Dear Dr. Progressive

web posted March 26, 2001

(Important Note: It is with great reluctance that we inform our readers that Dr. Progressive has, allegedly, been abducted by aliens. We stress that this is the allegation of Dr. Progressive himself, who gave this information over the phone to his volunteer assistant -- who continues to relay communication between Dr. Progressive and letter-writers. The assistant has affirmed that, especially in the context of his last exchange with the doctor, Dr. Progressive is clearly not in possession of his mental faculties. According to the assistant, Dr. Progressive was weeping frantically on the phone, alleging that he had been abducted by aliens. He claimed he was on board an alien spacecraft and that he was being tortured - for the reason that the aliens were trying to extract certain valuable information. The doctor also claimed that the aliens plan to impregnate him with an alien embryo that will, one day, become a communist leader of planet earth. At the end of the conversation, the assistant affirms that there was a significant amount of ruffling in the background and that Dr. Progressive was shrieking "No! Please! No!" before a dial tone set in. Despite this high drama, Dr. Progressive has been calling his assistant regularly, saying that he is between "torture" and "indoctrination" sessions on the spacecraft, and that, while he is "barely making it," he can still answer readers' questions. The assistant himself maintains that he disbelieves Dr. Progressive's latest version of events. In any case, readers are still encouraged to write in. Also please keep in mind that the assistant has been tape-recording the conversations with Dr. Progressive and the doctor's answers are written in this column verbatim -- with several notes inserted by the assistant).

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Dear Dr. Progressive,

Thank you very much for your response to my November letter. Now that I've been following your advice, I'm going out on second and even third dates with many of the socialist-oriented girls I'm asking out. That line about AIDS awareness really works. My only problem is that I've had to replace my subscription to Forbes with back issues of the Utne Reader. Two months ago one of my dates spotted a copy of Forbes on the end table and next thing I knew, I was taking another cold shower.

Anyway, I was hoping you could answer another question for me, though, as I just had a really bad date with this disturbingly hot California girl this past weekend. I started off doing everything right, I thought. When I picked her up in my car, I was playing Eminem, and explained that I was fascinated how Eminem was rebelling against the fascist-capitalist societal machine that kept him down for so long. That explained why his song lyrics were so involved with mayhem, death, and hatred against women and homosexuals. Then, when we went out to this French restaurant (Chez Bove) nearby that serves only organic food and charges $2 a glass for l'eau de table, I ordered a tiny plate of some wilted French vegetable and commiserated with the plight of all the animals being slaughtered for food.

By this time, I was certain I was going to make it. But then when the check came, she accused me of supporting patriarchal domination over "womyn" (it even sounded like that), just because I wanted to pay it! Then when I offered to let her pay it if she wanted, she got angry at me for keeping empowered women subservient to notions of male altruism. The ride home was even worse, as she demanded to go back to her apartment immediately, and by that time I completely lost my cool. The verbal argument was fierce enough that I may face human rights charges from the City of West Hollywood for violating her rights, the rights of her roommate watching from the window, and the rights of seventeen passerby.

My question: What do you do when a chick's got you over a barrel and there's absolutely no way to get out of it? Do you just back down and take it or do you stand up for yourself?

Thanks again,

Benjamin Kepple
Los Angeles

Dear Benjamin,

Right now, your problems are the last thing on my mind. I am on an alien space phone and only have a few minutes to talk. By the way, Eminem's lyrics are not anti-Right, they are anti-Left. That is why the feminists and gay-rights activists are so upset with his lyrics. In other words, you made a big mistake playing the album to the tree hugger in your car. Oh, wait a minute, here comes one of the aliens and they are going to make me take some kind of pill........[Assistant's note: at this point of the conversation the phone was muffled, but I clearly heard Dr. Progressive making a food order from a waitress who introduced herself as "Jane." This was not a surprise, since the phone number that appeared on my phone display was labeled with the name of a restaurant with an area code in New York].....Okay, I am back now. So look, as a good progressive you should not stand up for yourself if this woman is putting you down. Men have oppressed women for far too long now. You should volunteer to go to this woman's house and do some dusting around her house. I suggest you replace your Forbes magazine with a book written by Bell Hooks or Andrea Dworkin. Ok, I must go now, the indoctrination session will now continue. I am really really scared [some audible whimpering]. [Assistant's note: at this point, despite the whimpering and the muffled phone, I still heard a female voice saying "Here is your coffee" and Dr. Progressive saying "thank you Jane" with a completely relaxed voice]

Dear Dr. Progressive,

When I was young, before I ever went to College, I used to love reading books. There was no greater pleasure for me than to read Charles Dickens or Leo Tolstoy. Then I went to College and started studying literature seriously. I really got into postmodernism and became convinced that the word is obsolete and that no work can hold any value for it is merely a bundle of social constructs. I began to realize that Dickens does violence to our understanding of the world by imposing socially constructed falsities upon our sensibilities. But even more serious than this is the idea that I have come to believe that language holds no intrinsic meaning. It is only a metaphor in which we have decided to believe in. The belief that we have in the word itself causes blindness in us for its very artificiality forces us to be indoctrinated by socially constructed concepts. The word is not transparent! It does not point beyond itself towards meaning! Even now as I write, I do not believe that these words hold any meaning and I don't know what to do. With each word that I am using, I am reinforcing the violence that language imposes upon us as human beings. What should I do?

Len Byrd
Vancouver, B.C.

Dear Len,

You are being an excellent Leftist. A good robust eating disorder is the next step. Keep confusing your self-hatred with your social criticism. It's the key!

Dear Dr. Progressive,

You say you have been abducted by aliens. I find this very hard to believe.

How can you confirm this?


Dear Oliver,

Many people did not believe that Trotsky actually died, and there were many sightings of him even after his supposed assassination. There is a substantial amount of evidence that indicates that Trotsky faked his own death. I once had a sighting of him at a ranch in Oklahoma, and I wouldn't lie about this. He looked very different from the pictures I had seen of him. He had gained a lot of weight and was wearing contacts (or had lost his glasses). In any case, what I am getting to here is that I will have the proof very shortly of my ordeal. If a survive the recantation sessions, I will be able to lead a new crusade when I get back. [Assistant's note: a dial tone came in at this point, as Dr. Progressive accidentally hung up. Several minutes later I received a collect call from him and he apologized, saying he had no more "quarters." There was a pause between both of us after he said this and I did not pursue a line of questioning as I realized it would have put him into an uncomfortable position, so we just returned to his answer]...Ah yes, so in any case, the aliens wanted to know why the planet earth has not been able to solve the problem of hunger and I have explained to them that it is because globalization has taken away local communities' potential to fend for themselves. In other words, it is the problem of capitalism. Once we get rid of capitalism, we get rid of hunger.

That's because communism will wipe out all people through terror and so then no one will be hungry because no one will be alive.

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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