In an effort to combat my own “myside bias”, I decided that I should probably talk politics with a centrist (not a conservative; I figured that would be too unrealistic a jump to expect from myself) with a really open mind, for them to explain why they were a centrist to see if perhaps my socialist ideas were in fact misguided. I even posted a request for such a thing on Craigslist. I got three responses:
1. “So how do you feel about capitalism?”
I was like, ?????? I explained what socialists typically think of capitalism for his edification, but he was obviously incapable of providing the rigorous intellectual conversation I was looking for.
2. “Why are you trying to label people’s ideas, blah blah.”
Some people really have issues with “labels.” They sound like commitment-phobic “non-boyfriends” to me. Clearly, I would not get along with this person.
3. “You are looking for the impossible. Centrists are centrists because they’re either unintelligent or misinformed.”
I wrote back that I knew for in fact that this was not the case, since I knew several “passionately” centrist people who were very intelligent, and my mom was one of them. The only reason I hadn’t asked them to do this little interview with was because the friends had moved away and I already burdened my mom so much with my political rants that I thought I’d give her a break on this one.
But after the disappointing responses to my Craigslist post (I know, big surprise), I decided that I’d have to subject my mom to my questioning after all. I reasoned that, actually, I should have done a little more listening and a little less ranting while talking politics with her anyway, and this would be a great start. So I told her the whole saga.
She seemed a little wary, weary of my political discussions. I was like, “I’ll just ask you one question, I promise.”
Me: So why do you like capitalism?
Her: Well, I don’t know any other way, really.
Oh great, I thought. Maybe Craigslist guy #3 was actually right after all.
Her: You know what I think would be ideal? How the Native Americans lived. Everyone was provided before, but if someone didn’t want to go hunting that day, they just didn’t go hunting, women were pretty much just as respected as the men. I don’t know how it would work in modern society, but…
Me: Mom, those were basically anarchist socialist societies.
Noam Chomsky once said that “Most people are anarchists.” I’m starting to wonder if he might actually be right.