What is a Progressive Movement? (A work in progress…)

12 Nov


A cyber buddy of mine asked me an important question today via Facebook.  He wrote in response to my open letter to Russell Simmons:

“Hey Tara. I totally agree that it is silly to suggest that hip hop will be a serious part of the political process. I have a serious question for you though. What is the progressive movement? Can you put it into a few sentences?”

And this was my response:

Thx for commenting & asking a GR8 question! As I see it, a progressive movement is a forward shift in practice & ideology. As a practice, it’s a fluid space that looks like labor reform (EFCA), universal healthcare, energy policies that work with preserving our environment, not damaging it. I’m thinking in terms of human & civil rights – laws that give LGTBQ folks the same legal ‘privileges’ as heterosexual folks. It’s ideology (& I can write an entire thesis on my idea of progressive ideology), that doesn’t limit our scope of understanding the worlds around us. We begin to think less in terms of “us vs. them,” “this or that,” “black or white,” “moral or immoral” but consider that much of our world functions in an ‘in between’ space. By functioning within this ‘in between’ space, we acknowledge our pitfalls, failures, & vulnerabilities inspite/despite our incessant need to be right. A movement of progress means truding forward beyond what was & moving toward what can be.

I also want to add that depending on one’s ‘core belief system’ a progressive movement will differ. However, notwithstanding these core belief systems, I think folks might agree that a progressive movement is change of some sort. Now what that ‘change’ means to certain groups of people and how that ‘change’ can be accomplished will continually be up for debate.

I think asking ourselves what progress means is the $60 million question of our times.  As I continue to hash out exactly what this monster of an idea means, I wonder what others think about a ‘progressive movement.’  Can it be defined succinctly?  My guess is, probably not.

5 Responses to “What is a Progressive Movement? (A work in progress…)”

  1. Rasheed Moore November 12, 2008 at 3:38 pm #

    Sounds more like relativism to me, where the is no moral or immoral, no one takes a stance on anything, kind of like a liberal utopia. To me this regressive but I suppose you might say it all depends on your point of view.

  2. tara l. conley November 12, 2008 at 4:14 pm #

    Ahh, the relativism debate! While I see how relativism can be argued, I think that a progressive ideology can be less aligned with “one way or the other.” To suggests it’s all just relativism and regressive in and of itself is somewhat narrow-minded.

  3. Wade November 13, 2008 at 8:15 am #

    In the US, “Progressive”, has simply become a euphemism for the word “Liberal”. As far as the Progressive Movement goes, I suppose it means different things to different people, so it’s hard to generalize. The problem with most movements is that they usually become perverted over time. I suspect thats why “Liberal” has become a dirty word in America. It’s naive to think that there really is a major “Progressive Movement” in main-stream America. Sure, it might exist on College campuses where it’s hip and fashionable to call yourself “Progressive”, but this a very temporary and insincere fad. I suppose Democrats like Obama are “Progressive” by some standards, but he had to downplay this to get elected by the masses. Overall, I think “Progressive” is just a trendy word that some people on the Left use to describe themselves.

  4. tara l. conley November 13, 2008 at 4:32 pm #

    @ Wade:

    I think folks who truly want to change the way things are have to define the word for themselves as opposed to letting the word define them. The term is a sign (referring to semiotics) that should connote/denote action toward doing something differently than before. Yes, the term is, or is becoming, over-saturated through the mainstream (as is the case when things/ideas are brought into the arena of commonplace). That’s why I think it’s important for us to take a moment and define what it means for ourselves. Hence, this post. Perhaps a new word/idea is necessary, or perhaps we, who do believe in forward-thinking action, understand that it’s less about the term and more about what we do to define/shape ourselves, our generation, our movements, our society, etc.

  5. lghtning4u January 27, 2010 at 6:09 pm #

    How’s your hope & change working out?

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