Watching the news lately, you get the impression that the world is being ripped in two by the scourge of the far-right and the far-left. Populism they call it. Warring tribes in a binary war for the soul of the free world. In the US, Our dear orange Pericles is scheming mightily to manipulate the already unconstitutional powers of executive privilege to follow through with his promise to militarize the commons at the boarder. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party is in virtual upheaval over how to contain a 5-foot-2 congresswoman for making the “antisemitic” observation that perhaps Israel has too much influence over Washington while the rest of the party keep McCarthyism alive with their own Russophobic “tropes”.
Across Europe and many other parts of the world, you here a similar tale of the populist left and/or the populist right going too far in one direction or the other, many times both simultaneously in an act of sociopolitical fission. You also hear a great collective wail from the established order who still maintain control over the press and the permanent government, lamenting the untimely demise of globalism and an ill-defined sense of pragmatism among the holy Neos, both liberal and conservative. These heavily microphoned scions of the status quo would have you believe that the world was in perfect harmony before the 2008 financial crash that they and their order precipitated with the bipartisan pillage of the world’s financial resources. In times like these the Ivy League appointed intellectual hierarchy of corporate thinktankland like to blow the dust off that old time honored canard of Jean-Pierre Faye’s Horseshoe Theory. The idea that, when push comes to shove, the far-right and the far-left are like two ends of a horseshoe, nearly meeting each other ideologically in the middle.
Being a militant contrarian panarchist, I have some very mixed feelings about this philosophy. On the one hand, there is a part of me that wants to embrace this radical panic. I’ve long contended that dismantling the police-warfare state is an effort best left to a collaboration between the radical left and the libertarian right that today’s wave of populists pretend to represent. On the other hand, the entire left-right spectrum strikes me as inherently reductionist and almost childishly over simplistic. Just like gender and sexuality, politics and philosophy are far too complex to be reduced to such bipolar classifications. I prefer to think of this sociopolitical zeitgeist as a circle, rather than the brutish horseshoe.
It’s hard for any well studied student of history to deny that certain elements of the far-right and far-left have a great deal of under-explored common ground. As a post-Marxist social anarchist who prizes anti-imperialism and freedom of speech above all else, I find myself in agreement with paleolibertarians like Ron Paul far more often than I do milquetoast progressives like Elizabeth Warren. This isn’t because Ron and me have near identical values, far from it. It’s because we both exist on the outer ring of the sociopolitical circle, with the established order at the center. We exist on what is commonly referred to as the fringe of society, a renegade outback populated by misfits as far-flung as Christian patriots and genderfuck evangelists. Considering the current state of society; endless foreign interventions, two-party gang warfare, economic cannibalism, this maligned outsider status no longer feels like a pejorative. Anarchists, socialists, paleos and libertarians stand far enough from ground zero of the mainstream political circle to recognize the source of these problems and it isn’t us.
With all the dewy eyed hymns being sung by the aging patriarchs of the Fourth Estate, you would be forgiven for forgetting that the most grotesque foibles of the West have almost exclusively been the byproducts of the triumph of bipartisan centrism. Vietnam, Iraq, NAFTA, CAFTA, the War on Drugs, the Prison Industrial Complex, all the poisoned fruits of cooperation among neoliberals and neoconservatives on the center-left and center-right, respectively. The chaos of our current era is the result of the rule of the very system Time Magazine and CNN propose as a solution. Barking populist demagogues like Bernie and Trump aren’t solutions either. With the desperate top-bottom statist overreach of border walls and corporatist green new deals, these are the bastard children of a system that they’re using extreme measures to preserve. These men are opportunistic pied pipers leading well intentioned fringeists back into the never-never-land of centrist purgatory. Their siren songs should be ignored at all cost by anyone thirsty for truly substantial change.
The only real change that swamp creatures like Trump and Bernie truly represent is a division within their circle on how to best preserve it. These populist squabbles may be the contractions of this systems long overdue miscarriage. But they could use a little help from the abortion clinics of the fringe. If the malignant center could achieve such heights of mass destruction working together than why not the disparate forces who reject its hegemony? Why are we wasting perfectly good Molotov cocktails on each other when the cop cars are wide open between us? We need to take note of our priorities. If you are determined to reign in the police state and snuff out the fires of eternal warfare, then I say that you’re my ally, regardless of what you think of my gender identity or how to provide people with adequate healthcare. I honestly believe that there are good kids both in Antifa and MAGA hats who would agree with this sentiment if they weren’t so damn distracted by their preferred cults of personality and the scapegoats they conjure. We need to get these kids woke enough to look across the center and realize that a true revolution can never be waged from within it.
The center had their turn, dearest motherfuckers. They shit the bed and I for one have no intention of cleaning it alone. Fuck the center and unite the fringe.