2 ) RC seeks to learn whatever is useful or good
from all political movements or causes.
The exceptions, in principle, are totalitarian ideologies  Yes, even here, it is
worthwhile to study the hard Left or the far Right, but the point is that
extreme caution is necessary and ANY ideas which might be borrowed
from either persuasion need to pass serious tests to screen out even
a hint of authoritarian values. Otherwise we are open to new and useful

ideas  from just about anywhere on the political spectrum, Greens, Libertarians,
Social Democracy, the Constitution Party, and you-name-it, even if, by
the nature or American politics, most, by far, of what we are all about
is within a range of views from Democrats on the Left to
Republicans on the Right.

( 3 )  RC seeks creative “out of the box” solutions to problems .
This says that partisanship  –any party–  blocks some solutions
because there are pre-established priorities set by a political ideology.
Therefore, forget partisanship and seek a new solution from scratch
if, that is, objectively the new solution is really worthwhile.

( 4 ) RC seeks to solve problems by seeking to find a synthesis
between extremes that incorporates the best from Left and Right.
The qualification is that this is just one option, it is not  the only option to seeking
to solve problems. This makes RC partly Hegelian, which, as I see it,
is all for the Good.  It is important to note, however, that RC is NOT

a fusion of Social Liberalism and Fiscal Conservatism, a combination
that has sometimes inaccurately been designated as Radical Centrism.
Actual RC is issue-by-issue in character such that Radical Centrists
may well be 60 / 40 conservative on social issue and 60 / 40 liberal
on fiscal issues, or still other configurations, 70 / 30, 50/ 50 and so forth.

( 5 ) RC is based on ”  cafeteria politics.”
RC offers a platform for Independent voters to put together, as seems
smart and good to each Indy, a combination of  positions on issues taken from
both Left and Right  –and sometimes Other– in new ways. This obviously
is also only one alternative within RC.  But the point is that a significant number
of issues are pretty much set in concrete,  and not much can be added by way of
discussion to what they are. The problem of diminishing returns applies
to political ideas too. How much additional research or deep thinking
can possibly “refine” the abortion debate further ?  Same for teaching
evolution in the schools. To use these examples as metaphor for all other
such issues, one is a typical Right view, the other a typical Left view.
A Radical Centrist may say that both are Good, combining clearly
solid Left and solid Right positions.And this may be the case for
100 other issues. But if it really is RC there will be an approximate
balance, over all, although the exact mix may vary, year to year.

( 6 ) RC insists that all positions one takes should be researched.
The ideal is the informed voter. RC places a premium on education
as a general rule which applies specifically to politics. “Research”
assumes serious thinking, testing ideas, and all the rest.

( 7 )  RC prefers market solutions to problems.
However, this principle does not say “only” market based solutions.
It is easy to think of a good number of areas where government has offered
the best alternatives, from the Interstate highway system created under
Dwight D Eisenhower to development of the ARPENET and then the Internet,
to today’s work at NASA in developing a host of new technologies with considerable
potential for the entire US economy. But we prefer market solutions as much as
possible, including solutions which arise from competition in the “marketplace of ideas.”

( 8 ) RC requires that all issues anyone champions should be moral.
Exactly what this morality should consist of is open to discussion and debate
but it is safe to say that one version of this morality compares to the morality
of Evangelical Christians. However, this also says that compatible moralities
for example of many or most Buddhists, is also Radical Centrist in character.

( 9 ) RC finds its highest political ideals in the US Constitution
before all other sources
This hardly says that there aren’t other sources, everything from the Code of Hammurabi
to British common law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but the
US Constitution has a special place in RC thought and no ideas advocated
by Radical Centrists which can be deemed “unconstitutional” are acceptable.
When Radical Centrists arrive at new ideas which the Constitution does not address,
or when functional problems with the Constitution or its amendments are identified,
it is always acceptable to suggest new amendments.

( 10 )  RC is dedicated to responsible free speech
This means exactly what it says. Not all speech is responsible and free speech rights
can be abused. But otherwise Radical Centrists take the view that the First Amendment
is inviolable and essential to any kind of valid politics  –and much else. People should
be free to express their honest thoughts. Censorship, either de jure or de facto,
is abhorrent on principle. But in exercise of free speech it is our responsibility
to be constructive, fair, and honest. This may mean controversy, it may mean
criticisms of  vested interests and of public persons, but when we feel we should,
in conscience, speak out, that is our prerogative.   For this reason we feel an

affinity with many libertarians, who share this outlook,  even though, because
we regard morality as social necessity and libertarians seem to have
no obvious morality,  we are not libertarians ourselves even if some of us
are influenced by libertarianism. But others may be more influenced
by Teddy Roosevelt or a variety of personal heroes,