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Moderate and Radical Centrists

Being a centrist doesn't necessarily mean being a moderate. A centrist is simply someone who borrows ideas from the left and the right. The terms "left" and "right" come from the French Revolution: the left was pro-revolution, pro-insurrection, pro-progress, pro-egalitarianism, and pro-democracy, while the right was anti-revolution, anti-insurrection, against radical changes, against egalitarianism, and against democracy. Of course, most people don't fit neatly into either category, as it's quite easy to be against a violent revolution and still pro-democracy and pro-egalitarianism at the same time. That, of course, would make you somewhat of a centrist.

There are two kinds of centrists. There are milquetoast centrists, like Clinton and Blaire, who are really just moderates. But there are also radical centrists, like Bernie Sanders, Andrew Yang, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The fact that someone is a centrist tells you very little about their politics other than that they are proponents of progress through democratic reform rather than violent revolution. So, yes, Bernie Sanders and AOC are centrists, not leftists. They aren't trying to overthrow the State or overturn the whole system. They are neither Marxists nor anarchists (i.e. they are not leftists). They are trying to slowly change things through democratic means until our unjust capitalist system resembles something more like a Nordic Model mixed economy.

Social democracy, democratic socialism, and classical neoliberalism* (e.g. German social market economy) are all forms of radical centrism, as are Georgism and distributism. What we call "social democracy" today stems from "revisionist marxism" and "Fabianism" and the ideas of people like Eduard Bernstein, Anthony Crosland, and Anthony Giddens. What these revisionists did was take the best ideas of Karl Marx and the best ideas of Edmund Burke and synthesized them. Burke's critique of insurrectionary violence and revolution is totally valid, but so is Marx's critique of capitalistic exploitation.

I am a radical centrist. What that means is that I have read Edmund Burke and Karl Marx and that I have found an equal amount of truth in both. It means that I can read Peter Kropotkin and F. A. Hayek and recognize that they are both correct. A radical centrist is someone that recognizes that the classical thinkers of the left and of the right both had valid points and that the observations of both sides are equally worthy of being taken into consideration.

*Classical neoliberalism must be distinguished from modern neoliberalism. Classical neoliberalism was much closer to social democracy and advocated a "free-market welfare state" in which welfare provisions were to be provided on a universal basis via social insurance. This is in contrast to the varieties of neoliberalism that rose to prominence from the 70s through the 90s. This new neoliberalism was for privatization and means-testing of welfare rather than universal "social democracy" style provisions.

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