There are two basic categories to this question I would like us to explore. The first is what I will term the "quantitative" answer, the other is the "qualitative." I will argue for the "qualitative" answer, and although I do not have a specific strategy for accomplishing it beyond what we all already know (support whatever aspect of the progressive movement that you can) I would like to suggest a more specific vision of what a progressive future means.
The quantitative answer goes along the lines that "progressives" want more of some things and less of others. More spending on social programs, less on war. More assistance for homeowners who are underwater, less for irresponsible financial firms that seek bailouts to avoid bankruptcy. More government involvement to assure that everyone receives healthcare, etc.
The "qualitative" answer posits that while all of the above aspects of the "quantitative" approach are valid, they are only parts of what is the larger, more fundamental problem, what makes the difference in regard to all that is at stake: the fundamental nature of "the system." Unless we rework a "system" that is geared to delivering profit and power into the hands of the few, we will always find ourselves fighting a losing battle against the vested interests who manipulate politicians and manipulate the people through campaign spending and control of the media.
Not to totally ignore the question of strategy: a diverse network of well-informed and often successful grassroots activists have been keeping this country from being utterly destroyed for some time now. For example, check out the post "New Salvo in War With Monsanto and GMO Roundup Ready Seed" to see how those who have dedicated themselves to the public interest are standing up against the assaults against humanity and nature.
Now, I will not make a list of issues here in an attempt to flesh out my vision. What I will do is point out the basic premises which have informed the "debate" in the mainstream media and how we as progressives can found a political vision which leaves behind the influence of Marxism. Basically what it comes down to is that the "debate" over the role of government has been controlled by those who cater to an understandable fear of "big government". Progressives refuse to abandon the role of government in securing the individual welfare of citizens through government action in the face of this fear. Perhaps the key component to turning the tide in this "debate" is to take ownership over the issue of "decentralization" from the right.
For the right, decentralization always means a victory for the "individual" (as they would define the term, that which in progressive terminology we label "a--hole"). For the left, decentralization means that the individual's interest is served by the community, and the interest of the community is served by the government. Thus, decreasing the power of the federal government is not the issue; a powerful and capable government is not necessarilly a "big" government.
I said I was not going to make a "list", but let me give a couple of examples. How about de-institutionalizing kids and letting them be involved in their family's life, including their work life, as a way of letting them grow up in a healthy enviroment where they can be nurtured more regularly by their loved ones? How about a federal law instituting a 20 hour work week, so that the former idea becomes practicable in light of the increased freedom-time that everyone will have? How about making that practicable through local zoning which allows small-businesses and agriculture to flourish? And which allows neighborhoods to develop organically according to the needs and resources of individuals who collaborate with others of a similar social and economic status as their own? How about telling the bankster to go ---- themselves if they don't like it? All of these things will be possible along with strong federal regulation of the financial industry, oversight of enviromental laws, federal law enforcement, etc.
One thought re strategy: We have to build a new party from the ground up using a grassroots network, and we have to stick to it loyally whatever the consequences. Less evil is still too evil. Change is coming; we have a limited time to determine of what type it will be.

Comments

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 3 years 29 weeks ago
#1

I wonder if you read some of my earlier blog posts on capital where I proposed a 20 hour work week? It's interesting to see the same idea here. People can work more hours, of course if they wish, but that would be a minimum of socially productive activity to aid one's fellow human beings each week (not necessarily work per se) for an adult to be considered a member of society in good standing in the system I have been working out. Several others have had the same or similar suggestions. The idea is that people will continue to be productive when "doing their own thing" or things which they enjoy doing even aside from the 20 hours per week, given the opportunity, or they may spend more time nurturing a loving, productive family as you say. I have spent a career doing essentially half time work (around 20 hours per week usually but it varies), which accounts for me having time to be a prolific blogger as you call me, accompany my wife everywhere, do yardwork, visit my parents and stepdaughter and all the other stuff I do. We are not rich, but we manage to get by, and we are about to get a whole lot richer -- maybe it's karma. I can't wait to visit "our" solar plant.

I agree that the quantitative approach is too narrowly defined and frustrating since it invites working against a rigged system in which progressives are always swimming against the current seemingly. What we need is systemic change and new parties (plural) which actually have a share of power, as well as a progressivized Democratic Party.

I heard about the Monsanto case before, by the way. It's been in the news, where this farmer was blamed for the blowing GM seeds, but I think that happened in Canada, correct? Anyway, it doesn't matter where it happened; the tentacles of the great corporate blood sucking octopus are worldwide.

nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 3 years 29 weeks ago
#2

NL: I'm still working on reviewing your blog posts. I originally inherited the 20-hr. workweek idea from Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. At the end, one of the characters is convincing another about the merits of socialism, and argues that industrialism should allow us to have a 20-hour workweek. The book did inspire reform of the meat-packing industry since people were shocked by the portrayal of the conditions to the extent that they were worried about what they were eating. The book failed however to gain any traction as a propoganda tool.

