Neo-Progressivism: The Next Political Cycle?

lrc_0908_largeSeveral months ago the Literary Review of Canada put out a request for articles about the rise of Obama and what it means for politics in general and Canada specifically. Mine and Taylor’s proposal won out and is the lead essay in this month’s edition of the LRC. Needless to say we are pretty excited.

The essay explores how the Left has been killing progressive politics. Those on the right have always been clear about their disdain for progressivism and their desire to rollback its success. On the left however, an equally strong conservatism has emerged. Fearful that any debate, or worse reform, will threaten successes of the past century many progressives have become anti-change. It is a more subtle conservatism, but it has helped foster a political environment within the left and centre-left that is defined by silence and stagnation.

But change is afoot. A new generation is challenging old assumptions. It is these same people – the neo-progressives – that helped propel Obama to the top of the democratic party. This new generation of progressives could similarly reshape Canadian politics.

You can read the article here.

11 thoughts on “Neo-Progressivism: The Next Political Cycle?

  1. ncharney

    Great read David – I couldn't help but think that this excerpt resonates with what many of us are trying now to do in Public Service:”… hoping to turn every healthcare worker under his watch into a process engineer. He is asking each of them to determine when and where there is waste — lost time waiting, needless forms or procedures, or errors that frequently require fixing — and then empowering them to change the processes that create that waste.”I recently sat on a panel with Dr. Gilles Paquet (whom I believe you know), the theme of which was how we could 'scheme virtuously' within the public service in order to create exactly this type of stewardship culture. It was a highly entertaining affair.Cheers

    Reply
  2. ncharney

    Alas – no transcript or podcast (sadly and obviously). I posted my speaking notes here: http://www.cpsrenewal.ca/2008/08/cpsrenewalca-w…I was brought in on the Panel to try to make his comments a little more “real” for the younger public servants. I am currently working on a more in depth response to his contribution and hope to post it soon. He likewise extended the opportunity to publish something in optimum, I am looking forward to trying taking him up on it.

    Reply
  3. jason h

    Wow, terrific article and mind-altering….. I'm not a political scholar but I think politics is important, so while I try to pay attention I'm usually lost. The sentence about the creative classes who value Republican and Democrat ideas equally really struck me – that's me dead on. I guess I'm a “neo-progressive” and never knew it. Terrific read, thanks a lot.

    Reply
  4. Mark Kuznicki

    David, I've been eagerly looking forward to this article and now you've created something that I will recommend as a reference point for a long time to come. We've been dancing around these ideas for a while, and I want to congratulate you and Taylor for articulating them in way that is useful for both specialists and a general audience. Great work!

    Reply
  5. Jason H

    I agree Mark – I made a special trip back to check up on any new comments; this article made a really enormous and important impact on me. I think it's very insightful and defining.

    Reply
  6. Mark Kuznicki

    When I posted about this on my blog, I had an angry commenter say “Your post-ideological neo-progressive agenda is actually extremely ideological and neo-liberal”. Sigh. I think the commenter is misusing the neo-liberal label.But the commenter has a point – what do we mean by post-ideological? Clearly there are a set of ideas that drive neo-progressivism. If we can call it an -ism, is it not an ideology? I think we need to carefully define what we mean by these terms. Is neo-progressivism a coherent set of ideas, or are we just talking about pragmatism coupled with progressive values?

    Reply
  7. Mark Kuznicki

    When I posted about this on my blog, I had an angry commenter say “Your post-ideological neo-progressive agenda is actually extremely ideological and neo-liberal”. Sigh. I think the commenter is misusing the neo-liberal label.But the commenter has a point – what do we mean by post-ideological? Clearly there are a set of ideas that drive neo-progressivism. If we can call it an -ism, is it not an ideology? I think we need to carefully define what we mean by these terms. Is neo-progressivism a coherent set of ideas, or are we just talking about pragmatism coupled with progressive values?

    Reply
  8. Julian

    & American politics too. I enjoyed reading your manifesto and have been tinkering with the idea of a neo-progressive movement for some time. To me solution oriented politics is the only way to keep out the corrupting influence of lobbyist & ax grinders. & as people are less inclined to identify themselves as part of the democratic or republican monolith, I believe socially progressive politics, with no strings attached, is by and large what the people are asking for.

    Reply
  9. Julian

    & American politics too. I enjoyed reading your manifesto and have been tinkering with the idea of a neo-progressive movement for some time. To me solution oriented politics is the only way to keep out the corrupting influence of lobbyist & ax grinders. & as people are less inclined to identify themselves as part of the democratic or republican monolith, I believe socially progressive politics, with no strings attached, is by and large what the people are asking for.

    Reply
  10. Pingback: Hacking democracy, Canadian style | Remarkk!

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