I am not a superstitious person, but I don’t discount fate. I think fate in most cases is created by something you do or say, resulting in someone reacting to that, and in turn you responding, and suddenly you’re in a conversation that you never expected; suddenly fate is at play, unintentionally created.
Such is the case with my close encounter on the virtual market place of ideas called social media. I came across some articles on Vox Populi that I found interesting and thoughtful, providing perspective on issues that engaged me despite the source, and I commented. Vox Populi is in the words of its founder and publisher Michael Simms “… unashamedly progressive in its approach to politics…” Now as I have written before, the political label of “Progressive” to me is ambiguous, at times also exclusionary, and at other times bordering on deceptive to avoid being viewed as synonymous with socialism; labels in politics can be as misleading as those on cereals.
My comments apparently were well received and precipitated a series of exchanges with Michael Simms. So here you have an avowed Libertarian and Progressive connecting because of comments I made about articles he published that I found interesting and engaging. The articles were about the torture the US engaged in on the War-On-Terror, an obviously slanted test posted for readers to take based on song lyrics composed with a progressive message, and the US Warfare State.
So what is the perspective provided to me? Well for one, this exchange reinforces my concern about labels. What is a progressive anyway, other than an overused and at times generalized label, same as can be said about libertarian; in that sense we share a similar fate, i.e. generalization for media dissemination.
To some degree this is a self-inflicted wound. Most who identify with these labels insist on certain characteristics that exclude others who may share many of the same beliefs. A consequence of this syndrome is the inability to define principles that can be communicated coherently. For those who are like me libertarians, do you know that there are those who also share that “label” but are socialists?
To be clear, I believe a libertarian is someone who supports a civil society founded on the core existential reality of the basic natural right that every individual human being owns themselves; from this all other rights are derived, and that this in turn “progresses” to how individuals interact not only in their own self-interest, but as a society. Politically this means a system that protects individual liberties, and economically freedom in the market place to pursue what each individual sees as their own interests, free of coercion to the contrary.
What I have found problematic in understanding progressives is ambiguity, and in some cases hostility, in this regard. What I saw in these articles were connections to core libertarian beliefs, even if unintentional, but nevertheless apparent. I was well aware that Vox Populi was a progressive publication, which made what I read even more engaging.
At one pint Michael invited me to write an article, asking “…would you have an article that is possibly publishable in VP?”, and at another time asking me to write an article for publication on VP for his review to see if it would be “…a good fit for Vox Populi.”
Those last exchanges were disappointing, an opportunity lost. I think that all Americans, regardless of political affiliation or perspective, would agree that our current environment of tribal polarization is toxic to a productive political discourse. So call me a hopeless romantic, but I thought that a bridge across the political riff could be built based on some common ground like aversion to war, torture, etc.
Michael’s last message was “Thanks, John. I’ll continue reading your posts. Take care, Mike.” That last phrase “take care” is like a closed door, a farewell message essentially signally that we are not open to any ideas we find contrary to our own. I’ll have to live with that, but those at Vox Populi should not. The worst service we can do for our readers is to either cater only to what we think they want to hear, or insulate them from what we think they don’t.