QUESTION ASKED: What Does Liberalism Even Mean Anymore?

Why are affluent white liberals so eager to believe we’re living in a white supremacy, for example? Here’s my best guess: The narrative of wokeness or “anti-racism” as it is often called is an outgrowth of an academic discipline called “Critical Race Theory.” This view has its origins in philosophers like Hegel, Marx, and Foucault, who share a common belief: Equality is impossible, because at the core of every human interaction is a power struggle that someone is winning and someone is losing. Human history for these guys is just an endless rotation of oppressor and oppressed, a revolving door of masters and slaves in Hegel’s view, proletariat and bourgeoisie for Marx, privileged white people vs. marginalized people of color in Critical Race Theory. For these thinkers, power struggles are inescapable, and the whole idea of equality is just a fiction behind which the oppressor hides.

So why does this view that erases equality and pushes oppression as the root of everything appeal so much to affluent liberals? To me, it seems like the answer is that despite the pieties they espouse, liberal elites don’t really believe in equality, either; no affluent person does. They know their prosperity comes at someone else’s expense, and a worldview that was actually invested in equality would insist they share more of their good fortune.

Still, they want to believe they are good people. They’re liberals! So just imagine the relief when they are told that the inequality that resulted in their having so much while so many Americans have so little is not the result of their failure to pay more taxes or to send their kids to public schools, but that it stems from something as immutable as the color of their skin. It totally relieves them of the responsibility of doing anything about it. All they can do is feel guilty. They get to keep all their money while feeling like heroes! How perfect.

Of course, there are still horrifying pockets of race-based inequality that persist in America, and they deserve our immediate attention. But there’s now bipartisan consensus about this—the need to end mass incarceration, for example, or for police reform. The totalizing view of America as a white supremacy seems to me a displacement exercise that comforts the wealthy, which you know is true because they can’t get enough of it.

Earlier: You Keep Using The Word “Liberal:” it doesn’t mean what you think it means.

If you think “liberal” and all the variations of “left” mean the same thing, let this be your wakeup call.

Many things described as “liberal” today mean the opposite of what was historically true and what many people expect, and this disconnect is likely contributing to some of heightened frustration we’re seeing in political arguments in 2020.

Be careful when using the word “liberal” if you care about clear language. Starting in roughly 2013, “liberal” veered sharply from its roots.

The date when the L-word starting become bastardized by “progressives” is off by about 90 years or so, but other than that, spot-on.