Liberalism and the Oppressor’s New Clothes
for the sake of my mental health and as a strategy for overthrowing the oppressor i avoid internalizing our propaganda culture as much as possible. i resist allowing the privileged lunatics who’ve swum to the top of our media trash heap a platform or consideration as representing anything other than, in my mind, tired cliches promoting empty self serving pseudo opinions. but in popular culture a great spectacle is made vesting dubious media personalities with authority, ambassadors of deep consensus, imbued with abilities of divine proclamation. in truth, their irrelevance is underscored by their overblown reception. unsurprising, as the most critical function of our discourse is not shaping public opinion, but encouraging people to tune out. buy. buy. buy.
meaningful takedowns exist and behemoths of propaganda belong in the seventh circle, but my interests and likeliest talents direct me to imagine and enact what might come next. they’ve been discredited. now what? critique is lovely, but producing a world closer to how we would have it has strategic value. the value of constantly referring to the puny self mocking arguments of philistine inbreeds is finite. their most useful function is constricting meaningful debate, distracting and directing the policy concerns of this singular nation decade after decade.
As we reckon with the ramifications of this election, the tactics which the neoliberal order perfected in order to neutralize opposition are striking. Fictional mirages turned sacrosanct trope overnight. Bernie Bro. Words completely dissociated from their referents. Progressive. An abundance of sweatshop internet trolls promoting every smear, muddying every water. Correct The Record. Dismantling the bulwarks to systemic oppression. Separating race from class. Appropriating the language of resistance. Privilege. Intersectionality. Institutional Racism.
While giving apologists cover, these pernicious tactics demonstrate an escalation. In support of an ongoing project following a banal pattern of corporate domination. The liberals, in congress, in our white house, on the supreme court do this work willingly, intentionally, maliciously, and effectively inasmuch as they’ve successfully framed themselves as righteous defenders against a right which they created. theater. though in the great play, republicans have finally, momentarily, been denied the respectability of their moral crusader kayfabe, liberals, preposterously, insist upon their own virtue.
neither is good, both are captured. liberalism however, can accomplish a great deal. the other can’t. perhaps, with my nyu liberal arts degree, i took for granted the well and long established centrality of erasure to feminist discourse. to anti-colonialism. to minorities. that’s why i was very surprised to wake up one day and find these hard fought, ostensibly well understood, connections had been mindlessly severed overnight as if not previously assumed. erasure, academic capture, the gutting of movements and unions, this violence is the domain of liberalism.
The discourse is confined to a narrow hegemony, apparitions are neutered promptly, predictably. An essentially unspeakable gaslighting animates every move, making the tragedy a farce. Two dimensional, uncreative, grotesque.
Erasure and oppression are intimately linked. What’s more, we already know this, shouldn’t act like we don’t and won’t get far at this rate. Liberalism is not accidentally bad for women and minorities, empowering enemies through incompetence. It is an essential component to the ongoing project of surreptitiously dismantling meaningful resistance to the interests of capital. It claims to champion the dispossessed while pompously appropriating and glorifying what was once conservative. It strengthens the forces of extraction, suppressing and erasing all while elevating select tokens meant to function as representative, dissembling the vocabulary of inequality, bastardizing the concepts of civil rights and intersectionality.
As the rightwing falls to disrepute, liberalism is the only party that can do this work effectively. the establishment of war crimes as bipartisan, of bailouts and “free trade”. this is work. this is undoing.
this is how a future makes itself known, the magnification of particulars. the social situation is not as you’ve been lead to believe. there’s no rightwing threat to defend against if it was created for that purpose. apologists aren’t absolved because they made something worse. don’t allow the exploitation and subjugation of a planet to further the accumulation and consolidation of a few. there is no context in which your support for hillary clinton can be seen as noble. the dilemma was concocted in a board meeting. the real quandary is how to gain ground without being overtaken. how do we outmaneuver a regime utilizing exponential resources for social control? how do we unite the workers? how do we assert our rights?