I think we need to move beyond the socialist paradigm because it inevitably raises the question of individual rights vs. state power. Anarchism on the other hand forfeits the advantages of a strong government in enacting democratic laws which reflect the better side of humanity. I cannot be the only one to notice that benevolent attitudes are expressed through social political solidarity while anti-social behavior is criminal in nature. Unfortunately, the latter tends to reinforce itself as well as the former.

I think that we as progressives should enact a more democratic form of government at the local level in order make the republican form of government at the federal level work more efficiently. That is, don't get rid of welfare but allow local communities to develop social responses to poverty and its attendant ills which are not strictly political in nature. The solution to the problem of poverty for example inevitably entails hard questions about population growth, because the base of the pyramid grows exponentially. The base of the pyramid is where true productivity is actualized, so the per-capita ratio to productive natural resources becomes more unequal.: Where "x" is the number of individuals and "y" is the maximum productivity of the earth, "x" increases in proportion to "y" over time as a function of population growth.

My point in regards to progressive welfare reform then is that the community level is the level where human compassion can come into play in a non-formulaic fashion. If we develop a "pack mentality" of the sort where benevolence and compassion are the defining features of society, individuals will come to develop a sense of responsibility to each other. This will obviate the problem that power relationships have been re-enforced as the unintentional result of nationalis welfare policies which formalize and therefore allow further exploitation of the relationship of the priveleged to the underpriveleged.

The development of the prison-insdustrial complex is one example of this negative irony (from the progressive perspective); despite that fact that most criminal law is under state purview, the relationships of privelege engendered through economic social control are manifested at the local level as consitent with the agenda of trans-national corporate entities which control the federal government and utilize it for the purpose of economic domination.

The formation of a New Vangaurd movement represented by a National Council of Soviet Grassroots Constituents will provide the organizational basis for the immediate reform and constituent reorganization of the federal power structure in line with the agenda of the progressive movement as announced by a Manifesto of Intent Provisionally Agreed Upon by All Checkbook Activists of America with support of the International Union of Disenfranchised and Disenchanted People of All Kinds.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 3 years 29 weeks ago
#3

I( guess Upton Sinclair is where that idea of a 20 hour work week first came from, then. If you think about having varied and productive life, self-actualization, and the advances in technology which make people more productive and obviate the need for much of the more menial work that people used to be compelled to do, it makes more and more sense. Another idea that a couple of my friends on Facebook had was the idea of a sort of sabbitical for every person, which might be a good idea too. I did mention these things in some earlier blog posts.

I don't really get what you are talking about in your last paragraph about a New Vanguard Movement. Perhaps the word "Soviet" is throwing me off since that makes me think of the former Soviet Union.

I agree that we will have to face very difficult questons about population growth the way things have been going, unless women and men become more educated, and women more empowered around the world, and these changes alone are sufficient to stop the out of control growth of the human population. Those changes might do it, but frankly, I doubt those changes are about to happen.

I think I wrote several months ago about the dysfunctionality of capitalism when it comes to creating and sustaining professions which harm society rather than helping. The prison-industrial complex is one example of that. The pawning of addictive drugs, legally by the pharmaceutical industry, as well as alcohol and cigarette industries, among others, is another example, and a third is the enormous "playing with money" (as I call it) financial industry. There are other good examples as well. A somewhat related topic that occurred to me recently, about which I will write a post in the near future, is something I realized when I got an email from a progressive mobile phone company which mentioned that AT & T and other giant phone industries are supporting conservative politicians. This is the trap that progressives are in when they have little option but to pay monopolistic, generally conservative industries for their services, or buy products without knowing the political consequences. After all, who has time to look up the politics of every company we buy from or the consequences of buying a product? So we are in double jeopardy: The money we spend on products from conservative run or irresponsible corporations (which is the large majority of them) is used against us, that is, to work against the interests of consumers, most of all progressive consumers.

nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 3 years 29 weeks ago
#4

I don't want to come across as a total blowhard so I try to throw in a little "Mr. Crazy Guy" act here and there. Actually though, the soviet thing is a subject which Arendt takes up and is topical to your blog post "Is Our Government an Open or Closed System?" Basically the "soviets" were spontaneously emerging citizen's groups in various revolutions. Like Robbespierre eventually turning against the "popular societies" in favor of the Jacobin party, Lenin turned against the soviets in favor of the communist party as the agency for revolutionary government through the statist system. I'll try to get back to that point later here, on your blog, and in a review which I will post of Arendt's "On Revolution" as a seperate blog post.

