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Idealism Without Illusions




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"Radical Middle [Newsletter] carries the encouraging news of an emerging group with a different voice, one that is nuanced, hopeful, adult."
-- from Walter Truett Anderson, All Connected Now: Life in the First Global Civilization (2001)

Radical Middle Archive:
Tracking the Savvy and Visionary Center

This Archive consists of articles from Radical Middle Newsletter when it was a pricey printed periodical (January 1999 through December 2004).  They are now freely available below.  Read, link, and reproduce to your heart's content.

If you'd like to view articles from Radical Middle Online Newsletter (January 2005 -June 2009), just go HERE.

An overview of our book Radical Middle: The Politics We Need Now (Basic Books, 2004) is HERE.

Articles from New Options Newsletter (1984 - 1992), which took a more long-term (aka "idealistic") approach to the same fundamental issues dealt with in Radical Middle Newsletter, can be found HERE.

And an introduction to the New World Alliance (1979 - 1983), arguably the first national  radical-centrist / transformational political organization in the U.S., can be found HERE.


An Identifiable "Radical Middle" Is Quietly at Work -- in Congress!
December 2004

All over Washington, groups like the ACLU created scorecards of the 108th Congress that were carefully calculated to make liberals the "winners."  On parallel track, groups like the Christian Coalition created scorecards that made conservatives the winners. We created a scorecard that tracked over 50 radical middle pieces of legislation . . . and uncovered a whole new set of thoughtful & visionary champions.

Our Next Foreign Policy Needs to Learn from ALL of Us
November 2004

Most of our politicians are trying to find some mushy compromise between two laughably polarized foreign policy positions -- "realism" and "idealism."  Meanwhile, radical middle thinkers are trying to incorporate the truths contained in ALL the ways we'd save the world.

Five Books That Would Make a Radical Middle Revolution
October 2004
If you missed John Avlon's Independent Nation (2004), Ted Halstead's The Real State of the Union (2004), Matt Miller's The Two Percent Solution (2003), Ronn Owens's Voice of Reason (2004), and one 2004 tome that was attacked by the policy director of the Democratic Leadership Council, then you've been missing the most exciting and relevant spate of political books in the last 25 years!

OK, Vote -- But More Important, Be a Player, Not a Good Soldier or a Rebel
September 2004
We've been publishing five years now, and in this article I step back and try to describe a political strategy that's consistent with the kinds of political ideas we've been developing (and that's already being carried out, in bits and pieces, by radical middle thinkers and activists).

At Last, a Movement That Would Have Us Listen To and Learn From Each Other
July / August 2004
Twenty-four left-wing, right-wing, and independent opinion leaders got together in the Michigan woods this summer to lay the groundwork for a movement that might -- just might -- succeed in implementing the kinds of ideas we've been writing about here.

Four Key Values + Any Caring Person = A Principled, Radical Middle Politics
June 2004
We've been publishing almost five years now, and in this article I step back and try to articulate the larger political message we've been developing.

Wake Up, You There in the Beltway -- Here Come the Independents
May 2004
Independent Nation author and former Giuliani speechwriter John Avlon (b. 1973) tells the "Beltway crowd" that a grassroots independent movement is growing in America.

Law Reform as if People Mattered
April 2004
A new breed of lawyer and legal scholar is less interested in endless  "theoretical nondebates" over issues like criminals' rights, and more interested in making the legal system as humanly friendly as possible.  Making it accountable, affordable, humane.  Making it -- even -- therapeutic.

Ignore the Noise!
March 2004
This is the preface to Mark Satin's just-released book, Radical Middle: The Politics We Need Now (Westview Press / Perseus Books Group, March 2, 2004).

Second Front in Our War For Democracy: Liberating the U.S. From Oil Dependence
January / February 2004
The fight is on as to how to do this.  Some would have us pick their favorite "soft" energy paths.  Others, at the radical middle, would have us provide substantial amounts of support to each of six "parallel" energy paths -- conservation, renewables, non-oil fossil fuels, hydrogen, nuclear, and values-change -- in the expectation that some will be preferable today, others tomorrow, and so on back & forth.


Listen, Politicians (and Activists): Public Opinion Is Radical Middle Now
December 2003
Increasingly, the public appears to be -- on many policy issues -- subtle and imaginative, rational and creative, sensible and forward-looking, pragmatic and visionary.  By contrast, most of our politicians (and, sadly, many of our activists) appear to be simplistic, unimaginative, and woodenly partisan.

What Our Schools Need Now: Great Teachers, Great Teachers, Great Teachers
November 2003
Maybe high-stakes testing will frighten some students into memorizing more facts.  And it couldn't hurt if classes were smaller.  But no political leader in this country has the courage to stand up to the education bureaucracy and say what's obvious to most Americans and to a rapidly growing cadre of "radical middle" education reformers: THE TEACHER is the key to reinventing American education.

