The Transpartisan Review Blog #11

The Many Faces of Transpartisan II –

One Matrix, Multiple Dialogues

by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner

Left and right agree that both freedom and order are essential for solutions to social issues. Transpartisan dialogues are designed to reveal this agreement. Dialogues need to ensure both values are represented on each side and then highlight the conflict between them.

Conflicts within left and right tend to be between the traditional, often religious (order) and libertarian (freedom) right and between the social democratic (order) and libertarian (freedom/ACLU) left. To highlight the challenge of integrating them, consider:

  • One side, representing order, promoting government ‘solutions’ that encroach on individual freedom, and
  • The other side, representing freedom, investing all their energy encouraging people to distrust the government.

These positions form the Four-Quadrant Transpartisan Matrix (see Note #10), and they create multiple potential dialogues – within and between left and right, searching for a path to integrate freedom and order.

The Matrix increases understanding of the complexity of positions, revealing new, potential paths to agreement. Positions integrating all four will both bring people together and solve problems – often creating things that no one ever imagined. This is especially true showing paths to order (virtue, justice) through freedom.

This approach highlights values often ignored, including:

  • A strong concept of citizenship, with citizens playing active ownership roles from public school reform to foreign and security policy;
  • Idealism of empowerment added to left’s commitment to equality (empowerment as the key to effective equality since real, objective equality is elusive);
  • Strong participation of civil society in empowering each individual including disadvantaged and marginal populations;
  • Emphasis on the subjective (community and connection) as essential to empowerment;
  • Emphasis on ownership especially in public spaces, expanding the ‘self-interest’ in capitalism to all individuals including disadvantaged and marginal populations and to voluntary service for the public good*; and
  • In emphasizing the subjective, emphasize spiritual connection in all transformational change.

Including Four-Q activists increase Transpartisan ranks besides our programs (Educate Girls Globally and Citizens for Health/Voice for HOPE: Mimi Silbert (Delancey Street Foundation, San Francisco); Lenora Fulani (All Stars Project, New York City); James Dierke (Visitacion Valley Middle School, San Francisco); and many others.

*Milton Friedman promoted this (expanded) concept of capitalism, e.g., in his assertion that the Israeli kibbutzim are a triumph of capitalism because they are freely-chosen. That many socialists also consider them as a triumph of socialism suggests a Transpartisan understanding of the relationship between capitalism and socialism.

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