The essence of liberalism—and that’s “liberalism” as defined in its broad sense of the stage where bourgeois “freedoms” became paramount—is violence. Structural violence that can’t be ended unless liberalism itself gets defeated. It was innate to the system from its beginning, because the function of liberalism was to preserve capitalism and its extractive mechanisms following the defeat of feudalism and monarchism. Capitalism requires an impoverished class in order to survive, along with tools for preventing that disenfranchised element from resisting this system that exploits, displaces, and destroys them. So subjugation and brutality are always present under liberalism, because the socioeconomic order that liberalism was designed to reinforce is a parasitic one which entails an imbalance of power.
To portray itself as the optimal societal model, as worth defending from the “autocrats” and “authoritarians” who the anti-imperialists get labeled as, liberalism conceals or minimizes this power disparity. Its partisans in the media and in electoral politics hide the reality that under liberalism, the vast majority of the globe is exploited by a corporatized modern version of colonial extraction, and that this inequality can’t be rectified so long as liberalism remains. They act like minor public service measures can solve the poverty that’s come to impact most of the population, keeping in place the austerity policies that liberalism has come to be defined by in its “neo” form. What they do is shrink politics, creating a myopia where our discourse only focuses on the things that don’t bring to attention the cruelties of our social order.
When Ukraine’s President Zelensky calls for military aid by saying “freedom must be armed no worse than tyranny,” he’s putting on a performance, the performance that liberals require in order to have their hypocritical sensibilities pleased. He and the U.S. empire that puppets him couldn’t care less about “freedom.” By the same definition of the liberals who call anti-imperialist leaders like Maduro “dictators,” Zelensky at this point more than meets the criteria for a dictator. He’s banned every single opposition party; consolidated the media into a state-run project; and continued the original Euromaidan coup regime’s practice of using fascist paramilitaries and the National Guard to inflict terror. Taking direct example from Israel’s occupation of Palestine, he’s now building a police state where the National Guard gets incorporated into daily life.
Those who will suffer the most are the country’s Russian speakers, Jews, Romas, African diaspora, and LGBT community, who are all targeted by the fascists which hold foremost ideological influence over government. As well as the broader working class of Ukraine, who’ve been subjected to unprecedented neoliberal austerity measures as the imperialists exploit the conflict to intensify the country’s exploitation. In accordance with U.S. imperialism’s inward turn amid the broader defeat for American hegemony, our own ruling class continues to accelerate its war against the U.S. working class. Both through further austerity, and through police state expansions. Which especially escalates state violence against the descendants of the African slaves.
Ukraine has more in common with Nazi Germany than with the open capitalist societies which liberals praise, such as the Scandinavian countries. And those countries, despite how often they’re pointed to by the social democratic types of liberals as ideals in governance, economically depend on imperial extraction as much as the more nakedly imperialist United States. All of these contradictions originate from the same dynamic inherent to liberalism: the fostering of a domestic and global order where the interests of the bourgeoisie get prioritized above all else. As a consequence of this rule by the capitalist class, our “democratic” institutions—such as NATO and the U.S. Congress—decide to do things like back Ukrainian Banderite Nazis when this advances Washington’s strategic goals. These goals lead to fascism, and to all the other types of violence which liberalism produces, because they aren’t about “human rights” or “liberty.” They’re fundamentally about ensuring profits.
This is what makes liberalism innately lacking in integrity: that whatever altruistic intentions its upholders claim to have, it’s a system for protecting the material interests of a bourgeois class whose role became obsolete two centuries ago. Liberalism is inherently counterrevolutionary. Moreso even than capitalism, because capitalism’s emergence was at least necessary for advancing society’s development according to Marx and Engels. Liberalism did not inevitably come out of capitalism, but rather came to dominance because it actively fought to gain this control as the old feudal order experienced disruption.
The more progressive types of bourgeois revolutionaries, like the abolitionist framer Benjamin Franklin, anticipated that this new model of capitalist electoralism would be in immediate danger of coming to act as a counterrevolutionary force. That’s why Franklin concluded that ideally, a new revolution would follow 1776 every twenty years. If Franklin’s wish had come true, by the time capitalism had ceased to be a revolutionary force in the mid-to-late 19th century, the USA would have been replaced by a post-colonial socialist confederation, and would never have become a global empire that ravaged the globe.
Such additional advancements in historical progress haven’t yet sufficiently materialized, because the liberals have used evolving mechanisms of violence to preserve capital. Beyond police repression, which the liberals made ubiquitous by the early 19th century in accordance with the growing need for keeping down the workers, the foremost tool the liberals have used to delay workers revolution is the expansion of imperial extraction. They converted the old form of imperialism, where the core capitalist countries exported goods to the peripheries, into an arrangement where these countries exported capital itself.
This was what let capitalism continue beyond the point when it peaked in its robustness. The bourgeoisie created a bribed element of the workers within the core countries, turning them into a labor aristocracy. They made up a sizable enough minority among the workers that the ruling class could afford a “democratic” system, one designed to guarantee that the proletariat was never represented.
So it’s remained for well over a century. The ruling elites have prevented the global proletariat’s liberation by waging imperial wars that have collectively murdered tens of millions, as well as by installing fascist dictatorships that have taken millions more lives. They’ve kept capitalism alive beyond the 70s economic crisis by imposing cruel neoliberal policies onto the globe, greatly lowering the living standards of proletarians and progressively taking away their rights. Liberalism has been the narrative and cultural tool they’ve used to make this vile reactionary project, its detrimental effects on humanity so readily apparent, appear worthy of respect. Because the bourgeoisie have been able to use imperialism to maintain a pampered minority of workers, naturally leading these labor aristocrats to share bourgeois ideology, they’ve managed to cultivate the illusion that liberalism represents a “democratic” order.
If the labor aristocrats continue to vote in favor of the bourgeois, imperial system, then the liberals can point to this as proof that this system is what “the people” want. Even though these materially comfortable voters make up an increasingly small portion of society within the imperialist countries, whose workers see their livelihoods decline more with each decade. And even though these countries make up a small minority of the global population, which remains under the despotic rule of a U.S. hegemon that enforces its control through coups, sanctions, dirty wars, and military occupations.
Such a “democracy” is not sustainable. The illusion of freedom that liberalism cultivates is nothing more than a way to try to keep class conflict from escalating for as long as possible. The more U.S. imperialism declines, the more the rate of profit falls, the more capitalist crises like Covid and climate disruption intensify, the more that liberalism abandons its “democratic” pretenses. Where the class war is most in motion, the bourgeoisie can’t indulge the people under its jurisdiction in the luxury of civil liberties. That’s why the War on Terror has seen the destruction of so many of our freedoms, to the extent that they existed in the first place under the dictatorship of capital.
The era following the start of the Ukraine conflict, in which American power’s decline has further sped up, is to see this process advance even more. As the murder of Tyre Nichols and the alarming “Cop City” police training program provoke popular outrage, the country comes close to another wave of revolt. Pay attention to how our government responds to this. Because now that the Democratic Party has been in the White House for two years following their vows to end police brutality, liberalism has been fully exposed as a fraudulent protector of “human rights.” Which means liberalism is desperate, and more prone to wage open war upon the people.
The incremental failure of the Ukraine psyop, in which Washington’s backing of Nazis increasingly becomes common knowledge, is combining with these developments to end the illusions of a friendly liberalism. The system has shown its violent essence, now it must try to fight off the people’s resistance through increasingly violent means.
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