I just watched two mainstream political videos back-to-back from what is conventionally referred to as America’s political “center”, and just by coincidence they happened to completely contradict each other. The first was a Bill Maher segment in which he barely even attempted to tell any jokes, spending the time instead explaining to his viewers why the Republican Party is “the party of Putin.” The second video was a recent CNN interview with Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, who proclaimed that the US needs to be “more aggressive” toward Russia “across the board”, and described his party’s unified efforts to help escalate that aggression.
Royce is a Republican.
I have never recommended that anyone watch a Bill Maher video before, and I don’t expect that I ever will again, but this segment was really extraordinary in the shrillness and seriousness with which Maher advanced his ridiculous argument that the Republican Party loves Russia. I recommend taking a look at it and just noting the near absence of actual jokes and the few pity laughs the audience gives him. It’s fascinating:
Prior to that segment Maher had on the professional liar and “Saint Mueller Preserve Us” t-shirt salesman Malcolm Nance to give a pretend expert assessment of US intelligence and Russia. During that interview Nance falsely claimed that the Russian president was a “former director of the KGB,” and Maher ejaculated that he wishes the US intelligence community would stage a coup and take over the government of the United States.
This is what passes for the American political “center” today. Two mainstream parties, both backed to the hilt by the entirety of corporate media from coast to coast, arguing with each other over who is doing more to help advance cold war aggressions between two nuclear superpowers. They’re not arguing about whether or not the world should be destroyed, they’re arguing over who gets to push the button.
This is because both of America’s mainstream parties are fully owned and operated by a nationless plutocracy whose nationless empire is fed by war, ecocide and exploitation, and so are the media outlets which report on those parties. The Democrats and the Republicans advance policies which benefit the warmongering, ecocidal and exploitative agendas of their plutocratic owners, and then argue on Fox and CNN over who’s doing it best.
There is nothing moderate about any of this. The term “centrist” is meant to imply the moderate position centralized between two extremes, the far left and the far right, but the important issues being advanced by the Bill Maher/Ed Royce so-called center don’t fit anywhere on the left-to-right political spectrum which puts socialism on the left and capitalism on the right.
This is why I say that mainstream moderate centrists are a myth. They don’t exist. The notion that the US should definitely be escalating tensions with a nuclear superpower is being promoted by these mainstream “centrists”, as was the destruction of Iraq, Libya, and Syria, as is the continued decimation of the environment and economic injustice caused by rampant neoliberalism, as is the ever-expanding Orwellian surveillance network of the US and its international intelligence alliance, but these sociopathic policies have no place anywhere on the left-to-right spectrum anymore than the idea that it’s great to stomp on puppies does.
Where would you say someone who likes to stomp on puppy dogs sits on the political spectrum? Does her pro-puppy stomping position actually tell you anything about her political ideology or her position on socialist vs free market solutions?
Imagine if every time you turned on a TV screen or went to look up the news online, there was nothing but news reports about how important it is for everyone to stomp on puppies as often as possible. There’s lively debate about whether one’s left foot or right foot should be used to stomp on the puppies, but there’s a unanimous consensus that the puppies must be stomped upon. Because this idea is unanimously circulated to the general public and solemnly agreed upon by plutocrat-funded experts and authorities, puppy stomping has become a mainstream position that most people agree is good and right. This would be labeled the moderate, centrist position by the majority.
If you were to say to these people that you think it’s always bad and wrong to stomp puppies to death under any circumstances and using either foot, they’d brand you a crazed lunatic. The talking heads on television might even run an occasional special about the deranged extremist and their ponies-and-unicorns absolutist anti-puppy stomping position.
Now imagine if you met someone who agreed with you that it’s bad and wrong to stomp on puppy dogs. Their anti-puppy stomping position wouldn’t actually tell you anything about the rest of their political ideology, but you both agree that stomping on puppies is something that should probably be avoided. To the mainstream “centrists” in our hypothetical scenario, you would both look like you’re politically aligned with one another, even if you’ve got nothing else in common besides your opposition to puppy stomping. You might support economic equality and workers owning the means of production, and the other person might believe in rugged individualism and free market solutions to all problems, but to the mainstream, you’re both the same.
