Assata Shakur on the Political and Moral Bankruptcy of Liberalism

“As far as I’m concerned, ‘liberal’ is the most
meaningless word in the dictionary.”
-Assata Shakur

In chapter eight of her autobiography, revolutionary Assata Shakur characterizes liberalism as a politically and morally bankrupt ideology.

I have never really understood exactly what a ‘liberal’ is, since I have heard ‘liberals’ express every conceivable opinion on every conceivable subject. As far as I can tell, you have the extreme right, who are fascist racist capitalist dogs like Ronald Reagan, who come right out and let you know where they’re coming from. And on the opposite end, you have the left, who are supposed to be committed to justice, equality, and human rights. And somewhere between those two points is the liberal.

As far as I’m concerned, ‘liberal’ is the most meaningless word in the dictionary. History has shown me that as long as some white middle-class people can live high on the hog, take vacations to Europe, send their children to private schools, and reap the benefits of their white skin privilege, then they are ‘liberal’. But when times get hard and money gets tight, they pull off that liberal mask and you think you’re talking to Adolf Hitler. They feel sorry for the so-called underprivileged just as long as they can maintain their own privileges.

That Shakur locates liberalism between the left and the extreme right demonstrates that it is not even a nominally left-wing ideology; it is a positively reactionary right-wing one, only sightly to the left of the “fascist racist capitalist dogs” who dominate the extreme right.

This point has been perpetually echoed by actual leftists.

Vijay Prashad has said that “If the Democratic Party were in any other country in the world it would be considered a party of the far right.”

As Chris Hedges articulated it:

The Democratic Party in Europe would be a far-right party. It’s pro-war, it’s anti-union, it’s anti-civil liberties. I mean, Obama’s assault on civil liberties is worse than Bush. It’s an enemy of the press. It’s used the Espionage Act to shut down whistle-blowers, which are the lifeblood of a free press. It has assassinated American citizens. I mean, at what point do you say enough?