a political center?

Where is the center in today’s capitalist politics? In yesterday’s NYT, Brooks argued that his own brand of conservatism is the only sane path between the equally nasty chaotic vulgarity of Trumpian associates, and the unrealistic ultra-liberal left. His efforts are symptomatic of the common search for an evanescent “middle.” There would be a way to avoid the two extremes and reach a wise, rational compromise based on community and moral values. Brooks’ position is absurd and naïve if not hypocritical. He defends the humaneness of capitalism and refuses to see that what he holds dear—moral values, care of the neighbor, community—is actually at cross purposes with capitalism and constantly under pressure of being destroyed by it. The greed exhibited by Trump and associates is not particular to them. The values of absolute freedom, infinite expansion of self, and spreading of desires as part of a market-based self-correcting machine—see already Pascal’s view on this in his Thoughts, no need to reach for your Ayn Rand—are actually destructive of trust, fidelity, cooperation, and community. And to equate the right—the extreme right actually—with the left side of the Democratic party makes no sense when the whole system of representation not only has long tilted right but has also become less representative of large urban segments of the population. What is called left wing in the US corresponds to the social democracy of several European countries. In response to the great depression of the thirties and two world wars, these national systems have controlled until now the most nefarious tendencies of capitalism by regulating it and ensuring basic universal systems of family support, education, health, retirement, and low military budgets. They represent a “middle” solution that Brooks sees as ultra left. One would expect his tendency to expound on morals and virtue to lead him to defend family support, a free public education of quality, a universal health system, a higher minimum salary, proper retirement, social security, a more rational use of the military, and environmental change. He doesn’t. The idea of a virtuous, rational middle he never stops peddling is a poor moralistic disguise and an excuse for more disastrous economic or political decisions and further wrecking of the communal and cooperative approach to life he considers most important.

2 thoughts on “a political center?”

  1. Hi Gildas!
    I agree with your writing on David Brooks — he is exasperating in his vague self-congratulatory middle-roadism. He is sort of like Trump-light in his attitude that only he can fix it. His ideas are very derivative of Catholic Social Teaching, except that he is faking it and makes “both-siderism” claims that put him above and beyond it.

  2. Unfortunately, he is not the only one to advertise right wing policies as a middle way. The development of true middle-of-the-road rational policies that provide breathing space to working people and lead us to a less chaotic economy is within our grasp. Not easy, for sure, as the proper relationship of public and private spheres is a moving target.

Comments are closed.