While Ross is out of the country, I must protest on his behalf against his and Reihan’s adoption by Mark Satin as representatives of the “radical middle” from the right. Ross and I may not agree on everything (indeed, I bet we actually disagree on all kinds of things that we don’t write about), but I would insist that he does not really fall under this designation and that it is an insult to associate him with something like this. In fact, I doubt very much whether anyone (perhaps not even David Brooks!) deserves the dubious honour of being declared a radical one-world squish in quite this way. Maybe Ross will disagree, but I don’t think he will.
What is the “radical middle”? This is part of the definition from Satin’s site:
It’s “radical” because it’s seeking solutions that are holistic and sustainable. It’s “middle” because it accepts that you can’t change people very much.
Well, okay, that’s pretty vague. At first glance, this sounds a bit like traditional conservatism, but you quickly discover that these people are using words such as “holistic” and “sustainable” simply as foils against their opponents: whatever they are for is holistic and sustainable, and whatever people not of the “radical middle” support is neither. More concretely, what is this guy talking about? He is, in fact, mainly describing the pursuit of some sort of globalised nightmare mixed with the “pornography of compassion”:
- One-world citizenship. A commitment to overarching human values and to a cosmopolitan identity as world citizens.
- Business and law. A recognition that what’s going on in certain boardrooms and law offices today may be more important — and more promising — than what’s going on in the traditional political arena.
- Consciousness. A recognition that values, virtues, attitudes, religion, and culture may have more to do with individual happiness — and social progress — than economic growth.
- One-world compassion. A refusal to accept that the well-being of people in Rumania or Nigeria or Malaysia is any less important than the well-being of people in Arizona.
- Ambition, achievement and service. In the Sixties it was a badge of honor to drop out. The strategy backfired. Today most socially committed young people are rushing to become doctors, lawyers, businesspeople, social workers, academics, and that is — or can be — a good thing.
Blech. Of course, “values” and religion are more important than economic growth and saying that you support “achievement” and “service” is a bit like saying that you are for education and against crime (who exactly is arguing the point?). When these obvious, basically non-controversial things are combined with all of this other nonsense it becomes a slightly more silly version of Sam Brownback’s already fairly silly worldview. Throw in the odd reference to Unity08 and you have a real traveling circus of meaningless gestures towards political and policy reform. Anything that finds its voice in “the words of Vaclav Havel and Tony Blair” (as the original statement had it) can only ever be the enemy of a sane and decent society.