Those who speak of harmony and consensus should beware of what one might call the industrial chaplain view of reality. The idea, roughly speaking, is that there are greedy bosses on one side and belligerent workers on the other, while in the middle, as the very incarnation of reason, equity and moderation, stands the decent, soft-spoken, liberal-minded chaplain who tries selflessly to bring the two warring parties together. But why should the middle always be the most sensible place to stand? Why do we tend to see ourselves as in the middle and other people as on the extremes? After all, one person’s moderation is another’s extremism. People don’t go around calling themselves a fanatic, any more than they go around calling themselves Pimply. Would one also seek to reconcile slaves and slave masters, or persuade native peoples to complain only moderately* about those who are plotting their extermination? What is the middle ground between racism and antiracism? (200)
From Eagleton, Terry. Why Marx Was Right. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 2011. Print.
*Unfortunately, many Canadians would, and do.
This is one of the strongest passages from Eagleton’s Why Marx Was Right, 90% of which delivers instructive, historically conscious refutations of many cherished neoliberal talking points. Unfortunately, the final chapter devolves by times into taking a flimsy-legged defensive stance against postcolonialism and postmodernism – one that steals its talking points from conservative talk radio. I’ve come to expect more from Eagleton than being beaten over the head with the dismissive crutch of “political correctness” (219, 232); hollering “PC” is closer to name-calling than rebuttal. Eagleton goes nine rounds against capitalism with nary a scuff on his boots, but the match turns into a barroom brawl when POCO and POMO show up. Colour me baffled.