Why is it so complicated to be a progressive?

by: Paul Rosenberg

Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 16:00


I am a great believer in multiple causation and over-determination.  So if you ask me why progressives might be so confused about what the term "progressive" itself means, it's hardly surprising that I will come up with a variety of different explanations--historical, philosophical, social scientific, cognitive scientific--and every one of them multi-causal as well.  Which only serves to make folks like Mike Lux feel like I've proved their point:  What good is all this over-thinking?  We need to get things done!

I'm sensitive to that criticism, believe me.  It's why I'm writing new reflective diaries this week different from the ones I was working on this weekend, which I naively thought I could just roll out during the week.  So let me start with this:  I think that the primary difference between conservatives and progressives is that:

    Conservatives believe in tribally-shared narrative myths that comfort them in perpetuating a world of inequality, while

    Progressives believe in a universalist, critical-empirical approach to creating a world that works for everyone.

This is not an all-encompassing explanation.  There are other important factors as well as a host of secondary ones.  But I believe that this captures a "good enough" central core of the difference between the two worldviews.  By its very nature, conservatism's tribalism, focus on narratives, attraction to comfort and acceptance of hierarchy provide a strong impetus towards a relative simplicity of political self-concept.

The exact opposite is true of progressivism.  The universalist tendency means everyone is invited in, and tribalism is always distrusted to some degree or other--even the idea of establishing a progressive identity.  Having a critical-empirical approach means that what a given progressive individual or group believes is highly mutable, depending on the latest research--or at least, the latest information available to them, as it fits into their pre-existing understanding of the world.

It's a great approach for problem-solving, in that disputes and disagreements help keep things honest, and create incentives for producing better and stronger arguments, as well as for finding creative syntheses that reconcile seemingly contradictory findings or approaches.  But what's great for problem-solving in an ideal world can be positively debilitating in a world of ideological trench warfare, and for a wide variety of reasons, the vast majority of progressive institutions are premised on the myth that we still live in something vaguely approaching the ideal world, which may have had some element of truth back in the 1950s and 60s, but has clearly not been the case for several decades now.  Finally, there are significant differences in how people conceive of a "world that works for everyone", which somewhat roughly parallel divergences in how people understand the world critical-empirically.

In my previous diary, Walk & chew gum: Still seeking clarity on Obama and the nature of progressivism, I quoted a passage from a Salon article by Ned Resnikoff, "Does the left even know what 'progressive' means?" as follows:

Paul Rosenberg :: Why is it so complicated to be a progressive?
And make no mistake, it is a problem. Part of the strength of the modern conservative movement is its startling clarity of purpose: beneath all of the platitudes about "freedom" and "liberty" is a well-oiled ideology machine that combines reduction of the welfare state (or at least consolidation of it around those who are already well-off), expansion of the national security state, and, although to a lesser extent in recent years, a full-throated endorsement of theocracy. All of these things are bundled together into a worldview as airtight and neatly self-contained as a conspiracy theory or fundamentalist religion in its alright.

Progressives should not envy conservatism for this entirely -- it is important to stay self-reflective, self-critical, and vaguely cognizant of reality. But progressive self-criticism and soul-searching is too often limited to questions of tactics and strategy, when the deeper issue is a seeming inability to articulate progressive first principles. The result is what we have now: a morass of factions and interests that sometimes work in harmony and often don't. A ragtag group that can never seem to find a consistent frame for the policy proposals it puts forth.

As I said in that diary:

I would argue, as I have many times before, that the key difference between the two is that conservatives have been waging hegemonic warfare for the last 30+ years, while progressive have not.  (Both concepts are fuzzy, and take on diverse forms, as I've also argued.) Narrative simplicity is both reflective of conservative's antipathy toward complex thinking, and love of simple stories on the one hand, and the tremendous amount of time, energy and money that's been invested in creating a simply narrative framework: simple, but still riddled with contradictions and utterly divorced from the facts.

But I would also add that Lakoff has been making much the same point as Resnikoff with regard to progressive failings, ever since Moral Politics came out in 1996.  So this is not a newly-identified problem by any means.  More on this in a moment.

But first, an important aside:  I want to point out that Resnikoff's characterization of American conservatism masks some serious disagreements.  

As I've pointed out on numerous occasions, even a majority of self-identified "extreme conservatives" (7 on a 7-point Likert scale) are opposed to reducing the welfare state on a program-by-program basis.  OTOH, support for expanding the national security state has only fleetingly surpassed 50%.  Furthermore, theocrats and libertarians are deeply at odds ideologically, and it's taken generations of narrative massaging to fuse the two, with decidedly slipshod results.  None of this seems to matter much because (a) progressives haven't been in the hegemonic warfare game, so there hasn't been a sustained attack on the contradictions, (b) logic and evidence have never mattered that much to conservatives (and even liberals can rationalize very well, thank you), and (c) appeals to tribalism (don't listen to the liberal media!) can serve to shut down questioning. Still, the contradictions do exist, and we should not forget about them--or worse deny them--so that our thinking about progressives is not distorted by a false background impression of conservative unity and coherence.

If we want to create a unified understanding of what it means to be a progressive, we need to do at least four different things:

    (1) Articulate a value-centered core.
    (2) Demonstrate a convergence of various empirical approaches to understanding progressive vs. conservative ideology.
    (3) Create a unified framework of meta-understanding to facilitate mediation of differences and disputes.
    (4) Identify and make progress in dealing with major divisions that need to be resolved, or at least significantly re-thought and mitigated.

I've already presented a first-draft suggestion for (1), to wit:

    Progressives believe in a universalist, critical-empirical approach to creating a world that works for everyone.

