Assimilation and Emancipation

June 28, 2014 at 3:09 PM (Uncategorized)

Liberalism will never succeed at eliminating patriarchy or any other system of oppression. Never. This is because liberalism is inherently assimilationist. The entire purpose of modern Western social liberalism is to forge a more comfortable position for minorities and the oppressed within the existing sociopolitical structure (economic liberalism is even worse).

Radicalism, on the other hand, is emancipatory. Once one examines the roots of a system and finds them unacceptable, there is no other solution but to oppose that system. It is not consistent with radicalism to find that a sociopolitical system is fundamentally oppressive, then proceed to pursue solutions solely or primarily within that system.

Liberals, then, taking the existing system(s) for granted, tend to form sociopolitical opinions within their context, adopting values that share a bias similar to that of the system in which they are formed, and, unsurprisingly, often seem to have great difficulty even understanding ideology which lacks this bias. The radical is often then left wondering how in the hell the liberal can hope to achieve anything significant for the oppressed while clinging to the ways of the oppressor.

From the pages of Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet comes a useful guide to differentiating between liberal and radical ideology (commentary mine):

Liberal Radical
Individualism Group or Class
  • basic social unit is individual
  • person is distinct from social group
  • basic social unit is group
  • person is socially constructed
  • active and critical embrace of group
Idealism Materialism
  • attitudes are sources and solutions for oppression
  • thinking as prime mover of social life
  • rational argument/education is engine of social change

(whence the fruitless attempts to talk men out of their violent, misogynistic ways)

  • concrete systems of power are sources and solutions of oppression
  • thoughts and ideas are only one part of social life
  • organized political resistance compels social change
Naturalism Constructivism
  • body exists independently of society/mind
  • gender/race as physical body

(whence patriarchal gender gets revamped as the supposedly internal “gender identity,” and the white supremacist “colored people” is upgraded to “people of color”; liberals adopt the oppressors’ social constructs as reality)

  • reality is socially constructed
  • gender/race are socially real categories, but biology is ideology
Voluntarism Social Determinism
  • social life comprised of autonomous, intentional, self-willed actions

(for example: constantly trying to re-frame even the most blatant acts of lockstep conformity as “agency,” re-framing all criticism as people “trying to tell me what to do,” and generally adopting versions of the ideology of the oppressor with seemingly no sense of context, etc.: a simplistic, choice-based morality)

  • social life is comprised of a complex political determinism
  • the oppressed do not make or control conditions
  • but “with forms of power forged from powerlessness, conditions are resisted”
Moralism Feminist Jurisprudence
  • rightness means conforming behavior to rules that are abstractly right or wrong
  • (such as myopically hoping to achieve some type of social change by treating individuals with “equality” in their personal lives (sometimes ignoring class-based power differentials in the process, like the “transfeminists” who want “transwomen” on an even footing with womyn regardless of the existence of male privilege), when in fact only “equality” as practiced by those in power would have any significant effect; preaching non-violence even in the face of brutality, etc.)

  • equality before the law
  • (basically the gold-standard of liberal sociopolitical success, ignoring that the law exists to protect the powerful and at best can only redress grievances/does nothing to prevent violence, especially hidden-from-view crimes such as domestic abuse; reliance on the state for personal validation like the gay marriage lobby, etc.)

  • abstract moralism works in the interests of power
  • material equality
  • while powerlessness is the problem, redistribution of power as currently defined is not its ultimate solution

And here is an the first in an excellent series of videos which goes into greater detail:

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1 Comment

  1. morag99 said,

    “Liberals, then, taking the existing system(s) for granted, tend to form sociopolitical opinions within their context, adopting values that share a bias similar to that of the system in which they are formed, and, unsurprisingly, often seem to have great difficulty even understanding ideology which lacks this bias.”

    This is laid out so well and clearly. Very helpful in understanding why the conversations between liberals and radicals go almost nowhere. Thank you.

    It also helps to understand why, even when we have a radical point-of-view, we sometimes still get stuck in defending our ideology. Because probably most of us, at least some of the time, take “the existing system(s) for granted.” That is, most of us, including radicals, have to a greater or lesser degree, unwittingly adopted values which support power and oppression. It’s a constant struggle to keep examining the roots of the system, and to not give in to the superficial quick-fix that is liberalism.

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