The Progressive Left: Making of a Mythology, pt. 1

By Dr. Denise R. Ames

If you are like me, you are probably wondering what is going on today. It seems as though political division is rampant, communities are fraying, and the American middle class is, well, caught in the middle. How can we make sense of all this turmoil, uncertainty, and rage?

08.1I am trying to make sense of what is going on today. I find it is hard to get clear answers, since events are happening quickly and unpredictably, so much so that most people are left dazed and cemented into a mute and bewildered state.

Upon closely following and reflecting upon this time of unrest, I have found that the rhetoric emerging from the progressive left reminds me of the making of a mythology. In response to this unrest, I am drawn to exploring how progressives are actually formulating a mythology–rather than devising a new form of reality-based governance– and what it means to ourselves and our country. This series of blogs will explore this making of a progressive myth.

01.1 Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell

I have had a long-time interest in mythology. I am particularly drawn to Carl Jung’s and Joseph Campbell’s interpretation of myth as manifestations of universal psychology mechanisms hidden in what Jung calls the collective unconscious. Myths vary according to cultural differences but underlying these myths, according to Jung and Campbell, are universal patterns upon which these cultural differences are stamped. Therefore, if one looks deep enough into myths and sweeps away cultural difference, certain patterns appear.

My interest in mythology has led me to surmise that a particular group of Americans (in 07.1 progressivefact, many Westerners) are in the process of forming a new mythology. In comparison to myths that usually evolve and change over hundreds if not thousands of years, this myth is developing rather quickly. This new mythology does not reflect the beliefs of the American people as a whole, but instead is attributable to a certain group who have garnered attention and success in the last couple of decades in forging a sizable movement: the progressive left.

Simply, I define the progressive left, in political terms, as a faction on the left side of the Democratic party. If the Democratic party is thought of as two wings—one is the middle or moderate wing—while the other wing—the progressive left—is to the left of the moderates concerning political issues.

01.2I have read several articles describing the progressive left as a new type of religion. I agree that in fact the leftist ideology does have many religious characteristics—certain rituals, good vs. evil themes, and constructing a new story of who they are. However, upon closer reflection, I find the term religion gets too confusing with what we think of established universal religions, such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Instead, I make the case that the new progressive left is more closely embodying a new mythology rather than religion.

Next in this series of blogs, Friday, August 21

01.2 DeniseAbout the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames

Dr. Ames’ varied life experiences— teaching, scholarly research, personal reflections, and extensive travels—have contributed to her balanced and thoughtful perspectives. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded the educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness that develops globally-focused books and educational resources for grade 9-university. She has written eight books, plus numerous blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, teaching units, and conducted professional development workshops for the non-profit and its clients.

Dr. Ames is now developing her new program: Turn, Transformation, Understanding, and Reflection Nexus.  Turn encourages life-long learners to see things with new eyes, learn from the past, and understand the relationship of all things. She teaches workshops/classes and writes about Turn’s five topics: learning from the past, cross-cultural awareness, five colliding worldviews, elder wisdom, and transformative travel.

07.3 and 08.2Divided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate Them has just been released!

Divided addresses the question on the lips of every American: why can’t we get along? The cultural divide is threatening our democracy and destabilizing our country. Divided looks at the deep cultural divide through the lens of five colliding worldviews—indigenous, traditional, progressive, globalized, and transformative. This approach helps us make sense of our deep divisions and suggests ways of bridging them.

It is urgent that we understand and bridge the cultural divide. Bridging the divide is dependent upon first understanding it. Gaining an understanding of the five worldviews enhances our success of arriving at sensible solutions and increasing civil conversations. If not, rancor and intractability ensue.


Divided is one of nine books written by Dr. Ames and the Center for Global Awareness, check out their offerings! Global Awareness Books 

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2 Responses to The Progressive Left: Making of a Mythology, pt. 1

  1. Very vague piece. My take is average people due to social and economic setbacks cannot advance towards intellectual rubric. Mythology is not academic or science bound and perfect habitat for average laymen. One of the problems of being highly educated is we can see a lot but can’t do much….

    • Center for Global Awareness says:

      Thanks for the comment — hope the other blogs clarify a bit. Perhaps not a good topic for a general audience. Oh well…

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