Of course, I'm open to further ideas on the subject--what kind of progressive would I be if I weren't?--but I do think it provides a good-enough starting point.  But I should probably say a bit more about what I mean by "critical-empirical approach".  What I mean, quite simply, is a scientific-style approach as understood by William James, one that is basically a systematically disciplined form of common sense, and that allows as much importance to the critical asking of questions as it does to the finding of answers.  This contrasts sharply with the positivist model of science, which serves to denigrate critical discourse, in the extreme claiming that such discourse is meaningless, since it does not involve statements verifiable by empirical observations.  Properly understood, such an approach also highlights the crucial importance of institutionalizing checks against group-think and the like.

As for task (2), I've been doing some writing on this that I hope to pull together in diary form soon.  But it needs to be properly understood as something intended to serve a practical purpose, not just as idle speculation.

Task (3) necessarily depends on task (2).  We need to achieve a certain level of integrating our understanding of what it means to be a progressive before we can fruitfully start to create a  unified framework of meta-understanding.
Finally, as to task (4), I believe that this is deeply implicated in the arguments that arisen about Obama and whether or not he is a progressive.  They center around the tensions between the Third "Third Way" and those I call progressive populists, which includes, but is not limited to, those who draw on the European social democratic tradition.

This, then, is my tentative plan of action.  Obviously, it doesn't matter much if it's only my plan.  For it to matter, it has to engage others as well, hopefully, over time, a lot of others.  But for now, at least, it has to engage you, dear readers.

What do you think?


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Hmm, comforting vs. creating? Ain't that like female vs. male? (0.00 / 0)
Reminds me of "Men are from Mars, Women from Veus" or one of those books...

If I remember that correctly, it said men are focussing on solutions, while women are concentrating on social support and acceptance. And politically, those phony right wing machos are actually the more female side? Makes some kind of weird sense!


No, It's NOT Pop Psychology (4.00 / 2)
First off, there's a whole lot of research data showing that conservatives are more fearful than liberals/progressives, and that when progressives get more fearful, they act more like conservatives.  So part of what I'm alluding to is that.  But the real central focus is specific findings about beliefs in a just world.  The more inequality there is, the more there's a need to rationalize this ideologically, and doing so brings cognitive relief/comfort to conservatives.  They are happier.

I'll be writing about this more in a little bit.


"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Fear naturally leads to conservatism (4.00 / 3)
If not in ideology, then certainly in behavior. (No liberals in a foxhole?) But when you're not in the clutches of fear (whether real or imagined/exaggerated), you're at liberty to feel and act more expansively, and thus progressively.

To be a "liberal" is, in many ways, to think and act liberally, and not just in the political and ideological sense (although these clearly follow from it).

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
Freedom From Fear, Freedom From Want (4.00 / 5)
Those who say that FDR was a centrist just don't know what they're talking about.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
I live a couple of miles from a local "Four Freedoms" retirement home (4.00 / 4)
And am reminded of those powerful words every time I bike past it.

FDR was no communist, but he makes Obama look well to the right of Nixon.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
Well, even "pop psychology" may have a serious background. (0.00 / 0)
Maybe you shouldn't so easily disregard it. Or do you wanna say that women are less fearful than men? Simple common sense gives lots of reasons why different risk prospensity of both genders may be an evolutionary advantage. I'm quite sure there's empirical evidence supporting this.

[ Parent ]
No (0.00 / 0)
Pop psychology is like pop anything--a mixture of good, bad, sublime and ridiculous.

Sometimes you want ridiculous.  Sometimes ridiculous is good.

For this?  Not so much.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
"a mixture of good, bad, sublime and ridiculous" -Well, it CAN be good! (0.00 / 0)

Sure, there's lots of stuff in pop science that is of very questionable value. But there's also a surprisingly amount of good work, presented by scientists who want to bring the developments in their field to the attention of a bigger public. Stephen Hawking instantly comes to mind, of course, as well as the late, great Richard Feynman. And in neurology/psychiatry, there's Oliver Sacks.

On the other hand, there have been a shocking number of stories about outright fraud in "serious" science, and about peer reviewed articles whose"findings" where debunked after publication. So, sry, but imho it's a bit arrogant to dismiss pop science as ridiculous, and to make it sound as if its necessarily inferior to "serious" science publications.

Btw, just stumbled upon an article about findings that racial stereotyping, and social fear have a genetical background. This may interest you:
http://www.cell.com/current-bi...


[ Parent ]
What a fine example of tribalism (0.00 / 0)
Nothing against you, Gray, but the content of this small interaction with Paul encapsulates how easily thoughtful, fearless people can be put off track by which groups they choose to associate with - whether physically or intellectually.

All of it well-intentioned, too.



"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
What a fine example of brouhaha. (0.00 / 0)
Nothing against you, Spitty, but your off hand remark doesn't make much sense. What groups? What are you talking about?

[ Parent ]
While this seems (0.00 / 0)
a worthwhile endeavor.
More important is the progressive reflection of the conservative "More God, More Guns, Less Government" narrative.

A easily expressed core triplet would go a long way towards unifying message and allow the general public access to the underlying philosophy.


Yes, Well... (0.00 / 0)
Cart. Horse.  Know the drill?  

We can't get it down to a bumper sticker without getting it down to a sentence first.

Wouldn't you agree?

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Chicken and Egg (0.00 / 0)
I tend to Title my projects first. For me at least it limits my digressions and focuses my thoughts.

If "progressive" is universalist then we really have to determine the boundaries before we can hope to bring history and science to bear. Less we impose a definition instead of discovering the truth.

Additionally developing a broad core triplet lends itself to this media. Encouraging both the thinkers and doers to participate is short concise bursts, informing both.


[ Parent ]
My Rationale (0.00 / 0)
I think the sentence I've proposed (with or without "humanist" added, per kovie) is genuinely viable in terms of defining parameters that I've already dealt with before.  That's what makes it a good starting place: It works for me.  I can see in advance how to elaborate on it.

But I can't see any such thing with a progressive counterpart to ""More God, More Guns, Less Government".

