dirty rag

US Politics - On the Tyranny of Centrism - Frank Longano

The astute observer need take no more than a cursory glance at the American political landscape to comprehend its specious nature.Centrist Republican and his corporate pals vilify rival centrist Democrat as a left wing radical determined to take more money out of your pocket, in the process making Big Bad Government still Bigger and Badder. Next, centrist Democrat and his corporate pals vilify centrist Republican on the only issues he can use to differentiate himself from his rival, let's say abortion and gun control. On points of political economy, however, the two rivals barely differ. It cannot be argued that for those who believe in the left/right spectrum of Western political thought, these two contenders occupy at best the middle 15%.

Nothing wrong with that though, right? The middle is comfortable. The middle is stable. Some would say centrism is a fecund creature, birthing only more stability. Here's a second theory. It is not an original thought to posit that the mainstream media has a vested interest in marginalizing non-centrist political ideas. It is, however, an often-dismissed one.

The average Dirty Rag reader surely does not need this cycle of iniquity codified for them, but here it is anyway: General Electric makes a lot of stuff, some of it necessary, some not (light bulbs: yes, electric can openers: mmm, no.) and they would love to sell all of it to you and your close friends. Interestingly General Electric also owns NBC, everyone's favorite creator of soporific television shows, the very ones with all the beautiful consumer products hanging on the beautiful peoples' shoulders and on the walls of their beautiful apartments.

Of course NBC also airs commercials, which push these same products in a less insidious though equally specious manner. Revenue from advertising is ostensibly the lifeblood of the modern television network. So certainly it is vital to stay in the good graces of the large corporations whose checks pay for these television programs, in the few cases where the large corporation does not already own the television show and its means of broadcast.

So here is the point of this polemic, finally: NBC also broadcasts the nightly news. Thus the source of our political/economic news and commentary comes from a huge consumer/defense products company with a critical vested interest in marginalizing any ideas that fall outside the narrowly defined ideological box these sorts of organizations need to operate with impunity. That box is, of course, unregulated, balls-out free market capitalism. Now free market trade is perhaps one of the great intellectual constructions of humanity's short tenure on earth. But it is an intellectual construct, and thus should be subject to the regulation of We, Intellectual Creatures. The more facets of our society are moved into that 'centrist box,' the better the fortunes of the Fortune 500.

A map of the Longano political paradigm?

As a result, when those "too far" to the right of the dominant centrists oppose free trade policies due to deleterious effects on the American job base, they are marginalized as isolationists and xenophobes. When those "too far" to the left for the centrists suggest that it is time to join the rest of the developed world in implementing a national health insurance plan, they are vilified as socialists and quickly dismissed.

This sort of marginalization has become very easy for the corporate media as of late as the American electorate has been gently hypnotized by the potent triumvirate of affluence, indifference, and ignorance (whether the latter two were brought on directly by excessive TV watching is up for debate).

So what can be done about the thought monopoly the corporate media has on our available ideological choices? Well nothing will be done, of course, for the same reasons above. Perhaps a review of antitrust law as it relates to media/consumer goods giants is a good place to start.

Prohibiting media companies from merging with consumer or defense companies might be a good idea, though the political power concentrated in those areas would surely prevent any such bill from becoming law. In order to gain the approval of an already disinterested and mislead general public any such proposals must be framed within a movement to restore America's civil society and promote diversity of political thought and expression. And even if nothing changes under the reign of the centrist-white-evangelical-Christian-male we are certain to have as our next president, you can still say whatever you want on the Internet. at least for now.