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Radical Middle: The Politics We Need Now Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 1ST edition (March 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813341906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813341903
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,241,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Condemning what the author sees as the divisive partisanship and polemical half-truths of liberals and conservatives alike, this militant but muddled manifesto urges left and right to unite behind a "politics of creative problem-solving." Satin, publisher of the Radical Middle Newsletter, pushes a poll-certified grab bag of public-private partnerships and wonkish policy nostrums pitched explicitly at professionals (a.k.a. "knowledge workers" or "the creative class") whose only political identity is that of "caring person." The result is a confused, ad-hoc program that aims to achieve great public purposes without aggrandizing government or alienating special interests. Some proposals, like affirmative action based on poverty, not race, represent a fresh take on important issues. Others, such as his energy policy, which is largely a hodge-podge of minor tax incentives for fossil-fuel alternatives, are half-measures. The boldest initiatives—a universal health-care plan that uses tax credits to subsidize individuals’ purchase of private insurance, a universal jobs program that offers employers tax credits for hiring workers—channel their largesse into massive state subsidies to the private sector. Satin’s often glib analyses of policy issues will not satisfy knowledgeable readers, and in his de-politicized politics of caring, real conflicts seem to be ignored rather than confronted.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Mark Satin sees ... radical middle politics as an innovation that's ideally suited to 21st century America." - Nancy Beardsley, Voice of America radio, July 27, 2004

"[O]ne of the most refreshing political books I've ever encountered. ... [M]ust-reading for those who are trying to find a ray of sanity in our present political climate.." - Larry Cox, Tucson Citizen, March 18, 2004

"Passionate, popularized, and personalized, with frequent asides about Satin's [activist] background. ... [A] fresh and often original voice." - Michael Marien, Future Survey, April 2004

"[T]he policy proposals cataloged here don't fii neatly into the standard left / right model. ... [M]oderate in tone and intelligently reasoned - shockingly so." - Gadi Dechter (later appointed to Obama's Commerce Dept.), Baltimore City Paper, February 25, 2004

"Radical-middle politics is ... characterized by 'idealism without illusions,' according to Satin. It is more visinary and imaginative than politics-as-usual, but it 'faces the hard facts on the ground'." - Robert Olson, The Futurist, January-February 2005

"Satin firmly believes that the current system can't lead to the moderate majority he wants. The most 'radical' thing about Mark Satin's Radical Middle is the extraordinary depth of the author's belief that identifying solutions to America's problems depends on spurning conventional party politics." - Ed Kilgore (policy director, Democratic Leadership Council), The Washington Monthly, June 2004

"[M]akes a lot more sense than ... the many braying pundits at the edges of the national parties." - Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2004

"[Satin] is quick to stress that he doesn't necessarily have the right answers, and that his proposals are merely opening salvos in an ongoing debate over what constitutes radical-middle solutions." - Leif Utne, Utne Reader, September-October 2004

"Satin ... attempt[s] to lift politics to a higher level of discourse. His concise commentary [is] mixed with several parts idealism, a good dose of realism, a touch of spirituality, and always heaps of common sense." - Carter Phipps, EnlightenNext: The Magazine for Evolutionaries, June-August 2005

"Concludes with a three-chapter section offering sugestions to help readers implement Radical Middle values in society." - Jill Ortner, Library Journal, May 1, 2004

"[T]he notion of a politics of the 'radical middle' [has been] articulated most persuasively by Michael Lind and Mark Satin." - Leonard J. Santow and Mark E. Santow, Social Security and the Middle-Class Squeeze, Praeger, 2005

"[O]ne of the most important reads of the last five years ... and it's easy to read!" - Tony Trupiano, The Tony Trupiano Show, Michigan Talk Radio Network, July 21, 2004


More About the Author

Mark Satin (born 1946) is an American political theorist, author and newsletter publisher. Although occasionally reviled as a Vietnam-era "draft dodger," he is better known for contributing to the development and dissemination of three political perspectives - neopacifism in the 1960s, New Age politics in the 1970s and 1980s, and radical centrism in the 1990s and 2000s. Satin's work is sometimes seen as building toward a new political ideology, and then it is often labeled "transformational," "post-liberal," or "post-Marxist." One historian calls Satin's writing "post-hip."

After emigrating to Canada at the age of 20, Satin co-founded the Toronto Anti-Draft Programme, which helped bring American Vietnam War resisters to Canada. He also wrote the Manual for Draft-Age Immigrants to Canada (1968), which sold nearly 100,000 copies, according to the Toronto Globe and Mail. After a period that author Marilyn Ferguson describes as Satin's "anti-ambition experiment," Satin wrote the book New Age Politics: Healing Self and Society (1976, U.S. edition 1979), which identifies an emergent "third force" in North America pursuing such goals as simple living, decentralism and global responsibility. Many years later, The Nation magazine described Satin's book as the first of its kind, and social scientists Paul Ray ans Sherry Anderson spotlighted it in their book The Cultural Creatives.

