I’ve been reading endless comparisons of the Tea Party with Occupy Together and nearly all of them end with some nonsense about the evils of polarizations and Our Republic’s need for teh centrism.
Let’s think about the policy ideas of people who now call themselves centrists, we’ll take the Kaplan editorial page as an example. You have support for preemptive wars and for the privatization/voucherization of Social Security and Medicare, you have opposition to traditional Keynesian economics and collective bargaining rights, you have acceptance of torture and indefinite detentions. Yes, on social issues, they’re more to the left — support for marriage equality, for example. But on the main economic/fiscal and foreign policy issues, they mostly embrace ideas that would have been far too right to have been considered mainstream 30 or 40 years ago.
I am no longer convinced that there is any meaningful distinction between the Serious Center and the Tea Party. Sure, the Village wouldn’t put us on the gold standard or force a massive treasury default or teach creationism in schools, but that’s about it.
In retrospect, a lot of what’s happened in the developed world since 1980 seems to have been based on the logic that since the mixed economy with regulated markets and a welfare state has outperformed command and control socialism, then clearly a pure to free market purism will produce even better results. But what if the success of the mixed economy with regulated markets and a welfare state proves that we should endorse . . . a mixed economy with regulated markets and a welfare state? Just because one slice of pizza is delicious doesn’t mean you should eat the whole pie.
I think that one of the reasons western capitalism has been so stable is that it has tempered free-market purity with a social safety net. Another is that institutions like unions and a free press have given workers some reasonably peaceful means to push back against their Galtian overlords.
A lot of that may be gone soon. Unions are weaker than ever and national media is not only completely dominated by corporate interests but largely delivered by millionaires who naturally identify with others in their economic class.
I can see this all ending very badly.