Yes, Liberals Really Are That Bad

Professional people sitting around a table with the quote “So, love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal!”

I’ve had some interesting responses to my last two articles. One friend told me that I’m too hard on liberals. He’s a social democrat and still has some lingering loyalty to liberalism. I’m hoping to make a socialist out of him yet. He loved my takedown of the Reactionary Left but expressed some misgivings about my disdain for liberals. I expected this response. There seems to be this attitude that reactionary politics are somehow more dangerous than right-wing economics. A reactionary like Steven Crowder or Jimmy Dore has no place in a civilized society. But the businessman, the lobbyist, the executive who pushes for lower taxes and less regulation: his views are still considered valid. A legitimate part of the political spectrum. We may not share those views, but most of us feel compelled to at least engage in the debate.

I’m not here to convince you that capitalism is more dangerous than white supremacy or homophobia or any other identity-based concern. Obviously, a lot depends on who you are. Rather, my point is that there is no value in making these comparisons. What’s more dangerous, a container of fluoroantimonic acid or a container of liquid mercury? Does it really matter? Both can cause extreme health hazards simply by coming into contact with your skin. Both are extremely hazardous substances that must be contained. And while the effects of each are different, both offer devastating consequences to those who are exposed. Sitting here and having a philosophical debate about which is worse is a waste of time. Rather, we should make sure that no one is exposed to either.

Support for capitalism is not a legitimate political viewpoint, and I am done pretending otherwise. I have done extensive research on this topic. I’ve given talks on what the profit motive does to the human psyche. On the extinction-level threat posed by global warming. On capitalism’s profound impact on mental health.

Look! Look and see with your own eyes!

The Gulf of Mexico on Fire

Capitalism did this.

“But Rich, couldn’t a catastrophic infrastructure failure happen under any system? Something, something, Chernobyl.”

Yes, a pipeline can burst no matter which party is in office or what economic policies they are pursuing. But only capitalism can motivate a company to spend decades suppressing scientific knowledge about the harm its products are causing. Only capitalism can produce an army of lobbyists who literally buy politicians to hold back the necessary social changes that would have prevented this tragedy. Let’s just add a second link to that same story, just in case.

This is what capitalism does. Why?

The profit motive.

How does the profit motive affect human behaviour? It’s right there in my talk. It pushes people in an anti-social direction. When financial incentives are introduced, people look at issues differently. Altruistic thoughts stop occurring to them. Self-serving thoughts become more prevalent. Along with justifications for why self-serving behaviour is a good idea. The profit motive both selects for and disposes toward psychopathic behaviour. A society run by a few million Joffrey Baratheons with the rest of us subject to their whims: that is what capitalism has given us.

When applied on a global scale, the profit motive causes the kind of massive tragedies we’ve seen in the past week. Buildings collapsing, wildfires, runaway climate change.

Adam Smith was wrong. Billions of people, all pursuing their individual self-interest does not lead to a cohesive, functioning society. It creates cracks that people fall through, and the longer the neglect goes on, the deeper and wider those cracks become.

Fissures in the grounde

So, what does this have to do with liberals?

Well, I shouldn’t have to tell you that liberals are capitalists, but the problem runs deeper than that. Liberals present themselves as wannabe leftists. “Sure, we’d love to do universal healthcare, but we can’t sell it to the voters.” But they are not leftists. Or even potential leftists. They are the Right.

Let me tell you a story. My friend will remember this conversation. A few weeks ago, I had a centrist Democrat chatting with me. Actually, he later claimed to be a Bernie supporter, but he argued the positions of a liberal. So, we’re just going to refer to him as a liberal. He told me that the most important thing is to win Democratic majorities, to keep the Republicans out of power. That’s how they frame this issue. We have to keep the Republicans out of power. And in some districts, moderates — AKA, right-wing, corporate-friendly Democrats — stand a better chance of beating their Republican opponent. Bernie Sanders can’t win in West Virginia, but Joe Manchin can.

It’s never stated out loud, but there is a hidden assumption here. Implicit in this framing is the idea that my liberal friend would like to support more progressive candidates, but wouldn’t you know it? They need “moderates” to win the election. They’d love to vote for a Bernie Sanders, but it’s too big of a risk; so, they have to vote for a Joe Manchin.

This is how they present the situation. The liberal always acts as if his hands are tied. This is the best he can do. He sympathizes with your goal, but it’s just not feasible.

So, the next logical question is “if liberals want a Democratic majority and leftists want progressive policy, is there a way that both goals can be achieved?” I entered this discussion under the assumption that the liberal’s goal is to gain a Democratic majority. If that’s all he wants, then any Democrat will do. Progressive, moderate. It shouldn’t matter who, as long as they can win. Vote Blue no matter who, right?

So, I said, I will pitch an idea to the left. Leftists will vote for any Democrat in the general — no matter how far to the Right — if Liberals commit to helping progressive candidates win primaries.

Now, put aside the issue of whether you think the progressive candidate can win against a Republican in Missouri or Texas. My liberal friend thinks they can’t, I think they can. It would take 500 words to make my case, but I’m not going to do that because it doesn’t matter which one of us is right.

As soon as I proposed this deal, the liberal said, “I’m not getting anything out of this arrangement. Leftist priorities are being advanced but liberal priorities are being ignored.”

So, I said, “What exactly are liberal priorities? I thought you just wanted to win.” (Meaning the only thing I have to do to sway him is make a compelling case that leftist candidates can win)

He said, “No. Liberal priorities are about stopping the slides to the extremes. Both the Left and the Right.”

What is the extreme left in the eyes of a liberal? Social democracy. Not even socialism. The band-aid reforms that Bernie and AOC have been pitching are too far left for him.

So, all of this song and dance about how they would love to do more ambitious things is a load of bullshit. Their hands aren’t tied. They’re choosing this. Maybe the liberal thinks that progressives can’t win. Or maybe he has no idea one way or the other. Either way, it doesn’t matter. Because he’s gonna choose the “moderate” (corporate) Dem even if the moderate is less likely to win.

And you know, that should have been bloody obvious to me when Kristi Winters — the woman who kept lecturing leftists about voting blue no matter who — started retweeting other liberals who said they would stay home on election day if Bernie won the primary. See the hypocrisy?

Kristi opposes Medicare for All even though it would save 68 000 lives every year. She opposes a minimum-wage increase even though the current rate is a poverty wage. At least, she did when we talked about it at the end of 2019. These people suck every bit as much as Jimmy Dore and his dumb-fuck fanboys. They prop up this horrible system while the planet is literally burning around us. And not even the watered-down, Nordic model of capitalism. No, they want full, American-style corporate exploitation.

I’m done coddling them. I’m done pretending that their views aren’t reprehensible.