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"...but then I grew up." This frustrating sentence oft comes off the lips of some smug older conservatives telling the little liberal children to put away their toys and enter what they enjoy calling the Real World. The Real World, obviously, just being the conservative viewpoint that validates monied domineering and might-is-right as The Way.

This is a vignette of a stereotypically but rather common conservative v. liberal American dialogue; one that I would like to complicate, as I find myself getting it all wrong these days. You see, I continue to catch myself uttering that phrase while at the same time Liberals more and more are fallaciously appealing to the Real World no different than the most irksome suit-and-tie white man objectivist. It's not supposed to work like that, is it?

Yet it is, but I do not believe that my disenchantment with the mainstream 'center-left' ideology of USAmerica, (or European states, even) directly registers with the recent Third Way-style dilution of political sects who'd once, or more likely still might even rightfully disparage the DLC and its ilk. It just makes it more damning, as I'm getting it all wrong these days, confusing my conservatives and my liberals and their Real World. To get right down to it, liberalism is not only perpetually obsolete but dangerous to boot, and recent events have not aided in this conclusion.

Let's Have a "National Dialogue"

In a current edition of The Nation, there was an article entitled Letter to 'The Nation' From a Young Radical by Bhaskar Sunkara, which highlights quite succinctly a rudimentary flaw of the liberal ideology.

Liberalism’s original sin lies in its lack of a dynamic theory of power. Much of its discourse is still fixated on an eighteenth-century Enlightenment fantasy of the “Republic of Letters,” which paints politics as a salon discussion between polite people with competing ideas. The best program, when well argued by the wise and well-intentioned, is assumed to prevail in the end. Political action is disconnected, in this worldview, from the bloody entanglement of interests and passions that mark our lived existence.
Salon, being a typically French phenomenon of the bourgeoisie hosting intellectual gatherings. Much of the modern fixation on bipartisanship can be easily tied to this. It's not difficult to imagine romantic historic accounts of Congress or the ideal future of Congress as a 19th century salon wherein participants have their sides, deliberate thoroughly -- sometimes passionately, and come to an amicable compromise that leaves everyone a bit enthused and a bit hurt but at the end of the day everyone can say "Yes, we're quite agreed on this." In fact, it is the cornerstone of the Enlightenment-based viewpoint about what democracy is. It permeates near every model of democratic structure (like aforementioned) and, too, the culture of democracy (read on).

Within our system, one must dedicate their political energies to propelling the proper kind of representative to Congress. We must be tactical in doing this, certain people can entertain only certain kinds of representatives. In fact, sometimes only certain people are worth even caring about in the grand strategy to take back majority in the Congress. How? We'll be rewarded for our righteous ideas, our well-meaningness -- the arc of history will bend us towards electoral victory. The only thing that is needed is the persuasion we have the best proposals to reduce human suffering and to boost functional governing.

Our electoral victory will bring us the economic, social, or otherwise justice that we deserve when persuaded people and a majority hold of the legislature intersect. They can craft more leftward compromises and within a few renditions of Congress, our ideas will be agreed upon in full. We'll one day arrive at universal healthcare from the Affordable Care Act, we'll achieve a clean environment building on the various policies of the Nixon era, we'll end worker abuses...starting with the National Labor Relations Act. Our ideas will win and society itself will be more liberal, like in Europe with their sparkling welfare states and social democratic political parties. All because we won some elections and some 'national dialogues'.

This narrative obscures how the salon works, and its perils. Salons are reactionary, not militantly right-wing, rather they literally react to events in the world. The polite conversation within is in reaction to those disconnected "bloody entanglement[s] of interests and passions that mark our lived existence." There are only so many discussions that can be held at once and those are the ones that: i) most demand a reaction and ii) are comprehensible, non-threatening, or otherwise digestible to the salon participants.

And keep in mind salon participants are not going to be those in everyday struggle, it's privileged people with their own vested interests and to some degree a mentality of "speaking for the voiceless." So discussions are hosted about marriage equality rather than queer homelessness and suicide rates, food stamps rather than the very origins of starvation, the latest Koch Brothers propaganda rather than the immorality of wealth hoarding (or how wealth hoarding is even possible). The most pressing, unsettling, and transgressive-if-addressed problems are deferred for more palatable issues.

We dub these discussions as 'national dialogues' and other euphemisms; as if any of the above are worth having a conversation about with the other side of the room. We idealize the supposed self-evident fairness of two sides or more talking about lived suffering happening (at this very moment even!) -- without ever truly letting the relevant party into the discussion (example: sex work politics) -- and we're expected to respect the other side even if we vehemently disagree with them. Things ought be balanced, apparently, and it's all in a day's work having polite conversation on daily matters at the salon. This mentality quickly unravels to ludicrous happenings like CNN discussing cracker in the same light as actual racist language.

Perpetual Obsolescence

This ridiculousness can only be being because we as a progressive movement lack better power dynamics to analyze that no, there is absolutely not two equal sides to every story that need to be hashed out in dialogue. There is human suffering and there is the implicit or explicit cause of human suffering to which other humans -- wittingly or unwittingly -- contribute. There is an oppressed party or an oppressing party. It's not to say that you can't be in both parties simultaneously, in fact most everyone is their own special blend of oppression and advantages.

One reaches this conclusion by analyzing sociopolitical human relations through kyriarchical power dynamics, in lieu of imagining sociopolitical human relations like a salon full of enlightenment thinkers blathering on about 'whatever shall we do with the trade unionist' or some such palpable disconnection. Now, kyriarchal power dynamics...what in the fresh hell does that entail? It is born out of an important concept of feminist theory: intersectionality.

