On Liberalism

I just noticed this post today, and it seems like there’s a lot of confusion among the Tumblr Trots about what I mean when I say liberalism. Some people have accused me of using it as a generic insult, but that’s not really the case at all.

We need a holistic view of liberalism in order to understand its effects on society. Within that post and the replies, there are people who implied that unless you fit the wikipedia definition of a liberal, then you’re not a liberal. I’m sure most people reading this have come across someone who gives the dictionary definition of racism, says they don’t fit it, and acts like that’s all there is to racism.

This myopic view of liberalism ignores just how effective capitalist ideological hegemony is, and why it needs to be critiqued when it pops up in our analysis and especially our actions. A holistic view of liberalism looks at the effects on subconscious desires and biases instead of sticking only to professed political identity and opinions.

For more on what liberalism looks like, Combat Liberalism by Mao is a great, short introduction. Also read JMP’s Down with Activism; Up with Revolution.

Capitalist ideological hegemony is so effective because there are so many different ideological apparatuses at work shaping how people think. Communists have longed used “liberalism” to describe actions and ideas that are embedded in liberal, anti-materialist ideas. One of the most important examples today is the liberal conception of human rights.  My critique of ftm-communist emphasized that his idealistic liberal-imperialist human rights views were affecting his ability to interpret history in a materialist, communist fashion.

These kinds of critiques are not attacks, as eatshitcapitalists said, they are critical for criticism and self-criticism.

I called eatshitcapitalists’ post liberal because it contains multiple anti-materialist, liberal ideas.

The most important one is the idea that revolution must be peaceful. This is utterly ludicrous, because of how a class society works. The bourgeoisie and the people they pay off won’t give up peacefully, they will repress with as much force is needed. Trying to overthrow a bourgeois power structure without force is unpractical and has no chance of success on the worldwide scale that eatshitcapitalists is talking about.

Non-violence, as a strategy, only protects the state. It can be an effective tactic, but all good strategy recognizes that you can’t make a tactic your strategy. Responding to different material and social conditions with different tactics is of the utmost importance.


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