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Stamping Out ‘Centrism’: The Way Forward

This perhaps applies more to American politics than Australian, but since we tend to follow their lead, think of this as a primer. Over the last forty years, the right has continued to stake out positions further to the right and demand that the left meet them in the centre. However, as I have said before, what is the centre to the far right is not the actual centre. In other words, the political centre is a relative term. In addition, lest we think it is only the right moving further to the right, the so-called left continues, due to their inherent weakness, to ‘compromise’ with the right and meet them in the increasingly right-wing ‘centre’. This must stop immediately.

Compromise as The Essence of Practical Politics

Now, you might argue that to get anything done politically requires compromise. This sounds good in theory, and the media often praises it. What they do not say, however, is what the bipartisanship actually achieves. The focus is on bipartisanship for its own sake, which is good by definition. Given the corruption inherent in politics, when bipartisanship does occur, the issue of agreement is likely to be something to benefit the donor class. The next time you hear the media crow about bipartisanship, focus on the substance. Focus on what the parliament has passed, rather than the bipartisan aspect.

Bipartisanship and ‘Centrism’

Bipartisanship is a distraction tactic: look, politicians from different ideologies worked together to pass something. Ignore the fact that it is likely a tax cut for the rich, they worked together. The utter lack of substance that comprises political analysis in mainstream media is pathetic. They call for political unity, but only ever from the left. Consider the Democratic National Committee and the demands they made for party unity following the 2016 primary. All of the demands were for Bernie Sanders and his supporters to fall in line behind Queen Hillary. Such demands continue to this day, despite the fact that Bernie and his supporters are right on the policy. The establishment views these policies, which are very popular, a somewhat important thing in a democracy, as too far left.

We cannot go too far left, they say. We have to agree with the right some of the time, they say. Gotta be reasonable. Gotta be above the fray. We have to be the adult in the room. This is the only way to get things done. No – what this is, is crap. Placing yourself at the centre of an increasingly right-wing political debate is useless. Populist, left wing politicians can clean up in this environment. Their policies are popular, and unlike the corporate politicians, the left knows how, and perhaps more importantly is allowed, to play politics.

The Way Forward: The Unapologetic, Political and Tech Savvy Left

Playing politics is quite simple. If corporate politicians get in the way of your popular and progressive policy, you threaten them with political death. You say you will hold press conferences, do rallies, use social media to expose and make known the fact that they did not vote for this policy that is wildly popular. You take this fact, and you break them with it! That is the essence of practical politics. Lest you think it is all stick, there is a carrot here too. If they vote in favour of the policy, you do the same thing, but instead advertising the good thing that they did. 

The policies of the conservative movement have been wrong for quite some time. Corporate influence on politics and control of the media has resulted in these destructive policies being far more palatable than they had any right to be. However, the rise of social media, as I said in an earlier post, has led to an alternative platform for the actual left, who get precisely no play on mainstream media, to get their ideas out.

The idea here would be to generate such a presence online that we force the media to pay attention. We do not give them an option. The right may have control of old media, but the left has far greater presence and influence on new media (read the internet). Have you ever seen a Trump tweet, or a ScoMo video posted online? Or any other right-wing clown saying fact-free nonsense? The comments are rife with users eviscerating the right-wing idiot of the moment.

The Death of Centrism

The Left is correct on the policy, we have by and large control of new media, and we are uncorrupted enough such that we can play smart politics. In time, the so-called centrists will fade as the alternative, the policy-driven left, replaces them in the political discourse. While being a so-called centrist may have worked in the early 90s for Mr. Clinton where he presented himself as a ‘new Democrat’ to bring the party back from the political wilderness, that was nearly thirty years ago. Times have changed. Centrism was useful then in reframing the Democrats as a ‘serious party’ following the hippy movement. However, the Democrats evolved into Republican-lite and, under Mr. Obama, Mr. Schumer and Mrs. Pelosi, lost more than a thousand seats in state and federal government elections.