“Horseshoe theory!” they might exclaim. “They both moved so far away from the center that they’re now closer to each other than they are to us!”
And maybe that hurts your feelings. You don’t like to be told that your values have somehow led you to embrace their opposite; that you strayed so far from moderation that you now stand for everything you thought you oppose. But it only hurts because it isn’t true.
I often see horseshoe theory being used by mainstream Democrats to accuse progressives and socialists of being closer to the far right than they are to the Hillary Clinton “center”, which is a very effective shutdown because those groups generally oppose the things that the far right stands for. I’ve been told that libertarians and other antiwar conservatives are often smeared by Republican-aligned “centrists” in the same way on their side of the spectrum. But it’s pure fallacy. The fact that you might oppose military expansionism or whatever doesn’t make you ideologically “closer” to someone on the opposite end of the political spectrum anymore than mutual opposition to puppy stomping does.
Horseshoe theory is only true in the sense that the further you move away from establishment narratives, the less you buy into them. It doesn’t matter what your ideological reason for moving away from the CNN/CIA mainstream narratives, because as long as you’re not buying into the indoctrination, those narratives no longer make sense. The only way to see things like the drug war, support for Israeli government massacres of Palestinian protesters, or facilitating the slaughter of Yemeni civilians as normal and acceptable is to be propagandized into it; otherwise it just looks like the barbarism that it is. Recognizing the evils of mainstream “centrism” doesn’t make you ideologically similar to someone on the other side of the political spectrum who sees the same thing, it just means you’re two people who don’t like stomping on puppies.
They Work To Manufacture Consent Because They Need It. So Don’t Give It To Them.
"Disrupt the consent-manufacturing machine at every opportunity, because it’s the only thing holding the bars of our cage in place."#MSM #propaganda #oligarchyhttps://t.co/2QYT0vwiJj
— Caitlin Johnstone (@caitoz) August 3, 2018
There are of course people who espouse a central position on the left-right spectrum between proper communism and unregulated capitalism, as well as a central position between anarchism and totalitarianism, but those who maintain such a position without accepting the perverse omnicidal doctrines of the CNN/CIA mainstream are as rare as hen’s teeth. They are not mainstream by any stretch of the imagination.
No, what most people think of as “centrists” are actually violent, ecocidal, oppressive Orwellian extremists. The only reason they get to paint themselves as moderates is because vast fortunes have been spent on mass media propaganda to turn those depraved positions into mainstream perspectives. The fact that they’ve bought their way into the majority consensus doesn’t make them moderate, sensible or sane, though. Mainstream narratives do not have any rightful claim to truth or health, and everyone who sees any part of their lies should oppose those lies tooth and claw, wherever they sit on the political spectrum.
The best way to overthrow the oligarchs who profit from and promote this dangerous mainstream doctrine is to relentlessly attack the corporate media propaganda machine they use to manufacture consent for it. Expose their lies wherever you see them and ignore all their attempts to shame and bully you away from doing so. We can’t afford to let these monsters dictate mainstream perspectives any longer.
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Barbara Witt / August 7, 2018
We do have a serious problem here. Us older folks, I’m 56, went to school when being educated meant-being educated. We all had a moral lectures or classes on being good, decent and loving every Saturday or Sunday (and we answered to Someone way above the state, and the state knew it, and was a bit afraid by that), and while there were plenty of dummies, it’s much worse today (by design, I’m afraid, easier to control us). Today, people can’t reason, debate, think, and they know few to none of the great writers, the classics and tragedies-morality works. All the noble & important lessons of the greats before us have been removed and replaced with mediocrity & even garbage. It’s useless stuff. I see in most of our younger people a complete lack of core beliefs that mean anything to them (or they have flimsy, easily changed beliefs). They are rudderless and swayed because they lack a foundation of skills, values and purpose (& more, but you get the drift). It’s so easy to manipulate people who don’t have a belief system that supersedes the govt., one that says they exist to do right & do good and they answer to a much higher authority than the govt. Everything today is about popular opinion and fitting in. The Emperor’s new clothes describes, in part, what I’m saying. No one dares to be unique and say the truth, because the belonging to a group’s ‘the thing’. Having stuff & being popular. But, read the New Testament, the U.S. Constitution, Homer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Ben Franklen, Lincoln, MLKing, etc, & wow, core values!