From Romantic Nationalists to Thoughtful Cosmopolitans
October 2003
Republicans and Democrats, even Greens and Libertarians, seem terrified of deviating from the rhetoric of romantic nationalism.  Talk with Americans in any depth, though, and you'll discover that our nationalism is beginning to shade into a tentative and thoughtful cosmopolitanism.   Pollsters, philosophers, activists, travel guidebooks, and basketball writers are all beginning to pick up on this.

Universal, Preventive, and Cost-Effective Health Care Is Within Our Grasp!
September 2003
Not one of the over 1,000 health care bills in Congress comes close to giving us what we want and need: Universal health care that's NOT totally run by the government and DOES allow us to take full advantage of preventive services and alternative therapies.  But -- psst! --  some health care workers and policy analysts have figured out how to give us exactly that.  And save us money in the process.

Economic-Class-Based Affirmative Action: The Elites Loathe It, The People Want It
July / August 2003
The most morally compelling issue on college campuses today is all about class, not race.  Students from the top economic quartile take 74% of the slots at our 150 best universities; students from the bottom quartile, 3%.  Admissions officers and the Supreme Court pretend this is a non-issue.  But most Americans want to make it an issue, and thinkers at the radical middle are suggesting how to proceed.

From Blinded by the Present to Hot-Wired to the Past and Future
June 2003
Academics and activists enjoy bashing us for caring only about the present, but hello!?!  For the last decade, our culture has been hot-wiring itself to the (global) past and (global) future.  It's  a plot by Baby Boomers with a social conscience -- educators from the National Center for History, world historians from the World History Association, & "scenario planners" from the World Future Society.

Race-Conscious Gruel vs. Amer'c'n Gumbo: Letter to My Afroamerican Nephew
May 2003
Although extraordinary debates are taking place now in the African-American community, few white journalists are willing to honestly assess them.  We make up for that here -- we tell you why visionary realists Stanley Crouch and John McWhorter are more relevant now  than black Victimologists Derrick Bell and Randall Robinson.  ESPECIALLY if you're a young black kid in Oakland. . . .

From Nature on a Pedestal to Nature as a Slightly Ditzy Companion
April 2003
The ANWR "debate" was surreal; we don't have to choose between those who'd exploit nature and those who'd put her on a pedestal. Cutting-edge ecologists like Cal's Daniel Botkin and Yale's Daniel Esty are creating a "radical middle environmentalism" that's beginning to be heard in the classrooms of our best universities and the conference rooms of our best think tanks and NGOs.

The Cool Diffidence and Passionate Realism of the Rising Generation
March 2003

Despite encouragement from legions of nostalgic Baby Boomers, the generation of people age 21-35 isn't heading to the barricades anytime soon.  It's a generation of thoughtful, sensitive, creative, and highly responsible pragmatists. And it's developing its OWN brand of politics, thank you. 

Congress' Top Visionaries: Reps. Filner and Frank and Sen. Tim Johnson
January / February 2003
To identify the most "radical middle" legislators in the 107th Congress (2001-02),  we created a Scorecard that tracked 100 radical middle pieces of legislation.  Unfortunately, the Scorecard gave top scores only to left-leaning members of Congress!  We learned from this experience, and our Scorecard from the 108th Congress, November / December 2004 above, is a lot more reliable.


Where's the Juice?: A Review of Halstead and Lind's The Radical Center
December 2002
Finally we have it! -- a readable, sensible, and sophisticated introduction to radical middle politics by U.S. authors (both in their 30s).  But can it win activists away from nihilistic tracts like Hardt and Negri's Empire, and messianic tracts like David Korten's The Post-Corporate World?

Forget Bush's Cowboy Unilateralism -- Global Governance Is Busy Being Born
November 2002
The Washington press corps is full of angst about President Bush's "unilateralism."  Meanwhile, national government agencies, international governmental organizations, transnational corporations, and civil society organizations have begun to collaborate to such an extent that we're on the verge of having something genuinely new on Earth -- an increasingly transparent and accountable world system. 

Professional Schools, Not Radical Groups, Are Our Social Change Incubators Now
October 2002
Although the mainstream and alternative media are fixated on what's happening in the streets, most of tomorrow's most effective social change agents are prepping for the long haul in medical, business and law schools.

Forget Socialism and Protectionism -- Here Comes "Planetary Humanism"
September 2002

Many think there are only two political points of view right now: "corporate capitalism," and the witches' brew of socialism, anarchism, identity politics, technophobia, and economic protectionism that burst forth on the streets of Seattle.  We say a third view is arising.  Call it "planetary humanism."

