So, the question was asked in my last commentary: why don’t we see liberals clamoring for comprehensive prison reform? That may not be entirely a fair question. I guess what I’m trying to say is that liberalism, overall, is- is in progressive politics is a weakness, because many liberals, at least in my experience, seem to be the soft, self-righteous do gooders, who fail to fully consider what it takes to make our world a better place.
It’s hard for me to explain exactly what I mean because I have a natural strategic sense of politics. What I know is that Donald Trump got elected by less than half of those who voted, and only about half of the country voted at all. So, basically only 25% of the American population voted for this guy. But the majority of the country didn’t approve of him. How did this happen? My answer: liberalism.
Liberalism shuns organization and discipline. The very root of the word is liberal, which is defined as loose. It comes from a Greek word that means “free.” The idea of liberalism is individual freedom and open-mindedness, a refutation of authoritarianism, orthodoxy, and tradition. It was a reaction to the oppressive nature of religious control in medieval Europe. The Renaissance can be credited with establishing the foundation from which liberalism sprung, especially with the rise of Protestantism.
The idea of individual freedom and open-mindedness are great. But I think liberals today forget that such ideas had to be fought for. Nowadays, liberals seem to be people who are all talk and no action, except the protest in March. But we live in a capitalist country where power respects only power, and power is rooted in economic strength, and economic strength requires organization and discipline. Liberals today seem to assume moral suasion without more is enough.
This is why I call them self-righteous. It was this same self-righteousness that made liberals think Hillary Clinton couldn’t lose to a proven liar and misogynist. But yet she did. And we haven’t realized it yet. We progressives are at war with reactionary conservatives and properties who make a living off of the ignorance and misery of the poor and people of color, and off of the manipulation of the middle-class. Liberals are those who don’t seem to get this. They act as if the fight against radical racial and social injustice is a hobby. If things get too hard or too inconvenient for them, they back down and back off.
The progressive movement needs a resurgence of radicalism. Let me be very clear what I mean by radicalism, because when most people hear radical, they think violent extremists or terrorists. The idea that a radical is an extremist or terrorist is propaganda. The word radical comes from the Latin word Radix, which means root. So, true radicals seek out the root causes of problems rather than make cosmetic or surface changes. Radicals seek to make fundamental structural changes, which threaten the status quo, that even liberals benefit from. Social and racial justice requires some degree of political and economic upheaval, but not even liberals, who like their smartphones and lattes, wish to sacrifice their creature comforts for this.
This is why current criminal justice and prison reform is so watered down. This is why it was suggested I changed UFD’s name to satisfy reactionary forces. If you’re not willing to stand firmly upon what is right, simply because it requires more sacrifice or it’s inconvenience, or it’s more inconvenience than you can handle, then you’re truly not for what’s right. The struggle for justice isn’t subjective. How can you feel about- how you feel about it means next to nothing. The struggle for justice is about the lives of real people. This isn’t a hobby or feel good project.
This is Dontie S. Mitchell, better known as Mfalme Sikivu, reporting to you from Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Comstock, New York. Follow me on Facebook @freeDontieMitchell. Thank you for listening and God bless.
(Sound of a cell door closing.) These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.