If you've got a suggestion, then fine.  But right now, I feel like it would be premature, and all we'd be likely to get out of it would be a slogan war.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
"More God, More Guns, Less Government" (0.00 / 0)
Progressives can come up with slogans this simple, but they will be temporary in nature.  What progressiveness means right now can be much simpler than what it means in general.  For example:

More Equality, Less Powerful Corporations


[ Parent ]
First Principles First (4.00 / 1)
Catchy slogans come at the end.  That's why they're on the rear bumper.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
My even briefer and simpler description of the difference (4.00 / 3)
between conservatives and progressives.

Conservatives: Us vs. them

Progressives: There's no "them". It's all "Us".

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


That's Certainly A Big Part of It (0.00 / 0)
But not the whole thing.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
BS (0.00 / 0)
There are plenty of "thems".

Conservatives, for one are generally seen as the "other" by progressives. It is always "them" that persist in ignoring reality and facts.

While your slogan may represent the truth of the human situation, it does not capture the essence of any political perspective.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
To A Certain Extent (0.00 / 0)
Everyone forms in-groups and out-groups.  But there are huge differences in a number of factors, such as willingness to include others, attitudes towards to out-groups, rational foundations of group identity, centrality of group identity and out-group identity, etc.

Bottom line: conservatives are very much defined in terms of outgroups they oppose (whether real or imaginary is another matter), whereas liberals/progressives are much more defined in terms of principles and objectives.  If anything, they generally pay too little attention to the threat that conservatives pose to their core concerns.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Exactly (0.00 / 0)
If anything, they generally pay too little attention to the threat that conservatives pose to their core concerns.

Completely inconsistent with progressivism lacking any "them" to oppose.  

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Best attempt I've seen (4.00 / 1)
Progressives believe in a universalist, critical-empirical approach to creating a world that works for everyone.

It was the in thing, several years back, to try to come up with a definition of progressive.  Someone made the very good point that it had to be something that conservatives would not agree with.  You can't just say "make the world better for our grandkids" because everyone says that.  You need to define "better".

This is the closest I've seen to something that works.  It even summarizes to a bumper-sticker fairly well: a world that works for everyone


I'd change it slightly to (0.00 / 0)
Progressives believe in a reality-based, rational AND humanist approach to creating a world that works for everyone.


"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
I'd Be Willing To Change It To (0.00 / 0)
Progressives believe in a humanist, universalist, critical-empirical approach to creating a world that works for everyone.

I'm fine with adding "humanist" as it clearly goes back a long ways.

But "rationalist" is too readily associated with positivist tendencies that devalue the critical component.  And "empirical" is a more historically grounded way of saying "reality-based", which also hyphenates better with "critical".  

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
humanist (0.00 / 0)
Since I'm all in favor of giving dolphins the vote 30 years from now, I'm not so sure about the limits of that term.  

Though I'm kind of joking about dolphins (maybe), I've read far too much science fiction for such a limiting term.  I like the dropping of superstition, though.  

No one would understand "sentientist", I guess.  (Figuring someone else would make up that word before me, I see it is given credit to the Colbert Report.)


[ Parent ]
So, You Don't Think Dolphins Are Human? (0.00 / 0)
Not sure I'd agree with that one.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Person, yes (0.00 / 0)
but I'm fine for redefining human to mean the same as person.  Just words.

[ Parent ]
Pls, let's not redefine words! (0.00 / 0)
To make arguments understandable for another person is already difficult enough without twisting the English language. And attempts to give well defined words or phrases a new meaning always reminds me of right wing newspeak. I hate this.

[ Parent ]
Great bumper sticker… (4.00 / 1)
A World That Works For Everyone

...but for some reason, I instantly thought of amending it with:

"...even people I don't like." or "...even YOU!"

"This ain't for the underground. This here is for the sun." -Saul Williams


[ Parent ]
…or better… (4.00 / 2)
"...even you, asshole!"

Yup, I'm here all week...

"This ain't for the underground. This here is for the sun." -Saul Williams


[ Parent ]
We Need To Refine That (4.00 / 1)
Something like, "...even conservative assholes like you!"

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Is that… (0.00 / 0)
..."universalist"?

"This ain't for the underground. This here is for the sun." -Saul Williams

[ Parent ]
He's The Universal Asshole, And He's Really Not To Blame... (0.00 / 0)
although, actually, he is.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Try this (0.00 / 0)
A rational world that works for everyone

Universalist is kind of redundant when you say "everyone", no?

Not too thrilled with "rational" but its a step up from "critical-empirical"

Create a world that works for everyone


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Clarification (0.00 / 0)
This is supposed to be a definitional statement.  It's not a communicate-with-the-world statement.  That should come at a later stage in this process.  "Rational" is much less specific than "critical-empirical", which is why it's not appropriate here.

Plato and Aristotle could be quite rational, but neither of them were very big on empirical facts. They were, in fact, political enemies of the pre-Socratic natural philosophers who gave birth to ancient Greece's liberal tradition.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Sorry (0.00 / 0)
I thouht this sub-thread was about transitioning to a suitable slogan.

You are correct "rational" is not the right word.

"A Just World Works for Everyone"



"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Fair Enough (4.00 / 2)
I don't want to cut off discussions of any sort, and a sub-thread focusing on the slogan side of things, even if premature, IMHO, is certainly a healthy thing.

I always did like the ring of "liberty and justice for all", which is not that far off from your suggestion.  Those Christian socialists knew a thing or two.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
That is a great phrase (4.00 / 1)
If I had my druthers, it would replace "In God We Trust" on US currency.

Don't think it works as a slogan because its too well known already and such detracts from its "branding" potential.