Goodbye, Victim Feminists and Soft Men!  Hello, Equity Feminists and Standup Guys
July / August 2002

Historians rarely dwell on the human costs of immersing oneself in Necessary and Important social movements.  Here, we rip that politically correct curtain away.  We also discover that  feminism and men's liberation have recently taken a turn for the better.

We Need To Alter the Culture at Places Like Enron -- Not Just Pass More Laws
June 2002

Liberals and conservatives are twiddling the dials; radicals are plotting revenge; New Agers are spouting feel-good pipe dreams.  Meanwhile, radical centrist management consultants and policy analysts are showing the world how to steer corporate culture in the right direction.

Nine Ways of Looking at the Next Great Social Change Movement
May 2002

Although the old social change movement may be running on empty, spokespeople for eight distinct political traditions are calling for a new social change movement.  We should listen to these human rights advocates, communitarians, ecologists, "values conservatives," localists, globalists, economic democrats, and radical centrists -- and synthesize key truths from each of them.

Confronting the Social Causes of Psychological Depression: Too Taboo?
April 2002
Twice as many Americans suffer from psychological depression as live in poverty. Although most politicians won't touch this issue, some underappreciated scholars and psychologists have begun proposing ways that families, schools, and workplaces can be made more friendly to the soul.

Bring Back the Draft -- For Everyone! -- and Offer Community and Military Options
March 2002
From Col. David Hackworth to communitarian Amitai Etzioni, people of integrity are beginning to talk about universal national service -- for EVERYONE, pardner.

Selling U.S. Products Abroad: Malign, Moral, or a Chance for Mutual Learning?
January / February 2002
Ralph Nader sees multinationals as the enemy.  George Priest sees them as evidence of the "moral virtue of capitalism."  Increasingly, radical middle thinkers see them as at least potentially Learning Organizations; and feel the learning needs to cut both ways.


Are We "Cultural Creatives," "New Monastic Individuals," or "Post-Culturals"?
December 2001
Paul Ray says that 50 million green or personal-growth-oriented Americans are about to change the world!  But Morris Berman says that the most perceptive social change-oriented  Americans are pretty much alone now.  And Chris Clausen says that the borrowing and commingling that's going on all around us now -- of ethnic traits, ideas, values -- is the real metapolitical movement of our time.

Tough on Terrorism AND Tough on the Causes of Terrorism: Our Only Hope
November 2001
The far right, the far left, the peace movement, and the New Age have all proved themselves irrelevant in this crisis.  But fortunately for all of us who've felt politically isolated since 9/11, hundreds of thoughtful, nuanced, intelligently hopeful Americans are calling for a two-track approach to the terrorist threat. Call them the visionary realists.

An Upper Class Fit for the 21st Century
October 2001
Where John Judis (Paradox of American Democracy) sees callous sell-outs, David Brooks (Bobos in Paradise) sees bourgeois bohemians.  But both authors hold out hope.

Left, Right and Evangelicals Hammer Out Holistic Anti-Poverty Agenda
September 2001
Innovative thinking about poverty has become a lot more realistic since the Great Society.  The most promising new approaches are more supervisory -- some might say more paternalistic (or "maternalistic") -- than the rights-based approaches of the Sixties.  At the same time, though, the new approaches are more sensitive to individual poor people's unique situations. 

An Egalitarianism Fit for the 21st Century
July / August 2001
Nobel-Prize-winning economist Robert Fogel (The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism) says we need to focus less on equalizing material assets, and more on equalizing "spiritual" and "immaterial" assets.

Coming To Grips With Biotechnology: Beyond Complacency and Fear
June 2001
The Masters of the Universe are telling us not to worry, and the Saviors of the Universe are UP IN ARMS.  But slowly, mercifully, a Third Voice --  nuanced, grown-up, cautiously optimistic -- is beginning to be  heard.

Different Words, Same Song?
May 2001

Review of William Ury, Getting to Peace, and Robert Kaplan, The Coming Anarchy

Real "Campaign Finance Reform" Is More About Process Than Money
April 2001
McCain and his rivals are getting most of the ink, but the heroes in this battle are the Process Reformers -- those who'd shorten the election cycle, provide free TV time to qualified candidates, provide $50 tax credits so all people can contribute to candidates. . . .

Four Books, Four Visions; or, Where Have You Gone, Herbert Marcuse?
March 2001
Review of Thomas Berry, The Great Work; Joseph Coates, 2025; Roberto Unger and Cornel West, The Future of American Progressivism; and Michael Lind, The Next American Nation

Humanitarian Military Intervention: The “Peace Movement” of the ‘00s?
January / February 2001
The Old Peace Movement disavowed use of the gun.  The New Peace Movement will learn -- is learning -- when to call on the world to pick up the gun and intervene in the affairs of sovereign nations.