Intersectionality declares that oppression is pluralistic and interlocking, rather than the simple narrative of women versus the patriarchy. A middle class white woman will experience woman-based oppression and middle class-based advantages differently than a middle class black woman based on the axis of racism; an impoverished white man with a physical disability will experience white-advantages, male-advantages and class-oppressions differently than an impoverished white man who is able-bodied based on the axis of ableism, etc.

Contingent to intersectionality is kyriarchy, coined by feminist theologist Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza. Kyriarchy, a combination of kyrios (lord) and arche (authority) is a major expansion of the conceptual framework of hierarchy that patriarchy currently fulfills. One that, due to its expansive and inclusive nature, is a tool that can be applied to leftist politics in general rather than the now-compartmentalized feminism. In essence, it is a central and flexible tenet for viewing power dynamics that does not presently exist in liberalism and, for the most part, the wider progressive movement (where any existing ones are probably outmoded in the face kyriarchal power dynamics).

Entertaining single-issue viewpoints of oppression, e.g. ending just class-oppression or just transgender-oppression becomes gibberish after recognizing intersectionality. To end transgender-oppression is to end all other oppressions that transgender folk face, how they experience transgender-oppressed is intermingled and interlocked with other oppressions after all. Same goes for class, same goes for everything else. Essentially, all sociopolitical hierarchies must be flattened or none will. They appeal on one another to sustain, and privilege those who best embody the kyriarchal ideal. As a result of the advantages donned to them for being kyriarchal, they have vested interests to maintain kyriarchy.

What is being kyriarchal? It is meeting as many dominant positions in the various axes of oppression in kyriarchy, including but not limited to: i) male, ii) white, iii) wealthy, iv) able-bodied, v) able-minded, vi) heterosexual, vii) cisgender, viii) of colonialist descent (vs. colonized descent), ix) age-appropriate (google adultism, gerontocracy) , x) size-appropriate, etc. As said previously, we're all our own special mix of advantages and oppressions and this impacts us in incredibly real ways. It imposes itself within the "bloody entanglement[s] of interests and passions that mark our lived existence." We feel shame, are unable to donate blood, eat only once a day, fear hate crimes, go homeless, etc. due to this sociopolitical network of power.

Furthermore, the structural advantages that one has from being kyriarchal translate into having a wider range of privileges. This includes being a so-called 'salon participant' who are not speaking for the voiceless so much as they are muting, disconnecting those below them in the hierarchy because they do not want their location within kyriarchy's vertical relations to be truly challenged. They want the impossible task of those in lower hierarchies to catch up while staying put at the same time. Liberals within the salon look out the window and feel sympathies for those outside -- reflective of the difference between themselves and those outsiders, conservatives look out in disgust of the outside -- in celebration of themselves and of how they are nothing like that.

This is why I am so bold as to call liberalism perpetually obsolete. Liberation movements of all kinds protest and cause loud disturbances outside the windows of the salon, and liberals dole out necessary things that do indeed save lives and reduces the suffering of others in a very concrete way when have control. However, it is in their own flawed, kyriarchal way of these demands should be met, and in compromise with others who have much less sympathy for those outside -- and it is also from within the salon proper. It continues the Enlightment-based framework of politics working with this political viewpoint of disconnected conversation.

At any time, with a division of those within the salon and those outside the salon bound by both viewpoint and concrete disparities, any measures of welfare and good spirit can be retracted and voided. Liberalism does not intend to fundamentally change the relations between those in higher postions within the hierarchy and those in lower positions; it is, even in the most romantic New Deal sense, an ideology: of hierarchy, from the upper strata of kyriarchal hierarchy, for kyriarchy. If the intention is to be progressive, and if the intention is to liberate people from oppression in a sustainable, long-term way...liberalism, and social democracy, is a perpetually obsolete manner with which to approach these intentions.

But Dangerous, Really?

It does seem a rather rash, sensationalist thing to say that something like social democracy is dangerous. I mean, welfare or no welfare, healthcare or no healthcare, etc., etc. -- isn't the other side the real dangerous one? Couldn't I leave it at liberalism is negatively flawed, if still well-meaning? And really, it's all about taking a step back and reflecting. These kyriarchal power dynamics certainly are dangerous, they promote atrocities in everyday life in the forms of poverty, internalized self-hatred, and so on. Liberalism does not seek to fundamentally disturb kyriarchy, it is kyriarchal.

So while indeed it is a kind ideology at its heart, it is kindness that is apologetic of oppression. It's the friend of ravenous bully who sincerely tries for your sake to calm the bully down but ultimately will still allow you to be locked in your own locker. It's the good cop who is reassuring you in earnest while the bad cop shakes you down in an undue racist stop-and-frisk. It still ultimately partners with those real dangerous ideologies that it detests, it lives in the higher strata of kyriarchy and won't come down.

By viewing treatment of the symptoms as a cure and by remaining guarded in the salon, it is dangerous as all kyriarchy-sustaining ideologies are dangerous. This danger can be seen in the vulnerable nature of welfare states, abortion rights, the existence and the form of labor unions, and other demands from liberation groups that have been met by liberals and social democrats. The retraction of these rights performed in times of conservative dominance can actually put people's lives in danger as much donning them can save lives. And it obscures the oppressed to strive and focus their attentions on alleviating the suffering rather than alleviating the oppression and thus, also the suffering itself. It makes liberation groups embody liberalism and kyriarchy.

Kyriarchal advantages intersect and that plays into who participates in the salon and thus the ideas and proposals of liberalism. Liberation groups fold into liberal models to appeal to power structure that can offer them mitigation of the symptoms of oppression -- the more "pragmatic" strategy. As such, liberalism disrupts and confuses the politically active of the lower hierarchies of kyriarchy and turns them all against themselves due to liberalism's latent desire to sustain kyriarchy. The one organization I'd point to most readily is the Human Rights Campaign which is decidedly celebratory of the higher strata of kyriarchy and does not challenge it, Rather it "cleaned up" from the 1970s and won a ticket into the salon to appeal politely to kyriarchs, even willing to barter the rights of transgender people.