"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Power (4.00 / 6)
That's my defining conceptual framework. Progressives defend individuals, especially the marginalized, against concentrated power, be it economic, governmental, or military, whereas conservatives defend it, or are it. Hence the three pillars of an effective, humane progressivism are economic populism, social libertarianism, and anti-imperialism.

I haven't given enough thought to whether or not this framework is the best one politically -- people sometimes have trouble getting their heads around it because a powerful government in the economic realm would coexist with a small one in the social one -- but I know it's right. Also -- and I think Lakoff might disagree with me here -- I believe that the frames involving justice and liberty for individuals does a better job of pushing the right American buttons than frames of compassion, such as everyone-is-connected and we're-all-in-this-together, although of course those aren't mutually exclusive.

On a more down-to-earth level, one of the things that I find so troubling about (Sorry, Lux) Obama's ascendancy is that previously progressives were, I felt, stumbling toward a general agreement about what constituted their ideology. They increasingly embraced economic populism (rejecting Clintonism), anti-imperialist positions, and civil liberties, (rejecting those persistent, powerful voices who claimed that progressives needed to downplay social issues like abortion rights and gay rights.) There wasn't a consensus, exactly, but something like it. But now that Obama has, to varying degrees, rejected the progressive position in each area, and hundreds of thousands of progressive activists have defended him, either actively or silently, for doing so, it's no wonder progressives are having an identity crisis.  


I'm Not Sure (4.00 / 1)
whether I agree with you or not, since I'm aiming at a deeper place, in some ways, at this stage in the process.

But I do agree about how Obama's ascendency seems to have derailed a budding consensus.  

More to chew on.  

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
I think it's worthwhile (0.00 / 0)
When conservatives were on the rise, they often discussed-debated first principles.


[ Parent ]
Progressives haven't really had... (4.00 / 1)
...much spare time to debate "first principles." The dawn of this progressive movement goes back not much more than 10 years. Maybe in started with the beginning of impeachment proceedings in late 1998, but not earlier, I don't think. And since then (Lux should be pleased) it's been an almost ceaseless flurry of activity that culminated in the Democratic wins of 2006 and 2008. From the election of 2000, through 911, the start of the Iraq War in 2003, the birth of blogs, Dean, Kerry losing in 2004, fighting to prevent privatization of social security in 2005, to the furious campaign efforts of 2006 and finally winning supermajorities and Obama in 2008, it's been a breathless, often desperate race.

I think a clear description of 'first principles' is a long way off. But it's very ( very ) useful to read Paul and the discussion here taking up the question methodically.


[ Parent ]
Something about what you just said... (4.00 / 1)
... reminds me of the 2006 film The Wind That Shakes The Barley and while I don't think we've split quite so deeply as the Treaty and Anti-Treaty factions of the IRA in the film.

The lesson I learn from that film is that we all need to get on the same plan and stick to it and not be split over what constitutes a victory and what defines a defeat. Hence your post.

I think we need to emphasize the empathy and responsibility of a progressive world view (a la Lakoff in The Political Mind).

Progressives believe that we are all responsible for creating a world that works for everyone.

I agree with the critical-empirical stuff but doesn't everyone think they are being rational?  Its too vague and misses the chance to charge the statement emotionally.  Remember a frame has to work UNDERNEATH the logical.


[ Parent ]
What I'm Looking For Here (0.00 / 0)
Is a concise definitional statement that can be further explicated.  The bumper sticker comes later--though some good suggestions have already been made.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Power and progressives (4.00 / 3)
Considering what you wrote: "Progressives defend individuals, especially the marginalized, against concentrated power" seems to me to create a contradiction for progressives.

The power you describe comes from organizations, and the only defense against an organization comes from another organization. So progressives need to create organizations to defend individuals from the misuse of power.

But Robert Michel described the Iron Law of Oligarchy which, as far as I know, has no known exceptions. Every organization learns to defend itself and comes under the control of its top leaders who then tend to misuse the assets of the organization to perpetuate themselves in power. That is true even of organizations like unions which are brought into existence to defend their members from the abuse of power of other organizations.

The result of that contradiction appears to me to be that Progressives distrust organizations (properly) but then face the power of oppressive organizations from a weaker position. Or they establish organizations to defend people from the wielders of power, and the leaders of those organizations inevitably high-jack the organization to perpetuate themselves in power.

(Michel started out as a syndicalist and was trying to explain why all of the union organizations they created were taken over by the leaders who used them to perpetuate themselves in power.)

Conservatives have it easier since they accept that the existence of hierarchies is right and proper and expect those lower in the organization to defer to those who are  higher in the hierarchy. I've never seen any other justification for anyone to accept and support the most idiotic and incompetent George W. Bush.  


[ Parent ]
I think that's a central paradox (4.00 / 4)
not just of progressivism but of government: how to create "progressive" organizations, bureaucracies, institutions that don't themselves become corrupt,  co-opted, and un-progressive. No easy answers, of course, but progressives need to stress decentranlization and accountability and other means of dispersing power.

In the end, I'm not sure how much of a paradox it is. Even within large organizations, even as we grudgingly accept the need for them, we can still be guided by the knowledge that power corrupts and by the belief that the best manifestations of power disperse power.  


[ Parent ]
Democracy as power dispersant (4.00 / 2)
as opposed to chemical dispersant.

Any meaningful progressivism has to be committed not only to some type of anti-concentrated power principle, but the institutionalization of that principle via the further democratization of society. Participatory budgeting, more democratic union and party structures, direct election of presidents, IRV/AV voting, multimember districts, pro-shareholder/corporate governance reform. The key is democratic structures that ordinary people can participate in. When people get used to democratic reforms, they should be very strongly set in stone, in the same way that the direct election of senators is understood as completely natural today. Anything that increases participation in politics and civil society should be stressed, which meanings building up social capital.

