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Caru On February - 13 - 2011

Which Way Now?

“Going Beyond Left and Right.” An admirable statement, but what does it mean? No really, what does it mean? Help me out people, I’m in the dark here. Does it mean adhering to the fallacious idea that the middle-ground is always the right place to be? Does it going beyond the old Left vs Right narrative that plagues the media and looking at the big picture instead? The latter would be nice. In fact, it’s what those who purport to support the idea of going “Beyond Left and Right” claim to be doing. However, unfortunately, this isn’t quite what is truly occurring.

Seeing the big picture is a great thing to strive for, particularly as a media entity. But, there needs to be a balance. You must not lose sight of the actual details in the picture. Unfortunately, this is exactly what is happening. When going “Beyond Left and Right” the ability to be objective about the subjective seems to be left by the wayside in favour bizarre form of consensus, wherein nobody is entirely sure who stands where. Everything becomes equal. All opinions become equal, regardless of logic, tone or factual accuracy. This, hilariously and inevitably, leads straight back to the old media cliché of supposed objectivity, where in order to be “objective” certain questions shouldn’t be asked and certain facts should be ignored. All in the interest of good journalism, of course.

In these cases going “Beyond Left and Right” is a very short and circular journey back to the land of phoney objectivity. This is why I’m suggesting, that when you see someone claiming that they are  going “Beyond Left and Right”,  you should check to see if they really are. We should all use our common sense in these matters.

If we don’t, then the idea of going “Beyond Left and Right” and seeing the big picture becomes as meaningless and vapid as going “Beyond Up and Down”.

Written by Caru

I don't really have anything of note to put in here... Oh, I won a bar of chocolate once.

23 Responses so far.

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  1. Buddy McCue says:

    The false equivalency between Left and Right is a comfort for those who don’t want to pay very much attention to politics.

    The Republicans will do something outrageous, and the reaction of these self-described centrists will usually be “But both sides do it, don’t they?”

    The mainstream media helps further this view of things. If there is no way to draw a false equivalency, then news doesn’t get reported.

  2. ParadisePlacebo74 says:

    I agree, “beyond” doesn’t seem to make much sense. The way I like to look at it is to think of “the truth” as being however many facts it happens to take to add up to the shortest distance between two points — not enough = falling short, and too many = getting lost along the way. Going “beyond” is just another way of confusing things.

  3. Kalima says:

    I’m not a citizen of your country, but addressing what passes for news and journalism in your country is always very frustrating, either because whole stories are either omitted from the news cycle, or a bunch of people who know very little about the subject they are discussing, just give endless, and often quite useless opinions. I must point out that living in another country, I don’t have the access that you do domestically to programs or your msm, for that I’m quite grateful.

    From a very early age I have been curious about the opinions of others, either the written word or the spoken word, but I have used them just as a guideline for forming my own opinions, because as every human, we can could be wrong about anything except the actual true facts.

    I find that forming our own opinions instead of letting people who have a soapbox to the public decide for us, is more than likely the healthiest way to go. After all, when we discover that we might have made a mistake, it’s not the end of the world to admit that we were wrong, and never really too late to change our minds about things or issues. Learning is a lifelong quest, and the by the time we die, we certainly still have much to learn. I’m looking forward to the next life to see if I will be allowed to continue where I left off, see you there maybe, who knows. 😉

  4. KQuark says:

    In my personal political philosophy I myself look beyond left and right in a different way. I think you either go forward or backward. You look to the future or you are reactionary. While I drive in the left lane because I think that’s the fastest way to get to my destination like on a real life divided highway I know if I veer too far to the right or left I end up in the ditch.

  5. KQuark says:

    On the issues beyond left and right is a totally bogus narrative. The right and left agree on very few issues from an ideological perspective.

    On what’s the problem with the two party system beyond left and right should be examined because both sides are influenced by big money interests far too much. But even that influence is relative. The GOP is lock stock and barrel bought and sold by big money. In the Democratic party there is various degrees to which money influences politicians within the party depending on the congressional chamber and branch of government especially. Since the varying degrees of influence are so different the beyond left and right narrative is an over simplistic explanation of reality when you drill down to specific pols but if you widen the narrative enough it’s got validity.

  6. ADONAI says:

    The problem is with the word “fact”. There is empirical fact,and then there is everything else.

    What I mean is that there are things that are true when held up to any scrutiny and there are things that have only a surface truth. When you dig deeper you discover that the “truth” was merely a carefully fabricated deception.

    There are very few issues in our country fitting the former description. Every issue is staged. Presented with a slant either left or right. There is no center. The imaginary “middle” is populated by non-voters and idiots.

    Everyone has a preset bias whether they acknowledge it or not. A logical idiosyncrasy that politicians have learned to exploit. So speeches, news casts, blog sites, set themselves up to tune into those idiosyncrasies in a subtle way.

    There is no moving “beyond left and right”. You can try. Good luck to ya.

  7. intotheabyss says:

    I once heard it said that Independents, or centrists if you will, are the same people who create things like 4 way stop signs.

