Liberalism in words

Here’s the Amazon summary for Charles W. Mills’s Black Rights/White Wrongs:

Liberalism is the political philosophy of equal persons – yet liberalism has refused equality to those it saw as sub-persons. Liberalism is the creed of fairness – yet liberalism has been complicit with European imperialism and African slavery. Liberalism is the classic ideology of Enlightenment and political transparency – yet liberalism has cast a dark veil over its actual racist past and present. In sum, liberalism’s promise of equal rights has historically been denied to blacks and other people of color.

In Black Rights/White Wrongs: The Critique of Racial Liberalism, political philosopher Charles Mills challenges mainstream accounts that ignore this history and its current legacy in self-conceived liberal polities today. Mills argues that rather than bracket as an anomaly the role of racism in the development of liberal theory, we should see it as shaping that theory in fundamental ways. As feminists have urged us to see the dominant form of liberalism as a patriarchal liberalism, so too Mills suggests we should see it as a racialized liberalism. It is unsurprising, then, if contemporary liberalism has yet to deliver on the recognition of black rights and the correction of white wrongs.

I suggest you buy Mills’s book. It’s excellent. Read his The Racial Contract while you’re at it.

Now here’s a brief-ish quote from a blog post (which is, in turn, a transcription of a speech recently given at the University of Mainz in Germany) by cultural critic Dr. Morris Berman:

The same year that Nixon repealed Bretton Woods, 1971, a prominent Washington Democrat by the name of Fred Dutton published a manifesto called Changing Sources of Power. What he said in that document was that it was time for the Democratic Party to forget about the working class. This is not your voting base, he declared; the people you want to court are the white-collar workers, the college-educated, the hip technologically oriented, and so on. Forget about economic issues, he went on; it’s much more a question of lifestyle than anything else. This was the key ideology in the rise of the so-called New Democrats, who in effect repudiated their traditional base and indeed, the whole of Roosevelt’s New Deal, which had historically provided a safety net for that base.

Morris goes on to point out that Bill and Hillary Clinton were part of this “New Democrat” movement. I would argue that they, along with Barry Obama, are its avatars.

Finally, let us turn to the tirelessly astute Nina Illingworth, who deserves your attention and your money:

Liberalism (and by extension, the Democratic Party) has an increasingly obvious hypocrisy problem and voters are clearly starting to notice. Liberals in the US no longer believe in, or stand for anything and those looking to combat the debilitating wave of voter apathy that continues to hamstring the Democratic Party would be wise to start taking this problem very seriously. Say what you will about the “extreme” left and even the noxious, reactionary right in America but neither group lacks the courage of their convictions; even if those convictions are openly repugnant in the case of the latter.

Yes, this is mainstream liberalism. It is worthy of derision, condemnation, and destruction. To the Democratic Party, in particular, I wish nothing but an ignominious and hasty demise. Or, to steal from the late Ashley Morris, ‘Fuck you, you fucking fucks.’

I will close by reminding you all, once again, that this country was built on a pseudo-ethical foundation of wanton bloodlust, insatiable avarice, and brutal patriarchal white supremacy. The blood of millions of innocents still cries out from the tired, ravaged soil (and from the depths of the seas into which countless thousands were thrown). That innocent blood must be answered, and since repentance and restoration are not forthcoming, the atonement must be paid in kind with more blood.

The North American Killing Fields await their bourgeois liberal sacrifice.


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