After half a decade of progressive political gains, the so-called “centrists” in recent weeks have fought back harshly. In the UK, Labor Party leader Keir Starmer used his annual speech at the party’s annual conference to “draw a line” under progressive ideas of “Corbynism” promising instead a “serious plan for the government.Likewise, in the United States, Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona – both frequently described as “centrist” or “moderate” – are delaying a major progressive spending bill because of their concerns about its cost. While the left stands against these attacks, many in the corporate press continue to view them as “sensitive” and “moderate” voices. with “their thumbs more on the pulse of the country’s average Democrat” in a time of supposed left and right extremism.
Even more disturbing is the constant refrain that this “centrist” reaction represents a return to “serious” politics. The dominant narrative is that while the left may have laudable ideals, its policies are unworkable and its vision far too idealistic. In contrast, according to the narrative, these “moderates” reflect a much needed pragmatism that combines genuine desires for change with realistic, comprehensive strategies to achieve them.
These notions are the latest myth to preserve an elitist status quo whose only serious ambition is to increase its profits and political power. What these so-called “centrists” are actually fighting for and promoting for are outdated ideas based on a dogmatic free market ideology which, if adopted, would only increase suffering and injustice. What is needed, on the contrary, are radical and serious solutions to solve our many global problems.
The serious problem of “Serious Politics”
If the 1990s were a decade of âcentristâ triumphalism, then the new millennium marked by the financial crisis, genocidal invasions, climate change and global public health pandemics should have marked the end of the party. At the very least, those who politically preached the promise of capitalist prosperity for all should have repented and reflected on how wrong they ultimately went. Even the chairman of the House Budget Committee, John Yarmuth, finally proclaimed exasperated that Joe Manchin has “no understanding” of how the monetary system actually works. Yet these free market proponents continue to peddle their economic “malarky” under the guise of snake oil to be “serious” policymakers.
What is even more striking is that it is only recently that so many media have reinforced this image of so-called “moderates” as political gurus whose ideas and solutions are based on evidence rather than simple idealism. The 2016 battle between Sanders and Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination did not become a battle between two different ideologies and worldviews, but a struggle between realism and utopia, “proven” ideas against dream “pie in the world. sky “. Even as evidence mounted that eight years of “smart” leadership led to a booming economy, endless wars, continued systemic racism and massive political defeats against a wave of extreme populist anger. right, the discourse of the “serious” centrist persisted. .
Fast forward five years later and not much has apparently changed. Never mind that in reality Clinton’s supposed political genius was severely undermined by the intellectual emptiness of his proposed policies, such as his measure of “aggregate” poverty which was deemed “”terribly insufficientOr that her sidekick and now Vice President Kamala Harris is completely confusing and impracticable The proposal to cut higher education costs was key to ending his own presidential campaign in 2020. The media and, therefore, much of the general public continue to believe in the absurd delusions of the now completely refuted ideas of the ” Washington Consensus â.
Beware of the “serious” political threat of the centrists
Unfortunately, we are experiencing a new outbreak of this destructive “serious” centrist politics. In the UK, Starmer has pledged never to participate in an election again with a document like the party’s precedent Manifesto which promised “little serious” things, such as increasing the minimum wage, free bus rides for young people, increased investment in public health, the reopening of energy companies and free broadband. Across the ocean, Manchin and Siname remain opposed to passing a fairly modest, debt-free, $ 3.5 trillion over 10-year spending bill that to bring two free years of community college, universal child care and pre-kindergarten, health insurance expansion, and child tax credit extension.
Far from a blessed return to a âsubstantiveâ and research-based policy, such resistance reflects a disturbing but often quite convincing political performance of being âinformedâ which requires the proper attire of suits (pants) on. measure, dense but on further investigation easy the details of the policy and a firm commitment to achieve only what is “realistic”. They inspire by their appearance of professional competence and practical planning, a facade which shields them from any serious questioning concerning the intellectual void of their real ideas or the inconsistency of their proposals.
At the root of this fallacious “seriousness” lies a dangerous tension of the politics of “respectability” against anything that threatens the interests of corporations, the military establishment, or a political class that takes advantage of their power. It aims to denigrate new ideals and genuine progressive alternatives based on decades of research and evidence that could challenge this corrupt status quo. Thus, practical but visionary solutions for “a world without police, ” cooperative workplaces, common property, massive redistribution of wealth, a degrowth economy, and one world without exploitative work are dismissed as mere utopian blasphemies against the âprovenâ faith of an ancient world order.
Breaking free from this myth of âsmartâ and âinformedâ centrism is increasingly crucial to ensuring not only the well-being of millions of people in the United States, but the very long-term survival of our species. The threat of “moderate” resistance to necessary public investment in “human infrastructure” or ecological renewal is a form of liberal pseudo-science that must be exposed and fought like that of conservative religious evangelism. Their so-called “gravity” poses a serious threat to everyone except the small group of elites whose short-term interests they actually represent.