*edit, November 13, 2015 – I’ve added in an excerpt from Armine’s lengthy article.
An excerpt from the above linked-to article by Armine Yalnizyan follows:
Moving ahead requires not just a sense of where we are trying to get, but some re-calibrating of how we are moving. We’ve got a job to do: to fill ourselves and those we wish to attract with a sense of confidence and clarity, but also a way that integrates the “me” and the “we.”
The challenge for progressives today is not primarily about the “politically correct” recipe for moving beyond recession to a broad-based recovery. The challenge for progressives today is to take on a more profound, status-quo-challenging analysis, and tackle those troublesome parts of the status quo that are transforming us individually, and as a society – the growing gap between the rich and the rest of us; climate change that is fed by our addiction to plenty and more; and imminent demographic shifts, the like of which we have never experienced.
All are nudging us towards a new economic paradigm, a slow-growth paradigm. We have no lived experience of dealing with our problems without growth – it’s easier to deal with things when you can’t count on more, rather than divvying up what you have differently – and it promises to usher in a wave of much more raw politics, politics filled with harsh and clear trade-offs. Things are about to get a lot more pointed and direct. Like it or not, we are about to embark on a new politics…and, just like in 1933, most of what ails us can all be traced back to the nature of capitalism.
I found this presentation to be very interesting. Some of the subjects raised, I would love to understand better. Armine’s reference to faith, and her placing it in a positive light, caught my attention. I’m religious. I’ve been religious longer than I’ve been politicized. After years of being immersed in (being interested in, learning and talking about) class politics, I have come to the conclusion that there is a real anti-religion streak on the Left. Does this create a problem for the weak Left? Smart progressives would both acknowledge that streak and see it as a challenge and an opportunity, but, I hope, not merely opportunistically. The Left is supposed to champion human rights, which means the rights of all ‘kinds’ of humans. All sexual orientations, all faiths or no faiths, all groups and colors and cultures are to be embraced.
I am all for human rights. I’m all for fairness. But I don’t agree with the idea that all cultures are okay. In fact, There are no acceptable cultures on this planet, from God’s standpoint. None of them, for one thing, acknowledge Jehovah’s sovereignty. That doesn’t mean that a culture is automatically totally evil or wrong. But they will all disappear once this anti-God world is destroyed. Individuals from all cultures are welcome to enter into a new world that is truly civilized and acceptable to God or disappear with the old world. And who will argue that Jehovah’s culture and world is being forced on others? It’s all but invisible. And invisible culture doesn’t exert pressure. Those who seek it – and the Truth – might find it. That’s the extent of it.
I’m sure that there’s lots of principled and caring leftists. But… I’ve noticed that there’s lots of fake progressives as well. Unless they’re real and we have to come up with another term for someone who is genuinely principled and caring. The way I see it, The relatively powerless Left needs all the friends it can get. And so it shows respect to all the people it can, promising to respect their individuality whatever that may involve. Whereas the powerful Right can disprespect (and talk nonsense to) many of those who the Left reaches out to, since it doesn’t need anything from them. Of course, A righteous Right would have a different attitude and take a different approach. But that’s another subject. Back to the Left; As a member of a virtually invisible minority – a worshipper of Jehovah, politicized and politically active (in my opinion), anti-capitalist but not a socialist – I see things that others, who are members of groups that have been embraced by either the Left or Right, don’t see.
I see that the Right isn’t just another ideological grouping. It’s composed of individuals who are busy, and very willingly, shedding the last bits of their humanity, just as those who have gone ahead of them encourage them to do that, promising them economic salvation in return. And I see a Left that needs all the allies it can get in it’s contest with the Right who it sees, not so much as wrong, but as victorious in a game that it would also like to win. (Everyone, pretty much, is playing the Darwinian game of ‘riches for the strongest’. That game is the problem. It needs to go and people need to grasp that.) I’m sorry to report that as the object of leftwing rants against religionists from time to time – which, of course, would have targetted not just myself – I would have noticed that. Wouldn’t I? And I would have noticed that religious targets of Leftwing outreach don’t include myself.
Then again, I myself find all religions, and many religionists, to be alarming. That’s not an irrational response, in my humble view.
Armine doesn’t elaborate, in the direction of conventional religion, on the idea of faith. Rather, She means to explain that the Right is able to succeed in gaining recruits from all walks because it appeals to the whole individual rather than just to the individual’s intellect, or ability to agree or disagree with a policy. Which is what individuals are looking for. Individuals appreciate it when those who want something from them also show a personal interest in them. With ‘faith’, you have something more than just ‘intellect’, which the Right seems to understand. Which says nothing about intentions.
Why do even educated, smart professionals feel drawn to rightwing positions? That appeal to their human desire to be (wholly) wanted and acknowledged and accepted certainly plays a large role in the movement rightward. I would argue that even educated professionals are going to find themselves making dumb decisions, which may include what political movement to join, when they find themselves unable to think critically about what’s being sold to them. And is it any wonder? North American (all advanced nations I’m sure) work culture is brutal. We – well paid and poorly paid – work too hard, too long and for too little. It’s draining and distracting. As Chomsky has explained in detail, Propaganda is employed by bad inentioned elites in more advanced states, precisely because it’s harder for them to just order people to do what may not be in the peoples’ best interests but will be in the best interests of those elites. Therefore, To the extent that North Americans, for example, think about important things, How much of that ‘thinking’ is influenced by propaganda? And that propaganda includes the idea that capitalism is the true religion and we worship, dutifully, by spending. So when you have down time, especially if you are a professional with a decent income, you are likely going to find yourself self-tranquilizing and ‘worshipping’ in malls. The majority will do the same, spending less.
Notice I’m not saying that self-tranquilizing, which we all need to do regularly, and spending money is wrong. What’s wrong happens when we fail to care and think critically and notice what direction we as a civilization are going in.
*I’ve edited this post slightly. Today is December 31, 2009.