Tag Archives: neo-progressivism

science and neo-progressivism

Those who enjoyed mine and Taylor’s piece on neo-progressives may remember that we claimed both the original progressive and the neo-progressive movements were founded on the pursuit of a few core values:

The rise of industrial capitalism during the 19th century led to a series of tense societal changes. These included the emergence of an urban working class, increasing inequality and the new possibility of total war. In response, three generations of pragmatically driven “progressives” emerged. Opposing both the socialist left and the laissez-faire right, they championed values such as equality of opportunity, meritocracy, government transparency and empirical inquiry.

Andrew Sullivan seems to agree with science/evidence based approaches as being one of them – although the post’s title suggests he doesn’t want to credit earlier progressives with adopting science as well. Andrew’s comments spring from the fact that the science magazine Seed has endorsed Obama:

Science is a way of governing, not just something to be governed. Science offers a methodology and philosophy rooted in evidence, kept in check by persistent inquiry, and bounded by the constraints of a self-critical and rigorous method. Science is a lens through which we can and should visualize and solve complex problems, organize government and multilateral bodies, establish international alliances, inspire national pride, restore positive feelings about America around the globe, embolden democracy, and ultimately, lead the world. More than anything, what this lens offers the next administration is a limitless capacity to handle all that comes its way, no matter how complex or unanticipated.

Sen. Obama’s embrace of transparency and evidence-based decision-making, his intelligence and curiosity echo this new way of looking at the world

This is a battle the original progressives won – it is a sad statement that we are fighting it again. But we will win, again. It does help that we’ve got people like Hitchens on our side and that they are willing to remind us that the GOP really is waging a war on science. The republicans really have which left not only the neo-progressives behind, but also conservative minded progressives (yes, they exist). It’s going to be a tough, ugly, conservative rump that is left.

WordClouding Harper, Dion and neo-progressivism

Just got back from the Banff Forum this weekend where I had a great time making new friends, meeting up with old friends and – with Taylor – doing a panel where we discussed our Canadian Literary Review (LRC)article on how the Left is killing progressive politics. The audience gave us lots of positive feedback and, more importantly, new insights which is always both encouraging and helpful.

On the same day I discovered – thanks to the National Post (hey, it was delivered free to my hotel room) – a great site called wordle.net which creates word clouds out of any text or web page you submit it. Very cool stuff. The National Post ran each of the party’s policy platforms through wordle which I thought was creative for a newspaper (hard to imagine the Globe doing something like that). Sadly, I wish I could link to the images, but they don’t seem to available online.

Turns out the Star (using Tagcrowd) has also been creating clouds out of the speeches Dion and Harper gave one day apart at the Empire and Canadian Clubs in Toronto. Notice how the words Stephan and Dion don’t appear in Harper’s cloud whereas Stephen and Harper are among the most used words by Dion? Interesting. Also of note? Dion seems to think “jobs” will resonate, whereas Harper seems to believe “taxes” will.

Anyway, to come back to the LRC piece, I was so inspired by these tags I decided I’d create one for the LRC piece. Tada:

Created using Wordle.net

Obama and Web 2.0 in 1995

Salimah E. just forwarded me this fantastic piece – from the Chicago Reader – about Obama. Part of what makes it fascinating is that it was  written 13 years ago. Just read it and look how consistent Obama’s past and present is from a values and goals perspective. This piece could have been written yesterday. What a rock that guy is.

Also interesting to read the piece from a technology angle. Consider again that it was written a decade before Web 2.0. But look at how Obama’s language and values around community building fit so perfectly with the social media technologies of today. Reading this (again written in 1995!) it becomes obvious that Obama would immediately see the potential and opportunity around online, self-organizing, social media. It explains how and why his stie has done so well. He literally lives and believes in the values of self-organizing to a degree that few other politicians do and so is willing to hand big parts of his site over to its users. (in this case users, supporters, or followers all feel like inadequate words, sigh).

Money quote:

“What makes Obama different from other progressive politicians is that he doesn’t just want to create and support progressive programs; he wants to mobilize the people to create their own. He wants to stand politics on its head, empowering citizens by bringing together the churches and businesses and banks, scornful grandmothers and angry young.”

Obama, different than other progressive politicians? Hmmm, I’ll confess that this line also makes me like the piece because it resonated with Taylor and I’s piece on the death of progressive politics. (Shameless link, I know).

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.