Dear Dr. Progressive

Dear Dr. Progressive is a new column designed to give advice to confused and aspirant radicals in the post-communist era. If you have any questions for Dr. Progressive, write Jamie Glazov at jglazov@home.com.

Dear Dr. Progressive,

My husband and I have been faithful progressives for a long time now. We were especially active during the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua, until the American imperialists destroyed everything. Lately, my husband and I fear we are losing our zeal. There just doesn’t seem to be any kind of cause to take up anymore. Our last hope was the Gulf war, but that ended so fast that we couldn’t even get organized to go to any demonstrations. Any suggestions?

Tanya, Chicago

Dear Tanya,

Your problem is that you have become complacent. This might have something to do with having nice neighbours and a good standard of living. The key to being a successful radical is to nurture a powerful source of unhappiness in your own personal life. The anger you need to nurture has to be depersonalized and translated into your social criticism. I would suggest you find something in your past that makes you angry and try to resuscitate all the negative feelings you have regarding it. Entertain endless post-mortems and rehearsals about your feelings of hurt, humiliation etc. This will give you excellent ammunition against your society’s institutions. You won’t even need me to suggest a cause to you; it will just come naturally. So just remember something that upsets you and focus in on it without taking into account that life is unfair. Blame someone or something else. Trust me on this one.

Dear Dr. Progressive,

My name is Steve and I have studied feminist politics for more than 15 years now. My heroes are Angela Davis and Andrea Dworkin. I must say, however, that Simone de Beauvoir is my personal favourite. Her book, The Second Sex, is the foundation to my life. Lately I have become somewhat torn over a sensitive issue. I have begun to feel very guilty about having sex with women because many of these authors have persuasively demonstrated that heterosexual intercourse is an oppressive institution. Beauvoir and Dworkin, for instance, have shown, with empirical research and footnotes, that intercourse is an invasion of a woman’s individuality, notwithstanding whether the woman consents to the act itself. I have tried to deny myself sex but it is becoming increasingly difficult. I am considering castration. What do you think?

Steve, Boston

Dear Steve,

I am surprised you think the ingredients of your private life have to match your philosophy. For leftwing radicals it is perfectly ok to do one thing but say another. If Beauvoir is your hero, do as she did: she denounced heterosexual intercourse as oppressive but had sexual relations with Jean-Paul Sartre and even pimped little girls for him. So follow her example and remember: denounce "imposed heterosexuality" in our society but do not put any restraint on your own pursuit of immediate self-gratification. Seeing that you understand feminist politics so well, you are clearly part of a vanguard for the struggle for social justice. This elite status exempts you from certain obligations to your own philosophy.

Steve, please keep in mind that condemning heterosexual sex is important in terms of the political struggle, but it doesn’t mean you have to deny yourself of its pleasures. That’s for the people, not for you.

In terms of your idea about castration, I am ambivalent. It might be painful. Moreover, it will deny you pleasure. On the other hand, perhaps, it can be seen as a great political and social statement against your society.

Dear Dr. Progressive,

I have just graduated from university with a degree in sociology. The problem is that one of my best friends is consistently pursuing certain themes that go against the struggle for social justice. I have tried to be patient with him but he refuses to give up certain beliefs. I gave him an ultimatum and told him if he doesn’t change his position, or at least silence himself on certain issues, that we can no longer be friends. He continues to pursue his line of thinking. Should our friendship be over?

Ken, Baltimore

Dear Ken,

Absolutely. End your friendship immediately. As a Leftist, you must judge people in terms of whether or not they agree with you, not on what you like about them as people.

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