Friday, December 30, 2005

Progressive Values

In order to work together as progressives, we need to have some sense of what our progressive values are.

This is not as easy as it used to be, and it is certainly not as easy as it is to know what conservative values are. The reasons for this are important:

  1. Progressive organizations are poorly funded and under-staffed
  2. Conservative organizations are comparatively numerous, well funded, and well staffed.
  3. Progressive people, as a function of their values, are less agressive and domineering with their values - preferring to believe that everyone should have the right to their opinion and beliefs.
  4. Conservatives pull no punches, insisting that their way is the right way, and advocating forcefully for it.
  5. Progressive positions evolve as new information becomes available, improving the level of knowledge that gives rise to progressive points of view.
  6. Conservative positions are more rigid, relying on traditional views that are not beholden to evidence or information, and therefore are not compelled to change with the times.
In order to rectify this, we need to do a few things, and do them well.

We need to clarify what our core values are, we need to fund organizations devoted to promoting our values*, and we need to advocate strongly for our policies. This posting is mainly about clarifying progressive values.

*click here for a discussion on ways to create stable funding for progressive organizations.

Clarifying our Values:

Progressive values rely on the following basic assumptions about the nature and purpose of human cooperation:
  1. People are basically good, and are better able to contribute postitively to their families and communities when they are supported and encouraged to do so.
  2. The purpose of governments are to provide the structure and support for people to live good lives.
  3. Fairness and equal opportunity are important elements of society, rewarding people who work hard and contribute to their societies, instead of allowing social classes to determine the fates of children.
While social change has been dominated by progressive values in the last few centuries, with many small and some major social changes in industrial nations, there have been major mistakes made by progressives in the last few decades. We must forgive ourselves and our elders for these mistakes, especially given the nature of progressive thinking, but must act quickly to improve progressive understanding and policies to restore strength to progressive movements.

The mistakes were as follows:
  1. Frowning upon money, being embarassed by money, or feeling that money is somehow dirty or evil.
  2. Alienating potential allies by (1)
  3. Underestimating the power of ignorance and superstition
  4. Underestimating the persistence (and dangers) of the religious fundamentalism that can develop in absence of good, strong, progressive education.
  5. Underestimating the cleverness, cunning, and conviction of conservative organizations willing to manipulate religious fundamentalists to achieve their strategic goals.
  6. Underestimating just how far conservatives will go to make "headway" in their "campaigns" (note the military metaphors).
So, its high time we get together, develop a basic education about how this all works, and start supporting each other to create the kind of society we want to live in...