This is a division of cisgender people and transgender people on the axis of queer sexuality fostered out of liberalism's kyriarchal nature, and out of how it embodies itself in individuals and collectives. Another example of kyriarchal traces is the axis of race that touches liberation groups and has brought rise to such timely things as Tim Wise's levels authority in the anti-racist movement, the White Feminism in the mold of Caitlin Moran or Eve Ensler that postures itself as feminism, and current controversies of civil liberties and privacy in anti-authoritarian movements, encroachments of which have perpetually plagued communities of color.

All axes are touched differently by kyriarchy within liberation movements and listing those could be a blog entry this long unto itself. In any case, this relationship between liberation groups and liberalist framework I would consider dangerous. The most marginalized are made to rely on towering liberal groups like the Human Rights Campaign for liberation from oppression -- rely on them to make their concerns and struggle central rather than marginal.

These concerns and struggles are "the pressing, unsettling, and transgressive-if-addressed problems" that get deferred. They are not only deferred because they are not palatable within salon politics, but equally because they are not directly relevant to anyone who has made it to this high a level of the political hierarchy. Liberation movements and its leadership at this level are kyriarchy-affirming except for one or two issues, like marriage equality and work protections. The agenda isn't ending oppression anymore, it is receiving as many liberal mitigations as possible. It warps anti-oppression collectives to employ oppression-sustaining tactics and ideologies, and to misaligning who its actual allies are.

Anti-authoritarianists, or white liberal ones at least, increasing have learnt the confusing misalignments and how groups can exist in cooperation with liberalism only to be expendable and adversarial once things become too transgressive and vested interests are tackled, challenged. Colonialist v. colonized narratives on how democracy, liberalism, and authoritarianism exist in geopolitics have been fundamentally disturbed. Global north liberalism, as a kyriarchy-sustaining ideology, justifies itself by being the polite salon, with freedoms and civilization abound versus the global south which runs corollary and opposite to the global north. When this dichotomy is blurred and liberalism's narratives are outted as oppressive, and kyriarchy is made more vulnerable, liberals make their true alliances to kyriarchy clear.

You have liberals who begin to appeal to the Real World and Pragmatism much like conservatism. What they are really saying with appeals like this is that their place in kyriarchy (the Real World) is absolutely not to be threatened, the might-is-right way of colonialism and its consequences of severely unequal and oppressive international relations are inevitable as the global north is not culpable for the actions of the global south.

They openly cheerlead the power dynamics of kyriarchy and then argue authoritarianism must remain so these "necessary" power dynamics can't even be put into question. And to put them into question is to be unserious, child-like, idealistic, etc. much how conservatives constantly appeal to the Real World as well. As always, the good cop will get back into the car with the bad cop to drive away to police more "ne'er-do-wells." That's why it can be difficult to tell them apart sometimes.

Conclusion

I'm not comfortable whatsoever with saying I grew up and got "reasonable" and learned how the Real World works like conservatives do when they say "I was liberal, but I grew up." No, I was liberal and still yet all my life I've been left wanting for explanations for why oppression is so readily available in every corner of the world, why it so barely tackled at its roots, and how to approach it. These were constant curiosities that liberalism could not possibly satisfy. In the search to answer these questions, something I embark on everyday reading the lived experiences and theories of others, I have simply grew out of liberalism as a way to address the human suffering that I have seen and felt and read and hear and I simply know is out there.

This isn't to say I'm not a progressive anymore; I view the progressive movement to be an umbrella that mistakenly invites liberalism and social democracy (the 'center-left') within it -- and also that progressivism and liberalism are not interchangeable. The progressive movement should be definitively anti-oppression and definitively anti-kyriarchy, that is to progress from hierarchies and inequities rather than to create mitigations that are ever vulnerable while keeping hierarchies the same and universalizing them in new individual and collectives. That is not a left ideal, that is at best a centrist one. Even in its New Deal form, liberalism has been a kyriarchal third way project that has been perpetually obsolete and problematic.

Originally posted to Audrey Charbonneau on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 12:31 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I think there's a point here somewhere (17+ / 1-)

    but I'm having a hard time finding it. It might even be a good point, for all I know. Certainly there are some hints that it could be interesting. But every time I think we're just about to get it, we're onto something else, until I don't know what it all adds up to. Probably other people will disagree and say they got a lot out of it, and that's great for them. But I can't keep track of all the different viewpoints, analyses, technical terms, disconnected examples, etc., or I don't have the patience to do so.

    •  Blogging editors in short supply. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gemina13, spacejam

      Notice: This Comment © 2013 ROGNM

      by ROGNM on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 01:33:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think the point was to use the word "kyriarchy" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      historys mysteries

      as many times as possible.

      'Cause your eyes are tired & your feet are too & you wish the world was as tired as you." - Lowell George

      by rasbobbo on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 01:33:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think it could use a topic paragraph. (9+ / 0-)

      I think the diarist is saying something important, but it's honestly a lot of work to figure out what this diary is about. It would be really helpful to start with a paragraph or two that give the reader a general idea of what the diary is about and where it's going.

      If I can condense the point to a ridiculous extreme, I think she's saying that liberalism sucks because the whole system of interlocking social/economic/political oppression is designed to absorb and channel dissent. What we need is to kick more ass.

      Do I have that right?

      •  You do (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        annan, Yamara, caul, organicus

        And liberalism is a channeling of dissent itself.

        •  Many at DKos aren't familiar with feminism (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Audrey Charbonneau, caul

          or only pick up its terms slowly, and even then they don't always understand or agree with them.

