The presidential election exposed the liberal class as a corpse. It fights for nothing. It stands for nothing. It is a useless appendage to the corporate state. It exists not to make possible incremental or piecemeal reform, as it originally did in a functional capitalist democracy; instead it has devolved into an instrument of personal vanity, burnishing the hollow morality of its adherents. Liberals, by voting for Barack Obama, betrayed the core values they use to define themselves—the rule of law, the safeguarding of civil liberties, the protection of unions, the preservation of social welfare programs, environmental accords, financial regulation, a defiance of unjust war and torture, and the abolition of drone wars. The liberal class clung desperately during the long nightmare of this political campaign to one or two issues, such as protecting a woman’s right to choose and gender equality, to justify its complicity in a monstrous evil. This moral fragmentation—using an isolated act of justice to define one’s self while ignoring the vast corporate assault on the nation and the ecosystem along with the pre-emptive violence of the imperial state—is moral and political capitulation. It fails to confront the evil we have become.
I don’t believe in evil in the same way I don’t believe in darkness or cold: they are the absence of other, positive qualities that may each be clearly defined and measured. When I do no good I contribute to that state others perceive or chose to label as evil. They do so, I argue, as a way of excusing their inaction and laying the blame for their failure to create good on a myth that others are creating evil.
As a nation we will gather next week in a celebration of a bounty in which the vast majority of humanity does not share. Some will help to serve holiday meals in the false belief that one meal on one day somehow excuses our excesses that contribute to hunger across the 1,092 meals we don’t help serve each year.
How obscene is it that this week I will celebrate losing 80 pounds over the past year? That I’m actually proud that I didn’t eat and that each day I perceive myself as actually struggling to not eat when so many are wasting away? How feckin’ evil is that?
What have I done with the food I didn’t eat this past year? Nothing. Someone else ate that food. Or that food was tossed out. But that food did not go to feed people in my own community. I did not choose to contribute to the Cleveland Food Bank and feed people. I did not feed the hungry. Instead, I chose to celebrate my own discipline and willpower in not eating. That is perverse.
Hedges essay has helped me to rethink where I’ve come in the past year. Eight years ago I launched Have Coffee Will Write in reaction to the loss of Senator John Kerry to President George Herbert Walker Bush. I accomplished a great deal over the past 12 months in terms of myself. What I must determine now is how do I accomplish even more for others across the next 12 because Mr. Fish’s message is unacceptable.