Progressive Strategy: Mitigating Harm or Changing the System?

George Lakoff became sort of a progressive/liberal rock star with his idea of framing which I found helpful. But his new book Whose Freedom? raises conundrums like this one pointed out by Robert Jensen in The Limits of Lakoff’s Politics: Outside the Frame:

Lakoff’s “frame,” simply stated is:

(1) Right-wing Republicans are the cause of our problems, and

(2) progressives working through the Democratic Party will deliver the solutions.

So, out the window must go any facts or analyses that suggest

(1) the problems of an unjust and unsustainable world may be rooted in fundamental systems, such as corporate capitalism and the imperialism of powerful nation-states, no matter who is in power, and

(2) the Democratic Party is not only not a meaningful vehicle for progressive politics but, as a subsidiary of that corporate system with its own history and contemporary practice of empire-building, is part of the problem.

Geesh, I wish solutions/approaches to some sort of solution were easier. Do we try to dismantle the whole system of oppression that is just HUGE and rich and mean and ruthless, or do we make do and try to reduce the amount of harm done by such a system? I always shake my head at revolutionary types that (it seems naively) think we can sort of undo capitalism-as-we-know-it. Yet, it also feels sort of like selling out if we resign ourselves to just try to mitigate the harm done by the system, which is really all that can be done if the capitalism-U.S.-military-corporation-materialism-WTO-IMF complex remains intact. And I know that we could try to do both, but there are limited resources for what we do and so if we split them between making-do and dismantling-the-system, we may make little progress on either. What would “revolution” even look like, I wonder? I will try to look into that and see. In the meantime, over at the progressive strategy blog, they are thinking about this is much more sophisticated ways. Read a more in-depth discussion of things over there.

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