Friday, January 21, 2011

On Militant Liberalism

Michael Alan Miller's blog always has the best quotes ever. Thanks to him, I discovered the following beautiful manifesto. This is truly one of those things that are so well-said I really wish I'd said it first:
Over the last few years, and in particular in the last couple, I’ve noticed something about myself: I’ve become a lot more rude in my political dealings, including with many people I used to consider allies.  At first this worried me a bit, because I couldn’t quite pin down why, beyond the fact that I was angry. Now I’m not someone who believes anger is always a bad thing.  I think certain things should make you angry, and if they don’t, something’s wrong with you.  When people are dying, being raped, being tortured, being denied basic rights, being beaten and so on, you should get angry.  You should use that anger as a weapon and as fuel for the fight. So screw politeness, and screw reasonableness. Reasonableness in the current political environment means “willing to sell out the people whose interests she or he is supposed to care about.” . .  So count me out. I’m not interested in being reasonable, if reasonable means “a spineless sell out”. I’m not interested in being pragmatic, if pragmatic means “understands that nothing can actually be done to fix any problem”, and I’m not interested in being polite to people who make their living by destroying lives or apologizing for those who destroy lives. America is going down, and the world is spiraling into an age of war because everyone wants to be “reasonable” rather than do the right thing for their own people.
Here is more of this great post. I might not agree with some of the things this blogger says, but the core idea of militant liberalism appeals to me on a very deep level. Liberals are often branded as wishy-washy and spineless and not unreasonably so. We put liberal politicians in office only to see them immediately start bending over backwards in order to accommodate everybody and offend nobody's sensibilities. Of course, as we say in my culture, trying to sit on two chairs with one ass will end up breaking the ass in two. I'm tired of being constantly shushed by people who believe that expressing any opinion strongly and forcefully is wrong because it might alienate someone who might potentially (in some convoluted universe where the impossible routinely takes place) become an ally. So let somebody else curtsy to everybody in sight in the futile hope of generating allies. I, however, reserve the right to get angry and to express my opinions passionately and forcefully.
Trying to make everybody happy hasn't produced any positive results for the liberals yet. Isn't it time that we abandoned this useless strategy?


Izgad said...

I am reminded of the Ayn Rand line: in an argument one side is right and one is wrong, but the middle is always evil.

I do not object to compromise when both sides are coming from the same principles. It is when there are different fundamental principles that compromise just becomes a sham and an attempt to put off the inevitable conflict.

eric said...

There used to be militant liberals in this country. Hello FDR? Actually the Left in America early last century was much more uncompromising--just look at the history of union organizing then, and of course there was the Populist party out of Kansas (funny now that Kansas is ultra-conservative, but then its politics leaned socialist or anarcho-syndicalist).

As for me, I have no problem expressing my beliefs, and do not apologize for them. This has even alienated me from many family members, who are die-hard conservatives. I may call myself "liberal" to antagonize conservatives, but I my views are more in line with the old Kansan Populist party. Of course, I would never bother bringing up "syndicalism" to a conservative--I have to break my views down to terms they would actually understand (i.e. dumb it down for the sake of argument).

fairykarma said...

I'm not getting an aneurysm for the sake of political rights and justice.

I just want to see a corrupt high-flying capitalist hanged though. It's a reasonable demand. Just one. President will give the state of the Union, and then we'll hang the chosen capitalist afterward in lieu of the vapid commentary that usually follows the SotU address. The executee will be picked out of a lottery so as to be fair.

For every capitalist hanged, the rest get pardoned...for about 10 years, then we repeat the process.

It will be like a ritualistic symbolic cleansing of the nation's spirit.

It's a reasonable request compared to the number of lives the system has consumed.

Guys, I know it sounds horrific now, but it's because it's new. I had nightmares when I first watched Heat at age 10. Nowadays, I watch violent movies like that eating popcorn.

Hell, won't it be funny if the guy chosen was voted most likely to be hanged in his high school yearbook?

Oh yea, I forgot to mention the part where all of this person's assets literally trickle down after his death. Like maybe a big bonus for the bottom 20% of whatever corporation he was working for.

Seriously though, I don't think it's possible to dedicate a lifetime to an emotion like anger.

Clarissa said...

Actually, expressing anger freely helps to avoid an aneurysm. :-)

"I don't think it's possible to dedicate a lifetime to an emotion like anger"

-My entire life experience is proving you wrong. :-) In grad school, my nickname was "the angry young woman" (after the British movement of the 1950ies.) For years, I've had a sticker on my door that said "If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention!" :-)

David said...

There's nothing attractive about "militant" anything. People can be angry, but I think that the alarmist commentary of "America is going down, and the world is spiraling into an age of war" is nothing more than a fruitless prediction that some people would like to see fulfilled - and the rest of us would like to avoid.

When has limited compromise ever become "trying to make everyone happy"? When has making real, incremental gains in rights and legislation ever become capitulation?

In the words of the famous philosopher Kanye West
"Clarissa. I'm gonna let you finish, but I think people are overrating anger here."