May 10, 2012
The Death Of My Liberalism
Yesterday I realized I was not a liberal.
I almost never self-identify as a Liberal. When I do, I do so out of necessity, since I abhor whatever being “conservative,” “moderate,” or “centrist” seems to mean. None of these terms, including 'liberal,’ carry their original purpose or historical meaning anymore. I will call myself a ‘liberal’ only when I’m trying to stress that I’m not a right-winger while trying to avoid any further discussion of politics. Which is typically when I’m at work.
However what most people imagine a ‘liberal’ to be, economically, is not what I am. I have no ‘left-wing’ sympathies any more, and by that I mean I have no pipe dream of an ideal Socialist or Communist society. I did, at one time, think I was a Socialist(who doesn’t?) but it was mostly spite-driven because I hated the material injustice of Capitalism(or whatever this is) so much. Marxism(particularly when it claims to be ‘scientific’) is just as horribly out of touch with the modern material world as ‘land of opportunity’/”free”-market/meritocracy dogma is. I’m only a ‘Leftist’ insomuch as I entertain a notion of Economic populism. Basically, I’m Huey Long(only the good die young.)
Another element of modern Liberalism is a ‘live and let live’ attitude. Or that is- it ought be and element of modern Liberalism. As it stands, the strongest fragment of this attitude which survives, lives and breathes is in the striving for Gay rights. Gay rights is easy. Should homosexuals have equal rights? Of course.
The War on Drugs ought to be just as easy. Should people be able to use whatever drugs they want? Should Black people have equal rights and equal treatment under the law? Of course. Yet that differs quite a bit from the modern Liberal position, which appears to be ‘legalize medical marijuana.’ First of all, it’s called Cannabis- speak English when you come to this country. Second, what about all those other drugs? And what about all those other drug users? Human rights only exist for your Stoner uncle or Parent when they have ‘medical needs’? As for black people’s rights, modern Liberalism jumps at the opportunity to sign an online petition to prosecute the killer of a 17-year-old black youth in suburbia, but won’t lift a finger when it comes to defending or advocating for the rights of the city-dwelling Blacks and poor whites that are caged(for non-violent drug and property crimes) in our over-crowded, privatized, rape-blind, disease-infested, repeat-offender-generating prisons.
My strongest connection to Liberalism used to be the Anti-War movement. Throughout the George W. Bush years was really the ideal time to be a non-interventionist and anti-war activist. It was just like opposition to Vietnam, but without the possibility of getting drafted into it, or getting gunned-down by National Guard troops in Ohio. Then you could slap a “War Is Not The Answer” bumper-sticker on your 1993 Honda Accord and wait out W’s presidency in hope of better days.
Liberalism today is much quieter about War-making, War-crimes, War-profiteering, and the ultimate futility of War. Why is that? Is the election of the first Hawaian-born half-black neo-conservative Democratic-party president just enough to suppress the Liberal anti-War gag-reflex?
For me, it isn’t. I felt alone about my evidently illiberal and ‘radical’ economic populism, anti-drug-war and anti-war views until Occupy Wall Street. When I participated in one of the demonstrations, and was arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge, several people carried signs with Obama’s photograph and the caption “WAR CRIMINAL.” I thought, ‘now that’s more like it!,’ and I felt at home for a brief moment.
It’s telling, then; that the Occupy Movement’s methods and sustained efforts, particularly in New York City, are spear-headed by Anarchists. Because you see, I am an Anarchist, I’ve come to realize. And I am not a Liberal Anarchist- because I have no hope for a utopian horizontally-organized society in the not-too-distant future. I am an Anarchist in the sense that I am an eternal skeptic of all Authority. I am just as skeptical of modern orthodox Liberals as I am of the President of the United States. My Anarchism is a political position. It means that I am before anything else an anti-authoritarian. As the old anarchist-atheist saying goes: “No Gods, No Masters.”