Hey, Liberals: we’re ALL being crushed by Capitalism

First off, liberals, I think you’re lovely people. Some of my best friends are liberals. I voted for Joe Biden, too, you know. I can blend in with you at the water cooler, cozy up to you fairly comfortably, and trust that you’re not going to sneeze Covid all over me like some of my conservative acquaintances, because at the very least y’all understand how masks work.

But here’s the problem:

At the end of the day, y’all are still more dedicated to the system than to the people.

Have you heard of the “End of History”? Famously, Francis Fukuyama declared in the late 90s that we had arrived at the final, the best, the peak form of government. History is over, folks. We solved everything and everyone is happy and it’s all just bug fixes from here on out. It’s easy to laugh at, but he was just saying the quiet part loud. The absolute refusal to even acknowledge the existence of alternatives is a real key part of liberal politics. The democratic system as it currently exists is assumed to be fundamentally just and fair and good and just in need of a quick patch. Or, at the very least, that no reasonable alternative exists and we might as well make do. That assumption is so baked in that questioning it is almost inconceivable.

So how do you respond when someone DOES question capitalism?

If you take your view of reality for granted as the only valid one, then anyone who doesn’t agree is definitionally crazy. Individual liberals may be more or less open to hearing other people’s experiences, but the fundamental baseline assumption is that questioning liberalism is the definition of madness. And the simplest way to defend that position is to attack or dismiss the messengers without considering the message. Socialism is unrealistic somehow, so we don’t talk about it. Communism failed, apparently, so we don’t talk about it. Anarchism is scary, so we don’t talk about it. In many ways, big and small, overt and implied, I am told every day that supporting the system that is killing us – killing me – is what’s “reasonable”, while questioning it is treated as cute, or strange, or laughable, or an intellectual curiosity, or a fun debate, or just a phase that I’ll grow out of.

So let me make you feel uncomfortable. Capitalism is a machine that crushes people and extracts value from their shattered husks. Capitalism is, definitionally, an inequality engine, an artificial hierarchy generator, an excellent exploitation extractor. Its sole purpose in life is to enrich people who already have money at the expense of people who don’t. Capitalism is an out-of-control economic machine that only exists to funnel money up the pyramid, and I’d argue that it doesn’t even make the people at the top terribly happy. If you, my imaginary reader who is a liberal, support the existence of capitalism, you are supporting your own exploitation and the exploitation of the entire rest of the world.

Does that make you uncomfortable, what I just said? If so, why? Why do you feel the need to defend the system from me? Capitalism is a big ol’ soul-crushing machine that has been operating just fine for centuries. It can survive being yelled at by a few angry radicals like me, unfortunately. But at the end of the day, you will be crushed here, same as me.

We’re all being crushed

Let’s get personal here. No more abstract hypotheticals. Tell me if any of this sounds familiar:

I live in a world that is squeezing me from all sides, demanding more and more every day while giving me less and less. I am burnt out, exhausted beyond words, and so thoroughly depressed that I sometimes have to remind myself that some people aren’t this way. I have been abused, traumatized, and exploited at almost every job I have ever had. I laugh about it because that’s a better conversation starter than trying to explain how I have literal PTSD flashbacks at work that sometimes completely incapacitate me for the rest of the day. I’m drowning in debt and shamed every day for not having kids, not having a house, while rent climbs higher and wages plateau. Literal fascists hold national elected offices here in America. The planet is burning. And five days a week I’m being asked to put my life on the line to make shitty marketing videos that nobody watches in an office full of assholes that don’t think Covid is real.

I don’t really believe that I will ever be able to retire. I kinda feel like I will be forced to work until I die. I currently treat health insurance as something between an unaffordable luxury and unaffordable extortion. I dream of the day that I can afford a TWO-BEDROOM APARTMENT and maaaaaaaybe a second cat, while at roughly this point in their lives my parents had me and owned a house. But even they don’t have it easy – my dad has been a first-hand witness to the end of stable careers and the era of endless turnover, and not in a fun way. They’re so much better off than I may ever be, but even they are constantly stressed about salaries being cut, about having to move again for work, or about real estate prices. They’re being crushed just the same as me, same as you.

Does that sound familiar? Then help me DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT

Talking to you liberals about this sometimes makes me feel like I might be crazy. Y’all will listen to all of this, nod sympathetically, acknowledge everything and agree that it sounds really hard, and then tell me to vote blue in the midterms. Your sympathy is hollow and useless as long as you are willing to unquestioningly support capitalism, the machine that, again, is crushing you the same as me. Those conversations get real gaslight-y, real quick.

But listen, I’m here with a message of liberation. That feeling of being crushed and squeezed isn’t inevitable. It is entirely preventable. All you gotta do is stop defending your oppressors. All you gotta do is realize that the Democratic Party (capitalized to make it all official and shit) is not your friend. They put the same bankers in charge of the economy, they barely ever get around to raising taxes on the rich – let alone any meaningful tax reform. They have more in common with Republicans than they do with the Progressives that they tolerate or the Socialists they murder.

The Democrats won’t save you. We have to save ourselves.

The ideology of liberalism survives by convincing people there are no viable alternatives. It forces people to operate WITHIN it, to take the people-crushing machine as a fact of life instead of an assault by the powerful against the powerless. But when you step outside of that framework, you will find a whole bunch of people who want to support each other. I am an anarchist. Our goal is not, as movies like to tell you, to turn civilization into a hellish wasteland devoid of basic human decency. Anarchists that are active in the world are usually trying to build “dual power” – systems of mutual aid and support that exist just outside the people-crushing machine. We support each other. We help each other. Anarchists are some of the most rad people around, in my opinion.