Violent Extremists Get Called “Moderates” By A Violent Extremist Empire

Caitlin Johnstone
5 min readMar 29, 2024

Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):

The imperial press have revealingly been using the words “moderate” and “centrist” to eulogize the warmongering former US senator Joe Lieberman, who passed away on Wednesday.

“Centrist former Sen. Joseph Lieberman has died at 82,” reads a headline by NPR.

“As a moderate Democrat, Mr Lieberman developed a reputation in Washington for crossing party lines — as well as simply crossing members of his own party,” says the BBC.

“Joe Lieberman, a former longtime Connecticut senator and moderate Democrat who became the first Jewish American nominated to a major party’s presidential ticket as Al Gore’s 2000 running mate, died Wednesday at age 82,” writes The Wall Street Journal.

“Joe Lieberman, centrist senator and first Jew on major US presidential ticket, dies at 82,” reads a headline from The Times of Israel.

In reality, there was never anything moderate about Joe Lieberman. He was a violent extremist, who only looked like he walked a political center line through the lens of a violent extremist empire.

In an article titled “The Extent of Joe Lieberman’s Evildoing Was Truly Remarkable”, Branko Marcetic writes the following for Jacobin:

“Like most fiscal hawks, Lieberman is also an all-around hawk, unconcerned with government spending when it’s in the service of bombing some far-off country or another. It’s hard to find a war Lieberman hasn’t supported, from both wars against Iraq (he was one of only ten Senate Democrats to vote for the first), to the Balkans in the ’90s, to Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Iran, Yemen, an ambiguous commitment in Ukraine, and many others.

“If you’re a fan of the bloated, largely unaccountable centralized security bureaucracy of the Department of Homeland Security, thank Lieberman: he not only came up with the idea but introduced the legislation that created it. He also supported the terrifying appointments of John Bolton under both Bush and Donald Trump, citing his ‘strong moral compass.’”

Beltway swamp monsters like Lieberman only get called “centrist” and “moderate” because they have ideological overlap with both of the increasingly indistinguishable mainstream political parties in the United States, both of which reliably support war, militarism, imperialism, capitalism, and oligarchy. Their differences are presented as massive by the imperial propaganda services known as the mainstream press to create the illusion of choice and competition, but they actually sit within an extremely narrow ideological bandwidth on the political spectrum.

One of the worst mistakes you can make when formulating your understanding of the world is to begin with the assumption that the truest and most accurate position must lie somewhere near the center of the two major political perspectives you see laid out all around you.

It’s a mistake not only because assuming that the center position must be the best one is a type of fallacious reasoning known as the middle ground fallacy (the correct position between “Drink a gallon of bleach daily for good health” and “Drink zero bleach daily for good health” is not “Drink half a gallon of bleach daily for good health”); it’s also a mistake because the entire framing arises from a situation that has been artificially engineered by the powerful.

It’s a well-documented fact that the rich and powerful pour vast fortunes into manipulating the political and media landscape in ways that serve their interests. Their control over the news media and Silicon Valley tech platforms is used to set the agenda and influence public perception by determining what issues will receive attention and which won’t in ways that preserve the political status quo they’ve built their empire upon, thereby shrinking the Overton window of acceptable debate down to a very narrow spectrum whose outcomes can’t threaten their interests in any way.

This is what Noam Chomsky was talking about when he said “the smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.” People assume there must be truth in the mainstream worldview because so many others are invested in the mainstream worldview, when really the only reason that worldview is mainstream in the first place is because so much wealth and influence has gone into making it mainstream.

The propaganda matrix can lull you into believing the false dichotomies of its two-party political framework because of how ubiquitous and widely believed it is and how aggressively it gets shoved in everyone’s face from day to day, which can dupe you into losing sight of where a true moderate position might actually rest. One way to resist succumbing to this cognitive quicksand is to keep a clear vision of what a healthy world would actually look like, so that you are always acutely aware of just how far the mainstream worldview is from a sensible position.

Some time before he fatally self-immolated outside the Israeli embassy in protest of the US government’s support for the Gaza genocide, Aaron Bushnell posted the following on Reddit:

“I’ve realized that a lot of the difference between me and my less radical friends is that they are less capable of imagining a better world than I am. I follow YouTubers like Andrewism that fill my head with concrete images of free, post-scarcity communities and it makes me so much more prepared to reject things about the current world, because I’ve imagined how things could be and that helps me see how extremely bullshit things are right now.

“What I’m trying to say is, it’s so important to imagine a better world. Let your thoughts run wild with idealistic dreams of what the world should look like, and let the pain and anger at how it’s not that way flow through you. Let it free your mind and fuel your rage against the machine.

“It’s not too late for you or anyone. We can have the world of our dreams tomorrow, but we have to be willing to fight today.”

It’s valuable to hold a positive vision of what a truly healthy civilization would look like, because it’s important to be clear on what it is you’re fighting for. But it’s also important because if you don’t you leave an opening for these bastards to convince you to believe absurdities, like that Joe Lieberman was a moderate.

__________________

My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece here are some options where you can toss some money into my tip jar if you want to. Go here to find video versions of my articles. Go here to buy paperback editions of my writings from month to month. All my work is free to bootleg and use in any way, shape or form; republish it, translate it, use it on merchandise; whatever you want. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. All works co-authored with my husband Tim Foley.

Bitcoin donations: 1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2

Featured image via Wikemedia Commons.

--

--