Democracy threads the needle between large, unaccountable structures, and decentralized, powerless small organizations. It also has the advantage of being powerfully ingrained in our society. It quite obviously lends itself to being a framework for organizing, and as a basis for understanding the necessity for reforms in the larger society, especially in government and business. The examples I am thinking of include various Latin American social movements, such as the Landless Workers movement in Brazil.


[ Parent ]
Agree (4.00 / 1)
I believe that the frames involving justice and liberty for individuals does a better job of pushing the right American buttons than frames of compassion, such as everyone-is-connected and we're-all-in-this-together, although of course those aren't mutually exclusive.

Justice is the key, I think. Its the only way to legitimize government for the governed. If all citizens are treated justly, they will not feel oppressed and fall into resistance mode.

Of course, this goes well beyond the government, but that's a start.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Do people even know what they believe? (4.00 / 5)
I don't think most people actually know what they believe. I don't think most people examine the contents of their thoughts or the validity of their beliefs, and thus what they actually act on are collections of opinions they've picked up elsewhere. You see this over and over.

Conservatives certainly bear this out as we see that their suppposed beliefs are contradictory and incoherent. Then, periodically, some conservative figure will run up against reality - like finding out their kid is gay or something - and then they'll actually evaluate their stated positions and often change them. But until they're confronted with something that is significant enough to bear examination on a personal level, they'll be quite comfortable being anti-gay or whatever.

George Lakoff's work describes well the strict father conservative world view and the nuturant parent prog/liberal world view and I see those as kind of the the 2 default settings that, for many reasons outlined in many places, people tend to align with. But he also makes the point that people cross from one side to the other all the time, depending on the issue and what frame is being activated. And here is where we find, I think, examples of people deviating from their default because they've either actually thought about something, or because their milieu happens to be more/less tolerant about some specific issue than it is in general.

So to me, there's really 2 challenges here. One involves doing the thinking and discussing in order to come to some broad agreements about "what progressives should believe" or do believe but can't articulate. The other then requires that these conclusions begin to be disseminated in ways that can start to take root in people's consciousnesses, so that, when they're busy expressing beliefs they've never really thought through, the beliefs they think they have are progressive. Create progressive frames and people begin to activate them.

Please note, I'm not saying people are stupid. I just think that, unless a person is motivated to, or directed, to actually take apart thoughts that they have and figure out why they have them and whether they actually agree with them, they don't. It's not something we're taught to do and doesn't usually just randomly occur to us. Among people I know, such efforts have always been arrived at as a result of some kind of "seeking".


Agreed On Pretty Much Everything (0.00 / 0)
Though, it actually is the case that progressive views of education do call on people to reflect on and examine their own beliefs.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Perhaps it is better to start at the other end (0.00 / 0)
And begin by identifying the major divisions within progressivism, with the definition of progressive being the endpoint of the intellectual journey.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

I work for a tribe. (4.00 / 8)
When you defined conservative as having tribally-shared narratives my initial reaction was to disagree.  Then as I read further I undertood what you meant and agreed with you.

I still want to share a caveat.  In a tribal society, a real tribal society, there is a sense of togetherness, a sense that we are all in this together.  It's the whole "For Whom the Bell Tolls" thing.  

I see little of that in conservative circles.  Kovie said that conservatives believe in "us vs. them" and there's some truth to that, especially in their view of how the U.S. relates to other nations.  But what I really see in conservativism is a pathological individualism of "me vs. them."

This started me thinking about the different conceptions of what the Church is among Christians.  (I was a minister before I changed careers to being a counselor, so I tend to find metaphors in that realm.)  The Evangelical view is that individuals become Christians in personal crisis moments of conversion.  These distinct individuals then gather together for mutual benefit and that gathering is a church.  So particular Christians create churches.

The Catholic and mainline Protestant view is that the Church creates particular Chritians, the community come before the individuals as it is the community's ongoing values, practices, actions and beliefs that nurture its members into faith.  This is why there is infant baptism because the reality of being part of the community comes before individual affirmation.  

I think these two different ways of looking at individuals and community are important in understanding the different world views.  In a communual culture, society and its networks of mutual obligations precedes the individual's self understanding.  The individual understands herself in terms of her place in the broader society.  

In an individualistic society the individuals don't get this, they have this delusion that they are masters of their fate and that society is simply a "gathering" of separate persons without any preceding obligations to each other nor that who they are is a result of the society/culture they are a part of.  Everything social must be, in this view, only a transaction chosen by the persons involved.  In a real sense for conservatives there is no "We the People," only a bunch of persons.  I call this a delusion because the reality is that society/culture does precede identity.

In this understanding of tribal that I'm thinking about, progressives are tribal and conservatives are not.  Of course progressives are universalistic in our understanding of what the tribe is.  It's not even just all humans, it extends beyond the human race to include all other living things, in fact even beyond life to include all things.

So that's my caveat.  I totally get, Paul, your usage of tribal in your brief definition and I'm not suggesting we jettison it.  I just wanted to share some thoughts.



Educate, Agitate, Organize, Mobilize, Act!


Thanks! Very Well Said! (0.00 / 0)
This is precisely the sort of nuance and complexity that progressivism has to deal with in a clarifying manner.

If you any suggestions about how to more clearly make the distinction I'm aiming for, I'd very happy to hear them.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Well, I think in Psychology (0.00 / 0)
the appropriate term is "in-group," but after reading Jeff's post on the problem of the curse of knowledge, I'm not sure "in-group" is a good term.

Educate, Agitate, Organize, Mobilize, Act!


[ Parent ]
This is why I self-identify (4.00 / 3)
as a traditional Christian.

When pressed for a definition of the term, I explain that traditional Christians profess the creeds and observe the sacraments, in other words, practice the faith in a manner consistent with the way it has been done for millenia. And in stark contrast to the every-soul-for-himself, making-shit-up-as-you-go-along, religiously colored veil for a political movement known as Evangelicalism or whatever the Religious Right is calling itself these days.

