Dear Dr. Progressive

web posted January 22, 2001

Dear Dr. Progressive is a 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

Dear Dr. Progressive,

I work for an advertising company that sells Pepsi. Lately I have been reading some progressive literature and I am beginning to feel very very guilty about what I do. The things I have read have helped me understand that when Pepsi advertises itself it actually practises the politics of exclusion and marginalization. By saying that only "cool" people drink Pepsi, the commercials we produce are saying that the people who do not choose Pepsi are not "cool." This is the way that so-called capitalist and "democratic" society oppresses people by pretending it offers them choice, when in fact it negates choice. Anyone that doesn't choose Pepsi is not part of the "cool" generation. Some of the literature I have read (and a lot of this stuff is written by very smart people in universities with Ph.D.'s) says that this kind of subjugation and domination is just as bad, if not worse, than what the Soviets did in Afghanistan and in Eastern Europe. My question is: what do I do? I need my job and income, but my dedication to social justice is starting to outweigh my commitment to advertising for oppressive and anti-democratic Pepsi commercials.

Phil Donahan

Dear Phil,

Wow. I have so much respect for you. You are really standing up for your principles. I totally agree, the Soviets might have slaughtered a million Afghans but Pepsi commercials are just as bad, since they slaughter the freedom of choice of consumers. Perhaps the dissidents that suffered in the Soviet Gulag were luckier than the poor souls in the West that have to watch Pepsi commercials. At least there were no oppressive capitalist commercials in the Lubyanka prison cells! In any case, I have an idea: try to suggest an ad for Pepsi that says that Pepsi is pretty good but that other soft drinks are just as good too. So try to sell Pepsi, but then mention every single juice and soda that exists in the entire world (and all of the ones that are yet to be created in the future!). That way you will be practising the politics of inclusion, equality and true democracy! Your bosses will love it!

Dear Dr. Progressive,

Lately I have been very depressed. I broke my leg and I can't really move around. I get very sad and lonely. A graduate student I know who is doing a Master's Degree in sociology told me that my unhappiness is the fault of capitalism. Is this true?


Dear Ken,

Of course it is true. Don't ask stupid questions. If you look it up in the statistics, there is no such thing as a broken leg in non-capitalist societies. In the utopia of North Korea, for instance, there are no broken legs. No accidents happen at all. Marx's prophecy of the perfectibility of human nature and of human institutions has been fulfilled there. If you took a plane to North Korea tomorrow, you would arrive with a completely healed leg. Take my word for it. Down with capitalism and the injustice of profit and greed!

Dear Dr. Progressive,

I have been reading your column and to be truthful with you, I think you are a fraud. I think you are being sarcastic and I think this is in very bad taste. There is a lot of unfairness in the world and I think it is in poor taste to make fun of people who are trying to build a better world. How would you like it if you were among the poor and the downtrodden?

Cynthia Walters

Dear Cynthia,

This is truly one of the most boring letters I have ever received.

Dear Dr. Progressive,

I just started attending university and am really trying to "fit in." I joined the university newspaper and am trying to hang around with the staff.

I am having a little bit of a hard time. When I make comments about sexy chicks and stuff I notice that the people in the office frown on this. The other day I suggested to two of the male editors that we go out on the weekend and try to pick up some chicks. They were very put off by my comment and one of them took me to the side. He explained to me that I am objectifying and sexualizing women and that they are against me perpetuating the social construction of gender roles. I had a hard time following what he was talking about and was also being distracted by the hockey game that was on the t.v. in the room where we were sitting. The guy was telling me about Betty Frieden and stuff, and then he was telling me something about how sexual intercourse is an oppressive institution, even if it occurs with the consent of the woman. He suggested that I read Andrea Dworkin to understand this. I went and got the book but couldn't get through the first chapter, as some of my friends came over and we drank beer and played cards. In any case, I still want to "make it" at the newspaper office so I keep my comments to myself and also try not to check out sexy girls when we go out to lunch with the staff, since I notice they frown on this too. One thing that confuses me, though, is that one of the editors that is gay keeps making all kinds of remarks about guys that he finds "hot" and "gorgeous".

He whistles at men that walk by and always says how he "likes all that." The whole staff goes along with this and nods with great agreement and support.

This confuses me. I really want to fit in. I really like girls but I am not allowed to say anything about this. But apparently it is ok for men to objectify and sexualize other men. It has been explained to me that this is "gay liberation." I am so nervous about all of this, because I really want to be considered the coolest person in the office. Should I start checking out men and saying how cute they are? I know for a fact that this would go over really well at the office. But my worry is that I am not gay. What if I get into a very uncomfortable situation? Not only that, what if my friends found out I am making these comments? They wouldn't understand how important it is for me to fit in at the newspaper. What do you suggest?


Dear Billy,

You're on your own on this one. Please don't write me ever again.

Dear Dr. Progressive,

I am so worried! During the election campaign, when Alec Baldwin threatened to leave the United States if Bush won, I was very inspired by his statement. As a life-long Democrat who hates the Republicans, and I repeat hates, I also began boasting of the same things to my friends.

At a few dinner parties, I promised that I would leave the country if Bush won. I thought for sure Bush would lose. Now that he has won I notice my friends are keeping a careful eye on me. I am very worried. I have a job here and I kind of like living in the States. What do I do? Where am I supposed to go if I leave? I have never been outside of the United States and don't really want to go anywhere, but it felt so good to boast about how I would leave the country if Bush won. I mean it just feels great to arrogate the moral highground to yourself! Anyway, if I now have to leave, I wouldn't have a clue where to go. But my friends are waiting for me to leave. What do I do to save face?

Harry Kane
New York

Dear Harry,

Buy a one-way ticket to Tehran. You'll absolutely love it there! The night-life is out of this world! The party never stops! I used to go to Tehran twice a year and just party the night away. The women are incredible! Don't worry that Baldwin won't even budge from his cozy life in America. Live by your principles.

Other related articles: (open in a new window)

Current Issue

Archive Main | 2001

E-mail ESR




1996-2020, Enter Stage Right and/or its creators. All rights reserved.