Thursday, December 10, 2009

Are Liberals Pathetic?

Why, yes, they are.

AlterNet, my favorite Harvard Master of Divinity, journalist Chris Hedges, gets right at what disgusts me about contemporary American politics:

Liberals are a useless lot. They talk about peace and do nothing to challenge our permanent war economy. They claim to support the working class, and vote for candidates that glibly defend the North American Free Trade Agreement. They insist they believe in welfare, the right to organize, universal health care and a host of other socially progressive causes, and will not risk stepping out of the mainstream to fight for them. The only talent they seem to possess is the ability to write abject, cloying letters to Barack Obama -- as if he reads them -- asking the president to come back to his "true" self. This sterile moral posturing, which is not only useless but humiliating, has made America’s liberal class an object of public derision.

I am not disappointed in Obama. I don’t feel betrayed. I don’t wonder when he is going to
be Obama. I did not vote for the man. I vote socialist, which in my case meant Ralph Nader, but could have meant Cynthia McKinney. How can an organization with the oxymoronic title Progressives for Obama even exist? Liberal groups like these make political satire obsolete. Obama was and is a brand. He is a product of the Chicago political machine. He has been skillfully packaged as the new face of the corporate state. I don’t dislike Obama -- I would much rather listen to him than his smug and venal predecessor -- though I expected nothing but a continuation of the corporate rape of the country. And that is what he has delivered.


The imperial projects and the corporate state have not altered under Obama. The state kills as ruthlessly and indiscriminately in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan as it did under Bush. It steals from the U.S. treasury as rapaciously to enrich the corporate elite. It, too, bows before the conservative Israel lobby, refuses to enact serious environmental or health care reform, regulate Wall Street, end our relationship with private mercenary contractors or stop handing obscene sums of money, some $1 trillion a year, to the military and arms industry. At what point do we stop being a doormat? At what point do we fight back? We may lose if we step outside the mainstream, but at least we will salvage our self-esteem and integrity.


An internal conversation I often have with myself revolves around how I moved so far to the left, ideologically speaking. I was raised in a conservative Republican Southern Baptist home in Texas, so it only makes sense that the first few times I voted I was supporting conservative candidates. After a few years in the theater department at UT Austin, surrounded by liberal artists, it only makes sense that I started voting for Democrats in the early 90s.

Okay, that part's easy to figure out. Conservative to liberal. Sure. But how did I end up further to the left than the term "liberal" implies? Some of my more liberal friends in college had turned me on to
Noam Chomsky, who I read voraciously in the mid and late 90s. I started listening to Pacifica radio when I moved back to Houston. I found out about Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. And, obviously, I found all their arguments persuasive.

But this above linked essay totally hits the essence of why being a "liberal" wasn't enough for me: the far left narrative of the way things work in the US is the only explanation that makes sense to me. Howard Zinn, for instance, has described the American liberal as an apologist for the establishment. That is, liberals say lots of nice things about oppression and the working class and war and how the wealthy, rather than regular ordinary people, control the nation, but virtually all their "efforts" to effect the change about which they always wax sentimental amount to nothing. In the end, even though they pay lip-service to righting it's wrongs, American liberals support the establishment, and just don't have the stomach to push for the drastic alterations our society needs in order to be more just and fair.

To me, this description, liberal as pro-establishment apologist, makes a whole hell of a lot more sense than the gobledy gook bullshit we constantly hear from Democratic politicians, labor leaders, abortion rights activists, and the rest of the usual gang of inside-the-beltway idiots, about why they have to constantly cave in to conservative demands. I mean, if I take what they say at face value, I really don't understand them. Not one damned bit. They make no fucking sense.

I mean sure, I often call myself a liberal, if only because its too damned difficult to explain to most people where I actually sit on the American political spectrum, but like I've said in the past, when justifying my voting for Ralph Nader, liberals and I are not on the same side. Yes, we have similar rhetoric, but we also have very different meanings when we use it. Until liberals start to actually mean what they say, we have virtually no chance of undoing the corporate hostile takeover of our nation. Judging by how Washington liberals are behaving these days, I don't see that happening anytime soon.

'Nuff said.