Also, "traditional" is shorter and easier to say than "Catholic and Mainstream Protestants."

Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
Progressives vs individualistic society (4.00 / 3)
I sincerely believe that one of the impediments to the progressive movement is the ideology of American individualism.  It's one reason why I despise hardcore libertarians, because of a strong incompatibility of worldviews.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

[ Parent ]
Individuals are the bases (0.00 / 0)
of any society, cooperative or otherwise.

If you set "progressives" in opposition to the "individual" you will not succeed, IMHO.

You need to demonstrate to the individuals that comprise your society/culture that the collective society will benefit them. Unless you plan to compel individuals to participate in your collective, you have to figure out how to get them involved by choice. Setting your "movement" in opposition to them is not the way to accomplish such.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Trying Thinking of It This Way, And See If It Makes Sense (0.00 / 0)
In particle physics, there is no such thing as a particle in isolation.  Every particle creates a cloud of virtual particles surrounding it.

There are theoretical models of the "bare particle" and these are the basis of conceiving of the real particle as a combination of the bare particle and its virtual cloud.  But in the real world, the bare particle simply doesn't exist by itself.

What's more, philosophically, the individual particle simply cannot exist apart from the entire universe.  The particle is the carrier of properties (or forces) that are inherently universal in nature.

In this manner, the particles are both the "foundation of everything" and yet at the same time they are also entirely relational in nature.

The same is true of individuals in human society, IMHO.  And we need a political philosophy framework that encompasses this dual reality.

The field of relationships is fundamental, because one simply can't build up from isolated points to a broader continuum.   Similarly, per Locke's Social Contract, there can be no rights-bearing individuals until there is a social contract to make those rights secure.

However, the whole point of the framework is precisely that it makes true individualism (as opposed to immature fantasy versions) possible.

Thus, each is fundamental for different purposes.  And philosophically, Jamesian pluralism is the natural fit for encompassing a framework that takes distinct different purposes each as equally valid in their own rights.

Does that make sense?

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Yes (0.00 / 0)
Much moreso than Progressives VERSUS Individualists

Even Ayn Rand did not preach individual isolationism, and I suspect you see her's as an example of an "immature fantasy version". John Galt was a community organizer, after all. He did not set out to take down the moochers by himself, he organized a resistance group. But, I digress...



"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
This Is So Important (0.00 / 0)
that I've resurrected and expanded on it in a diary scheduled to go live at 5:30 PM EST.

I hope you'll be able to join the discussion then.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Small question (0.00 / 0)
Why "all things"?  I don't know your basis for this, but I don't see how non-sentient things matter, except insofar as they affect the sentient creatures.  This would include that the sentient creatures simply value or like them, i.e., I think a mountain is beautiful and don't want it to be destroyed for a mine.  But the mountain doesn't matter in itself, it has no feelings.  But maybe I misunderstand.

[ Parent ]
We are all part of a whole (0.00 / 0)
and the whole includes "non-sentinent" things too.  If we think in terms of just living things and don't include all things we are operating in a way that is not reality based.  The interaction of things creates the system, and that includes non-living things too.  

For instance there is the water shed which includes the living things that take in the water and pass it out.  The movement of the water from ocean into atmosphere then through precipitation to the earth, both on it and within it, to flow back to the ocean, flows through living things, including humans.  The aspects of the non-life of water, how much, when, where, etc., affect the aspects of the living things in the water shed and vice versa.

That's what I'm talking about.  One doesn't need a metaphysical approach, although many of us have it, that non living things are as vital and important per se as living things to see that we are all inter-related and so our approach has to be inclusive.

Educate, Agitate, Organize, Mobilize, Act!


[ Parent ]
What an excellent topic for Bastille Day. (4.00 / 8)
Personally my idea of progressivism is found in the pre-culture war version of the Pledge of Allegiance: "one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." Though I also fancy Lincoln's "that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from this earth."

Montani semper liberi

On Independence Day (4.00 / 2)
the phrase that kept running through my mind was, "Government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations shall perish the Earth".  

[ Parent ]
My stab at it (4.00 / 2)
Conservatives believe that traditions and customs that appear to have economic and social utility have to be upheld even if they perpetuate inequality and injustice.

Progressives believe we have to keep revising traditions and customs that violate equality and justice even if they have economic and social utility.

Save Our Schools! March & National Call to Action, July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, DC: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch...


A very interesting thread (4.00 / 2)
One key distinguishing factor for me is the role and significance of "fear," which I'd define as "fear of other," which can include "us against them" or "me against them," (both of which were referenced in this thread).

And also "fear of change."  

Both of these types of chronic fear seem strongly associated with conservatives, and tend to manifest as "tribally-shared narratives that comfort them in perpetrating a world of inequality" that protects what they have (or believe they have) and who they believe themselves to be.  

This chronically fear-based and resistance-based state of being tends to erode empathy and limit its scope to a very limited sphere and depth of feeling.

I vaguely recall reading somewhere (was it a diary by Paul, Jeremy Rifkin's The Empathic Civilization, or somewhere else??) about human evolution and/or progressivism as related to an expanding scope of empathy (e.g., from one's immediate family or religion to all humankind and/or all life and nature.  

That view of "human progress" makes sense to me, and I'd suggest considering the addition of some reference to empathy in the definition of progressives, perhaps tying it explicitly to the universalist element of the definition, which would suggest a broadened scope of empathetic perception and relationship.

In a May 30 diary Paul discussed the relevance of empathy in relation to Obama and neo-liberalism and the third "Third Way," which I think ties into the point I'm trying to make.
http://www.openleft.com/diary/...

