Multiple centrists have independently told me "capitalism is bad but it's the best we have," when explicitly discussing a hypothetical ideal. Even when describing a thought-experiment utopia, these are people who have worked so hard to accept and embrace their brain worms that they have lapsed into full defense of status quo. The notion of a better world, or, scratch that, even a *different* world has become alien and frightening to them. They cower at even the idea of any changes of any kind.
It blew my mind. This is why I cut ties with my old Buddhism teacher. He short-circuited during a conversation he started and asked for. Rather than actually asking me anything about what could be done, he demanded answers in ideological terms, i.e. "name an alternative to capitalism," which is totally begging the question. It infuriated him that I wasn't playing along in the way he expected me to, so he asserted his "gotcha" arguments anyways without the prompting he needed to feel smug. Alas!
This to me is a good example of how deeply ideological centerists are, even as they take baby steps--just enough to signal that they know big words and can play the role of legitimate--toward analysis of ideology. They always must make an exception for their own, or else they feel a deep anxiety. The notion that this is not the best of all possible worlds upsets them beyond all sense. To even discuss a better future becomes tantamount to a crime against the cherished present.
The crux of centrist/moderate/liberal thinking is that of not being extremist. It doesn't matter *what* happens so long as extremism, that terrifying specter, is avoided.
What constitutes extremism? They'll talk about violence, but that can't be it, or else they would genuinely be against the police and the military. They have elaborate systems of justifying these, so it can't be that they dislike violence. What they dislike is dissent itself, whatever undermines the fragile status quo.
The centrist conception of labor is one in which it is uncritically assumed that labor is the same no matter what happens to it. Without labor, society would collapse and everything would be ruined, but it is supposed that labor can be thought of as equivalent, that is, working in a factory is to a centrist not substantially different from building a shelter in the woods. The market, they suppose, is literally "like a market," i.e. an argument about an exchange of goods applies to all exchange.
Therefore, it is an alien concept to them that a worker should care to "own" their work, because that they are working at all should be "enough." How could workers complain about conditions they "voluntarily agreed to?" The centrist feels that surely this is neurosis or vice. Similarly, what limits could be justifiably put on any exchange which takes place? Since they are all just the same, any limit on any of them whatsoever is tantamount to tyranny by a wicked outside force.
Any conditions, however coercive, are justified in the mind of a centrist (lamenting "mean" people all the while), so long as it is not that of their concept of violence, that is, strictly physical force. If it is indirect, it may as well not be real at all, and is "nature," that is to say, if you starve, tough, you just were not good at "nature." By sincerely believing that their system appears essentially from nowhere, from "just the way of things," they need never address it.
I may sound as if I am blaming them as if they are consciously doing this. In fact I'm not, they're responding to their social environment as best they know how, and largely this is not conscious on their part. This is the world they know, and the one they can articulate. I am no less subject to heuristics than they are, but it's precisely because they don't feel they "are ideological" that they are ideology's principal victims.
@Colophonscrawl I used to be like that and to be frank I still kind of am. It's just such a _big_ thing and it's hard to approach.
salty mention of police violence, Miami Herald link w/ autoplay video
@Colophonscrawl Centrism is hearing about this 2016 shooting of an autistic man's caretaker and defending the police, even when the police themselves say they don't know why their officer opened fire.
@Colophonscrawl the idea is basically "there's no one good solution, so the good solution must be a combination of all the bad ones"
which is a great idea in concept but in practice it falls apart because some of the bad ideas are extremely harmful
@ben The idea tends to be "we're making the best of a bad situation," but that won't well do, since it's so unlikely to find anyone who thinks "the situation" in which they find themselves is good and needs no correction. The problem with this view is that it assumes that whatever we get is best, not because it actually is the best possible given the circumstances, but instead, best because, having happened at all, it's the most heuristically available.
@ben Picture for instance a a robot which is supposed to climb up the highest hill possible. Unfortunately its programmer is a total novice, and has set it to always move toward whatever ground immediately around it is higher than its current height. It moves to the highest point on a hill once, and then never moves again, because all the ground around it is down relative to its current position, even if the hill is next to a mountain.
@ben In exactly the same way, when we become *overly* pragmatic and reliant upon the most immediately available solutions to issues, we can accidentally strand our own views so that any cost whatsoever is seen as an unacceptable loss. By adjusting what we are exposed to, we start to adjust the weights in our internal logic (heuristics, this is why I won't stop using this term) until we can start to see mountains instead of just the hill we're on.
@ben This is why ads are to me a very serious issue. By reinforcing the boundaries of consumption, they actively take up cognition which is better spent on practically anything else, in parasitic fashion. You can't address what you can't even recognize as existing, and so long as the actual supports of what systems harm us are not even available for contemplation, they'll remain.
@ben Someone self-aware of the mechanisms by which they become ideological has not escaped ideology, because in the broadest sense that isn't really possible, but they are no longer going to be totally subjected to whatever ideas are thrust upon them, and that's the point here, not to say "you're wrong and you must do what I say because that is objectively best," since that just sets up another static system, but to give people the skills to analyze their own cognition and to become adaptive.
@ben In short, you might not be able to evade ideology, but you can move yourself to a better memetic ecosystem. If this in itself becomes metacognitive, that is, if it's realized that even my explanation here is just a map, and can be updated or discarded as soon as it becomes useful to do so, so much the better.
@Colophonscrawl I wish mainstream media would be more than ruminating on stories from the 1920s with new visual effects
Just imagine showing the masses some alternatives in society, human interactions, philosophy
One thing that gets on my nerve, so *much* is "it's the best we have"
Is it ?! How do we know ? We can't know. It's impossible to make this assertion ...
I hate it
@Colophonscrawl it's because centrists *are* the conservatives.
People who tend to call themselves conservative, are the regressives.
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