Discover more from Layman Pascal
Restoration Project pt 3
Checking in with Yang
If you’ve read the first two articles entitled The Restoration Project, you will know that we are trying to think about the particular ethos of culture, imagery and languaging that could facilitate a better integration of progressive and conservative interests. While we must incorporate many powerful practices and values from the liberal-modernist status quo, we also have to recognize that those kinds of systems and strategies currently hold outsized power and are the major contributors to our accumulating metacrisis. However, the basic economic, ecological, and legislative upgrades supported by the best elements of the progressive movement have little chance of succeeding unless they can tease themselves apart from woke liberalism and begin to internalize some of the spirit of conservativism that is a big part of our population — and ourselves.
It is not easy to imagine the viability of a progressive-conservative hybrid. Not only do these demographic blocs have such different cultural emphases, but they are actively separated into polarized, identity-teams by the corporate, political, and media environments that benefit most from the current layout of power in our civilization. Yet just becomes something is strange and new does not mean it won’t catch or isn’t needed.
So what I have most frequently suggested is an odd thematic balance in which our conservative tendencies are offered a symbolic emphasis while our progressive tendencies are offered a systemic strategy.
Listen to this recent quote from Andrew Yang on The Breakfast Club podcast:
"One reason I renamed Universal Basic Income, the Freedom Dividend, because I tested different names with a lot of people. We used pollsters, frankly. UBI, Social Security for All, Prosperity Dividend, Opportunity Dividend. All these names tested the same with liberals and progressives but poorly with conservatives. But when we named it the Freedom Dividend it has the same approval rate with progressives but now a much higher approval rate with conservatives.”
Very interesting. This is exactly what I am describing. The “left” was not particularly interested in the different names. They understood that it was the same systemic strategy in all cases and that it was designed to accomplish their aims of depressurizing, securing, and anticipatorily empowering citizens. Why would they care what it is called?
Yet the “right” was deeply concerned about the name.
Does anyone remember when John Kerry (an actual war hero) was denounced as unpatriotic because he wasn’t wearing a flag pin on his jacket? One of the things that tells us is how sheerly important symbolic emphasis is to the conservative spirit. It is important for them to hear that “We’re Number One!” even if we no better — or even worse — than other countries on the topic under discussion. These are people who put flags on their cars and give out coffee mugs that say World’s Best Granma!
So you have two groups. One of them has a deep emotional requirement for symbolic emphasis. The other one needs to hear about a systemic change that hopes to make life better for citizens in a more universal fashion.
It will not sway everyone, but it is a beginning. More than that, it is an expression of the cultural DNA of what a conservative/progressive hybrid movement could feel like, sound like, etc.
If we do not risk the uncanny value between our current clash of political moods then we will not be able to cross over toward the novel, hybrid moods that we need — and upon which the wellbeing of the world depends.