Obama wasn't just intimidated into dropping empathy--both the word and the idea--since he was inaugurated and the right began its vicious attacks.  He grew up in a political environment that was entirely hostile to empathy, and he adapted to that environment.  Of course, making a show of empathy was an absolute requirement, given the constituency he came from.  But nothing is a stronger bulwark against grasping the logic and power of empathy that Lakoff describes than a political lifetime of faking it.  And that, sadly, is the bottom line of Obama's politics, the bottom line of neo-liberalism and the third "Third Way."

If it's any consolation, Lakoff's misapprehension is a mirror-image reflection of the neo-liberals' own misapprehension.  You see, they actually believe their own BS.  They believe that they share the same goals as genuine progressives, but only want to achieve them through different, more "rational", more "market-friendly means.  They have thoroughly convinced themselves that they really do care--at least the non-sociopaths among them.  But when it comes down to actual results, there's simply no there there.

In terms of developing bumper-sticker-appropriate language, I tend to agree with Mark M that "A World that Works for Everyone" isn't a bad candidate for this purpose.  

I also like "Common Dignity, Common Sense." The first two words speak to and links the "universalist" and "a world that works for everyone" components of Paul's definition, while the latter two suggest the "critical-empirical approach" component, which Paul describes as a "systematically disciplined form of common sense."

I also like "Common Dignity" because it opens the door to a discussion of Rankism, a dynamic that was alluded to in this thread's discussion of abuse of power within organizations, especially hierarchical ones, and which Paul has written about extensively.  

And the "Common Sense" component has the added value of referring to Tom Paine's revolutionary-era pamphlet, about which Wikipedia says:

Paine finds two tyrannies in the English constitution; monarchical and aristocratic tyranny, in the king and peers, who rule by heredity and contribute nothing to the people...He begins by arguing that all men are equal at creation and therefore the distinction between kings and subjects is a false one.

This Wiki commentary on Common Sense seems awfully relevant to today's world, and also ties back to the "Common Dignity" component.  And it also relates, both substantively and in terms of political symbolism, to the point David M makes in this thread:

I believe that the frames involving justice and liberty for individuals does a better job of pushing the right American buttons than frames of compassion, such as everyone-is-connected and we're-all-in-this-together, although of course those aren't mutually exclusive.

I agree in part with David's point and believe that the "Common Dignity, Common Sense" language strikes a healthy balance between a compassion and emphathy-based frame and a "justice and liberty" frame, especially if the "Common Sense" component is tied to the Tom Paine message, as summarized in the above Wikipedia excerpts.


Very Good Points (4.00 / 1)
Just a few quick responsese:

Fear is indeed quite central to conservatives.  The Strict Father model presumes a dangerous world.  There are also several attitudinal correlates of conservatism that also relate to fear, not just rightwing authoritarianism, but also terror management, for example.

I know it's a bit long, but I sort of like combining the two phrases you mention:  "Common Dignity, Common Sense: A World that Works for Everyone" combines principles and goals.

And David said so much that I didn't really focus on the part you bring up--about frames involving justice and liberty.  As Lakoff explains in Whose Freedom, "freedom" is an essentially contested concept, and conservatives have put a great deal of effort into pushing their versions, in part because the progressive version has historically been dominant.  So we can't just invoke them without consciously invoking our framing as well.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
A good name for a book (4.00 / 1)
I like your combining of the two terms and might revise it further by adding back the word "creating" from your definition, which provides a more action-oriented tagline.

Common Dignity, Common Sense
Creating a World that Works for Everyone

In fact, this strikes me as a good name for the book I'd like to see (and help) the progressive community  collectively author--with you being one of the authors and also a primary editor.

As I see it, key editorial roles would include outlining the topics to be covered and the structure used to present them, inviting and working with key authors, and drafting and editing text that synthesizes the brilliance and passion of leading progressive thinkers and activists into a clear, compelling and actionable call to principled, unified and progressive mobilization.  

That strikes me as a job you'd be good at and would enjoy, and I'm pretty sure I and many others would be happy to help out in whatever way we could.

As I see it, there's no shortage of important books worthy of the challenge of condensing their core messages into a chapter or two that can be combined with others in a way that amplifies the power and significance of each chapter, while helping readers understand their mutually reinforcing relatedness, and travel further down the path of paradigm shifting, system-level thinking, and renewal of attitude and activism.

And, in the Internet age, a book need not be a static printed document, but rather a living, updatable, adaptable, expandable, multimedia and "mashable" creative expression, especially if designed that way from the start (which I'd recommend).


[ Parent ]
I'm just thrilled we're having this conversation (0.00 / 0)
George Lakoff has been on fire the last several weeks in his columns on HuffPos and other outlets on the framing and deep values issues he expounds upon so well.

I personally have felt overwhelmed with the lack of apparent progress the Dem trifecta has made (just stating my subjective view), am re-reading The Republican Noise Machine, and been thinking a lot about institution-building for progressive messaging.

If I don't start helping put talking about and hepling put together institutions that talk about deeply framed progressive messaging, I felt I would go nuts. Listening to Rachel Maddow and Stewart/Colbert is great therapy, but its kinda preaching to the choir. We need to go on the offensive. Just because Rockridge folded, doesn't mean we stop yelling about framing.


The war is lost (4.00 / 1)
Progressives are cowards that qre so afraid of offending anyone that they tried to change from being liberals.  I have been around a long time and I find that if you espouse liberal ideas but are afraid to call yourself a liberal, the otherside has won already.  

[ Parent ]
Actually (4.00 / 1)
folks like me abandoned the term "liberal" back during the Vietnam War, brought to us by the corporate Cold War liberals.

Many left-leaning Boomers never identified identified as liberals, but always considered themselves progressives.

It wasn't until the late 1980s that DLC types started trying to capture the term for themselves--right around the time that Bush started attacking liberalism.

