As the Trump administration comes apart at the seams and the Dempublican party marches us into ever-increasing cold war escalations, I look back on my young career in political commentary, on where it’s been and where it seems to be going.
From this vantagepoint I suppose thus far it could all be summed up as one long exchange in which I say what I reckon is going on in the world, and my fellow lefties rush in to say “Shh! Don’t say that! How do you expect to win over the centrists saying things like that?”
This has always puzzled me. I guess the idea is that if woke progressives tone-police ourselves extra carefully and keep sharing our ideas nice and sweetly, eventually establishment Democrats will turn around and go, “Well gosh darn, I guess everything I’ve been taught about my country and how it works is completely wrong after all! Let me go cut the cable, cancel my subscription to the Washington Post and start working on a grassroots presidential campaign for Ajamu Baraka!”
Or something like that; I’m not really sure how they imagine it would work to be honest. Do these people have any idea just how pervasively indoctrinated consumers of mainstream media are? Do they have any idea how big an ideological gap there is between anti-war socialism and the neoliberal neoconservative omnicidal death cult known as centrism? Do they truly expect that massive gap to be bridged, that ingrained-since-birth propaganda brain box shattered, by polite yet compelling arguments?
Personally I can’t imagine such a thing happening often enough to make it worth the effort. Changing one’s worldview that drastically requires either a herculean amount of inner work or expert-level conceptual fluidity, both of which are very rare occurrences in people. I’d have better luck writing articles for young earth creationists about the reliability of carbon dating. The mainstream narrative about what America is and how it works is drummed into their minds from early childhood, and is constantly reinforced by all media they consume. There’s no efficient way to heal delusion that’s piled that high and that deep head-on, which is why I and others like me have been turning our focus toward throwing sand in the gears of the corporate propaganda machine itself.
When people talk about “horseshoe theory”, they are talking about this dynamic without realizing it. Horseshoe theory states that people on the far right and the far left have more in common with one another than they do with the political center; they’re not on opposite ends of a linear continuum but rather like a horseshoe, closer to the other end the further they move from the center. This is typically used as a smear against lefties by centrists, who point out the areas in which we’re closer to the Trumpsters than we are to them.
What they don’t realize, of course, is that so-called centrism as we know it today is nothing other than an insane, twisted, extremist ideology that only passes for a “center” because the billionaire class has used its influence and mass media propaganda to manufacture the status quo. Naturally, therefore, the further away one gets from the insane narratives advanced by that propaganda machine, the less belief will be invested in their insanity. Whether you move to the left or to the right of mainstream, you’re moving further away from the braying, psychotic mind viruses pouring from the talking heads on TV, and their gibberish about Russia, Syria, and the way America works will look more and more absurd. It doesn’t mean right-wingers get closer to abandoning their ideas about fiscal policy or left-wingers suddenly lose interest in civil rights, it just means that the further away one moves from centrist bullshit, the less one stinks of it.
Indeed, looking at the direction it seems to be heading, American centrism as it exists today is the single most depraved and dangerous ideology in the history of civilization. Many toxic ideas have seized hold of large groups of humans at different times, and millions have died as a result, but only the neoconservative policies of Washington’s centrists threaten to wipe our entire species off the face of the earth. The relentless drive toward perpetual war, the needless cold war escalations with the world’s only other nuclear superpower, and the childish carelessness with which these agendas are pushed forward pose a threat to terrestrial life more immediate than anything our species has ever dreamed up before, and the center’s ecosystem-killing neoliberal economic policies aren’t far behind.
So I’m fine with upsetting these people, personally; their leaders are evil and their followers are too deeply indoctrinated to be of any use in this fight. I’d rather work with people who see through the lies wherever they’re at on the ideological spectrum in disrupting the propaganda machine than waste energy trying to convince the deeply propagandized establishment Democrats that their entire worldview is wrong. I’d rather kill the thing that’s making them sick than try to convince them to get healthy. The loosest bits of our obstacle here seem to be around the edges, so that’s where I like to work.
From where I’m sitting, centrism is the very disease that needs to be cured; trying to cure that disease by appealing to the centrists is like trying to dry off with a bucket of water. Stop worrying about upsetting the centrists; they are at best too deluded and at worst too evil to be of any use anyway. Make lots of noise, create lots of movement, wake up the people around the edges, kill the propaganda machine, and eventually the centrists will be shaken awake by the commotion. But I guarantee you they’ll be the very last ones to wake up.
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