          Intersectionality is the concept has to be absorbed first, as it is a wider eye-opener than kyriarchy, which is easily studied in 18th-19th Century British politics. (They really had no illusions of who ruled whom, as Parliament means exactly your description of the salon.)

          A classic representation of the shortcomings of compromise is Ursula K. LeGuin's short story "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas". I recommend it.

          One argument that always surfaces when challenging "venerable" hierarchies is the (very salon-like) challenge of "well, what do you propose to replace it with?" This is the bamboo fan that Occupy was nervously swatted with until they were hauled offstage. It's always dangerous to pin goals or demands to an ideology, because that allows for the compromise you rightly fear. But without a clear understanding of what new social order is being proposed, the human animal has nowhere to invest its trust and effort. It's a conundrum that's hard to address without a lot of people sitting down in a room and discussing matters.

          •  That's the next step (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            caul, WuChier

            First, I obviously have to slow it down and present my problems in more digestible way; and then the solutions to those problems.

            •  You're still on the Community Spotlight List (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              organicus, Audrey Charbonneau

              So you must be doing something right. :) I had no problem reading and understanding your points, but I've understood intersectionality for awhile now, and could follow along from that.

              The quest for a just and equitable model for civilization isn't new, of course, but to reach it, one has to not only challenge the status quo, but readily inspire a sizable contingent of people. Workers movements had success because the message was simply, "You do the work, you should be in charge."

              Occupy took the moral high ground, but couldn't build on it because there was no cohesive model going forward. These are endemic problems in anarchy and absolute democracy. At least they got a lot of people to use credit unions, and are still out there doing independent charitable stuff.

              Part of dealing with a kyriarchy/aristocracy is measuring how well they deal with keeping civilization together, which is not a simple task. The French aristocrats' salons failed and they died; the British salons invented liberalism, and their aristocrats learned compromise and did not face revolution at home. This has been, as you point out, the model ever since.

              Here's a recent overview by Fred Clark of the fears the privileged have of those they hold sway over. He has no concise solution for a new order, but underscores how Mandela handled things:

              http://www.patheos.com/...

    •  I got it fine (5+ / 0-)

      it just needs careful, patient reading and reflection.

      To tweet or not to tweet. I tweet therefore I am.

      by RadicalParrot on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 04:01:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  ....yeah (6+ / 0-)

      I recognize how messy this diary could be received as, because it is rather messy. I did not balance  the explanations for the tools for my analysis and the analysis itself very well at all. It's a lot to take in and needed to be cut up into pieces like twigg was recommending to me.

      Anyway, thank you for at least trying! I'm going to be working on explaining these things more precisely and in way, way shorter entries.

      •  Writing helps ... (4+ / 0-)

        very interesting diary, but dense. For me, writing helps, THEN I synthesize and get to the point. I think that's your next step and I look forward to it because I think you're on to something interesting.

        "Let us not look back to the past with anger, nor towards the future with fear, but look around with awareness." James Thurber

        by annan on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:45:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Very gracious reply n/t (4+ / 0-)

        I'll look forward to reading your later pieces on these points.

      •  I don't know that I would say it is messy, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        caul

        however, it is written in language similar to a doctoral dissertation, very high "educational-ese"  or "acadamia-ese" (obviously not technical terms, but I hope you get the idea). The problem with this academic language is that it often comes across as if one is using "big" words and very stiff and formal phrasing in order to sound more intelligent rather than to actually be more intelligent, or have good ideas. This may be suitable for university and academia, but it really isn't necessary, or even valuable, any where else. You could have gotten your point across much more succinctly and powerfully, writing in a more journalistic manner; closer to the way real people actually speak and think.

        I do appreciate your efforts here, so please don't give up. I look forward to a better version of this in the future. Best wishes.

        "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy -7.2, -7.9

        by helpImdrowning on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 08:57:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The problem is, when one wants to be specific (0+ / 0-)

          sometimes regular language lacks the words to accomplish this.

          This was my favorite part:

          The progressive movement should be definitively anti-oppression and definitively anti-kyriarchy, that is to progress from hierarchies and inequities rather than to create mitigations that are ever venerable while keeping hierarchies the same and universalizing them in new individual and collectives.
          Did you mean venerable or vulnerable?
    •  In other words, TL;DR ? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rashaverak

      I concur.  I did take a stab at it...twice...but couldn't take the whole burrito.

      "I watch Fox News for my comedy, and Comedy Central for my news." - Facebook Group

      by Sychotic1 on Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 12:17:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I used to be a liberal too (16+ / 0-)

    until they all went corporate-capitulationist.

    Now I'm kind of a reluctant socialist -- reluctant because I know that of all the countries on the planet, ours is so extreme in its Calvinism and small-l libertarianism that anything even remotely resembling socialism wouldn't stand a chance.

    Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

    by corvo on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 12:45:15 PM PDT

  •  Fascinating read, and a decent perspective (15+ / 0-)

    If others are struggling to find the "good point", it is perhaps because you over-elaborated in a medium that struggles to cope with very long pieces.

    That is not to say that you are wrong, because I don't think you are, merely that there is a level of pragmatism required when writing here.

    There is also a larger point, that applies elsewhere.

    Having a well-conceived philosophical position is wonderful, because it acts as a compass, yet you still have to make the necessary changes in order that the social revolution you describe can be brought about.

    Such changes are always incremental, my concern is that the increments are too slow, and many previous victories are being rapidly reversed.

    However, without votes you are just pissing in the wind, and getting votes is neither clean nor easy.

    Before you think I am some closet pragmatist, please read the Diary in my sig. This country is a long, long way from the ideals espoused in the Constitution, and the road back will be a tough one.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    Who is twigg?

    by twigg on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 12:56:42 PM PDT

    •  I agree with you (4+ / 0-)

      I knew halfway in that to articulate things would drag this into being incredibly long. And I didn't want to make it longer with "Well, that's nice but what do we do?" side of things. This is simply my critique of liberalism.