The upshot is, given the choice between Republican-lite and the genuine article, the electorate chose the real thing. The reason these ‘Democrats’ went with the Republican-lite model was, essentially, because this was as far left as they were allowed to go. Actually advocating for popular, left-wing policies would cause them to lose that sweet, sweet donor cash, and that was unacceptable.

Well the new message is simple: corruption, and all the political, social and international upheaval it brings with it, is unacceptable.

 

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5 comments

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  1. Andrew Smith

    Agree, and as we see more aggressive and devious forms of political PR, manipulation and campaign tactics that seems more about splitting the centre and left to the advantage of not just conservatives, but radical right libertarians.

    By coincidence the latest Economist has a warning for (gloating conservatives):

    ‘Our cover story this week is the global crisis in conservatism. In two-party systems, like the United States and (broadly) Britain, the right is in power, but only by jettisoning the values that used to define it. In countries with many parties the centre-right is being eroded, as in Germany and Spain, or eviscerated, as in France and Italy. In Hungary the right has gone straight to nationalist populism. “To be conservative”, wrote the philosopher Michael Oakeshott, “is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant.” The new right, however, are aggrieved and discontented. They are pessimists and reactionaries. They look at the world and see what President Donald Trump once called “carnage”. You do not have to be a conservative to find that deeply troubling.’

  2. Nato

    As a self-identified libertarian rightist, I endorse this message and hope many, many members of the policy driven left follow your lead.
    I read the aimn for the same reason I read IPA fellows’ blogs. The fringes drive policy. The centrists get elected and enact it.

  3. Dr Tristan Ewins

    The ‘Centrists’ as epitomized by Blair and Clinton stood for little ; abandoned the legacies of British Labourism/democratic socialism, and US left liberalism. But now looking to Europe we see the rise of a populist Right ; which may accept the need for interventionist economics and even a public sector ; but meanwhile developing a perspective of ‘ethno-nationalism’. Because of multi-culturalism ‘ethno-nationalism’ will not develop in Australia as in Europe. But One Nation could stand to make gains and achieve leverage. We need Labor to reassert its Left credentials and commit to rescind phase 3 of the Government’s tax package. If Labor continues to roll over nationalist populists may very well fill the void.

  4. Left is Best Australia

    Can we “clean up”? The Australian media is right wing on anything economic. Gay marriage didn’t threaten money and power. Any populist left leader is going to face an onslaught of attacks from the media – tv, radio, and print. I don’t think it’s so simple that we’d clean up. It hasn’t been that way for Corbyn, he’s survived on a knife edge and is no certainty to win. Much of the UK now thinks he’s a Jew hater, thanks to the media. Do you think they wouldn’t pull that here? Whatever it takes… The stenographers that make up 90% of journalism will have no problem throwing that around.

    Dr Tim Jones is extremely naive and doesn’t see the propaganda battles that would await any genuine left leader in the Labor party. I’m not saying we shouldn’t try, but he writes this like all we have to do is put up a lefty and run social media campaigns to circumvent old media. It ain’t gonna be that simple.

  5. Dr Tim Jones

    Left is Best perhaps I overstated it, but the reality is that old media is dying, and new media is taking its place, which has political consequences. America is ahead here, so most of the examples come from there. Bernie has turned the entire conversation to the left – look at the primary and all the impersonators auditioning for the part of populist left leader. Populists in the form of Justice Democrats (AOC, Ro Khanna etc) have been elected with no corporate backing. They are free to say what they think and they have achieved victories over the corporate establishment (getting Disney and Amazon workers, hundreds of thousands of them, raises). Naive though it may seem, this has been achieved in very recent history. This is not outside the realm of possibility.

    As for the propaganda wars, which are certainly real, America is leading the way here too.YouTube is the alternative media: channels such as The Young Turks, Secular Talk, David Pakman, Sam Seder and others are the counter-offensive in the propaganda wars. A populist wave is a way off here, but a useful example of populist alternative media in Australia is Friendlyjordies on YouTube. He has facts and information to back up his claims and is well informed and very funny. He is, of course, one guy, but he sets the precedent for populist, actual left-leaning journalists (as we are on this site) to pave the way for a progressive movement to rise in Australia. The Americans thought it was impossible too.

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