I like most of what I have read on this topic, but I thought I would try to see what some of the folks here think as well. Centrism: A Moderate Manifesto - Quillette Like the conservative, the centrist begins with a pessimistic observation about human nature: It is flawed (or, in religious terms, it is sinful). Humans are not infinitely flexible or perfectible. They cannot use reason to transcend fully their basic impulses and prejudices. Our best understanding of human nature today comes from the evolutionary sciences, which strongly suggest that humans are “designed” to navigate a small-scale society; and that they are limited, parochial, biased, prone to violence, status competition, and nearly inescapable tribalism. Even if early evolutionary psychology overemphasized the extent to which there was a “mismatch” between “stone age brains” and modern post-industrial society, it is certainly true that modern Western social structures challenge human nature in ways that smaller societies do not. Because humans are prone to favoring kin and tribe over other people, a complicated, law-based social order is difficult to achieve. Indeed, many groups of people have not transcended a nepotistic social structure based on tribal affinities and the whims of those who wield power. Therefore, the achievements of Western Civilization–free markets, equal treatment under the law, admiration for open inquiry–should inspire awe and reverence. A progressive looks at modern Western Society and sees a list of ills and misfortunes; a centrist looks and is relieved that the list is so short. Furthermore, the centrist weighs the ills against the remarkable accomplishments. The mightiest and wealthiest kings of earlier epochs would have blushed at the luxuries we take for granted. Even the humble treat of buying an arugula salad at a grocery store for a few dollars is something that would have astonished and delighted our ancestors. The centrist, like the conservative, is therefore worried about radical utopian proposals because the centrist fears that they might inspire dramatic alterations that upset a reasonably successful social order. Abstract theories about human altruism and blissfulness are appealing, but they haven’t been tested by the pitiless realities of the world. When inspiring theories that misunderstand or misrepresent human nature have been tried, the results have been invariably tragic. The centrist, however, is equally skeptical of radical libertarian ideas on the Right. The modern welfare state, whatever its flaws, has done a pretty good job of holding together a broad and largely urbanized society in which private charity cannot solve the worst problems of poverty. Many libertarian theorists (although not all, of course) appear as wrong about human nature as socialists or other utopians. Not all humans can thrive in a modern information-based economy. Education is obviously a great social good, but it cannot turn a person with an 85 IQ into an engineer. Creating better incentives will not create a society of Einsteins. Furthermore, markets, although brilliant wealth generators, are often corrosive to social values. This, among other reasons, is why political and cultural leaders have always established rules to guide markets, and have often tried to remove certain commodities from the market system altogether. In most of the United States, for example, sex cannot be bought and sold legally. There are, of course, reasonable arguments for the legalization of prostitution, but it is not immediately obvious that society would be better if all potential market transactions were allowed. The centrist does not need to take a firm stand here; rather he or she should carefully examine the available and future evidence about the effects of legalization. The more important point is that market libertarianism is a radical political philosophy and therefore should be greeted with skepticism. So far, so conservative. This sounds like a modern version of Edmund Burke’s political philosophy. But, there are two great differences between the centrism here conceived and conservatism: (1) Centrism does not loath change and (2) it does not accept a transcendental (religious) moral order. The great conservatives of the past–Edmund Burke, Joseph de Maistre, Klemens von Metternich, John Calhoun, T.S. Eliot, et cetera–often evinced a peculiarly fervid attachment to the current social order, perhaps best summarized by Bierce’s quip that a conservative is one “enamoured of existing evils, as distinguished from the liberal who wishes to replace them with others.” Of course, this is a simplification, and most conservatives have realized that slow change is necessary to preserve social order. Nevertheless, it is a fair simplification, and it is not intellectually dishonest to imagine conservatives on the stasis side of a change continuum with progressives on the other (radical change). The centrist, not surprisingly, wishes to remain in the center of this continuum, encouraging change when prudent, but discouraging abrupt or radical upheavals. The centrist believes, much more than the conservative, in social progress, and believes that humans have made remarkable economic and moral advances in the past 500 years. The conservative is correct that the past is full of wisdom for the future; but the progressive is correct that the past is also full of errors, dogmas, and barbarism. Perhaps one could put it this way: The past is like an old, unused, and rotting library; the books are full of wisdom, but the building is ruined by insects and decay. The conservative wants to keep the library; the centrist wants to keep the books; and the progressive wants to burn the whole thing down and start over.