      •  Audrey ... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hnichols, RiveroftheWest, Rashaverak

        If you knew halfway, then you should have stopped halfway :)

        Understand that I am trying to be as constructive as I can be, because I think you said something worth hearing and I was merely wondering how to best get it heard.

        I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
        but I fear we will remain Democrats.

        Who is twigg?

        by twigg on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 01:03:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Eh (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          twigg

          I mean, I'll be making more diaries to smooth out the edges of this, and more precisely! I just didn't want the work to go to go to waste and figured 'why not?'

          •  It is perfectly reasonable (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            catfood, RiveroftheWest, HeyMikey

            for you to write your Diaries in any way you think best. That is a view I have expressed to others over many years.

            One approach could have been to write a Diary that outlined the nature of your view ... so the first half of this Diary plus the conclusions, and added a section where you explained that further articles would expand on each of the sections.

            It's one technique that Diarists use to build a readership in a way that makes each section accessible and easily read.

            In the end, we all want as many eyes as possible, and some things work better here than others.

            I'm sending you a link to an example. The story you can read takes you through seven parts of a greater tale with all sorts of relevant themes running through it. It is not completed yet, but so far runs to about thirteen thousand words, all presented in a way that can be understood on a Blog.

            You have KosMail (in a moment).

            I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
            but I fear we will remain Democrats.

            Who is twigg?

            by twigg on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 01:24:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I agree. Better suited to a series of diaries. (0+ / 0-)

              I suggest breaking this into multiple parts, to be posted over several days or weeks.

              "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

              by HeyMikey on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 08:48:09 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  I don't think that's fair. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Audrey Charbonneau, caul

          There is something patently offensive about expecting a person, to shorten their view and pick small words, simply to suit the reader.

          Granted many may decide not to read the piece, because it is too long for their tastes but that never killed anyone.

          Audrey is working things out here. It's a process and some parts of the process are long and require very specific terms.

          She might simplify it later, but for now, this is her process.

          •  Thank you so much! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            GreenMother

            I like to consider this diary a springboard and a compass for my next diaries. Especially with some of the comments here that challenge me to tackle their points I didn't address; power vacuum, what about Warren?, and better addressing why I don't believe in liberal gradualism

    •  Seriously, a 3yr old is the total conservative (13+ / 0-)

      Me me me! Mine mine mine!

      History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce - Karl Marx

      by quill on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 03:28:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, let me tell you. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VeggiElaine, quill, caul, PrahaPartizan

        It's an easy way to win arguments because is very simplistic.

        Real answers are complicated with a million different exceptions and syllogistic traps.

        Conservatism is dead easy:

        High taxes take money out of the economy.

        Government regulations stop the free market from solving problems.

        Militaristic might keeps people from fucking with us.

        Arguing for conservative policies is not as easy as it used to be, simply because government has shrunk so much over the past 30 years that you can't believably blame it for all problems anymore, but it's still easier than actually going into the details of the problems, which is what liberals do.

      •  And while you;re trying to be snarky (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        caul, fayea, PrahaPartizan

        you clearly demonstrate the idea and reality behind me Theory of Moral Retardation (or Delay for those who can't separate out proper use of the term from their emotional reactions).

        Morality develops as a child grows up and is famously divided into stage by Piaget and by Kohlberg - conservative's moral development is stuck between 3 and 5 or so, explaining many things, at least to me.

        Genital and sex preoccupations, the desire to cheat as much as possible then whine and moan when caught or consequences are applied, preference for crappy diets....and so much more

        •  seems valid (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Bluehawk, caul, PrahaPartizan

          I have always thought that there's some truth to the notion that cons, and their various fellow travelers like fundies, might have developmentally retarded brains, particularly in terms of empathy, that makes them more prone to accept self serving beliefs and uninclined to care much about others or have a sense of fairness. Maybe they have some damaged chromosomes.

          History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce - Karl Marx

          by quill on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:25:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  another take in cons vs libs (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest, caul, organicus, Yamara

          Another notion I have is that the "instinct for civilization" - the hardware for living peacefully in large populations, with reciprocity, social contract, understanding the need to share with other people who you may never meet, etc - is present to varying degrees in people of any population. People disinclined to all that are likely to become cons.

          History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce - Karl Marx

          by quill on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:40:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  But Always an Opportunist (10+ / 0-)

    My experience has revealed that those who claim to adhere to a liberal philosophy when younger while drifting into right-wing territory with age have always been opportunists first, second, third, fourth, ad infinitum.  They'll adopt whatever policies benefit them at the moment, with no concern for their prior positions or claims.  When you're dealing with narcissistic opportunists, you'll find they'll tell you whatever will maximize their present situation, so how can anyone believe anything they say about their past.  

    "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

    by PrahaPartizan on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 02:22:20 PM PDT

  •  My Bipolar Friend Probably Wasn't A Liberal (7+ / 0-)

    Back when he was an alcoholic who dated strippers and dealing coke.

    But now he's a big time conservative dating a church lady. It's really very hard to take his moralizing seriously, but it's nice that he isn't dead.

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 02:56:56 PM PDT

  •  Worth a diary by itself (4+ / 0-)
    ...a division of cisgender people and transgender people on the axis of queer sexuality fostered out of liberalism's kyriarchal nature, and out of how it embodies itself in individuals and collectives
    My interpretation Audrey is that you disavow the liberalism of the salon as ineffective since it furthers the kyriarchy.  If that is true, then I disagree in part if by liberalism our definition is "western style representative social democracy" because I think progress is mitigated by conservative forces but progress toward that social outcome is liberalism's aim.  I don't think liberalism is well represented in the US these days but consider voices like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, or Alan Grayson.  I think their voices help to disrupt the status quo but they can only enable progress; nothing will happen without the voice of the laborers, students, all those whose interests are not fulfilled by the kyriarch.

