There is Nothing Queer About Liberalism

Image by Mercedes Mehling.

“The ‘Enlightenment’, which discovered the liberties, also invented the disciplines.”

-Michel Foucault

I’ve been called some pretty heinous things in my life, and I’ll proudly own most of them with a smile, but every time I get called a liberal someone has to die. Call me a faggot, call me a shemale, call me a fucking tranny, and I’ll respond, ‘so what?’ But never call me a goddamn liberal unless you’re looking to get your skull pierced with a Schrade Sharpfinger. Even in my past life as an unrepentant communist, I chafed beneath that label and the reason is pretty simple. Ideologically speaking, American liberals are fucking pussies and not the kind I like to eat for breakfast.

Your average American liberal progressive is antiwar until a Democrat is dropping the bombs but also has zero problem pushing pacifism on darkies and faggots to keep us in line. Your average American liberal progressive will dawn a dashiki every time another cop shoots another Black boy on a moped but is the first motherfucker to scream ‘law and order’ when they find tire tracks on their freshly sodded lawn. These people may dress up like allies for trick-or-treat, but they voted for Hillary and threw Chelsea Manning beneath a men’s prison. They are cowards, scoundrels, and above all else, frauds.

Liberals also tend to be unbearably vanilla, with their polo shirts and their Kennedy haircuts and their NPR tote bags, gentrifying the countryside one trailer park at a time until the whole goddamn country looks like one big golf course infested with McMansions and Panera Bread franchises and swarms and swarms of Prius driving Karens belting out Michael Bublé songs on their way to yoga. So, even as a born-again Queer anarchist, I would rather be curb stomped by Proud Boys than lumped in with these pandering casualties of respectable heterosexual society.

And I know what you’re going to say, you’re going to say the same thing that my mother says in between fumbling my pronouns, ‘I thought all Queer people were liberals.’ First of all, fuck you. Second of all, you, like 99% if this politically dyslexic country, clearly have no idea what the words ‘liberal’ and ‘Queer’ really mean, so please allow me to give you a brief revisionist history lesson before I’m forced to hurt you.

Liberalism, as a political philosophy, has its foundations in the western sanctified 17th century European intellectual movement known as the Enlightenment. Despite what your high school history teacher may have told you, this was not the miracle that introduced reason and democracy to humanity. While men like Immanuel Kant may have declared human rights to be universally sacred institutions, they also essentially invented the scientific racism that brought us chattel slavery in order to ensure that human rights would only be bestowed upon those of us who conformed enough to Western European culture to be considered scientifically human.

When it all comes down to it, the Enlightenment and the philosophy of liberalism that came with it were just civilization’s latest excuses for blind obedience to endless conquest. When the churches and monarchs began to get stale and the proles began to get restless, a bunch of straight rich white guys decided to turn the state into a secular church and declared science to be its new religion, switching over from spiritually defined institutions like the temple and the crown to more “reasonable” ones like the courthouse and the asylum.

But the results remained largely the same. White Anglo Saxon Protestant culture was sold as the only solution to the ungovernable savagery of tribal diversity, and all those who failed to assimilate to its dictates were condemned to trial by fire, be they Indian Dog Soldiers resisting the progress of the railroads or backwards Muslim mujahadeen resisting some European’s definition of democracy.

At the core of the liberal philosophy is the concept of universalism, the notion that the entire world should be united beneath a single set of values, a globally homogenized melting pot of inclusion which sounds charming until you remember that what liberals are including us in by the barrel of a gun is the same western culture that brought us concepts like whiteness, prisons, the gender binary, mental illness, the standing army, and the Westphalian nation state just to make damn sure that we all just got along. To put it bluntly, liberalism is just white supremacy with a secular face, and it was essentially modelled after the same evangelical Christian universalism that attempted to convert people like me out of existence.

You see dearest motherfuckers, Queer is not just a repurposed pejorative for sexual and gender minorities. It is a uniquely diverse pastiche of the pagan tribal traditions extinguished by the church to make room for progress. Before Christianity became the favored tool for imperial subjugation, every tribe had its own gods, its own traditions, and its own genders. Every pagan culture from Vanuatu to Vladivostok had its own unique concepts for what defined sex and sexuality, and most of them reserved hallowed spaces within their communities for those of us who deviated from the norm by nature with many of us serving as shaman and priestesses due to our unique connections to multiple genders.

Of course, all of this was just way too complicated for the church to homogenize, so our identities were erased, a single binary gender system was established, and those who failed to conform to it were slaughtered in mass as witches and heretics.

But when the churches and the monarchs began to get stale and the proles began to get reckless, liberalism replaced spiritual hegemony with scientific hegemony and the witches and heretics were declared perverts and lunatics who could only be cured by the miracle of the enlightened asylum. However, some of us resisted. Some of us kept shreds of our heathen identities locked away in the closet and even celebrated our diversity in the shadows until the third worldism of Black Power and the Chicano Movement gave us a blueprint of the prison and a way to break out of it.

At its very core, Queerness is a radical rejection of the same puritanical Christian universalist values that define liberalism to this day and that is why there is absolutely nothing Queer about liberalism.

Liberals may pose as allies but what they’re really after isn’t diversity but inclusion into their straight white monoculture, and since outright annihilation has lost its zing with the youth demographic, they’ve created carefully color coordinated little boxes to stuff us in with alphabet brand names like LGBTQ. This is why anti-assimilationist Queer radicals like me reject that label, but I’m here to call on my tribe to take this rejection one step further to include the rejection of the liberal universalism that gave birth to this progressive school of assimilation.

Ideas like liberalism and globalism should be considered every bit as anathema to the Queer experience as the Vatican and the asylum because they represent the same damn thing, a slow and painful death by bourgeoise conformity. To be Queer is to strive for absolute diversity, a thousand stateless tribes of throbbing heathen savages with a million fluid genders and sexualities swirling about like the colors and shapes of a kaleidoscope.

Even anarchy isn’t wild enough to contain us all. What we need is many anarchies, a grand panarchy to revive what the bible thumpers and their liberal bastards stole from us. This should also mean embracing a radical diversity that transcends Queerness and affords room for all the beasts that liberalism failed to assimilate, from the Indian Dog Soldiers to the Muslim mujahadeen, so long as they can all agree to coexist voluntarily. That and to never call me a fucking liberal again.

The only true enemy of any stateless Queer nation should be any asshole telling us that we’re all the same. Humanity is way too complicated for that evangelical bullshit and that’s precisely what makes it beautiful enough to kill for.

Nicky Reid is an agoraphobic anarcho-genderqueer gonzo blogger from Central Pennsylvania and assistant editor for Attack the System. You can find her online at Exile in Happy Valley.