Late songwriting great Lou Reed, "pushing the envelope" with a lyrical boldness hitherto unseen on these shores, exposed to light many dark but very real places whose mere mention had been strictly taboo in our "white bread" popular culture. Product of an ultra-prudish Irish Catholic upbringing, your author still remembers his shudder of guilty pleasure on first voluntarily hearing Reed's notorious depiction of cringing sexual masochism, "Venus in Furs":
Kiss the boot of shiny, shiny leather
Shiny leather in the dark
Tongue of thongs, the belt that does await you
Strike, dear mistress, and cure his heart
Lou Reed (March 2, 1942 -- October 27, 2013): Considerably bolder than our .establishment progressives.
(Image by Martin Pulaski) Permission Details DMCA
Expect none of Reed's creative boldness from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. America's self-styled "Bold Progressives," dubbed "the top progressive group in the country" by broadcaster Ed Schultz, are all too proud to repeat Schultz's encomium in their e-mails. All I can say, on receiving one such "bold progressive" e-mail, is that if Schultz's acclaim is true, there's zero mystery in why U.S. progressives are so deeply marginalized. Far from being bold boundary-pushers like Lou Reed, our "top progressive group," judged by its e-mail, far more closely resembles Severin, the enslaved, boot-kissing masochist Reed so artfully depicts in "Venus in Furs." And unsurprisingly, our "Bold Progressives" are hardly candid about their secret, guilty fetish; the "shiny, shiny leather" of dominatrix Hillary Clinton, the tacit obsession monopolizing their thoughts, is banned with Victorian chastity from their words. Like other shameful taboos--in the "elephant in the room" mode so disgustingly characteristic of current U.S. politics--Hillary's all-pervading boot remains forever "in the dark."
The pressing urgency of climate change, economic inequality, lost democracy, and endless war authentically demand that progressives be bold. We should thus be deeply dismayed, and still more deeply indignant, when official "top progressive groups" behave like masochists--a far too common occurrence in our day. The indispensable remedy is that grassroots progressives call them out publicly on their passivity, instead of passively endorsing their supine tone. Such is the aim of this article.
For a complete analysis of the PCCC's most recent "submissive" e-mail, reference to an earlier literary illuminator of sexual "dark places" is essential. Though far less explicit in his language than Lou Reed, French poetic genius Charles-Pierre Baudelaire was utterly shocking for his day. Almost two generations before Freud, Baudelaire was poetically exploring such tabooed mysteries as a man's simultaneous attraction to "the heavenly and the infernal Venus"--an ambivalent fascination now often analyzed clinically as the "Madonna-prostitute complex." And while the enthralled slave of such a complex will never let word of the prostitute's magnetic attraction pass his lips (unless he's Baudelaire--or speaking confidentially with his confessor or shrink), this compels him all the more forcefully to offer constant public incense to his Madonna.
It's hardly surprising, in an e-mail targeting grassroots progressives, that rising progressive star Elizabeth Warren is the PCCC's "heavenly Venus," their publicly avowed Madonna. And while rapture over Warren's saintly progressive virtues informs every line of their prose, Bold Progressives' unholy domination by Mistress Hillary screams from every line space between. What makes this self-evident is the obvious "no-brainer" conclusion PCCC's hagiography of Warren utterly fails to draw: that Warren should replace Clinton as Democrats' 2016 candidate for U.S. president.
Knowing just how diametrically opposed Hillary's corporatist track record and close Wall Street ties are to the progressive virtues the PCCC lauds in Warren, tacitly assuming her nomination amounts to progressive masochism. Given the utter lack of transparency surrounding our government--an opaqueness only exacerbated by Obama's journalism-hostile "most transparent administration ever"--one can only speculate about what gives Hillary's "shiny boot" its manhood-crushing force. Just as actual mobsters predominantly manage the sex trade, one wonders to what extent fear of a widely rumored "Clinton mafia" underlies the metaphorical masochism of today's "institutional" progressives. The Progressive Review's Sam Smith, for one, has very pronounced views on this subject; on Smith's showing, boots of cement may well give added weight to the boots of dominatrix leather. Whatever the case, just once let Hillary's "tongue of thongs" loom into view, and PCCC's vaunted progressive virility seems irretrievably crushed.