    I do not demand tolerance, I demand equal rights. --Anna Grodzka

    by VeggiElaine on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 03:01:42 PM PDT

    •  That is the definition (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VeggiElaine, caul

      I would respond by asking for reflection on whether Alan Grayson, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders truly challenge hierarchies themselves rather than just the consequences of those hierarchies.

    •  What I wouldn't give to find a salon! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VeggiElaine, fayea

      Alas--I am not of a high enough station to do so!

      Right now, what I see is this:

      We have processes that are basically declawed. The oppressed have the opportunity to speak of their circumstances, but really, it's a process of appeasement purely on an emotional level.

      It is meant to diffuse large scale or organized public anger. Nothing comes of it most days. It's just the opportunity for someone to relay their take on injustice or to try and introduce new mitigations.

      But it goes nowhere. Like a trans Am on cinderblocks in your front yard. Oh, it's got a pretty body, and lots of potential, but no wheels. It doesn't go anywhere.

      It serves as a fantasy for anyone who would love a fast car, to get the hell out of dodge, to live high on the hog--waiting on their ship to come in.

      But at the end of the day, it's still a car with no wheels.

      You don't have the money to buy either the car or the wheels, and no one is going to give them to you, no matter how good you are at driving, or how nice you are as a person.

      It's a mental saboteur. It distracts you for a moment, makes you feel empowered in a fantasy, it steals energy and time in these day dreams from things that genuinely need to done, from confrontations that need to take place.

      That's how I see the process now.

      Failure to pretend that the car is running, or that you are happy to own it in your fantasy, is a failure to show proper deference to the appeasement process, to be suitably grateful to the owner for the mere privilege of letting you gaze upon it's wonder. It makes you an ingrate.

      That's all the excuse the status quo ever needed to deny your request, in which there was never an intention to favor anyhow.

  •  Funny: I used to be a conservative... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TexasTom, Liberal Thinking, WuChier

    ...then I grew up.

    Conservatism is a simplistic view of the world.......fit only for children or, in my case, know-it-all college students.

  •  I used to be a liberal... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    killjoy, PrahaPartizan

    but now I navigate the high seas under the flag of neo-Jacobinism, which means basically whatever I want it to mean.  :)

  •  Very well written diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VeggiElaine

    But I'll distill what it means to be a liberal to its essence.  

    1)  Do you believe in civil rights?  Yes:  That makes you a liberal.  

    2)  Do you believe in minimum wage?  Yes:  That makes a liberal.  

    3)  Do you believe in protecting the environment?  Yes:  That makes you a liberal.  

    And so on and so on and so on.  

    By the way, being a liberal doesn't mean sipping chardonnay in salons and cocktail parties discussing "liberalism and what it means".  

    It means taking the struggle to the streets.  It means making those in power uncomfortable.  Even if they claim to be Democrats.  It means expanding the right to vote by registering as many as you can.  

    Etc., etc., etc..  

    I'm a "Bella Abzug" liberal.  

  •  I don't really think its liberalism (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    helpImdrowning, fayea

    its politics... you touched on that a bit when talking about pragmatism. We're trying to implement a philosophy within a power structure and social structure that it is completely incompatible with.

    The 20th century version of liberalism in the US has been pretty consistent in using the power of the state not to flatten the hierarchy or elevate oppressed peoples, but to free them and give them the tools to do so for themselves: economic and social protections, and freedom from systemic oppression. That ultimately the oppressed become the oppressors is a pretty tough nut of human nature to crack, and that is why 20th century American liberalism is just not compatible with top-down power/political structures. In the end, there will be someone, somewhere that is powerless to get the system to notice them. Its all just shuffling around who has influence and how much.

    Progressive movements aren't, I think, a separate philosophy from liberalism, but are about changing liberalism, redefining it as we go along. Aside from a few core principles that set liberalism apart from conservatism, liberalism is an ever-changing philosophy of political power and governance, and universally inclusive to any interest that is not a conservative one.  That animal rights activists don't share any particular interests with, say, anti-poverty groups doesn't matter. Liberalism just redefines itself and says yes, animal rights AND poverty matter to us.

    Center-left or center-right Democrats not-withstanding. I wouldn't call them liberal. Their political interests are much too exclusive and share far more philosophically with conservatives than liberals.

    I don't think there's a need to call liberalism dead or obsolete, but to take what you have here and redefine liberalism. How do you govern in a way that takes all that you've written here into account?

    This comment ended up much longer than I intended. Just a note: I'm talking about American definition of liberal, as opposed to how the rest of the world defines it.

    To tweet or not to tweet. I tweet therefore I am.

    by RadicalParrot on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 04:40:58 PM PDT

  •  ? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VeggiElaine, WuChier

    I agree with the obsolescence and dangerousness of the modern salon discussion but completely dismiss kyriarchy. It just sounds like an multi-dimensional extension of the Manichean dialectic, which is just as obsolete as the salon discussion. Things aren't black and white and everything isn't oppressor vs. oppressed.

  •  A summary of this post (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge

    blah blah blah blah ( I didn't really used to be a Liberal cause I don't know what that really means.)
    blah blah blah.................AND further more.  Blah

  •  I look forward to reading more (4+ / 0-)

    and seeing how your work evolves as you sift feedback you can use from the 'hey, look at me, I'm snarky' noise you can't and refine your style.