A Bold New Kind of Global History Steps Out Upon the Stage
December 2000

Review of J.M. Roberts, Twentieth Century; David Landes, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations; Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Millennium; and Theodore Zeldin, An Intimate History of Humanity

Maybe the Election Will Shame Us Into Sharing Our Wealth
November 2000
Forget the politicians' cynical talk about prescription drug coverage for seniors.  Just beneath the radar screens of the mainstream media, thinkers and activists are revising old wealth-sharing ideas and  proposing new ones -- basic annual incomes, universal access to stock dividends, public employment for all,  private employment for all (!), "individual development" accounts. . . .

Seriously, Folks -- Do We Really Need a Meritocracy?
October 2000

Review of Nicholas Lemann, The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy

Futility, Fury and Hope Outside the Republican National Convention
September 2000
The New Protest Movement and the featured speakers at Arianna Huffington's Shadow Convention may think they've got the answers you need -- but they're missing a more timely message coming from the likes of Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Timoney and the self-confident Gen-Y'ers who scoped out, but didn't buy into, the protests.

Goodbye, ACLU -- Today We Need Communitarians and "Technorealists"
July / August 2000
Today's ACLU can be counted upon to privilege individual rights over the common good at every turn.  We need to recapture a sense of balance or limits.  [A year after this article came 9/11, and many commentators suddenly began saying the same thing.]

Unlocking All Our Children's Potentials: The Children's Defense Fund Roars Into the 21st Century
June 2000
Over 2,000 activists at the national meeting of the Children's Defense Fund blaze a path beyond "identity politics," teachers' unions, and simplistic solutions.

Scientists Discuss, Debate Burning Political Issues While Press Sleeps
May 2000
This is not your father's AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science).

Trade Wars: Responses to the WTO Cover Story (from January / February 2000), With a Reply from the Editor
April 2000
Our cover story was enormously controversial at the time (and cost us all our radical-liberal foundation support), but it expressed what would eventually, by 2004-05, become the majority position among social change agents.

AALS Section on Socio-Economics: Gathering of Savvy “Socio-Economists” Challenges Traditional Economics
March 2000
Credentialed economists and other social scientists from the rising new group SASE (Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economists) take on traditional liberals -- and each other.

Hey, WTO Protesters! The “Radical Middle” Has Got Your Number
January / February 2000
We don't need protectionism, even if it will make the labor unions love us.  What we do need is to (a) open our borders to agricultural and manufactured goods from the poorest countries, and (b) build labor, environmental, and human rights concerns into our trade agreements.


Harvard Center for Ethics and the Professions: Religion in Public Life -- Beyond the Wall of Separation?
December 1999

National Trust for Historic Preservation: The Smart-Growthers and the Elephants
November 1999

World Future Society: Feast of the “Insider” Change Agents
October 1999

From “Please, Mr. Capitalist?” to the NEXT Industrial Revolution
September 1999

Review of William McDonough, “The NEXT Industrial Revolution," and Paul Hawken et al., Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution

Resentment and Transcendence at the NAACP Convention
July / August 1999

National Taxpayers Union: From Tax Reduction to Tax Reform
June 1999

A Positive Vision for the New Planetary Civilization
May 1999

Review of Peter Schwartz et al., The Long Boom

Responses to the “Globalism vs. Localism” Cover Story (from January / February 1999)
April 1999

Modest Women, Honorable Men
March 1999

Review of Wendy Shalit, A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue

Globalization vs. Localism: Our Real Political Debate
January / February 1999


WHY "Radical Middle"?


50 Thinkers and Activists DESCRIBE the Radical Middle 

50 Best Radical Middle BOOKS of the '00s


100 Great Radical Centrist GROUPS and  Organizations

25 Great Radical Centrist BLOGS


Generational Equity and Communitarian platforms 1990s

First U.S. Green Party gatherings, 1987 - 1990

Green Party's "Ten Key Values" statement, 1984

New World Alliance, 1979 - 1983

PDF of  the Alliance's "Transformation Platform," 1981


What the Draft Resistance Movement Taught Me

What the Civil Rights Movement Taught Me


New Options Newsletter, 1984-1992 (includes back issue PDFs!)

New Age Politics: Healing Self and Society, 1976,  1978 (includes 1976 text PDF!)


50 Best "Third Way" Books of the 1990s

25 Best "Transformational" Books of the 1980s

25 Best "New Age Politics" Books of the 1970s


10 Best U.S. Political NOVELS

50 Current Political IDEOLOGIES

50 Current Political  MANIFESTOS