Your blog posts are interesting in that they seem to suggest a set of overlapping and interrelated subjects. I wonder if you have or are working up to some sort of synthesis which you will present as a synopsis of your perspective?

Another thing about the 20 hr. workweek that I want to mention is that I recall hearing that when the British arrived in Burma the British were disgusted by the fact that the Burmese farmers would spend the rest of the day meditating after putting in about a six hour day. And that was without the "benefit" of technology. The British apparently looked upon meditation as a waste of time and sign of "Oriental Decadence". Tennyson's niece wrote an interesting, based-on-a-true-story novel about the British in Burma but I can't remember the title. Her first name is "Frynwynd". Also, if you have the time you might find Orwell's "Burmese Days" interesting. Have you heard that Aung San Suu Kyi has been released from house arrest?

As far as your point about population, I would say that during the '60s and '70s it was actually fairly common for third world countries to see the U.S. progressive movement as the leader or greatest hope of the progressive movement globally. So if we succeed in bringing about a progressive movement here, it may offer hope and solidarity to leftists globally. We are still the wealthiest nation in a global econosystem, so our "importance" cannot be ignored. Which brings me to the point you made about inadverently supporting corporations. All I can say is that a rather rapid turnaround could occur in that our support of these corporations could enable us to be their undoing insofar as the utilization of the products we pay for consists of working to that end.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 3 years 29 weeks ago
#5

Yes, we depend on them, which also means they (corporations) depend on us. Mass action against corporations can be enormously successful, but making it actually happen seems awfully difficult. I think the U.S. might be the vanguard of a global progressive movement, but currently, many other nations are more progressive than here. I have to question the frequently cited assertion that the United States is "still the world's richest nation." On what evidence is that based? If we took our wealth, subtracted the national debt and the wealth that isn't really here but in foreign places although owned by Americans, and subtracted the money which has been taken out of circulation by wealthy people, I doubt it would be the richest nation at all. Furthermore, if we were to look at standard of living, including socialist benefits such as free education and health care, and income minus debt for the median income citizen, I also doubt that the U.S. would be anywhere near the richest in the world. How can we be when we produce so little but consume so much? We are a debtor nation living beyond our means except for a wealthy few. By the way, I hope to check this out at some point in the near future and write another post based on what I find, but I already had one post on this topic without the statistics.

Regarding the original question, this might not be very original, but to me, being a progressive means wanting progress for humanity as a whole and the common good, while conservatism means fear of or reluctance to change, or satisfaction with the way things are now, thus resulting in calls to slow down the rate of societal change. Since rich people generally have things going their way, they tend to be conservatives. They are on top of the heap of humanity, and they usually like it that way. There are rich progressives who understand that it's about all of us, though, but they are in the minority among the wealthy.

I think I heard that Aung San Suu Kyi had been released from house arrest, but that seems to be a longterm saga that is still ongoing.

Regarding all my Capital Idea posts, they all have that name for a reason. I am hoping to use them as a basis for a book. Since my classes this summer got cut due to the ongoing class warfare which the wealthy seem to be winning -- I told my classes as much this week -- I should have more time than usual this summer to work on my writing. Hopefully I can put my writings and ideas in book form then, or at least make progress toward producing a book on Capital Ideas.

nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 3 years 29 weeks ago
#6
Quote Natural Lefty:

Yes, we depend on them, which also means they (corporations) depend on us. Mass action against corporations can be enormously successful, but making it actually happen seems awfully difficult. I think the U.S. might be the vanguard of a global progressive movement, but currently, many other nations are more progressive than here. I have to question the frequently cited assertion that the United States is "still the world's richest nation." ...>>>... By the way, I hope to check this out at some point in the near future and write another post based on what I find, but I already had one post on this topic without the statistics.

I would probably have to concede this point; the U.S. is neither the economic master nor the moral leader or compass of the world. It seems that the idea that the progressive movement should be essentially internationalist in character is not something which people readily comprehend or are prepared to accept. Of course, organizing within the U.S. is difficult enough for various reasons, among the right-wing reactionary propoganda. But no matter what we do they will always try to play the "progressives are traitors card". Already people have forgotten how dangerously close we came to that sort of thing gaining traction during the Bush Jr. years. So its something to be very, very, very careful about.

Quote Natural Lefty:

Regarding all my Capital Idea posts, they all have that name for a reason. I am hoping to use them as a basis for a book. Since my classes this summer got cut due to the ongoing class warfare which the wealthy seem to be winning -- I told my classes as much this week -- I should have more time than usual this summer to work on my writing. Hopefully I can put my writings and ideas in book form then, or at least make progress toward producing a book on Capital Ideas.