    I am a Loco-Foco. I am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.

    by LeftHandedMan on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:04:44 PM PDT

  •  "I used to be a liberal..." (5+ / 0-)

    The way we finished that sentence for the older folks in the 1960's was

    Yeah, you used to be a liberal; then you sold out.
    There was a saying, "Never trust anyone over thirty."  I'm way past thirty, but I like to think I have a case of permanently delayed "maturation".

    We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

    by david78209 on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:13:58 PM PDT

  •  power structure versus power vacuum; a musing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    k9disc

    There will always be a power structure. There will always be a kyriarchy of some kind, no matter what the ideology or intent of the people forming the structure.

    Humans are not one-dimensional. We belong to many different groups, many different structures. We live in a very complex reality. It is quite possible to be an oppressor (higher ranked member) in one group or structure, and the oppressed (lower ranked member) in another different one.

    Some humans seek power to help others and solve problems. Some humans seek power selfishly and use it maliciously. Each of these types of people will use groups and structures to obtain power and authority in pursuit of a goal. A kyriarchy.

    If we balance and divide real authority among the different structures in society, no one structure will allow a  malicious kyrios to amass so much power as to be a threat to the entire society.

    A more benevolent kyrios can work with other structures to accomplish good for the entire society. This means that significant change requires a degree of cooperation among the different power structures of society. No one group should have enough power to do it alone.

    We as a society need to make sure that citizens have enough useful knowledge to recognize power structures, recognize the absolute necessity of divided power, and recognize malicious and beneficial kyrioi.

    The alternative to a power structure is a power vacuum. No checks and balances. No real rules. No way to recognize goals, ideologies, and players. Also, no real way to accomplish anything, either for good or evil.

    Less "WAAAAH!", more progress.

    by IndyGlenn on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:12:53 PM PDT

  •  I like the intellectual exploration (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    killjoy

    but I've reached very different conclusions.  Politics founded on a theory of power rather than a salon ideal gets very ugly and Byzantine, and becomes that much harder for the people to break through.  

    The strength and historical contributions of American liberalism to the world have all revolved around a deliberate, cultivated naivete that was derided in its time by the power-sophisticate left.  But that left has become totally irrelevant if it was ever significant to begin with, precisely because it insists on seeing the trees rather than the forest.  It knows all sorts of details and yet is never able to synthesize them into a coherent action plan.  Meanwhile, the deliberate naivete of liberalism still achieves things from time to time, and not just in politics.

    Sign the petition to demand a law-abiding Supreme Court.

    by Troubadour on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:33:50 PM PDT

    •  I don't know whether naivete is the best word (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour, VeggiElaine, organicus, Yamara

      for the thing.  In a lot of cases liberalism comes from the very opposite of naivete- people who have seen and been through just about the worst that other people could do.  The answer they arrive at about what remains worth doing is not retribution or dominion, but building anew.

      Leftism is only about attaining and proving power.   There is no particular notion of good order inherent in it beyond "not what the Right wants".  Leftism turns out to be strangely conservative in practice- it wants inversion of the old order and some retention of its logic.

      Liberalism lets/helps old orders decay away rather than destroy them because experience shows that demolishing them doesn't work in the long run- but erosion does.  Reactionaries will invariably try to resurrect them, and often succeed at it, after demolishing one because a significant proportion of common people still have a need for it.  Lenin/Stalin became a variety of czars because that's how average Russians were willing and capable of being governed.   The French revolutionaries and Communism tried to eradicated organized religion but never succeeded at it.  

      Secular liberalism is the one thing that seems to dissolve long standing problems like corrupt organized religion, residual feudalism, patriarchy, and the like with permanence.  And that makes it frightening to the Right in a way Leftism does not.

  •  Cynicism is the new religion (4+ / 0-)

    The status quo likes it that way.

    None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

    by gjohnsit on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 08:08:38 PM PDT

    •  Moby Dick (0+ / 0-)
      What of it, if some old hunks of a sea-captain orders me to get a broom and sweep down the decks? What does that indignity amount to, weighed, I mean, in the scales of the New Testament? Do you think the archangel Gabriel thinks anything the less of me, because I promptly and respectfully obey that old hunks in that particular instance? Who ain't a slave? Tell me that. Well, then, however the old sea-captains may order me about- however they may thump and punch me about, I have the satisfaction of knowing that it is all right; that everybody else is one way or other served in much the same way- either in a physical or metaphysical point of view, that is; and so the universal thump is passed round, and all hands should rub each other's shoulder-blades, and be content.

      "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

      by johnmorris on Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 01:38:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A Lesson In Liberalism (4+ / 0-)

    First of all, you didn't define liberal, but I will. Liberal means the philosophy that the best political system maximizes personal liberty and responsibility. Liberalism is about freedom.

    Traditionally, liberalism was opposed to monarchy and the overbearing power of the aristocracy. It was a fight against the government taking away your liberty. This strain of liberalism is alive today in what we call "libertarianism". But, especially in the modern world, the threat to our liberty doesn't come only or even especially from government. Government can be a tool to promote liberty if it is used to oppose other concentrations of power, such as the church, corporations, traditions, or the family. To gain liberty society must balance power.

    A liberal society is therefore better than a society dominated by one or another power group, especially when those powers combine (as they did in medieval society out of which the United States gained independence, where the monarch and the church were one, and used corporations to maintain power).

    That's why progressives (people who want progress) and liberals (people who want liberty) are natural allies. A liberal society is superior to a non-liberal society. It represents progress.

    To paraphrase Gen. Wesley Clark, "There's nothing wrong with being a liberal. We live in a liberal democracy." We got that way by rebelling against the East India Company (a corporation) and throwing their tea into Boston harbor. After that we took on the monarchy and the church.

    You, like it or not, as an American are a liberal. Your charter (the Constitution) is a liberal document. American traditions are liberal traditions. If you aren't a liberal that would make you a monarchist or someone in favor of a theocracy, perhaps, or maybe just a corporatist. But I assure you: real Americans are all liberals at heart!