Keep sending out on social media the BEST of the articles and book titles that you know they need. Some ARE reading them, then they talk, & it spreads. Ideas are wanted, but many have no clue about what already exists in previous writings. There is something, some urge, inside of everyone that is searching for an ideal way, and as an older person, I think there’s much that was/is great (and missing) about the classics (literature, music, art, philosophy, direction, values) that we threw out & replaced with a lower, more ordinary, uninspiring and largely unfulfilling (sometimes even ugly) culture or essence or whatever it’s called. No wonder people allow such bad things to happen these days; they weren’t taught about their alternatives. I think beautiful culture produces beautiful inhabitants.
Centrists can also mean two parties, compromising because they can’t really expect to get all they want, esp. not all the time. If I want MedicareForAll, and I have to bang out the details with the other side, is some better than none? I don’t know. Maybe. That’s what I think of centrists, not expecting all I want because other people may want all they want, and we must sit down, debate, work it out, & come to the middle ground (this time-back again later?) or lose all if we don’t win. To work together is my idea of centrists. Obviously NOT for evil. And there’s the centrist on paper vs the reality. But I’m not pure socialist or pure consertative , I’m kinda in the cente…hey, wait!
Vayu / September 23, 2019
Barbara, you’re categorizing, prejudicing and criticizing a whole generation. You’re criticizing people because they didn’t read or study the literature you did. You base education and values on your personal taste and worse your belief in nonsensical fairy tales. You’re blaming the results of the last several generations on the current generation. All while attributing our current state of affairs to items of entertainment. Then the parts of your comments that do pertain to politics echo exactly the sentiments of the destructive centrist mindset the article is about. You’re criticizing young people for not reading, being educated and having shallow values while not comprehending that you are the dangerous centrist being written about. Please stop categorizing the bible as classic literature and stop equating wisdom with your personal taste in entertainment, and stop predjudicing the current generation. They haven’t been exposed to as much McCarthyism as we have and many of them actually understand that hierarchy creates chaos not the lack of it.
AriusArmenian / August 6, 2018
Caitlin is talking about what the US elites do not what us to think about.
They control the narratives about the left and right to keep us fighting with each other.
They have upped their effort to control major narratives today with Alex Jones; others will follow.
Until there is a united left/right front the elites will repress the internet until they have total control.
They want total control and its ends with total war.
Stuart East / August 6, 2018
Maher used an analogy of Bush shouting into a bullhorn after 911 and saying “Bin Laden is innocent”. A more accurate analogy would have been “Iraq is innocent” since the evidence-free false accusations against Iraq were also used to urge the US into a wrongful war. Maher is a corpratist shill and piece of shit.
chuck Nasmith / August 6, 2018
Put a cog in the wheel of the MSM (CIA/CNN etc.) I am for Peace…Kill your Television. BDS
Mathias Alexander / August 6, 2018
We have no objective evidence about how many people buy the naratives on the MSM, or to what extent they buy those naratives.
Robyn / August 6, 2018
I wrote a lengthy despairing comment but deleted it. What’s the point when the MSM and their corporate controllers have all the power. Caitlin and a few other courageous independent journalists and commenters can write brilliant article after brilliant article but things are just going from bad to worse. The MSM liars and corporate murderers go from victory to victory. So, what’s the point.
Carolyn Zaremba / August 6, 2018
Keep reading Caitlin and other independent journalists and sharing their articles widely. Don’t stop. How are ignorant people ever going to see the light if you cut off the electricity?