  8. ghsts says:

    My short answer, I’m afraid is no more helpful but makes sense to me, everything in moderation. Truth is a value judgment, facts seem to hold more water but to a colorblind man the sky is not blue. One of my favorite cliches is people want blood and chocolate, that’s where the money is, and it’s hard to blame any commercial interest for pandering. I loved Murrow but the dude chain smoked and didn’t work well as a personal role model.

  9. PocketWatch says:

    In his book “Stranger in a Strange Land,” Robert Heinlein (a rabid Libertarian, from what I could ever glean, not that it matters to me, really)incorporated into the story the concept of a “Fair Witness.”

    A Fair Witness was a trained professional witness for hire who had an eidetic memory, and whose credentials or testimony could not be questioned. In one scene, a character asks a Fair Witness in a professional capacity “What color is that house on the hill over there?” She replies “It’s white on this side.”

    The idea was that she would never assume anything, but would only report fact, as far as she could witness it, when asked anything as a professional.

    All our lives, we make an assumption that facts are simply that… facts. Unassailable. But recently, we have had that assumption shaken by a deluge of people that look at anything and come up with their own ‘facts.’ Some of those new ‘facts’ may even be correct in the sense that the house is ‘white on this side.’ But there is no context, no larger question, and stringing a set of ‘facts’ that are unrelated to one another to come out with a pre-determined conclusion for selfish or political purposes is becoming more and more prevalent.

    It is difficult to argue when confronted by this phenomenon. After all, facts are facts, right? All else is opinion. I have my set of facts, you have yours, and even if they are ALL facts in the strict sense of the word, relevence is ignored in many cases. It is headache-making.

    I propose that logic (a slippery tool in itself), experience (a subjective tool), and intuition (an even more ephemeral tool) are all essential tools to apply to any set of facts to come away with an opinion that frames our arguments. It is a fool’s game to simply state facts and say they are an argument.

    The media these days is claiming to be a “Fair Witness” by supposedly stating facts and leaving argument and opinion to the consumer of those facts. Then, when walking away from the disaster they instigated, claim they are being neither left or right, as if that is a principled position. But they are leaving out half the equation. Facts must be accompanied by experience, logic, and intuition or they mean little or nothing, frame nothing, expose nothing.

    I said in another post in a different section that I can be correctly accused of speaking out of my butt because I am not ‘on the inside’ in many of the situations that are so important to society and do not have the inside skinny. That applies to most of us in most situations. So how do we become so sure of ourselves and our positions? We use ALL the tools we have, not just some.

    All I ask of the Fourth Estate is that they, once again, do the same, instead of claiming to be the Fair Witnesses they are not.

    • KillgoreTrout says:

      I disagree in regard to people having their own set of facts. That goes beyond the fact and into the realm of opinion. Right wing media is extremely good at blurring the line between objective and subjective. They promote their own views as fact, when in reality, they are not facts but propagandistic subjective interpretation of facts. In other words, opinion.
      I once heard a great line by lewis Black once, where he compared a factual report to a propagandized subjective report. He use the example of a cat, being run over by a car. Factual reporting would be, Cat struck by car. The subjective reporting of the incident was, Cat commits suicide.
      Glad to see another reader of Stranger In A Strange land. Great novel. I always thought of the Fair Witness as something the Supreme Court should be.

      • ghostrider says:

        Killgore, you stated what I was thinking perfectly.

        The only thing I would add is that I don’t believe their is a single media outlet left that reports facts anymore.

        They are all polluted by opinion.

        And yes, I too am a Heinlein fan. Have read all of his books over and over again.

        • KillgoreTrout says:

          The old network news networks are pretty neutral. ABC, CBS and NBC. They don’t usually offer much opinion.

          Welcome, water brother!

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Hey, PW-- I have thought of the Fair Witnesses many times recently!

      • PocketWatch says:

        I just had this thought as Maggie the Cat is bugging me for another ‘walkies’….

        My cat deals with facts (ref: SQUIRREL!!!!!) but not logic.


      • PocketWatch says:

        I think of that often myself. In the book, the limitations of a Fair Witness is discussed as well. Heinlein was many things, but he was not a hypocrit, as far as I could ever tell.

  10. KillgoreTrout says:

    Caru, you bring up an interesting issue. I would begin by saying that truth is self evident. When I hear the phrase, “beyond left and right,” it tells me that the only way to do that is to report events as they happen, by using facts obtained either as a witness to said events, or honest research.
    What has created this call for going beyond left and right, is basically, the advent of 24/7 cable news. These networks have blended journalism with entertainment. This results in allowing far too much personal opinion by the anchors of these shows. It creates an enviroment of ideological gladiators. Doing battle in a huge, national coliseum.
    Many years ago, Walter Chronkite talked about the dangers of mixing journalisn and entertainment. That, as a result, journalistic integrity would be degraded and corrupted.
    The reporting of facts should be just that. The facts and nothing but the facts.

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