|||||||| centered lines

I honestly really dislike the “axis” metaphor for politics. First of all because it’s much more complicated - even if you add the authoritarian/liberal axis to the old fashioned economic spectrum. But mostly because it soft of precludes the idea of “extremist centrism” since that can’t really exist graphically.

I think there are a lot of people whom it doesn’t make sense to label as right wing, but get so caught up in e.g. absolute freedom of speech and property rights that they become useful idiots for the Richard Spencers and Jeff Bezoses of the world.


Yo, where my Hegelians at!? :relaxed:

A problem with equating centrism with rationality, wisdom, etc. is that you tend to end up where you started because every person imagines themselves as a centrist, especially in the political sphere. I suspect that even those few who consider themselves radicals likely do so in opposition to (and to balance) what they see as an opposing radical force.


Has there been any situation in the past were the third extreme option that you proposed happened especially led by goverment? Again I speak from my own experiences but where I live this is a real debate and left proposes that all people should have equal rights and right wing parties denies other people their rights (or even want to persecute them). And there are people who call themselves centrists and tell that solution is in the middle so I ask, what solution? Also in the past it actually happened (and it is still happening) that people were killed etc because of their orientation and religion. So it might be a “thought experiment” to think about third option but the real ones IMHO that have any chance of happening are only those two. And I personnaly think there can’t/shouldn’t be a compromise in such situation.


I often find myself thinking that it might be productive to attempt to formulate an open-ended set of principles by which to measure ideology and practices rather than falling into axis metaphors.

For example:

The good society is one which trends in the direction of:

  • reduction of environmental toxins
  • inequality on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. (not intended to be a complete list, obviously)
  • reduction of hunger
  • expansion of educational opportunities and support for arts
  • preservation of wild lands and animals
  • increasing free expression
  • and so on…

If the principles were sufficiently compassionate, comprehensive and clear, it might be easier to evaluate positions which are often obscured by simplistic labels like liberal or conservative.

Just thinking it loud…


so as an example of the point made by @karol, what is the centrist view if people do not agree that this should be the goal?

some want to reduce environmental impact…others may feel that following such a course infringes on their rights

how do you compromise on such divisive issues?


What do you do if you don’t? I’m afraid that violence is the next step and people of moderate views are not ready for it.

Violence is the current step and we’re most of us the victims.



I guess I’m interested in trying to see if there is anything even resembling some kind of generally agreeable principles.

Who in their right mind could propose that increasing environmental toxins is a good thing? Perhaps profiteers could make that argument but in doing so reveal themselves to be monsters.

Then at least it’s a bit clearer who the monsters are… maybe…

There are limits to language and logic, both of which can be twisted to reach almost any conclusion… but there are also limits to how long one can stand by and watch their world be destroyed by monsters…

These days I often feel like we’ve sailed off the edge of the early map into the territory marked only as “there be monsters here”…

My question wasn’t rhetorical. I’m genuinely curious and not taking sides certainly not advocating violent conflict to eliminate individuals or institutions who oppose their view

What would you do?

They wouldn’t say “I want to increase environmental toxins”. They would say “We need to protect jobs in our country” or “we need to provide what our economy needs”, etc.

The example of trends you mention are framed in a good way. But they could be framed in a negative way as easily (playing the devil advocate here, as I agree with you):

  • protection of our jobs and economy, and global competitivity
  • protecting our “way of life”
  • helping the market to have competent workers
  • increasing area for industrial development
  • keeping our society safe


This is the crux of the problem.

Edit: as a lawyer I spend too much time on definitions, but it seems that there is no common language anymore, and probably never was.

But it also seems that we’re reaching a point of near total schism with alternate reality bubbles and complete dehumanization of the “enemy “

Of course one “side” says climate change is a hoax while the ice caps melt…

So there must be some reality somewhere…

What if “they” declare gravity a hoax, will they be able to walk on clouds?

