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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Sunday, April 08, 2007


a progressive manifesto?

posted by Aziz P. at Sunday, April 08, 2007 permalink View blog reactions
NYCO at DailyKos bemoans the lack of a unifying Manifesto under which to unite the progressive movement.

The problem with a manifesto however is that a manifesto is usually a statement of principles, followed by a statement of intended action or desired goals guided by those principles.

The principles that tie together the progressive movement are very general, universal ones. If I were to reduce it to a single sentence, I might say, "all people have an inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." But what are the roadblocks to these things?

a conservative will argue that government is the oppressor and that the market is the liberator. A liberal actually extends that, saying that govt and the market can both be oppressors, and both can be liberators. In essence, liberals allow for double-edged swords - which means now we have to take care which way we swing.

And in the decision to swing our swords of govt or markets, we will disagree. Consider the Euston Manifesto, deried by most proressives as a tool of neoconservative imperialists. I am a signatory. The principles underlying the Euston Manifesto are essentially liberal ones, not conservative ones. How then do we reconcile ourselves when we interpret the end products of the shared principles so differently?

At Nation Building I am an advocate of principled pragmatism and liberal interventionism. note the qualifiers: liberal, pragmatic. Therein lies the rub. I think that we need to focus on the principles, and recognize that they are universal enough to lead us on different paths. But as long as the tent is a big one, I dont think a true manifesto can ever be drafted. Nor does it necccessarily need to be if instead we think of the progresive movement as an encouragement away from mono-thinking and conventional wisdom and towards the grecian ideal wherein we are all philosopher kings, and the wisdom of the majority is fueled by the wisdom of the individual.


My contribution to the discussion.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.