The Alt-Center

January 1, 0001

In this episode Peyton Bowman ( and Nicholas Gruen explore aspects of Nicholas' blog post “Will you join me in the alt-centre?” (

The term “alt-center” was initially a light-hearted kind of line, but, like many such things, having put it up there, it may very well be about something real.

An earlier iteration of Nicholas' centrism is here. (

But that was then. Now, how about a fusion of Alasdair MacIntyre, James Burnham and George Orwell together with the idea that outputs from modern academia are mostly useless?

And, in this discussion, as Nicholas does in his post, we explore James Burnham’s argument that over nine-tenths of political discussion — from the heights of political theory right down to discussions in the street — is fatally infected with wish fulfillment, rather than a proper engagement with the problems of the world and what we can practically do about them.  

Nicholas illustrates this by referring to the much relied on the distinction between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome noting that neither actually exists in the world. They’re abstractions. More to the point, if you give one generation equality of opportunity, its children will not have equality of opportunity because the children of people who’ve not done well will start disadvantaged. And yet the concept is bandied about in political discussion as if it were far more determinative than it is.

We go on to discuss a range of questions such as the role that our values — and our wishes — should play in political discussion and the way in which various practices associated with wokedom, often have more to do with organizations protecting themselves from risk than they do with helping address difficult issues. As such, when organizations regulate conduct to take these ideas into account, they often do so to make them disappear rather than to engage with them. These ideas are explored further in this blog post (



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"Protoclassic helped me both refine my writing and thinking on substantial intellectual projects all the while keeping an eye to the rapidly evolving online scene. It helped refine and then amplify my message while significantly broadening audience reach and impact." — Nicholas Gruen