What is wrong with Liberalism?

You have many contacts

Among the lumberjacks

To get you facts

When someone attacks your imagination

But nobody has any respect

Anyway they already expect you

To just give a check

To tax-deductible charity organizations

You've been with the professors

And they've all liked your looks

With great lawyers you have

Discussed lepers and crooks

You've been through all of

F. Scott Fitzgerald's books

You're very well read

It's well known

Because something is happening here

But you don't know what it is

Do you, Mister Jones?

     --Bob Dylan "Ballad of a Thin Man"

Inspiration is not garnered from litanies of what is flawed; it resides in humanity's willingness to restore, redress, reform, recover, reimagine, and reconsider. Healing the wounds of the Earth and its people does not require saintliness or a political party. It is not a liberal or conservative activity. It is a sacred act.

     --Paul Hawkins "To remake the World"

In answer to the question in the title of this diary - nothing. Nothing, at least, that isn't also wrong with conservatism, capitalism, environmentalism, neoconservatism, or any other ism we look to solve all of our problems before us.

I have always self-identified as a liberal, because to me, being a liberal means retaining a hope that humanity can change to a more accommodating social and economic system living in harmony with all other inhabitants and creatures in the world. This hope is not held based upon scientific facts or reasoned analysis of our perilous future. This hope is retained because of a belief in the power of the human capacity for love and reverence.

For other liberals, I should make the admission that I am also conservative in the sense that I employ a language of respecting life or holding a reverence for life. This reverence and respect has been co-opted by the political wing of evangelical and catholic churches to battle against the abortion rights of women and other causes. I favor a woman having a right to choose an abortion, but I am not willing to throw out the language of respecting and revering life in all of its myriad forms to win a political battle.

Underneath the political battles happening between liberals and conservatives, a movement is growing that is still unnamed. This interconnected movement has been described by Paul Hawkins like this.

Historically, social movements have arisen primarily because of injustice, inequalities, and corruption. Those woes remain legion, but a new condition exists that has no precedent: the planet has a life-threatening disease that is marked by massive ecological degradation and rapid climate change. It crossed my mind that perhaps I was seeing something organic, if not biologic. Rather than a movement in the conventional sense, is it a collective response to threat? Is it splintered for reasons that are innate to its purpose? Or is it simply disorganized? More questions followed. How does it function? How fast is it growing? How is it connected? Why is it largely ignored?  

Liberals are still operating under the old paradigm. Recently I had a conversation on TL over vaccines and autism. In the old language and paradigm of liberalism, we still believe we can defeat nature. We don't hold a reverence for life and the mystery enshrouded in it. We still look to scientific research and data to discover credible evidence favoring our view of the world. We don't trust that humans can live in the world without the ideology of science. My interlocutor attempted to cross the bridge that separated our thoughts by revealing his or her occupation as a plaintiff's personal injury attorney "in order to show that if I were to have any bias at all on this issue, it would be in favor of your position, not against it."

I have nothing personal against plaintiff's personal injury attorneys. I am sure my interlocutor is a compassionate person who sincerely believes in the sanctity of many liberal causes. However, we operate under opposing paradigms or worldviews that are antithetical to each other. A plaintiff's personal injury attorney believes in credible evidence to support cases and clients they are representing. I am sure they do a lot of very good work keeping in check powerful corporate entities in the world and protecting us from their sinister influences. However, I have absolutely no personal need of their services, now or ever in the future. To expect experts to protect us from the damaging effects of products and experts to provide evidence that supports the safety of other products and then further experts to punish the purveyors of harmful information leading to injury or loss of life by rewarding victims a monetary sum is a paradigm that is slowly outliving its usefulness.

Another interlocutor jumped into the discussion on vaccines and autism to say,  

The notion that an external substance causes it is eclipsed by the large amount of research pointing to genetics as the cause. As far as an epidemic goes, that is a joke. We are able to diagnose more young children these days who would have been called retarded or eccentric depending on where they fit along the autistic spectrum pre 1990's.

Oftentimes science merely re-labels. What was diagnosed as one thing becomes something else later, merely by re-describing it. Whether or not the increase from 1 in 10,000 children in the past diagnosed with Autism to the recent estimate of 1 in 135 is due to this re-describing we leave to the experts of science, rationality, industrialism and capitalism to decide. If the weight of evidence provided from science falls on the theory of re-describing of individuals we explain the high incidence of children on the autism spectrum in silicon valley is due to Silican valley being a wonderful breeding ground for geeks, many of whom are on the autistic spectrum. From this we are lead to believe that researchers in the scientific communities failure to diagnose one individual from the Eskimo community in northern Saskatchewan with Autism is because Eskimos are not predisposed to develop software technology. All of these findings and conclusions are supported from Science which we have been told is not amendable to superstition.

Once we make a decision on which side has the preponderance of evidence from the scientific community falls, we feel perfectly comfortable with labeling the opposing side as bunk, silly or ignorant. My position is that I don't care what Science discovers and where the weight of evidence falls as to the cause of the recent increase in Autism. I prefer to be extremely careful about putting foreign substances, other than nutritious food into mine and my family's bodies. I don't prefer to be enmeshed in the net of the experts and powerless to exert influence over mine and my families lives.

