Radical Center Review

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Chris Dierkes

Chris Dierkes (aka CJ Smith). 29 years old, happily married, adroit purveyor and voracious student of all kinds of information, theories, methods of inquiry, and forms of practice. Studying to be a priest in the Anglican Church in Canada. Main interests: military theory, diplomacy, foreign affairs, medieval history, religion & politics (esp. Islam and Christianity), and political grand bargains of all shapes and sizes.

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11 Responses

  1. “Radical center consists of more center-left economic proposals with center-right cultural policy.”

    Doesn’t this largely describe the Blue Dog Democrats?Report

    • Avatar Chris Dierkes says:

      @Mark Thompson, My sense of Blue Dogs is that they are center-right economically. They are neoliberals in the economic sense. It was to get buy in from that crew that in many ways forced Health insurance reform to stick with the employer system (which Lind opposed).Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. says:

      @Mark Thompson, It actually reminded me of my father, who is very much working class Republican. He votes for them on the social issues, but in general believes that neither party really cares about the concerns of people like him.Report

  2. Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

    Nice piece! I do love that so many are struggling so hard to identify the current political irruptions. I kind of remember the late, beloved Sam Francis struggling with the same or a similar effort to define a cadre of middle-Americans who might unite, through off their masters, and re-establish their own, little, anti-federalist nation. Sadly, his efforts came up short, his career was drastically curtailed by the powers that be and he ended up in the hinterlands, dying way before his time.
    Truth has a cost.Report

    • Avatar Travis says:

      @Bob Cheeks, Ah yes, appreciation for an unrepentant white supremacist who wrote: “We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called ‘affirmative action’ and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races.”

      He defined a cadre, all right. They wear white sheets, burn crosses and lynch people.Report

      • Avatar Roberto says:

        @Travis, Thanks for writing that. Apropos of Chris’ post, I find Lind’s stuff intriguing and I find myself agreeing with much of it but I’m troubled by the prominent role that race-related matters play in his presentation. Let me be clear: I am not calling him or his ideas “bigoted” or “racist” or any such thing. I’m just wondering where “non-whites” come in. “The Next American Nation,” after going through various iterations of white America, wound up at “Multicultural America” and that wasn’t a good thing in Lind’s mind. Not because of any bias or prejudice but because, well, I’m not sure why. Yet, that’s where the numbers are headed. In the piece Chris linked to, what is meant by “culture” isn’t abortion or gay rights but affirmative action and immigration.
        You can agree with Lind on both counts but still wonder if the “radical center” he’s describing isn’t, at least in some small part, about the anxieties of certain white folks. I wonder if we’re not seeing history repeat itself: the populist and labor movements of the late 19th century dissipated so much of their energy on race-related questions that they were an easy mark for “divide and conquer” tactics.Report

        • Avatar Chris Dierkes says:

          @Roberto, good question and one I’ve struggled with myself in terms of his writings.

          As I understand it, mostly he’s talking about moving away from a race-based affirmative action system to one that is classed based. In that sense he sees raced-based affirmative action tending towards racial balkinization and he’s talking about a cross-racial economic alliance. Jim Webb has made similar comments. Lind might be wrong about (or probably over-estimating) the degree of such balkinization, but that’s the idea. He talks about the earlier elements of the civil rights movement as an example.

          In terms of immigration I would support massively increased legal immigration, moves to integrate and legalize those already in the country, shift that legal immigration more to high tech/higher wage immigration, and then see about what realistically and humanely can be done about proper enforcement.Report

  3. Avatar Simon K says:

    Don’t get it, sorry. The actual policy proposals seem to be well within the mainstream of the Democratic party or the shrinking moderate arm of the GOP. I mean how is “economic egalitarianism, color-blind civil rights, opposition to wage-lowering, union-weakening unskilled immigration, and enthusiasm for innovation-driven economic growth” a radical or anti-elitist program? If you heard Obama say that would you even bat an eye?

    Maybe there’s something going on here that I, as an elitist, libertarian immigrant, am deaf to, but really the class-war rhetoric seems totally incompatible with the moderation and pragmatism of the actual policy proposals, which seems totally opposite to the unserious extremism of the Tea Parties.Report

    • Avatar Chris Dierkes says:

      @Simon K, I disagree. The health care proposals Lind supports would have completely done away with the employer based system. The only Democrat I can think of who supported such a notion was Ron Wyden.

      The immigration policy would shift to high tech immigration not the current policy favored by both parties.

      The education reform would create a larger federal umbrella (equalization payments) at the same time that it would allow for more school choice (not supported generally by the Democratic party).

      Lowering the corporate tax rate at the same time as having a federal consumption (progressively balanced) is not exactly where the Democratic party has been going (under Obama or Clinton) vis a vis taxes.Report

  4. Avatar Simon K says:

    But that’s just the difference between politics-as-politics and politics-as-policy. I don’t think anyone would (in private) defend the actual health care reform act against Wyden-Bennet as policy, but its clearly superior politics because it actually passed!

    But what’s actually populist about any of Lind’s proposals? Populism isn’t known for its focus on detailed policy reforms. Those are the domain of elite policy wonks. Its known for its focus on preserving existing institutions that benefit “the majority” while screwing “elites”, “minorities” and for’ners, and doing those things in simple, obvious ways: protectionism, immigration restrictions, cutting entitlements for the poor but keeping those for the middle class, and so on. You can’t dress up voucher schemes and value added tax in those clothes.

    It seems like an attempt to harness populism to a fairly sensible but thoroughly elite-friendly set of policy proposals. I’m fine with that in principle, except that it won’t work. Genuine populism, sadly, looks like the Tea Partiers at the moment. If you want to get sensible policies passed, I don’t think there’s a class-war short-cut to doing it right now – it would require a new cross-society bargain that created an electoral coalition sound enough to be invulnerable to the inevitable hold-outs, a New New Deal in effect. I don’t see any sign of either party being able to do that on a stable basis.Report