Years ago, I read a book by Stephen Duncombe called Dream: Re-imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy. I thought it contained some insightful passages. Here is one of the good ones that I wrote down:
“The bogeymen of Nazi propaganda and consumer advertising have long been used to limit progressive thinking about the possible uses of spectacle. The threats are ever-present: “Be careful or you’ll end up reproducing the Third Reich” or “It’s a slippery slope toward treating citizens as consumers.” But is there really a chance of this happening given who we are, where we are, and what we believe? These cautions serve more as censors of creative thought than real concerns to be heeded. The fact that progressives worry about abusing power before we have any is less a sign of our concern for the responsibility that comes with power than it is a symptom of our reluctance to really pursue it.”
- Stephen Duncombe, author of Dream (p. 125)
I encounter this obstacle sometimes in my work, when people (good-hearted and committed people, generally) argue against using complex rhetorical practices for fear of deceiving people. I'm all for straight talk, but what most people don't realize is that, as my friend and mentor Derrick Jensen says, "all writers are progapandists." Everyone has a point of view, and there is perhaps more danger in attempting to maintain "objectivity" than in explicitly stating one's positions. I studied journalism for a while in college, but eventually I switched majors because I was frustrated at what Chris Hedges calls "The Creed of Objectivity" in his fantastic essay on the subject.