From blog ideas archive….
I got into an unplanned debate on Facebook. Most debates on Facebook are, in fact, unplanned. you know how it is. Most of the time, it begins with some innocent status update of mine, but this time, I started it by responding to something I felt needed clarification. I always feel a need to do that when i think something is being misrepresented or over-simplified. The following exchange was very thought-provoking and I agreed with many of the sensibilities of this poster, but the rub is always in the specifics, the semantics. This sort of debate is good, however, and I wish more thoughtful people would engage in it.
Jeff Mincey: In an unjust society, the moderates are unjust. In a barbaric society, the moderates are barbaric. To be “moderate” is only to adopt the ideology of the prevailing political milieu; it says nothing about what we actually stand for. So let us stand for social justice. Let us stand for liberty, human rights, and equality. Let us stand for sustainable living and peace for all people. And let us leave the term, moderate, behind.
…Moderates are less concerned with principle than with locating in the safe middle, merely for the sake of its being the middle. This effectively consigns control of one’s ideology to those who define the extremes.
Kelli Jae Baeli: Um, sorry, Jeff, but your definition of “moderate” is erroneous. As a verb it means “to reduce from an extreme.” As a moderate, I believe that the truth is most often found in the middle–not because I cannot manage to make up my mind, but because extremes are often so dangerous and counter-productive, and frankly, just WRONG. There are good and bad ideas on either side of a spectrum, and it falls to us to sift through and pluck out what is good and what works, from both of them, in order to form a more cohesive, discerning and reasonable solution to any given problem. Moderation is what keeps us from war, religious zealotry, poverty, inequality, oppression, torture and the tendency toward a society of haves and have-nots.
- Jeff Mincey Kelli, the middle of the Democrats who favor unsustainable capitalism and the Republicans who favor unsustainable capitalism is what, exactly? The middle between the Democrats who fund the escalation of war in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen and Republicans who fund the same escalation is what, exactly?You tell me that my definition of moderate is erroneous and then you proceed in the very next sentence only to confirm precisely what I have been saying about it, that it is a middle position between extremes. And that’s my point. People who seek out the moderate position consign the nature of their position to the authors who define the extremes — by your own account.
- Jeff Mincey The problem with the American political spectrum is that it runs the full gamut from A to B. Both parties support the folly of unending economic growth on a planet with finite resources. Both parties support the subsidy of private industry by plundering the public treasury. Both parties support the diminution of civil liberties in the faux name of national security. Both support the escalation of untenable war against an indefinable foe.Both parties look the other way at the environmental costs of the endless quest for more profit.Your narrow idea of the two “extremes” only reveals how parochial the American perspective of politics has become.
Kelli Jae Baeli: NO, the moderate position does NOT consign its nature to the authors of the extremes. It merely suggests that I can think for myself, recognize merit, and discard that which does NOT have merit—on BOTH SIDES.
And both parties also have a few ideas that are sound and solution-oriented (fewer, i must admit, these days, on the Republican side, but then again, that’s because the GOP has moved away from its original ideology, isn’t it?).
I think you misunderstand the nuances of what is meant by “middle.” It’s not a fixed point in ideology, it’s a collection of the best ideas from all sources…it does not insinuate that there is a MIDDLE place between those things you mention, but rather, a viable and equitable and helpful solution, leaving out the bits that don’t work. Maybe read what i said again. You missed the point. Your argument is hidden behind semantics, not rooted in the clarity of the specifics.
Kelli Jae Baeli: to wit: I do not believe in “the subsidy of private industry by plundering the public treasury.” That’s my MODERATE stance. I do not believe in “the diminution of civil liberties in the faux name of national security.” That’s my MODERATE stance. I don’t believe in “support the escalation of untenable war against an indefinable foe.” That’s also my MODERATE stance. Nothing narrow or parochial about that. Narrow and parochial, on the other hand, describes THE EXTREME
Jeff Mincey: I understand that the middle is not a fixed point in ideology. Again, that’s the whole point of my opening statement in which I call for us to seek not to be proponents of moderation but rather to be proponents of justice and liberty.
As I say above, those who stake out the moderate course (between the extremes) would, of necessity, be moving further to the Right inasmuch as both extremes (or at least what passes for such in America) have likewise been moving to the Right.
If you actually mean to say that you seek not a middle position but rather to handpick what you consider to be the best attributes of multiple ideologies, then that is not moderation but rather eclecticism.
When you say that to be a moderate is to take the best idea of all sources, you are departing from the definition of the term as commonly understood in the fields of linguistics and lexicography. Moderation has nothing to do with the best of everything. Instead, it has to do with a middle course between extremes, as you yourself first said in an earlier post.
In a society where plunder and war prevail, sustainable living and the practice of nonviolence qualify as the “extreme” position. We need to stop being afraid of this. We need to stand up and be counted.
Kelli Jae Baeli: Obviously, this debate cannot be properly addressed in sound bytes on Facebook. I could write you a 5,000 or 20,000 word essay on it, but I have other writing projects to get to. I will leave it at this:
I believe you have a PAROCHIAL view of what is meant by being moderate. It seeks the same goals you profess to admire. Linguistics and lexography are themselves broad categories, as is MODERATE, so relegating the definition into those categories is limiting and not very helpful. You are flinging that “moderate” term around like you own it, and I say that I believe you unfairly categorize and pigeon-hole many moderates. I am trying to tell you what MY moderate stance is. Not what you define more broadly as what the WORD MODERATE means to YOU. Moderate does not mean neutral.
And yes, you could also identify me in the arena of eclecticism–you say that also as if it’s a dirty word. I’m proud of my ability to think things through and consider the facts, using reason and discernment and ethics. But I don’t agree with ALL tenets of eclecticism either. For instance, I don’t believe it’s okay to leave the doctrines of different systems unreconciled. I am solution-oriented, not a hardliner, about most things.
I have strong views that move left and right on the spectrum, but my overall political beliefs are MODERATE. Using the accepted definition of “political moderate” means that I don’t adhere strictly to any one party platform, and that’s where the political definition of MODERATE ends and my individual input begins…Intelligence and education is FLUID, and it SHOULD BE, because people change, goals change, parameters change, choices change….I don’t believe that strict ideologies are productive, and we need to be able to adjust according to what the truth is, what benefits us and what does not (in ethical terms), according to the situation or subject at hand.
For example, I believe I have the right, as a woman who is in danger from the violence of some men, to own a gun for my personal protection–if I had had a gun during one particularly nasty even in my life, I would not have been attacked, cut up, beat up and left in a ditch. I would have pointed the gun at them, they would have left me alone, and I would have gone on my merry way. But I don’t believe I need an automatic weapon to do that, nor should automatic weapons be legal in most cases, and all gun owners should be glad to register properly and know how to safely use that firearm. (I do because I am ex-military, and also grew up with guns). Anyway, that viewpoint is the MIDDLE or MODERATE stance, and it’s neither Republican, nor Democrat. It’s far more nuanced than that.
Evolution itself is predicated on ADAPTATION, not strict adherence to a limited set of choices.
Now I must get back to my other work. Good day.
Since that discussion, and since the last election, I have moved to Democrat/Liberal, since the situation warranted it, and since being moderate was no longer what it used to be. The changing times demanded that I take a stronger stance since all the measures of where things were on the spectrum became skewed so drastically. But I still have the same opinion. It’s just in a different spot on that scale.