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Varying Styles of Political Activity

Varying Styles of Political Activity

(p.3) Chapter 1 Varying Styles of Political Activity
Cultural Dilemmas of Progressive Politics
University of Chicago Press

This chapter aims to examine differences in the cultural dimension of politics—and especially progressive politics. Some of the problems of progressive politics lie in its cultural work. To diagnose or address these problems one needs to examine the modes of discourse progressives use, the cultural bases they implicitly or explicitly draw upon, and how these can be claimed more effectively. The chapter intends to show how progressive politics often uses modes of discourse that are cautious and constrained to the point of being anemic, and argues that recovering the capacity to express moral outrage, universal claims of justice, and visions of a better society is essential if progressive political initiatives are to prosper—or deserve to prosper. The chapter presents a set of examples showing how styles of discourse vary independently of the political content of the discourse. After these examples, it examines the nature of variations in modes of discourse and argues briefly that such variations are important for understanding American politics and the problems of progressive politics.

Keywords:   progressive politics, political activity, discourse, cultural base, American politics, cultural work

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