Satin spread his ideas by co-founding a political organization, the New World Alliance (1979 - 83), and by publishing an award-winning political newsletter, New Options (1984 - 92). He also co-drafted the foundational statement of the U.S. Green Party, "Ten Key Values." In her book Ecological Politics, Greta Gaard says Satin "played a significant role in facilitating the articulation of Green poliical thought."

After a period of political disillusion, spent mainly in law school and practicing business law, Satin launched a new political newsletter and wrote an award-winning book, Radical Middle: The Politics We Need Now (2004). Both projects criticized political partisanship and sought to promote mutual learning and innovative policy syntheses across social and cultural divides. In an interview, Satin contrasted the old radical slogan "Dare to struggle, dare to win" with his radical-middle version, "Dare to synthesize, dare to take it all in."

Customer Reviews

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I ordered two more copies of your book to loan friends.
Thomas L. Mull
It's an excellent book that discusses new ideas which creatively and pragmatically use the best from both sides of the usual political divide.
Man in the Middle
I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for even one glimmer of hope for us as a society with a positive and constructive future!
Edryce A. Reynolds

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Sandra PWassilie on August 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Ostensibly about politics, Radical Middle is more than that. I appreciate that Mark Satin dares to go beyond the labels and finger pointing to offer us a framework from which we might evolve a new way of managing issues in the public arena. He cuts to the chase of those problems that currently daunt us, problems like declining energy supplies, disengaged youth, random terrorism, and more. He helps us by introducing us to the best ideas of the current thinkers and policy makers in these different arenas, synthesizing and reporting on these ideas in clear, easy-to-read prose.

What makes his discourse particularly engaging (and courageous) is the way Satin relates his personal experiences and evolution of thought to the issues. I like the message of hope he weaves into the description of challenges we face as a society, national and global, and the encouragment we can be involved in meeting them.

I recommend this book to any activist, public official, business leader, parent, teacher, student or person who truly desires a safer, kinder, more humane world.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I like this book very much. It is a cry from the heart--from a very informed heart--and it captures much that needs to be understood. It is not, however, the first effort in this direction. This book was published in 2004. Paul Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson published "The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People are Changing the World" in 2000, coincident with the appearance of Marianne Williamson's extraordinary edited work, "IMAGINE: What American Could be in the 21st Century." Ted Halstead and Michael Lind published "The Radical Center: The Future of American Politics," in 2001. In 2002 Ralph Nader capped off decades of activism along these lines with "Crashing the Party: How to Tell the Truth and Run for President." In 2003 we had Matthew Miller's "The 2% Solution: Fixing America's Problem in Ways Liberals and Conservatives Can Love." See my reviews of all of those, and my list on democracy, to appreciate this book by this author, in a larger context.

The most important meme to come out to me--an aggressive iconoclast if ever there was one--dealt with the importance of turning away from rebellion for the sake of rebellion, and focusing instead of being a player, on bringing corporations to the table as Paul Hawken and others suggest in "Natural Capitalism" (which the author cites).

Early messages from this book include: Ignore the noise including Moore and Franken; Creative borrowing from all points of view to achieve public policy; Radical middle provides concrete answers instead of platitudes; Work with corporations instead of attacking them blindly; Idealism without the illusions. Four on key values: maximize choices, fair start for all, maximize human potential, help the developing world.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Stan Perrin on September 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"Radical Middle" is several things: The title of Mark Satin's new book being reviewed here, the title of his newsletter, the title of his web site and the name of an exciting new political concept.

I have followed Mark Satin for a long time, having been a charter subscriber to his previous newsletter, "New Options" and to his current "Radical Middle" newsletter. And I have read two of his previous books in addition to "Radical Middle."

Because of occasional disagreements with some specific content from the current newsletter, I was ready to be skeptical of Mark's new book. But instead, I must admit that I am highly impressed. I believe the book does a thorough job of explaining the Radical Middle concept to readers, regardless of their background, political leanings, or even newsletter subscriber status. In each book chapter, Mark expanded upon past "Radical Middle" newsletter articles and included more nuances and detail, which help to flesh out and explain his positions better.

While there were still a few points where I winced, there were many more knowing smiles and nods. In fact, in some cases I found that my position was not that far away from Mark's after all, once I finally understood his position more fully. And even where there remain points of disagreement, I commend Mark for creating, thoroughly explaining and maintaining his voice and his ground.

I should also state that I had my wife read the education chapter. She is a former full-time teacher, and currently does some substitute teaching. She had not read any of Mark's past books, newsletters, web site, etc., so had a fresh perspective. And she loved the chapter, agreeing with Mark's central thesis that quality teachers are what great education is all about.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By David Thaler on March 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I am both smarter and kinder for having read it. This book is written by an intense, strong willed, hard at work, very smart person with a sense of humor (irony, humbleness) and a good heart.
Most important, he communicates with small words and clarity the process that he uses to get to his proposals. He teaches his hard-won skills of compassionate yet sharp analysis without ever saying so. As a reader, I can't help but pick up a little of his skill and am doubly grateful for his work product- i.e. the specific proposals on political and social issues which I often but not always agree with- and for his honest teaching of how to seek truth in the political and social realms. Together, these qualities make the book so valuable.
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