Centrism is a Pose

If there is a sidewalk on either side of a busy street, you may argue whether to walk down the east side or the west side, but it’s not a useful compromise to walk out in traffic.

There is more than one question we need to solve, so there are lots of ways of looking at the world.

We need to collaboratively and collectively come up with something coherent. The average of two or more coherent positions is not necessarily coherent. Thus:

Atrios on Centrism

An impossible project is convincing journalists that contemporary “centrism” is a clubbish ideology which is usually not, as communicated, some happy medium between “left” and “right”.

Krugman on Centrism

Atrios is right, though I’d put it a bit differently:

centrism is a pose rather than a philosophy.

(h/t Ian Bicking)

I don’t think I would have understood what this means a couple of weeks ago. I don’t think it means there are two teams, left and right, and you have to choose sides.

What I think it means is that you aren’t being anywhere near as clever as you think if you just try to hold the average of all the positions you see around you. Unfortunately, the US press seems to think of this simpleminded approach as a guiding principle; the road to success and righteousness. Which seems to be why Revkin screwed up, and that sort of thing in turn is why people are losing interest in the press.

Or, for another example of the way the press operates, consider Jon Stewart vs CNBC. As Will Bunch (h/t Jay Rosen) says at philly.com (OK, yes, that is a daily newspaper site):

the story shows how access to the nation’s most powerful CEOs — supposedly the big advantage of a journalistic enterprise like CNBC — isn’t worth a warm bucket of spit when it results in slo-pitch softball questions, for fear of offending the rich and powerful.

and

The American public is mad as hell right now, so why isn’t the mainstream media? Balanced reporting is important, but a balanced, modulated tone of voice? Not now, not when millions are hurting from lost jobs and under-water mortgages, and many millions more are living in fear of the same fate.

and so on. (Go read it, and watch the video. Highly recommended.)

If the conventional press will not serve the purposes of genuine public discourse at a time like this, alternatives will emerge, and fast.

We don’t have time for or interest in fishwrap anymore. Make us think, or just go away.

Update: Stewart reprises, including Atmoz’s favorite line. (Anyone know how Atmoz is doing? He’s been very quiet lately.)

Update
: Somebody’s making a @buckyfuller tweetstream. It’s great. Here’s today’s entry, which seems altogether germane:

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

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