We all want to protect our lives and those of our loved ones. To succumb to the language of science is to give up a language that has long permeated human existence with its reverence for the mysteries inherent in the life process. When science protects us from disease and prolongs our lives we assume that science has won the battle against religion. We want protection from diseases and science has done well to protect the majority the citizens who are lucky enough to fall under the scope of its care. As for the others, liberals hope to increase the enormity of science until all of humanity falls within its care. But, even with the best science, nature will always prevail and death eventually comes calling for each of us - along with our loved ones. When this happens prematurely, we wish to blame someone and reach out for the testimony of experts who can lay blame on some individual or institution, so we may be rewarded in monetary terms. Such is the way of science and Truth.

Even in the era of increasing concern for Global Warming we look to science to save us. Al Gore gives PowerPoint presentations offering scientific data and research informing us of the impending peril currently facing mankind. We argue that we now have a scientific consensus that proves Global Warming is real and thus politicians, statespersons, and corporations are mandated to act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions due to scientific evidence. All the while, there is a minority of interests who attempt to shoot holes in the science of global warming with science of their own and expert testimony provided by their own scientists. For the layperson, we are at the mercy of the expert and we must decide based upon consensus or what others tell us to believe - or do we?

We can also choose to live in a different way by decreasing the harm we do to our local resources. We don't need to drive less to save glaciers in Greenland. We can decide to cut back on our use of fossil fuels because we wish to see less asphalt roadways between our suburban homes and places of work. We can nurture gardens at home and preserve our annual production to cut back on the costs of transporting foods across the globe. We can consume less and produce more for our household subsistence and we can support other local enterprises of sustainable production. None of this has to be done for any other reason than it makes us feel better and nurtures our spiritual development.

Many people will argue that to rest your hopes in individuals changing their lifestyles to more sustainable practices is futile and we need government to regulate and impose standards and restrictions based on research and evidence provided by our expert scientific communities. This is the way and means of political life in Washington and the dance between democrats and republicans that has served up what we currently are experiencing in America today. I don't think it is working.

I argue that the alternative is already underway and has solidly established its foundation in an underground movement that Paul Hawkins has described so well

What does meet the eye is compelling: tens of millions of ordinary and not-so-ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world.

The movement can't be divided because it is atomized--small pieces loosely joined. It forms, gathers, and dissipates quickly. Many inside and out dismiss it as powerless, but it has been known to bring down governments, companies, and leaders through witnessing, informing, and massing.

Describing the breadth of the movement is like trying to hold the ocean in your hand. It is that large. When a part rises above the waterline, the iceberg beneath usually remains unseen

I frequently combat many other self-identifying liberals here at TL. I have been accused as being a Troll, wingnut, and war-abettor for not toeing the liberal line that preaches certain litmus tests that must be met to identify as a liberal. At the same time I have found common ground with some who do not identify as liberal, but are searching for something that is not being offered by either party today. We are not meeting in the middle between two extremes, but rather searching for a new language to describe a new way of living in a world that is increasing hostile to all life-forms on the planet. This language is part of the movement.

This is the first time in history that a large social movement is not bound together by an "ism." What binds it together is ideas, not ideologies. This unnamed movement's big contribution is the absence of one big idea; in its stead it offers thousands of practical and useful ideas. In place of isms are processes, concerns, and compassion. The movement demonstrates a pliable, resonant, and generous side of humanity.

And it is impossible to pin down. Generalities are largely inaccurate. It is nonviolent, and grassroots; it has no bombs, armies, or helicopters. A charismatic male vertebrate is not in charge. The movement does not agree on everything nor will it ever, because that would be an ideology. But it shares a basic set of fundamental understandings about the Earth, how it functions, and the necessity of fairness and equity for all people partaking of the planet's life-giving systems.

The promise of this unnamed movement is to offer solutions to what appear to be insoluble dilemmas: poverty, global climate change, terrorism, ecological degradation, polarization of income, loss of culture. It is not burdened with a syndrome of trying to save the world; it is trying to remake the world.

THERE IS FIERCENESS HERE. There is no other explanation for the raw courage and heart seen over and again in the people who march, speak, create, resist, and build. It is the fierceness of what it means to know we are human and want to survive.

This movement is relentless and unafraid. It cannot be mollified, pacified, or suppressed. ...It will not rest.. .No book can explain it, no person can represent it, no words can encompass it, because the movement is the breathing, sentient testament of the living world.

What is wrong with liberalism is that it has been named as a solution and the hopes of many seem to rest on what the leaders and experts decide is a worthy liberal cause. Give up that hope and replace it with a self-awareness and a hope and love in the people and relationships you surround yourself with. Build and remake your world that is harmonious and nurtures your spirit. Give up on your reliance upon experts and take responsibility for your neighborhood by developing and strengthening community relationships. If you cannot enjoy the huckleberries growing in a nearby lot, while you speak out and work against injustice in the world, then you are still caught in the web of an ism and rest your hopes upon unknown experts instead of what is already inside you and surrounds you that will always be organic and growing as described by Hawkins.

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