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Sociologist Alan Wolfe located the creative part of the political spectrum at the center: "The extremes of right and left know where they stand, while the center furnishes what is original and unexpected." He explained, "I affirm whatever I think has the best chance of working, of being both inspirational and unsentimental, of reasoning across the categories of false division and beyond the decoy of race".The terms radical centrism, radical center (or radical centre), and radical middle refer to a political philosophy that arose in the Western nations, predominantly the United States and the United Kingdom, in the late 20th century.At first it was defined in a variety of ways, but at the beginning of the 21st century a number of texts and think tanks gave the philosophy a more developed cast.For example, futurist Marilyn Ferguson added a holistic dimension to the concept when she said, "[The] Radical Center ...is not neutral, not middle-of-the-road, but a view of the whole road".identifies a number of philosophical concepts supporting balance, reconciliation, or synthesis, including Confucius's concept of ren, Aristotle's concept of the mean, Erasmus's and Montaigne's humanism, Vico's evolutionary vision of history, William James's and John Dewey's pragmatism, However, most commonly cited influences and precursors are from the political realm.For example, British radical-centrist politician Nick Clegg considers himself an heir to political theorist John Stuart Mill, former Liberal Prime Minister David Lloyd George, economist John Maynard Keynes, social reformer William Beveridge, and former Liberal Party leader Jo Grimond.
In his book Independent Nation (2004), John Avlon discusses precursors of 21st-century U. political centrism, including President Theodore Roosevelt, Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Senator Margaret Chase Smith, and African-American Senator Edward W. Radical centrist writer Mark Satin points to political influences from outside the electoral arena, including communitarian thinker Amitai Etzioni, magazine publisher Charles Peters, management theorist Peter Drucker, city planning theorist Jane Jacobs, and futurists Heidi and Alvin Toffler.
Satin calls Benjamin Franklin the radical middle's favorite Founding Father since he was "extraordinarily practical", "extraordinarily creative", and managed to "get the warring factions and wounded egos [at the U. Constitutional Convention] to transcend their differences". One of the first uses of the term "radical middle" in a political context came in 1962, when cartoonist Jules Feiffer employed it to mock what he saw as the timid and pretentious outlook of the American political class.
One of the first people to develop a positive definition was Renata Adler, a staff writer for The New Yorker.
In the introduction to her second collection of essays, Toward a Radical Middle (1969), she presented radical centrism as a healing radicalism. Warren described the radical center as consisting of those "middle American radicals" who were suspicious of big government, the national media, and academics, as well as rich people and predatory corporations.
Although they might vote for Democrats or Republicans, or for populists like George Wallace, they felt politically homeless and were looking for leaders who would address their concerns.
In the 1980s and 1990s, several authors contributed their understandings to the concept of the radical center.