That's actually when I began identifying with the term.  Heck, I even made a t-shirt with the definition printed on it.  I sold one to Nancy Pelosi, in fact.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Win the next one (4.00 / 1)
The liberal thing has a complex history -- I agree there was some cowardice there, but more to it, like Paul's point above.  In any case, I think "liberal" is kind of poisoned for the public at large, though I sometimes identify myself as such.  I say use progressive, make it stand for something, and don't back down when conservatives try to poison it too.

[ Parent ]
Yeah, I try to kumbaya away the whole progressive versus liberal thing (0.00 / 0)
when I can. Seems a bit unnecessary to fight over nomenclature and levels of degree when the crazies just keep trying to set everything on fire.

For my two cents, it seems when I hear progressive, and thats mostly here in bloggy and podcast world, it seems to be people on the left who have some level of cynicism towards more traditional liberal establishments (to put it mildly). But there are several competing definitions out here as well, and I'm just ready to let the most useful one win.

Progressive, liberal, whatever. I've never understood people who get up in arms over what we want to call ourselves (except when DLCers and the like try to call themselves "progressive", but c'mon that shit's different).

To further my comment above, I was merely expressing what a relief meta-debates in this vein are to me right now as I realize just how hard the job of combatting rightwing bullshit is. Especially in light of that Uni. of Michigan study Digby talked about the other day. People who believe crazy shit, who are then told that crazy shit is false, just believe it even more.

There have been sporadic outbursts of these sorts of meditations on liberal/progressive deep values in Leftystan, but our side has relatively very few people whose job it is to think about this shit for a living and advocate it in a manner fit for mass dissemination. So it's left up to us "amatuers" (and you hardworking folks at Open Left). Lakoff and maybe a dozen other dudes in this field can't do it alone.


[ Parent ]
Frankly (0.00 / 0)
this doesn't help me.  I think it intentionally evades some key issues.

Are Progressives socialists, or perhaps more accurately social democrats?  If so, why are these terms being avoided?

I think there are actually two different uses of the word:
1.  Broadly to identify a left of center coalition that includes liberals, socialists and others.  The advantage of using progressive is that the term's vaugeness avoids inevitable fights between liberals and socialists.  It also avoids the use of the term liberal, which has been subjected to withering attacks through the years from the right.

In this sense the word is inevitably vauge, since it conveys not an ideology but a coalition of different ideologies.  

2.  More narrowly, David describes it very well above:


Progressives defend individuals, especially the marginalized, against concentrated power, be it economic, governmental, or military, whereas conservatives defend it, or are it. Hence the three pillars of an effective, humane progressivism are economic populism, social libertarianism, and anti-imperialism.

David's description is a pretty good one for the Progressives in Vermont (I don't really know what economic populism is), though the deliberate avoidance of socialism is pretty obvious to me. There is in fact little, if any difference in this formulation and how socialists would define modern socialism.  

I am not a socialist, and though I have opposed Gulf War I, II and the recent escalation in Afghanistan, I have never found the "anti-imperialism" critique very convincing. I am well aware this puts me in a distinct minority here.  David's formulation does make it a distinct ideology from liberalism (and why I do not consider myself a Progressive), though a formulation of liberalism would have considerable overlap.


The problem with socialism is public ownership (0.00 / 0)
Not the practice of public ownership, but what Americans think of that practice. The fact is, conservatism in this country was born as an anti-communist faction. Anti-communism is in our bones. But so is ownership. We need to stress not the public ownership aspects of social democracy, but the ownership aspects, the democracy aspects. Heck, as citizens we are already the theoretical "owners" of what our government does in our name.

Take participatory budgeting, for example. As citizens, we elect people to direct our budgets. Lets increase participation in the processes that we already own. There would be a need to create a framework of participation, but with the internet, this would be easier then it seems I think, especially considering our embrace of network neutrality, and the logical extension of that to open source governance.

So with the budgeting process, we can put government spending priorities closer to citizens, which will mean institutions that are more responsive to the needs of people, which accomplishes much the same goals of public ownership in a social democracy, without alienating those who would never call themselves socialists. That would address the policy goals of your 2nd definition of progressivism that you give, without politically giving up on the first definition. It would also increase social capital and bind communities together, especially if it were to happen at a local level, where the immediacy of local needs would hopefully allow us to overcome the polarization of our national politics.

What this calls for though is a large scale, grassroots oriented social movement. Thats necessarily the long term. The disadvantage of this is that in the shorter term, I don't see any many pro-democracy reforms that are in the realm of the possible politically, with the exception of direct election of presidents. How you would make something like this happen, I'm not sure. Many of the policies that Americans could organize around produce such fractures in the body politic that it seems almost pretty insurmountable, which to me makes democratic reform all the more necessary.


[ Parent ]
A great point! (0.00 / 0)
If progressives "are cowards that qre so afraid of offending anyone that they tried to change from being liberals," then we need to figure out what a liberal is and what a socialist is.

Does a progressive differ from a liberal? From a socialist?

I don't think that most liberals or progressives would advocate that the government should own the means of production, but provide an alternative to a capital-driven privatized system.

I also doubt that progressives or socialists would want laissez-faire "free" markets.

I could be wrong about the differences between socialists and liberals/progressives, but I think this is a very important distinction we need to make if we're going to use the word progressive.


[ Parent ]
Consider the Flip Side (0.00 / 0)
Think of your counterpoint on Red State saying:

Frankly this doesn't help me.  I think it intentionally evades some key issues.

Are Conservatives theocrats, or perhaps more accurately religious constitutionalists?  If so, why are these terms being avoided?

My purpose here is to dig deeper than those sorts of labels, and work at making sense of what's shared at that deeper level.  Which is why I find David's comments a bit premature here, though they do bring up issues that need attending to at some point.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
This is a fantastic post (0.00 / 0)
and your formulation

Conservatives believe in tribally-shared narrative myths that comfort them in perpetuating a world of inequality, while

Progressives believe in a universalist, critical-empirical approach to creating a world that works for everyone.

nails it, in my opinion.


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