So, how might some kind of principles be based on something approaching reality?


Not that I’m aware of.

I don’t mean to discount your experiences, but it sounds like the “left” in this case is proposing a centrist idea, and the right wing parties are advocating extremist measures. (Super typical in USA political discussions, unfortunately)

I agree with you, and don’t think a compromise actually exists in the one you’re describing, and I don’t think compromise for it’s own sake is really a worthwhile goal

Everyone’s free to self-identify, and these people may believe they’re centrists because they’re looking for a centerpoint between two particular positions, but from my perspective, if you look at this particular example like a number line, where equal rights for all is at 0, no rights for gays is at +infinity, and no rights for cishets is at -infinity, if you find a “compromise” point between 0 and 100, even if you only “compromise” at 1, you’re still depriving some people of some rights, which I don’t think is a centrist position.

Maybe that’s that extreme centrism though?

(I realize I’m going all on on the axis/linear metaphors here, but @rvense I do think your point against axis metaphors is a good one… I have felt for a few years now that we really need better language and mental models around these kinds of discussions)

I was recently witness to a controversy that hinged on centrist philosophy. Speaker had booked our Public Library to give a talk on terf philosophy (the idea that trans women, are not “biologically women” and are therefore exempt from the protection of feminist philosophy) The left/Pro-LGBTQ+ position was that they should not be allowed to give the talk as it worked to promote hate speech against trans individuals. The alt-right position was that this was an attempt to muzzle free-speech and agreed with the position of the speaker.

Whether the talk was allowed to occur hinged on the decision of centrist politicians. They ultimately allowed the speech to happen, with the idea of if we were to silence one “side” of the issue then that would ultimately be a wound to free speech for “both sides” of the issue. It’s immediately obvious that this decisions does nothing to help the lives of LGBTQ+ individuals in this city and only bolsters the alt-right position.

There was a large protest, Pride organization condemned the decision, and a few weeks later a prominent trans-activist was murdered in her home.

I think on some level the centrist politicians believed their decision was for the benefit of the “whole” but the reality of the situation was platforming a speaker who espoused hate/violence towards the LGBTQ+ community. I think this demonstrates the weakness of the centrist philosophy which is easily gamed by alt-right strategies


And this touches on exactly what i’m driving at. The options are manifold and complicated but many of these issues really do boil down to two opposing viewpoints.


Yes indeed! I wish we could have a clear and easy “this is the good path”, but all good things come at the cost of something else. I believe these cost worth it for the examples you mentioned, but I understand that some people won’t agree. It becomes even more clear when you touch very concrete topic.

If we agree to reduce pollution, we could say “we want to tax plane travel 20 times more to deter plane usage”. But what would you say if your family lived far away and plane was the only realistic option for you to see them? Or what if this would force you to close your small business because it depends on it?

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so if your views are those of a leftists parties why insists on calling yourself a centrist? I think if we assume that axis exists we should operate on what is possible and the extremum left that you proposed has very little chance of happening while the extremum right has significant chance of happening and has happened in the past. I think axis viewpoint is flawed as it would suggest that the extremum left and extremum right have equal chances of happening while it is not true.

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One of the problems at least in USA is that “left” tends to represent the interests of the socially dispossessed who lack capital and political power while “right” represents the interests of most wealthy and powerful.

The scales are tilted from the start.

Left exists in an aspirational space, while Right exists in hard meat space…

Or as I often realize to my horror, one side has most of the guns…

Edit: how do you compromise with a gun?


Its true. The box model is rarely correct. We don’t fit in tiny boxes, or 30 second sound bites.

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A lot has already been said in this thread, but it seems there is a sizable voice that compromise is something to be valued and, perhaps, applied in our current political climate. I’m wondering what issues, specifically, folks feel are those in which compromise is necessary?

I would say that personal/private interests should not always myopically take precedence over collective/public interests, especially when discussing health, safety, and environmental sustainability.