Centrism has become an all-purpose term of abuse but what does it actually mean? And what does Centrism want? Dorian and Ian journey to the centre of the middle, dropping in on Tony Benn, William Rees-Mogg, the crises of the 70s, Trotsky, fascism, communism, Clinton, Blair, and the guillotine.…
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Centrism: A Reading List
The Oxford History of the French Revolution by William Doyle. The single best all-in-one history of the French revolution. And one of my favourite history books of all time – a rare instance in which the author combines pace, thoroughness and impeccable research.
John Stuart Mill, Victorian Firebrand by Richard Reeves. Decent, if slightly pedestrian biography of the great liberal philosopher.
John Maynard Keynes trilogy by Robert Skidelsky. The best work on Keynes.
The Third Way by Anthony Giddens. Nowhere near as good as it should be, nor as I expected it to be. Surprisingly vacuous.
The Vital Centre by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. Fascinating post-war argument for the importance of the radical centre
Trotsky on centrism
Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics by John Avlon. Solid history of those who sought to occupy the centre of American politics.
Toward a Radical Middle by Renata Adler. New Yorker writer’s 1969 manifesto for radical centrism in a fractious time.
Life in the Centre by Roy Jenkins. The arch-centrist’s juicy memoir.
Safety First: The Making of New Labour by Paul Anderson and Nyta Mann. A first-draft history of New Labour from 1997.
Blair and Brown: The New Labour Revolution. Satisfying BBC documentary series on iPlayer, with contributions from all the key players.
“When centrism is so hard to define, like nailing jelly to the wall, you have to ask does it even deserve to be called an ism at all?” – Ian
“Trotsky says Centrism is parasitic, opportunistic, vain, uninterested in theory, and harder on the left than the right… and those criticisms are still levelled at centrists today.” – Dorian
“The thing is, Centrism is often popular with voters but unpopular with people who are very interested in politics. Because it’s not passionate.” – Ian
“I myself am an ideologue, an ideologue for liberalism, so it’s possible I feel threatened by something which essentially isn’t ideological.” – Ian
Written and presented by Dorian Lynskey and Ian Dunt. Audio production by Alex Rees. Music by Jade Bailey. Logo art by Mischa Welsh. Group Editor: Andrew Harrison. Origin Story is a Podmasters production
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