  •  but then I got scared and greedy... nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fayea, PrahaPartizan

    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

    by k9disc on Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 12:39:40 AM PDT

  •  This was the part that spoke to me: (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreenMother, VeggiElaine, organicus, fayea
    Anti-authoritarianists, or white liberal ones at least, increasing have learnt the confusing misalignments and how groups can exist in cooperation with liberalism only to be expendable and adversarial once things become too transgressive and vested interests are tackled, challenged. Colonialist v. colonized narratives on how democracy, liberalism, and authoritarianism exist in geopolitics have been fundamentally disturbed. Global north liberalism, as a kyriarchy-sustaining ideology, justifies itself by being the polite salon, with freedoms and civilization abound versus the global south which runs corollary and opposite to the global north. When this dichotomy is blurred and liberalism's narratives are outted as oppressive, and kyriarchy is made more venerable, liberals make their true alliances to kyriarchy clear.
    This floors me, all the time. And it is what makes me reluctant to consider myself, a white "liberal" anti-authoritarian, a liberal.

    I also think it's a major factor in the Pony Posse vs the Party Faithful, or the idealist vs pragmatist divide we have here and in power politics in general.

    This places a HUGE gap, almost unbridgeable, between me and the party faithful, and even many Leftists, as defined by today's political axes.

    I enjoyed your piece quite a bit. And it was quite dense forcing me tough to sift through the moral hazards of looking at my belief system from a different perspective. I appreciate that kind of thing.

    While everyone is critiquing your presentation (which I found to be fine, BTW), I might offer this...

    Perhaps it would be best to stake out a poignant, emotive or transformative thesis like my blockquote above, and challenge the reader to step up to the plate.

    Thanks for sharing...
    Peace~

    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

    by k9disc on Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 01:16:51 AM PDT

  •  I tried to follow your statement through, but... (0+ / 0-)

    I'm a community activist and I don't have the time for figuring out where you're going with you words.

    Sometimes our edumacation gits in the way of our communications, and I fear you've just stubbed your toe on that.

    Welcome to dKos. I hope you will post again when I have time to figure out what you are trying to convey.

  •  While I'm still re-reading this to ensure I've got (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Audrey Charbonneau

    the definitional elements understood correctly, it seems that you're arguing something of Rosa Luxemburg's Reform or Revolution (the text of which is available here) without the trappings of Marxist analysis (to which I confess being rather partial).

    Am I even in the ballpark with this?

    P.S. I saw upthread where you're thinking of revisiting the issues you raise here in more bite-sized diaries.  Given the response you're getting here, I think there's enough interest (very much including mine) to encourage you to do so.  Thank you for a highly interesting and thought provoking diary -- even if it was a bit messy ;-)

    Is it courageous to propose tax cuts but not identify a single tax expenditure to rein in? Is it courageous to target your deepest cuts on the poorest Americans, who vote in lower numbers and provide little in campaign contributions?

    by caul on Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 08:27:51 AM PDT

    •  Essentially, yes (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      organicus, caul

      I am running down that road, essentially. I was, ever so poorly, trying to strike at reformism is not suitable because it reforms hierarchies...but keeps them, and eventually that permits an undoing of reforms. We, humans, have only lived through one cycle of welfare states but I would surmise welfare states and legal civil rights are cyclical and bound to whether the good cop or bad cop controls the cultural-political hegemony of the moment.

  •  Very thoughtful essay causing me to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Audrey Charbonneau

    be very thoughtful.  I muse upon the very nature of humans and what types of community structures are even possible.  I have seen liberal and progressive people be oppressive to their children and significant others.  My mind was quite blown when I was still fairly young talking to a black man (a successful physician) who was recounting how he abused his wife.  He didn't call it abuse, but it clearly was.  He felt justified hitting her, knocking her down, when in an argument she was blocking the door that he wanted to leave by.  He opined - really - that he believed that men were superior to women.  I asked him how he could hold in his mind that it was unjust to consider him inferior because he was black but was okay to consider women inferior to men.  He just said that is what he believed.

    I could give you many more examples of people who espouse the ideals of equality and yet lord over those they can on a personal level.  Many examples of those who cheat or step on someone else to get ahead.

    As I grow older I am less and less impressed with the potential of humans.  They seem to be at the root of all social ills.

    Your analysis of the intersectionality is great.  And rings very true.  But I don't agree with your conclusion about liberals.  I see liberals as humans who are at least trying to make the world a better safer place for those who are disadvantaged.  They perhaps have not thought very deeply about what that would really look like in terms of themselves giving up their positions of advantage.  I think this is a common human failing.  

    Whatever you want to call the political manifestation of it would be, the only way forward is compassion.  Different from pity.  Compassionate childrearing, compassionate treatment of criminals, compassionate regard for those that are "other".  You can't scare someone into being compassionate.  Obviously conservatives who want to punish, ostracize and torment people into being "better" citizens is just plain stupid.  

    Compassionate politics would wither the root of all oppression.  

    I just don't know if enough humans can be compassionate in enough of their moments every day to tip the balance away from greed/fear driven power structures.  

    I was wise enough to never grow up while fooling most people into believing I had. - Margaret Mead

    by fayea on Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 11:29:44 AM PDT

    •  Compassion politics (0+ / 0-)

      Apparently you can read my mind because I am a believer in compassion politics as one tenet moving forward in anti-kyriarchal politics.

      On liberals, I think there is difference between liberals and liberalism; I praised liberals for being earnestly well-intentioned and in fact effective at tackling oppressions. It's just liberalism is a kyriarchy-sustaining system, so it is unsustainable/unstable in the long term...a little self-defeating in its intentions of welfare, in my opinion.

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