You probably know someone like this. They strive for the middle ground. They like to compromise. Political parties move toward the political center in national elections. Statistics show that most Americans are middle of the road type people. Americans like everyone to have an opportunity for their fair say. This is a popular argument. Surveys show it works well, this is why most Americans favor allowing Intelligent Design to be taught alongside Evolution in high school biology classes. But have you ever stop to ask yourself, where does being middle of the road get you? The answer is: NOWHERE!

Have you ever asked yourself what it means to enact social change? If you are like most people you don't even feel this is desirable. In order to change things you need one important thing: a vision. This is something which cannot be compromised and necessarily must skew the facts toward your desired outcome. Now you may think that skewing the facts is somehow "wrong", but truth be told everything you now consider a "fact" about the social world is actually a skewed fact. Are you surprised? You shouldn't be. People once thought that other people deserved to be enslaved because they were of an inferior race. While people may not think this same thing anymore, the same line of logic has not disappeared nor has its application.

Truth of the Universe Number 1: Reality is socially constructed.
This means that truth and facts are reached by social agreement. This may sound preposterous to some of you reading this, surely science has proved some things! Well maybe it has? Remember that the foundation of empiricism is that the things one person sees can be seen by others and then a common meaning is agreed upon which then becomes entered into the scientific body of knowledge. What this little example goes to show is that just because something is socially constructed does not mean it lacks reality. On the contrary, the only way we can be certain that we aren't having psychotic delusions is to socially agree upon a common reality with other people. This process is what is called the social construction of reality.

Truth of the Universe Number 2: Our conception of reality can be manipulated.
This may sound scary, but you see it every day. If you have ever seen an advertisement, especially on television, you know first hand how this happens. Have you ever considered how strange it is that there can be a revolution in shampoo? The fact that this is even conceivable today is proof of how malleable our social reality has become. Today you can purchase an entire lifestyle at a store and live a brand. Not to mention the government propaganda which shapes your conception of reality. Most people do not realize that the way in which they see the world was heavily influenced by propaganda in government run schools. As a personal example, part of the reason why I am an environmentalist is because they told me in second grade that littering was wrong and evil. This is something which has stuck with me to this day. This is not to say that we shouldn't raise our children in a culture or that molding them in this way is bad. If anything the truth is that this sort of molding of children is natural and inevitable, what we are faced with is a distinct choice in how we do it.

Truth of the Universe Number 3: We can create reality in any way we wish.
The first step is creating a vision. The second is to completely avoid the middle of the road. These two steps open up the path toward actualizing complete human freedom. The way to explain is by way of another explanation first:

The social function of the idea of the middle of the road is to engage all the diverse elements of society in a single political and social dialogue in order to prevent fragmentation and unify a society under a single control paradigm. While some people see this as a good thing, I do not. I see the eschewing of a single political dialogue as a good thing because it leads to the social and political fragmentation of a society which undermines and ultimately can destroy any and all overarching control paradigms. The middle of the road idea is necessary to controlling a large heterogeneous population, but there is no reason why we ought to control a unified large population and in fact even having one is bad. Larger societies necessitate hierarchy and the marginalizing of the majority of a population from the political process and the material benefits of society. Smaller societies, the smaller the better, engage the entire population in the political dialogue and if fragmented into the tribal band level render hierarchy unnecessary and a burden.

Social fragmentation results in social diversity. Diversity increases the possible ways of being human but an important rule is that each incidence of diversity can only find stability within a community of like minded people. This rule triggers a double-feedback loop as groups fragment exponentially into like minded components. However, there exists a biologically defined limit to minimum group size (for self-sufficient bands in the wild) at around 8.

At the same time the negative effects of living in a hierarchal society can be eliminated. These negative effects can be summarized here as: wealth disparity, large scale war for conquest, environmental devastation, alienation, heart disease and poverty. A write up on why these are the necessary consequences of a hierarchy society but are not found in non-hierarchal societies, such as hunter-gatherer societies, will be created at a later date. Any how, human freedom is both a freedom from these structural problems of hierarchal society and freedom for full actualization of an individual's humanity. This is most fully expressed as a result of disengagement with any and all overarching political and social dialogues.

To reiterate: we can create reality in any way we wish. The way to enact this socially is to adopt a vision; avoid the middle of the road; to find like minded peoples to share in this vision; finally, to not force your vision on other people and respect their right to their opinion, in other words: there is no one right way to live. This last one will undoubtly puzzle a few of you reading this. If asked what is something which is inherent to a hierarchal society, what would you answer? My answer would be this: domination and conquest over others. Forcing your vision on others is an expression of domination and conquest, which is an enactment of the control mechanism (remember this short circuits diversity). There is nothing inevitable or natural about domination. If there was than non-hierarchal hunter-gatherer societies would not have continued to exist into the modern period.

In conclusion I would like to say that there is nothing wrong with bending the truth to fit your vision. What sells is a vision that works. As America's invasion of Iraq proves: truth is irrelevant. Our society has evolved to the point where we are aware that culture itself is something which is to be manipulated by those who participate in it. This opens up a tremendous space within which to build something which works for you and like minded people like you. The new age religions of the contemporary period say: you are the change you see in the world. Advertisements say: your everyday choices in the marketplace have tremendous implications on who you are, in other words your identity is created by your purchases. Social activists say: your everyday choices in your lifestyle create the social, economic and political world around you. Television says that thought creates reality, movies tell us that life is a hallucination. Politicians tell you that they will make you feel better about yourself. I think you and your friends can do better.

Response to Transitional Man: while sometimes action from skewed facts comes back to bite you in the ass, most of the time this is not the case. Written history itself is a proof of this (since it is a lie), but some more specific examples are: Christianity, agriculture, the automobile and the Spanish-American war. In any case, people have a knack for finding what works for them and what doesn’t, I leave it to them.

"Middle of the Road" is the opening track on The Pretenders fourth (and probably best) album, Learning to Crawl. If the album didn't have the following track, Back on the Chain Gang, it would easily be the standout track. "Back on the Chain Gang" is one of the earliest pop songs I can remember, with my memories of it going back to my father listening to it driving me to preschool, and even after twenty six years, I haven't gotten tired of it. But someone reading the lyrics alone might think "Middle of The Road" is a better song.

The lyrics are an ironic, cutting look at turning middle age and having changing priorities. They are naturally related to the punk rock years that Chrissie Hynde was exiting, but their message is made for a wider audience then that. What I like most about the lyrics is that Chrissie Hynde doesn't take the easy route of using the lyrics to castigate a strawman sell out, but instead uses them to both criticize herself and sympathize with herself at the same time.

I've got a smile, for everyone I meet
As long as you don't try holding me back, or dropping a bomb on my street
I can't get from the cab to curb, without some little jerk on back
Don't harass me, can't you tell, I'm tired as hell
It is only in one line that I feel the ironic detachment evaporate away into fury, when she states that
when you own a big chunk of the bloody third world
the babies just come with the scenery
But even when she says that, she is too honest and punk rock to give us anything as trite as an answer.

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