Jared / August 6, 2018
Well, it is worrisome to thing there are people who take this baloney seriously. Also some chance his efforts make expose the ignorance of it. Praying for america and yet suspect organized religion is one source of the problem.
minecritter / August 6, 2018
I think it would help a lot if people could get on the same page about the meaning of political words like left, right, and center. The very meaning of words has been hijacked, which contributes to gaslighting everyone. The horseshoe theory is wrong. The Political Compass makes sense to me. I wish everyone would at least have a look:
It shows a political spectrum in two dimensions, economic and social. The economic spectrum is communism to capitalism (socialists are in the real center), and the social spectrum could be described as authoritarian to anti-authoritarian, or establishment to anti-establishment. It explains why right wing libertarians seem right half the time. It’s because actual progressives are left wing libertarians. The tiny spectrum of views debated on TV are all in the right wing authoritarian quadrant.
Greenie / August 6, 2018
CJ nails it again! :+)
The strongest, sanest, funniest, truest Voice of Reason out there!
Jim KABLE / August 6, 2018
Long before the Horse-Shoe Theory – (this is the first time I have actually read that name) and all by myself at least 30 years ago – I had formulated the (JOOHTOPP- pron. Jute-op)) Joining One’s Own Hands Theory of Political Positioning – Left Wing and Right Wing have an extremist link-up point. Explaining my politics during years of living abroad – and especially when it was difficult to know how to understand the local scene and not wanting to be ignorant I would demonstrate my JOOHTOPP. My head was the Centre – with left and right shoulders moving from relatively centrist – if socially minded or tending to the selfish occupying those points – and then moving onwards to elbow points (think declared factional ideological broad church – finally to the fundamentalist extremes at the linking of hands comparability. My own position was always just off the left shoulder – care for ALL citizens – for free and public education and health care. Limited time for all political office – no dynasties like Australia’s prime ugly example of the so-called Nation Builder Downer Family – implicated in lots of First Nations Massacres in South Australia in the latter 19th century apparently. The assets stripping of its day.
Peter Lilienthal / August 6, 2018
We can devise an internet based democracy “for entertainment value only” and posts the results alongside of what our so called representation is bringing us. How long then till we decide to relegate the latter to entertainment status and use the former to rule ourselves more fairly?
Duncan MacMartin / August 6, 2018
Brilliant piece of cognitive updating! We’ve normalised psychopathic whack a mole thinking for so long that true cognitive normality now appears cutting edge! Drop your ingrained battlefield reflexive conditioning folks and take up your birthright of empathy/mutuality driven, relationally-derived thinking!
glitch / August 6, 2018
You watched Bill Mahr, what an incredibly noble sacrifice. It wasn’t necessary, no one with any intelligence watches him or Maddow or Colbert(anymore).
But it is good to keep informed on what the corporate media is pushing, so your efforts to educate the unwary are much appreciated.
JRGJRG / August 6, 2018
I’m a centrist. I believe the proper way to stomp on puppies is with both feet at once. I don’t believe in halfway measures. But puppies definitely need to be stomped. They’re such filthy creatures. They crap in your yard and get their smelly disgusting shit on your shoes. They pretend to like you but you can’t trust them. Beneath their pretenses lie nefarious motives, and worst of all they grow up to be dogs.
jrkrideau / August 6, 2018
I believe this is the first time I have ever watched Mahr. I am in stunned disbelieve. Is this the fecal matter that the US is being fed?
I know that the USA is a terribly timorous nation and afraid of the outside world but I had not realized it was this bad.
Mahr just accused Trump of treason. Christ on a crutch! If this is centrist what is more extreme? Suicide bombs?
In Royce’s case, does one have to prove one’s total ignorance of the world to be appointed to the committee? Then he qualifies. He may still think the world is flat.
American political discourse has always been nutty but this is so delusional that it is terrifying. After Mahr and Royce’s raving, Trump look like the adult in the room. And that is very scary.
I really don’t think that either of them realize that in terms of US world power, this is 2018 not 1960.
chuck Nasmith / August 6, 2018
Free The Embassy Cat & J.A.