“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.” Almost one hundred years later, Yeats’ pessimistic observation seems as relevant as it did in 1919 or 1968. The increasing lack of social consensus, the growing wealth gap, and the increased presence of extremists in the streets and at the ballot boxes have furthered our unease. The post-war consensus appears to be unravelling, no longer bringing the economic returns to many it once did. It is challenged by visions of Islamists, utopian progressives, and reactionary proponents of closed societies and is still unsure of how it will accommodate the rise of China or respond to post-Soviet Russia. In the United States, both the popularity of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump’s decimation of the Republican establishment and defeat of Hillary Clinton reveal a population increasingly looking to perceived outsiders for more extreme solutions. In an echo of the frayed political culture of Weimar, today’s Nazi and Antifa radicals are willing to use street violence to achieve political ends.
Yet contrary to Yeats’ gloom, the centre can and must hold.
What exactly is the centre? The center does not necessarily define itself either by simple maintenance of a status quo or by constantly readjusting itself in comparison to the major political forces of the moment. If the Democrats tomorrow announce their program is “2”, and the Republicans that theirs is “3”, “2.5” does not somehow become the correct position. The center arrives at “2.5” only if it makes sense, not out of a robotic desire to hew towards the middle under the mistaken belief that “the truth is always somewhere in between”.
Instead, what makes the centre dynamic is that it does not need to adhere to a particular tribe. Ideally, the centre will instead evaluate each issue on its merits, allow for free and robust discussion, and arrive at a careful conclusion, supported by the evidence. In practice, this will not always happen; after all, nobody is free from bias, self-interest or the influences of culture and era. However, the centre is decidedly non-utopian, recognizing that almost all policies come with certain trade-offs and that knee-jerk ideological solutions are dangerously simplistic.
This is why the centre tries to hold a minimum of ideological positions. It acknowledges the obvious superiority of democracy, rule of law, and at least a certain degree of market economy. It understands that, with the exception of a well-trained police and army subordinate to elected officials, political violence is anathema to democracy. Even these beliefs are grounded in overwhelming empirical evidence. After all, the superiority of the democratic system is evidenced every day by global immigration patterns while that of market economies – which would include both Sweden and Hong Kong – is proven by hard economic data.
On more specific topics, such as immigration, the centre is open to continued discussion and analysis. It studiously avoids both the ideological magic-thinking that leads to conclusions like “the need to protect the race” or “borders are racist” as well as the fear of thought-crimes that would discourage frank discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of the various forms of immigration. It may recognize the many advantages that free trade brings, while remaining acutely aware of the arguments of its critics and of the potential need to consider remedies or even a degree of recalibration to better serve the many communities left behind. It understands black communities in the United States have been horribly disadvantaged by historic abuse and inequality (and that there is very good evidence some degree of this still maintains) and therefore there may well be a continued need to redress this, but could still remain skeptical of the efficacy of many of the individual attempted solutions or actors.
This website is unabashedly centrist as defined above. It holds with the power of free speech to arrive at conclusions not already predetermined by tribe or ideology. It does not live in fear of offending the sacred cows of left or right and has no need to “dog whistle” to racist fools or “virtue signal” to censorious social justice warriors. Its only program is to facilitate dialogue and to serve as a moderate-but-firm voice in today’s marketplace of ideas. Both its leanings and its goals are moderate – hence the website’s name, Moderate Might.
The website itself will be updated with a new posting at least once a week. Topics discussed will include culture, media, politics, and education. Your comments and support are appreciated in keeping the project continued and dynamic. If the worst are indeed “filled with a passionate intensity”, it is imperative for us in the centre to reassert our convictions with purpose and with courage.