Sunday, January 21, 2007

Why I Hate Moderates

The title sounds harsh, and, well, it is. But first, let me say that I don't dislike a position simply for being moderate. That is not the point of this entry. There are many instances where I would be considered "moderate". The issue I have is with people who consider being moderate as a somehow more rational or reasonable mode of being than either side of the issue.

The reason is simply this -- most moderates think of being "moderate" as a solution to extremism. But in fact, if you are intentionally trying to be "moderate", then in fact you are just serving two groups of extremists rather than one. The idea that there are just two sides to an issue is absurd anyway. So by being "moderate" you are simply abdigating your responsibility to make an informed choice and instead just choosing the middle of two essentially arbitrary sides.

This is also an issue I have with the idea of pragmatism that people like Bill O'Reilly advocate. If you are being "pragmatic" and not "ideological", you are contradicting yourself. Pragmatic is only pragmatic towards a specific end. And ends are ideological. If you are being pragmatic without an ideology, then you are either (a) being arbitrary, (b) falsely pretending to be non-ideological, or (c) serving an ideology that you aren't aware of. I find (c) to be both the most common and the most dangerous, because you are unable to see your ideologies and just take them as assumed givens.

Now, there is another mode of being which is sometimes taken for being "moderate" when in fact it isn't, and that is "peacemaking" (this term is fairly arbitrary, but it's the best I could come up with). Finding common ground between two parties, or helping communication between parties is neither pragmatic nor moderate. It is a facilitating mode. However, peacemaking itself cannot make decisions -- it simply helps other parties decide choices that suit them. As soon as a peacemaker persues their own independent solutions (which doesn't necessarily mean they are no longer peacemaking) they are being ideological.

Again, I don't want anyone to be confused. If you happen to fall into a moderate position (or many moderate positions) because that is what you really think, this post is not an attack on you. However, if you are being "moderate" thinking that it is a peacemaking role or is the solution to extremism, then you are even more controlled by extremists than even the extreme positions. And this is an especially dangerous position as far as being open to manipulation, because in fact you are explicitly giving yourself open to manipulation by two sides. And, because you are being "moderate" presumably between two sides, the two sides you are probably "moderate" between are those most public and pronounced. And how does a view get to be public and pronounced? That's right -- the media. So, by being moderate, you are basically telling the media to tell you what to believe. Whatever two sides they pick, you will be at the center. So, to manipulate you, all they have to do is move each side until they have you doing exactly what they want.

So, don't be moderate. Think for yourself.


At 3/14/2007 10:45 PM, Anonymous Rev. Joey Reed, OSL said...

While I appreciate your zeal for picking a stance, I disagree vehemently with your definition of "moderate."

The truth of "moderate" in my understanding, is that there is usually a little truth on both sides of the argument. Embracing absolute truths usually involves discounting at least part of the validity of your opponent's argument.

I don't care for it being done to me, so I try to avoid doing it to others.

My goal as a moderate is not to tick off people on both sides. Nor is it to be manipulated by either side. My goal is to draw a conclusion based on the intersection of my beliefs and the facts.

While my beliefs are fairly stable they do grow. The facts of the situation are often much more fluid.

Nice work on the rest of the blog, though. I'm enjoying the reading.

At 3/15/2007 3:55 AM, Anonymous cseminarian said...

"The truth of "moderate" in my understanding, is that there is usually a little truth on both sides of the argument."

I don't necessarily have a problem with this, per se. The problem I have is the hidden assumption that the right answer must lie _between_ the two existing positions. It may be that while there is truth to both sides, the fact is that the right answer is going even further to one side or the other. Or that the solution is something completely different.

So, I don't object to finding truth in each argument, my problem is using the "sides" as demarcation points of the ends.

"Nice work on the rest of the blog, though. I'm enjoying the reading."

Sadly, I haven't had much time to write lately, so it's a bit out of date.

At 8/05/2011 12:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have to say I don't agree. I could write a book about why I don't agree but I really don't have the time. The short of the answer of why I don't agree is a common philosophy among pragmatists and moderates, which I like to call "centrist truth." Not that being a centrist is the true or right answer but more of a way of looking at things. The glass is not half full or half empty. The line in the water is exactly 3.5 inches from the bottom or top. This is a fact not a view.

At 1/07/2016 12:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joelp, you seem to have entirely missed the point of his post. He surely understands your position.


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