I’m pretty sure that everyone in the world is secretly in love with Liberalism. I mean, it’s great. If you don’t love charity, taking care of the less fortunate, and heartwarming moments of celebrities adopting Indonesian children, then you are a heartless monster. Liberalism is the recognition that things in this world are kinda shitty, and steps should be taken to alleviate those problems (Liberalism as a philosophy has a heavy focus on individualism and other things, but for the sake of this post I’m limiting myself to its political aspect). It has given us food banks, needle exchanges, subsidized housing, and a whole slough of feel-good programs and policies meant as a safety net for those who fall through the cracks of the system.

But today, I want to take a look at what liberalism would look like if, instead of focusing on someone’s economic standing, it focused on, say, their race.

Come with me on a whimsical journey to a magical fantasy world rife with racism and prejudice. The liberal think-tank would come up with these great solutions to fight this racism, like maybe some support groups for individuals who suffer from it. We could have AA meetings but for people suffering from racial discrimination. They could talk about their feelings, and find comfort in each other’s stories. Maybe there could be policies enacted that would enable people of colour to collect a stipend every month to cover the difference between their paycheque and the paycheques of their white coworkers. Liberalism would nurture racialized minorities and help them live with the racism that affects their lives daily.

However, the generally agreed upon solution towards racism isn’t to help racialized minorities cope with systemic and individual racism. It is to eliminate racism. It seems so obvious to eliminate racism, sexism, homophobia, and all the other forms of oppression that still afflict our society today, but the answers for poverty are prevalently liberalized solutions that treat symptoms, and try desperately to ignore the root problems that cause it in the first place.

Why not, instead of helping those who fall through the cracks, we fill in the cracks and prevent anyone from falling through in the first place? It’s our goal for most progressive movements, but when it comes to economic oppression, there is massive resistance.

Is it because eliminating racism is easier than eliminating poverty? I’ve been told that poverty is a necessary evil in order for a society to function. This is part of the Monetarist theory that currently runs the economy of our country: in order to keep inflation in check, there must be a certain amount of unemployment to keep the value of our dollar marketable. However, that is just a theory, and there are alternate theories which disagree. Keynesians believe that if everyone has jobs, then everyone has money, and if everyone has money, then everyone is putting money into the economy. And while Keynesian economics might not be the absolute solution to poverty, it does show that poverty does not have to be a necessary byproduct of a healthy society.

Others might think that poverty is not an oppression; it is the fault of the individual. Despite how prevalent this attitude is, I sincerely hope that I was able to convincingly refute it in this previous blog post: https://blogforchumps.wordpress.com/2014/06/10/the-clarity-of-the-merciless/ The short version is that poverty is not the fault of the individual, and is more often than not the failure of the system.

Still others argue that in order for better policies to be enacted, taxes would need to be raised, and if taxes were raised, then businesses would flee because to them, money is worth more than their community. With businesses gone, there are no jobs, and nobody paying taxes, and therefore no money for social programs anyway. While this idea is debatable, and maybe worth a blog post in itself, the main question that it always raises for me is why are we as a society consigning ourselves to the whims of the worst of us? Do we really want a society that is dependent on those who do not care for that society?

So please. Liberals. Continue to think that poverty is bad, and that something needs to be done to fix it, but come up with better solutions than coping mechanisms, because that makes no God damn sense.

Post-Script: If you like pretty pictures and eccentric Slovenians, you can watch this video here which has a similar theme: