The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Circle Dancing

"Neo" is a blogger whose bio indicates that she was a lifelong liberal Democrat who slowly and painfully (according to her) walked away. In a recent post she comments on "circle dancing"—the idea that all political ideologies tend to force people to hold hands and circle a central ideological construct, dancing around and around a set of core beliefs. Both progressives and conservatives do the dance, but the core of the progressive circle has a near galactic pull. After all, nearly everything that those outside the circle hear, see, and experience are part of the progressive narrative. That narrative is enforced by the media, by academics, at universities, in secondary and primary schools, by movies and television, in print, and by the arts. All of it pulls you toward the center of the progressive circle, and the pull is very hard to escape.

Writing about this, Neo draws on the words of another author:
... I will now repeat a passage that I’ve quoted before in several previous posts. For me, it never gets old. It’s from the Czech author Milan Kundera’s novel The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, which he wrote in the late 1970s:
Circle dancing is magic. It speaks to us through the millennia from the depths of human memory. Madame Raphael had cut the picture out of the magazine and would stare at it and dream. She too longed to dance in a ring. All her life she had looked for a group of people she could hold hands with and dance with in a ring. First she looked for them in the Methodist Church (her father was a religious fanatic), then in the Communist Party, then among the Trotskyites, then in the anti-abortion movement (A child has a right to life!), then in the pro-abortion movement (A woman has a right to her body!); she looked for them among the Marxists, the psychoanalysts, and the structuralists; she looked for them in Lenin, Zen Buddhism, Mao Tse-tung, yogis, the nouveau roman, Brechtian theater, the theater of panic; and finally she hoped she could at least become one with her students, which meant she always forced them to think and say exactly what she thought and said, and together they formed a single body and a single soul, a single ring and a single dance.
Don’t underestimate how profoundly difficult it can be to step outside the circle.
Those of us who refuse to dance around the progressive circle recognize that we can be drawn into another circle, but one that has a profoundly weaker pull and far fewer reinforcement mechanisms. In a way, that makes us more, not less, flexible in our world view.

What worries us about the progressive circle we refuse to join is best described by Milan Kundera when he writes about his protagonist: "... she always forced them to think and say exactly what she thought and said, and together they formed a single body and a single soul, a single ring and a single dance."

When progressives experience the "magic" of circle dancing they ultimately get to a place where they do exactly what Madame Raphael did—they want to force the rest of us to talk and think exactly like them and become "a single body and a single soul."

No thanks.