Monday, June 18, 2012

Is The Center Always Better?

Despite the polarization and passion involved in politics, no one directs their rage at the Center. If you can establish yourself as a moderate, you are pretty safe. No, more than safe: moderates usually command the most respect and wear it as a badge of honor. I have already discussed the discurve association between "radical" and "irrational"; there is, likewise, a parallel association frequently made between "moderate" and "rational." Moderates are more reasonable because they avoid the simplicity of the extremes and recognize contingencies on both sides.

That's not how I see things.

I have joked to friends that moderates are people who are too lazy to apply a consistent set of principles, or follow them to their logical conclusions. Now, setting aside my critique of the concept of the political spectrum, I think it is fair to say that the extremes are more ideologically "pure" than the Center. It could logically follow that ideological purity (or consistency) results in simplistic thinking (and from that, that the Center is more complex). But I think there is something more sinister going on in the Center.

Those who occupy the Center do not reject any of the ideologies embedded in the current social structure (neoliberal ideology, social contract ideology, etc.). In fact, dominant ideologies find fertile ground in the discourse of the Center. Thus, it cannot be said that the Center eschews the simplicity of ideology. Rather, the Center represents what is manifestly exigent at any moment, regardless of ideology (even when strategically employing it). It is the arena in which various forces of dominance struggle to satisfy their most immediate needs. It is, indeed, a place of comprimise - but comprimise among the base interests of the most powerful members of society. For that reason the Center can more easily command the network of state and non-state institutional resources, and control the messaging that is propogated as "public discourse" (making it seem more widely accepted and pragmatic).

It is Centrist parties, politcians, and policies that most effectively support global structures of domination. Both the Right and Left tend toward a degree of isolationism/protectionism that is obstructive of global networks. And both are often wary of state and transnational authority. This is what the Right and Left have in common: both are more likely to support system-threatening changes. It is in this way they are more "radical" (and that is also by virtue of their very definition).

One need only look at the Greek elections for a demonstration of this point. It is the Centrist parties that support the status quo as regards economic issues: essentially, acquiescence to the interstate system. Now, although I do not think the proposals of the Left and Right (which are essentially the same on this front) fundamentally challenge the system, both propose actions which are at least somewhat contrary to more dominant European interests.

The Center appears the most rational only because it is the least threatening to those who determine what rational is.

No comments:

Post a Comment