Go to ...

Political Context

The Progressive Mosaic

RSS Feed

What is progressive and what does politicalcontext.org have to do w/ it?

Nothing in this post should be taken as an attempt to be doctrinal or definitive. Shared Sacrifice (now Shared Media Cooperative) was started by and has included liberal Democrats, socialists, anarcho-libertarians, radical left Christians, and unaffiliated lefties. We see ourselves as a mosaic rather than a movement, and our purpose is to nurture the general space of left politics. Some people on the left dislike the term “progressive,” but we don’t think we’re the thing they dislike.

In its most general and inclusive sense, a “progressive” orientation holds to the following:

                a. The market is not the final arbiter of all social good.  Some think we should completely move beyond markets, others that we should generally subordinate markets to a higher social good.  Whatever the propositional beliefs, progressive says markets aren’t everything and ought to be checked politically.

                b. There is a “commons” worth preserving–on earth, in the human mind and culture, in all that we conceive as reality, irreducible to private ownership, profit and exchange.  Love, nature, the metaphysical, the ethical, and cultural expression are examples of realms of the human universe that contain “resources” irreducible to marketization. Progressives implicitly understand the phrase “reclaim the commons.”

                c. Whatever the flaws in our current government, the idea of cooperative, structured governance is the “baby” even the most radical progressives won’t throw out with the “bathwater” of capitalism, corporatism, patriarchy, racism, and other manifestations of systemic oppression.  Progressives think people can work together, and build structures of governance that work. These may be localized and organic enough to satisfy the visions of anarcho-syndicalism; they may be complex and global in scope. Whatever their form and content, they are democratic and cooperative, and progressives believe them possible.

                d. We are egalitarians: we believe social, political, and economic equality is desirable.  We can debate about how to get there, or how much of it is enough, but we know freedom is better than slavery, cosmopolitanism is better than racial segregation, generosity is better than selfishness. 

                e. Some of us believe America is exceptional, or at least exceptionally responsible for the misuse of its power; others reject that view and maybe even the conceptual categories behind such a view.  No progressive, though, would ever find themselves needing to argue that the needs of Americans are more important than the needs of others in the world.  In terms of economic, cultural, and political consideration, there is no difference between a worker south of the Mexican-U.S. border and a worker north of it. This may be what separates progressives from moderate liberals or many in the Democratic Party. We reject “America First,” immigrant-scapegoating and vilification of the external “enemy.” We think international solutions are desirable and, although some of us consider ourselves patriotic, we tend to reject nationalism.

Within these parameters, there is vast room for debate. The reason PoliticalContext.org is here is that no such forum exists, or has existed, in the political blogosphere.  There has been, up until now, no space where socialists, Democrats, Greens, left-libertarians, socialists and anarchists, and those reluctant to define themselves in any of those or other categories, can get together and debate, argue, agree, strategize, speculate, and celebrate the fact that we are all egalitarians.  Instead of building an ideological fiefdom, we want to be a mosaic of liberation projects.  To that end, whatever perspectives we bring into our writing, one goal in the back of our minds should be to solidify our common ground, even as we particularize the issues that compel us to write, produce, or create.

 To give you an idea of the mosaic we’re trying to describe, imagine the last three years of Shared Sacrifice Media as a giant mural representing the political space our guests and contributors have occupied (names are hyperlinked to our interviews with them if you are interested): Green candidates and political leaders like Gordon Clark and Pam Hartwell-Herera, as well as 2008 Presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney. Antiwar leader Cindy Sheehan.  Socialist Party leaders David McReynolds and Billy Wharton. Independent journalist and specialist in African politics Ann Garrison.  Actor, death penalty opponent and bestselling author Mike Farrell.  Tax policy specialist Elaine Maag. Award-winning investigative journalist Walter Brasch. Dissident soldiers Victor Agosto and Josh Stieber.  Trotskyist and S.E.P. Presidential candidate Jerry White, insurgent Democratic challenger Claudia Wright of Utah.  The groundbreaking Towson University Debate Team.

It’s likely these movers and shakers would all find things to argue with one another about, but each one of them would agree that a world of material equality, peace, and respect for all living beings is one worth struggling for.  And each would agree that current political systems have thus far failed to get us there. At Shared Media, we want to build a mosaic where the conversation begins with people like this, and people like you: where, instead of being the exceptions or grudgingly-acknowledged alternative opinions, social justice and emancipation are the starting points.

Note: This article appeared as the first pre-launch editorial post of the Political Context homepage on February 11, 2011 and was authored by Matt J. Stannard.