There Is No Such Thing As A Moderate Mainstream Centrist

Caitlin Johnstone
7 min readAug 6, 2018

I just watched two mainstream political videos back-to-back from what is conventionally referred to as America’s political “center”, and just by coincidence they happened to completely contradict each other. The first was a Bill Maher segment in which he barely even attempted to tell any jokes, spending the time instead explaining to his viewers why the Republican Party is “the party of Putin.” The second video was a recent CNN interview with Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, who proclaimed that the US needs to be “more aggressive” toward Russia “across the board”, and described his party’s unified efforts to help escalate that aggression.

Royce is a Republican.

I have never recommended that anyone watch a Bill Maher video before, and I don’t expect that I ever will again, but this segment was really extraordinary in the shrillness and seriousness with which Maher advanced his ridiculous argument that the Republican Party loves Russia. I recommend taking a look at it and just noting the near absence of actual jokes and the few pity laughs the audience gives him. It’s fascinating:

Prior to that segment Maher had on the professional liar and “Saint Mueller Preserve Us” t-shirt salesman Malcolm Nance to give a pretend expert assessment of US intelligence and Russia. During that interview Nance falsely claimed that the Russian president was a “former director of the KGB,” and Maher ejaculated that he wishes the US intelligence community would stage a coup and take over the government of the United States.

This is what passes for the American political “center” today. Two mainstream parties, both backed to the hilt by the entirety of corporate media from coast to coast, arguing with each other over who is doing more to help advance cold war aggressions between two nuclear superpowers. They’re not arguing about whether or not the world should be destroyed, they’re arguing over who gets to push the button.

This is because both of America’s mainstream parties are fully owned and operated by a nationless plutocracy whose nationless empire is fed by war, ecocide and exploitation, and so are the media outlets which report on those parties. The Democrats and the Republicans advance policies which benefit the warmongering, ecocidal and exploitative agendas of their plutocratic owners, and then argue on Fox and CNN over who’s doing it best.

There is nothing moderate about any of this. The term “centrist” is meant to imply the moderate position centralized between two extremes, the far left and the far right, but the important issues being advanced by the Bill Maher/Ed Royce so-called center don’t fit anywhere on the left-to-right political spectrum which puts socialism on the left and capitalism on the right.

This is why I say that mainstream moderate centrists are a myth. They don’t exist. The notion that the US should definitely be escalating tensions with a nuclear superpower is being promoted by these mainstream “centrists”, as was the destruction of Iraq, Libya, and Syria, as is the continued decimation of the environment and economic injustice caused by rampant neoliberalism, as is the ever-expanding Orwellian surveillance network of the US and its international intelligence alliance, but these sociopathic policies have no place anywhere on the left-to-right spectrum anymore than the idea that it’s great to stomp on puppies does.

Where would you say someone who likes to stomp on puppy dogs sits on the political spectrum? Does her pro-puppy stomping position actually tell you anything about her political ideology or her position on socialist vs free market solutions?

Imagine if every time you turned on a TV screen or went to look up the news online, there was nothing but news reports about how important it is for everyone to stomp on puppies as often as possible. There’s lively debate about whether one’s left foot or right foot should be used to stomp on the puppies, but there’s a unanimous consensus that the puppies must be stomped upon. Because this idea is unanimously circulated to the general public and solemnly agreed upon by plutocrat-funded experts and authorities, puppy stomping has become a mainstream position that most people agree is good and right. This would be labeled the moderate, centrist position by the majority.

If you were to say to these people that you think it’s always bad and wrong to stomp puppies to death under any circumstances and using either foot, they’d brand you a crazed lunatic. The talking heads on television might even run an occasional special about the deranged extremist and their ponies-and-unicorns absolutist anti-puppy stomping position.

Now imagine if you met someone who agreed with you that it’s bad and wrong to stomp on puppy dogs. Their anti-puppy stomping position wouldn’t actually tell you anything about the rest of their political ideology, but you both agree that stomping on puppies is something that should probably be avoided. To the mainstream “centrists” in our hypothetical scenario, you would both look like you’re politically aligned with one another, even if you’ve got nothing else in common besides your opposition to puppy stomping. You might support economic equality and workers owning the means of production, and the other person might believe in rugged individualism and free market solutions to all problems, but to the mainstream, you’re both the same.

“Horseshoe theory!” they might exclaim. “They both moved so far away from the center that they’re now closer to each other than they are to us!”

And maybe that hurts your feelings. You don’t like to be told that your values have somehow led you to embrace their opposite; that you strayed so far from moderation that you now stand for everything you thought you oppose. But it only hurts because it isn’t true.

I often see horseshoe theory being used by mainstream Democrats to accuse progressives and socialists of being closer to the far right than they are to the Hillary Clinton “center”, which is a very effective shutdown because those groups generally oppose the things that the far right stands for. I’ve been told that libertarians and other antiwar conservatives are often smeared by Republican-aligned “centrists” in the same way on their side of the spectrum. But it’s pure fallacy. The fact that you might oppose military expansionism or whatever doesn’t make you ideologically “closer” to someone on the opposite end of the political spectrum anymore than mutual opposition to puppy stomping does.

Horseshoe theory is only true in the sense that the further you move away from establishment narratives, the less you buy into them. It doesn’t matter what your ideological reason for moving away from the CNN/CIA mainstream narratives, because as long as you’re not buying into the indoctrination, those narratives no longer make sense. The only way to see things like the drug war, support for Israeli government massacres of Palestinian protesters, or facilitating the slaughter of Yemeni civilians as normal and acceptable is to be propagandized into it; otherwise it just looks like the barbarism that it is. Recognizing the evils of mainstream “centrism” doesn’t make you ideologically similar to someone on the other side of the political spectrum who sees the same thing, it just means you’re two people who don’t like stomping on puppies.

There are of course people who espouse a central position on the left-right spectrum between proper communism and unregulated capitalism, as well as a central position between anarchism and totalitarianism, but those who maintain such a position without accepting the perverse omnicidal doctrines of the CNN/CIA mainstream are as rare as hen’s teeth. They are not mainstream by any stretch of the imagination.

No, what most people think of as “centrists” are actually violent, ecocidal, oppressive Orwellian extremists. The only reason they get to paint themselves as moderates is because vast fortunes have been spent on mass media propaganda to turn those depraved positions into mainstream perspectives. The fact that they’ve bought their way into the majority consensus doesn’t make them moderate, sensible or sane, though. Mainstream narratives do not have any rightful claim to truth or health, and everyone who sees any part of their lies should oppose those lies tooth and claw, wherever they sit on the political spectrum.

The best way to overthrow the oligarchs who profit from and promote this dangerous mainstream doctrine is to relentlessly attack the corporate media propaganda machine they use to manufacture consent for it. Expose their lies wherever you see them and ignore all their attempts to shame and bully you away from doing so. We can’t afford to let these monsters dictate mainstream perspectives any longer.


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