DAN: When you do interviews, you’re faced with the choice to either be the most boring person on earth or just get ridiculous things written about you from time to time
JOSH HOROWITZ: Sometimes it might be good to be boring
DAN: It might be but I just get bored of myself
[Happy 25th Birthday Daniel Radcliffe! (23 July 1989)]
THIS IS MY NEW FAVOURITE LINE
Well there is a lot of muddling with where it is you are using the term liberal. The United States, as usual, has adopted the word and thoroughly bastardized it into representing the opposite of what it means. Noam Chomsky breaks down the inability to communicate when the meanings of words are constantly debased and re-appropriated to mean very different things from what they meant in the context of their histories.
Liberal today is capitalist in nature. Wikipedia provides this:
Liberalism is a political philosophy or worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally they support ideas such as free and fair elections, civil rights, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free trade, and private property.
Well look at the contradictions there, namely the “ideals of liberty and equality” while advocating so-called “free trade” and “private property,” the bedrocks of capitalism which have given rise to massive inequality and debilitating poverty. So, and I am being brief here — and somewhat too reductionist so I apologize — liberalism, in the economic sense, is merely the cousin of its further rightwing family.
The reason it is perceived as “the Left” is because of the framing of our political system to represent only a tiny spectrum of political discourse.
In Democrats & Republicans: A Political Cartel I wrote:
Liberals and conservatives are two factions of the same team (read capitalists); we just perceive them as markedly different because of the degree to which the spectrum of political possibilities has been narrowed. A complex system of normalized indoctrination exists in our lives which ensure radical (read communist and anarchist) solutions are weeded out, or marginalized in one way or another.
The end result is a set of normalized choices manifested in a political cartel, or an association of political parties with the purpose of maintaining concentrated political power and restricting or repressing competition. What is valued as acceptable within this cartel comprising the modern political sphere then is a tiny spectrum which reflects only the range of needs of private corporate power and nothing more.
…Liberals and conservatives wholeheartedly participate in the concentration of power when they take a set of political positions which express the basic ideas of capitalism and then present a range of indoctrination within that framework — so any “solution” only enhances the strength of capitalist institutionalization, ingraining it in our minds as the entire possible spectrum of choice that there is.
This is the purpose of electoral politics, to present from our capitalist masters individuals whose ideas keep the flow of power moving upward; to normalize indoctrination; to, in effect, control the market by maintaining the perceived pedigree of capitalist ideas and restricting competition through the marginalization and repression of ideas new or contradictory.
The central point I am making is this: Liberals are not leftists, they are only perceived to be because we have ruthlessly destroyed real leftist movements in this country.
In another piece — How could a Keynesian capitalist liberal like Obama be called a ‘socialist’? — I go on to explore why Liberals/Democrats would want to be called leftists at all.
Democrats embrace the populism and sentimentality of proletarian emancipation while simultaneously advocating their enslavement to a wage economy (read capitalism), albeit a more equitable — word used loosely — distribution of wealth than the far right alternatives. They legislate from the Keynesian model, accommodated by welfare safety nets. This is why Democrats gladly accept “the Left” epithet.
Conservatives on the other hand use the same label (“the Left”) to disenfranchise would-be Keynesians through associating the failed USSR with real leftist ideology, contradictingly calling liberals “socialist.” The effect, therefore, is that both major American political parties benefit from falsely portraying one capitalist faction as “the Left”, granting it widespread however fallacious legitimacy in the eyes of the American public.
All this is to say that a Liberal/liberal is a capitalist, oftentimes imperialist, rightwinger who happens to be just slightly “left” of their further right cousins, the free market capitalist. Liberals, essentially, are “left” because they advocate trying to humanize an inherently exploitative system.
I suspect the difference between the capital and lowercase iterations has more to do with identifying as a Liberal, synonymous with Democrat, and generally being more liberal (as in open-minded, accepting) of new ideas, change, different people’s and cultures. Still, even with the fore-mentioned attributes, lowercase “liberal” people often fail to address systemic issues like institutional racism, heteropatriarchy. and imperialist foreign policies while claiming to love and care for oppressed peoples.
Dalek + 12
"Only when the last tree has died, the last river been poisoned, and the last fish been caught, will we realize we cannot eat money."
— Cree Proverb
Within this culture wealth is measured by our ability to consume and destroy. As long as our mode of living is driven by consumption, that is, as long as we derive our measures of livelihood and prosperity (read salaries, stock prices, quarterly earnings) by how much of the Earth we can convert — and how fast we can do it — into consumables, then we’ll not see that our way of life is dependent upon the annihilation of the planet.
Seeing the insanity of it comes as a direct contradiction to our daily function. We can sample humanity’s dissonance in the acronym GDP (gross domestic product), whereby a tiny phrase serves substitute for the enormity of converting all life into human-serving commodities at a rate of 85 trillion dollars a year (the value of the world economy). To understand that better, a stack of 85 trillion dollar bills would be about 5,768,618 miles high. This is like going to the moon 25 times (click here for a visual).
Yet, still, for the most delusional of our species, it’s not enough. The drive to expand, consume, exploit at rates ever escalating is presented within the global market as a zero-sum game. Either our economy must grow, or we will suffer. Either our economy must grow faster than all other economies, or our nation will suffer.
If the rate at which we convert the planet into human consumption slows, we call it a recession — nothing to celebrate, for to us recession represents austerity, loss of jobs, and altogether diminished livelihoods. If the rate at which we convert the planet into human consumption reverts, we call it a depression — again, nothing to celebrate, for to us economic depression represents declining power, that maybe we are in fact not exceptional or separate from the natural world.
In this culture of death only if and when we expand our evisceration of the planet can we be comfortable in our lives, so we have invented ways of “fighting back” and “resisting” — of doing “something” while doing nothing.
Worried about car emissions? Buy Tesla’s Model S. Want to fight water misuse? Take shorter showers. Concerned for underserved children around the world? Use a credit card that supports a NGO. Interested in bettering working conditions for exploited laborers? Look for the “fair trade” stamp at corporate outlet malls.
But by all means, NEVER stop buying. Such unyielding, determined servitude dooms us.
The Global Footprint Network, a non-profit for sustainable futures, has estimated that if we continue along this path of consumption, human populations will require an equivalent of three Earths by 2050 to survive. This means in the next 35 years we can either discover and colonize another two planets, or we can understand that a global culture living 300% beyond sustainability is ecological suicide.
(Photo Credit: BuzzFeed)