Excellent. Let me know if I can review an advanced copy and provide you with private feedback. By the way, congratulations for "your" solar power plant!

By the way, NL, I saw 2012 last night. I am guessing, but I think the Tibetan characters represent the Chinese-state sanctioned version of the Tibetan religion. I don't know what your opinion is about Tibet but someone in the audience remarked that "it's China". The transformation of Tibetan culture and their contribution of the notion of "dharma" is a subject I would like to return to for study. The Dalai Lama has said that if science has something to offer Buddhism, Buddhism should accept it. I wonder if that includes a rejection of the 'reincarnation of the Buddha', where a child is selected as the next Dalai Lama. I'm going to have lunch with my father and then work on that review of Arendt's work, hopefully to finish that today.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 3 years 29 weeks ago
#7

I think the U.S. could still be at the vanguard of a worldwide progressive movement, but currently, it's at the vanguard of a conservative movement to preserve the wealth and political influence of the financial elites. I think of the conservative movement as more of a Newton's Law -- I forget which one -- thing; for every progressive action in the world, there is an equal and opposite reaction against it by conservatives.

I don't know what 2012 you saw last night. Do you mean you had a premonition? I am guessing you meant a show or something other than ESP, though. It seems to have something to do with Tibet. A lot of people think that 2012 is the year the world will end due to the Mayan calender ending in that year. What a bunch of baloney, superstition, nonsense, BSometer raising psychobable! I just heard that a bunch of people think the world will end on May 21 this year, in fact. Where do people get these ideas? However, I do have a feeling that 2012 will most likely be a very significant year in world history, although I really don't know. It's just that things seem to be lining up that way for the next several years, actually. I think one could always say that though, so we will see (seems like I am arguing with myself). I have mentioned the same thing about Bhuddism on this site, as has Thom on his program. That lack of Dogma (you know, the God of Money in my latest blog post) is one of the many good things about Bhuddism in my opinion. Although China historically has not been very bold in empire building, I think it's takeover of Tibet is unfortunate and without the approval of the Tibetan people. If Tibetans want to have their own nation, I think they should.

So you are congratulating me on the land deal, and also on not having anything to teach. LOL I know you didn't mean that. At least we won't be hurting for money. I am glad you are looking forward to my attempts to complete a book. It is sort of daunting and scary, although I know I can do it. I have already done a dissertation that was book length, after all, and that wasn't very difficult for me. I have been getting feedback all along too by people such as you, which is really helpful and for which I am grateful. Actually, I am thinking of asking some of you for help as editors, etc. if you are willing. The main issue I have is that in the internet age, I don't know how to go about it -- how to do references, etc. I have a lack of hardcopy materials and have been relying on internet materials for references. I don't know whether I should buy or borrow some books as references or just use websites.

nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 3 years 29 weeks ago
#8

"2012" is a movie, about the 'end of the world' (as we know it). I have heard the Mayans are sick of hearing about it, LOL. If you lived in SF you would have to recharge the batteries for your BS-o-meter every half an hour.

I am going to review my list of websites, so I will probably have a few good ones that you can use. There are a number which carry work done by highly respected academics, scientiscts, politicians, etc. A lot of them require membership though, so that's a tough one. Is the library where you teach not so great?

Anyway, I stooped to asking people to comment here in one of my comments on the post "Is Glass-Steagal An Act of Aggression?" but there does not appear to be any takers. Guess people are too hung over during the weekend. Maybe my follow up which I will post early in the week will get some attention. I enjoy our discussion but it seems like there's about 50 or so people "active" at any given time but not much of a sustained discussion anywhere. The libertarians seem to be effective at getting people's goat and involving them in repititious arguments that go around in circles. Oh well.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 3 years 29 weeks ago
#9

I don't expect people to respond to specific requests unless they are real pals with you. I have noticed that on weekends there is far less activity here. It appears that you and I are the only ones who are active on the blog site these past few hours for instance. Still, it's much more active than it used to be at the old site. There, we had a record of the number of views, which this one doesn't have, and there were a great number of views per comment. I had one post with over 400 views, but no comments, about Tilapia and the Salton Sea. I think people liked it, but never commented on it.

"2012" is about what I thought it would be -- the foolishly projected "end of the world." There's another BS-o-meter raiser. My BS-o-meter needs lots of recharging as it is, especially listening to what Republicans have to say.

I am truly grateful for your offer to help my book writing and publishing efforts. I still don't know what form it will take, but I know I have an ally and resource in you, Zenzoe, Dhavid, and several people on Facebook as well, and I suspect maybe even Thom and his staff (I hope). A list of helpful websites might be very useful to me when the time comes. I know that my school sent me something via email a few months ago to help professors publish their books, also.

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