Dear Dr. Progressive

web posted February 19, 2001

(Important Note: Dr. Progressive suffered a major nervous breakdown two weeks ago. He remains institutionalized in a hospital and is heavily medicated. He has a lap-top with him and is still accessible for questions. However, his desire to answer, let alone read, questions is diminishing. His nurses rarely approach him, as he is increasingly prone to engaging in violent fits of rage. It is therefore recommended that letter-writers keep questions short, polite, and to the point). Send your letters to

Dear Dr. Progressive,

I have noted a grievous error in one of your replies. You mention the progressive lover of mankind who takes from the rich and gives to the poor. All well and good. Let's advance the class struggle and all that (in the thirties my daddy used to steal pennies from the newspaper stacks on street corners--remember when the workers were so insensitive they PAID for a newspaper?) but let's not forget the middle man or woman, the progressive -- you forgot his cut! How can the Liberal movement get acolytes if they can't take their skim off the top? I suggest that returning at least ten cents on the dollar to the proles is reasonable. The laborer is worth his hire, and as much more as he can get away with. Keep up the good work.


Dear anonymous writer,

Too afraid to give your name and address? Wow, what a brave revolutionary you must be. And what an incredible observation you make. Yeah well, whatever you say. Obviously the Liberals need to take their cut too. Sorry, I forgot. I guess I've been a very bad boy. Am I grounded? Am I going to get a curfew? Can I watch TV after 9:00 p.m.?

Actually, the best thing about socialism in general is that it brings about true equality - equality in poverty and terror, except for the nomenklatura. That's the purpose of progressive radicals anyway: to exploit the poor for the sake of gaining their own political power. So yes, you are right, the progressives have to take their fair share. Are you happy now? If you were here I would give you a lollipop. Then I would throw you down five flights of stairs. And I am being very serious about this, believe you me. Very serious.

Dear Dr. Progressive,

What is going on? Have you heard that Watergate might have just been about sex and lies about sex? Have you heard that G. Gordon Liddy has alleged that the break-in into Democratic National Committee Headquarters in 1972 might have been the result of former White House counsel John Dean desperately trying to cover up a prostitution ring -- which his girlfriend, Maureen Biner, was involved in? If this turns out to be true, should progressives exonerate Nixon the way we did Clinton, since this is all just about sex and lies about sex?

Gary Teeple
Los Angeles

Dear Gary,

What's with the drama? Take it easy. You sound as if you are desperately looking for a cause. It's not my fault if your life is so boring and uneventful.

No we don't excuse Nixon you dummy. We excused Clinton because Monicagate was about sex and just lies about sex. And it doesn't matter, because Clinton was trying to build a better world. Now Nixon, he was evil, and if Watergate turns out to also be about sex and just lies about sex, we never forgive him, the way we did Clinton, because Republicans are bad and are against social justice. Don't worry about the double standard. Just take my word for it. And try to add a few interesting words to your discourse. When I think of the intelligent and thoughtful letters that people have sent to me, your name doesn't come to mind.

Dear Dr. Progressive,

Is your nervous breakdown at all connected to your political journey?

Don Haley,
Ph.D. Sociology

Dear Don,

Wow! I am so impressed that you have a Ph.D.! It is so important that you mention it after your name! It really adds validity to your question!

In any case, for a long time I have tried to block out my own personal pain by dreaming of a wide distribution of property. For years I believed that I would finally fit in somewhere, and actually make some friends, when the revolution finally occurred. But as time goes on, I am starting to realize that the socialist revolution might not solve my inability to connect with people. It is a difficult period for me, especially recognizing that I still need to give support to aspirant radicals who write in and seek my advice. I am at a crossroads in that I do not know how I will be able to reconcile losing my faith in the progressive cause and continuing to give advice in my column. I simply cannot quit my column, but at the same time I must face why I have been so lonely and angry all my life. My heavy drinking was a result of this problem. But I can no longer deal with the black-outs, the bingeing and the bouncing off the walls. I have also begun to gradually realize that it is not because of capitalism that I am an alcoholic -- which I believed for more than 15 years. Nonetheless, as a progressive, I must strongly recommend that you continue fighting capitalism. After all, you are so smart, because you have a Ph.D. If only everyone could be like you.

Dear Dr. Progressive,

I am a Trotskyist. What should I do?


Dear Peter,

My condolences.

Dear Dr. Progressive,

I have grown quite upset about how you are yet to mention Gramsci in your advice column, You are obviously unaware that Gramsci constructed a philosophy of culture that borrowed from Marxist analysis. He saw a certain dominance of the ruling class, which he labeled "hegemony". This term became one of his key concepts. He envisioned the danger of hegemony in the way that it penetrated every component in society, especially through the realm of culture. This cultural hegemony made people think that they had choices when in fact they did not. This is why Gramsci was very supportive of the idea of a counter-culture, since he saw hegemony as prevalent in the dominant culture of society itself. This was a step away from Marx, who saw society through the lens of the "class struggle". Surely, if you are going to give advice for the counter-culture, don't you think you should talk about Gramsci?

Lorne Bailey


Should I be taking notes? Is this a history lecture? Should I be in total awe as you speak and then go to a graduate lounge and marvel about how fascinating and intelligent you are for hours on end? "Oh, yeh, Lorne Bailey, he is an expert on Gramsci, he is so smart." Whatever.

Listen buddy, first of all, don't waste your time trying to teach me about hegemony in the realm of culture. You know why? Because you know what I'll tell you to do with that hegemony now don't you?

Secondly, and most importantly, I'm not sure where the confusion might have started in your head but let me remind you of a little tiny fact: this is my column, not yours. If you are searching for a lost father figure, you are going about it very unsuccessfully. Let's get something straight: I'll talk about Gramsci when I feel like it, and I'm certainly not going to talk about him because someone like you tells me to. Now come to think of it, just for the utter idiocy of your letter, I will never mention Gramsci again - ever.

Jamie Glazov holds a Ph.D. in History and is the author of 15 Tips on how to be a Good Leftist.

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