Dear Dr. Progressive

web posted November 20, 2000

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 wife and I recently inherited a large sum of money and we now live entirely off the interest earned from our stock portfolio. As individuals with a strong concern for social justice, what can we do to appease the guilt we feel for exploiting the working class, the poor, and the earth's resources? Do you think it would help if we adopted a working class or bohemian lifestyle but kept the money anyway? May Mother Earth bless you for all your good works.

Sincerely,
Lee and Nancy Waaks
PA

Dear Lee and Nancy,

Thanks for the Mother Earth comment. This is easy. Keep the money. The key to being a good leftist is to argue for redistribution of wealth but to never redistribute your own wealth. You don’t even have to adopt a working class or bohemian lifestyle. Just articulate a concern for the poor, the oppressed, and the downtrodden, but make sure to keep a healthy distance from these low-lives. One of my tricks used to be championing socialism in public but voting for right-wing parties in private – that way the chances were higher that I could avoid paying higher taxes. It works every time.


Dear Dr. Progressive,

My neighbors and I have recently had a big fight over how they bring up their kids. I don’t have any children of my own but let me tell you this: I know the importance, probably more than most parents, of bringing up children socially conscious. I am also well aware of how we must fight the social construction of gender differences. And let’s not forget, class and gender inter-sect. Anyway, over the last few months I have noticed that my neighbors’ three-year-old daughter plays with “girl’” toys (i.e. dolls etc.) and that the five-year-old boy plays with “boy” toys (i.e. trucks, guns etc). You don’t know how many times I have tried to explain to these people that they are perpetuating our society’s patriarchal structure of domination and subjugation. They are simply recycling oppressive gender roles. But these people simply refuse to listen. My patience is running thin.

So the other day I had to take matters into my own hands. I went straight up to the kids and tried to talk to them a little about Gramshi, Sartre and Angela Davis, just to give them a rounded approach of how class, gender, and race blend along certain lines. They looked quite perplexed and, worse still, indifferent. So I just dropped the issue and did what needed to be done: I exchanged the toys between them. The little girl suddenly started crying and ran into the house. I tried to catch her but she shut the door behind her. Now things have spiraled out of control. These parents have now told me I am not welcome on their property and that I should mind my “own business.” I love the way capitalists try to exploit the so-called “right” to their “private property” (as if the collective has no rights to it) for the sake of keeping certain institutional inequalities in place. Look, all I want to do is make sure these kids grow up properly. Unfortunately, the state cannot yet get a complete hold on these children. We have come a long way, but it might take another couple of generations, if all goes right, to completely eradicate the institution of the nuclear family. But what do I do for the time being to at least move the historical forces along? These parents are clearly suffering from false consciousness and the kids are back to playing with their own toys again and I would really like it to stop. What tactic can I use?

Susan
Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Dear Susan,

Buy a dress for the boy and pants for the girl and send them in packages as presents through the mail. Get some books written by Noam Chomsky and Isaac Deutcher and read them unto cassettes. Put the cassettes in their mailbox for the kids’ listening pleasure. If all else fails, make the ultimatum that if they do not toe the line that you will move from the neighbourhood and never come back.


Dear Dr. Progressive,

I am looking for a girlfriend and would really like your help. Perhaps even a girl that is reading this letter might be interested and write to me through your column. Basically, I have a certain dilemma: I cannot date a woman that is not politically inspired by the class struggle. I have tried to date several women at the university I attend, but I find they lack a true commitment to the principles of genuine social justice. Worse still, they are not even preparing for the revolutionary changes that are just around the corner. Personally, I consider myself a Marxist, but not a Marxist-Leninist. Specifically, I am looking for a woman who has entered the post-modernist paradigm. If she sees postmodernism as a unitary movement that works in opposition to modernism, than I welcome her to contact me, since I could offer her an incredible relationship. But it is very important that she does not see modernism as necessarily committed to formalism. If for her, postmodernism is about the relationship between representation and content, then we should definitely get together. Dr. Progressive, I am hoping a person that fits these qualities might read this and write to me through you. Meanwhile, do you have any suggestions of where I can find a mate like this?

Kevin McNeil, B.A., MA. Sociology
New York

Dear Kevin,

If you find such a woman, I will be truly jealous. This is every man’s dream. I once found a woman close to this description, but she ended up embracing an ideology that rejected modernism and yet sought its reintegration within traditional humanistic forms. This caused a major cleavage between us and the relationship ended on a very sour note. I had to end up getting a restraining order against her because my interpretation of Dadaism and postmodernist art (especially, in my view, its lack of uniformity) conflicted with hers so strongly that she ended up exploding in a violent rage. Well, in any case, what can I say, maybe someone will notice your letter and write in. Meanwhile, try going to very dark places at night, preferably in basements somewhere, where there are no windows and people dress in black (preferably in long black coats) and look very unhappy. The chances of finding someone that fits the qualities you describe are much higher in darkness than somewhere in daylight. Avoid situations and places where people are happy and smiling. Also avoid nature. Most importantly, if you are ever anywhere where beautiful and loving music is playing, run like the wind. This will distract you from the feelings of angst you must feel to end up brooding and pacing in dark alleys somewhere at 4 in the morning.

Good luck. If you find her, tell me if she has a sister.

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