The Physical Appearance of Liberals 27

by Rachel Haywire

Don’t judge a book by its cover.” That is the old cliche, isn’t it? Of course many of us know better than to completely discount physical appearances. We look at Asians and assume they are smart. We look at African Americans and assume they are athletic. Biodiversity is an important part of human existence and to pretend like it doesn’t exist is to ignore the complexity of genetics.

Yet this isn’t another article about how we aren’t one-big-happy-family. To be honest, I have read enough articles like that to last me a rebellious-teeenager-in-California lifetime. This is an article about how there is no such thing as a “liberal gene.” I will set out to explain why assigning someone a political viewpoint based on their appearance is nothing short of ignorant.

“How can you, like, dress in an alternative way when you are not a liberal? Don’t you know that anyone who agrees with your politics would have you burnt at the stake? They would remove your tattoos faster than Hitler would give you a concentration camp number. What are you? Some kind of self-hating masochist?”

Not exactly. I’m someone who loves freedom. Absolute freedom without restriction from the state or the people. And yes, I understand that according to American politics, being a freedom-loving individualist who lives a wild lifestyle is some unholy contradiction. Libertarians and Anarchists make up less than 1% of the American population. At sites like ATS we are a bit more common, yet even among this community there seems to be an impression that alternative-looking-people are liberals.

Crazy hair? Tattoos? Leftist! Suit and tie? Clean cut? Rightist! This is actually the complete opposite of what I notice these days. Do we not remember that the Obama administration helped “cutting edge” alternative people become the establishment? The counterculture becoming the dominant culture was all the hope and change that we wanted, right?

Wrong.

Occupy was not a revolution and there was nothing more boring than the fashion cliches of the counterculture. I haven’t dressed “counterculture” in years. Yet my tattoos remained and so did my crazy hair. My punk attitude also survived. To any stranger on the street I was “just another liberal” because of my physical appearance. There was no possible way I could have any interest in the radical right, right?

Wrong.

About a month ago I explained to a few people that it would be more exciting to see a Romney win than an Obama win. While I basically see Romney and Obama as the same damn thing I did realize that a Romney win would get people to start rioting again. Not taking pictures with their iPhones at Occupy and calling it journalism but actually rioting. I wanted things to be radical like they once were: back when I still considered myself a leftist: when fighting against the war in Iraq was an act of resistance as opposed to conformity to PC culture. Some type of organic tradition.

My conservative friends were shocked to find out that I was “on their side” whatever that even meant. One of them was a politician who told me that while he was running for office he never would have thought to approach someone who looked like me. “You look like a leftist,” he told me. My heart wanted to bleed at that point, just to make an ironic statement. “I’m not a fucking leftist!” I wanted to scream. “I was kicked out of the left several years ago because my views were too extreme. I was too left for the left and this landed me on the right. Do you know what that is like? To be reversed in a political circle?”

There is no liberal gene. Both the punk and industrial subcultures were musical genres and lifestyles that resisted the dominant PC cultures of their times. The majority of “alternatively dressed” people you meet these days do not define themselves as liberal. And the people in the suits and ties? They are as leftist as you can get. They are the mainstream establishment. The defaults.

Our entire political system has reversed. What do liberals look like? They look like the conservatives of the past. Now that Obama has another 4 years we will see more and more of this. I mean, if you are going to judge a book by its cover at least understand that we are no longer in the same library as we were 10 years ago. Realize that alternative-looking-people are fighting against the system and that the system is liberal as fuck.

There is a new intellectual resistance that has begun. As for the physical appearance of this new intellectual movement? We look like the liberals of the past. We are the freaks on the streets and we are not here to Occupy. We want our culture back. This is about our roots as freethinkers and radicals. We want to bring the avant-garde 1% back. We wish to assert that 99% of the population is stuck in Academia 2.0. Digital Disneyland. We do not conform to the politics of the Obama Nation. We want total war.

This is what democracy could never look like.

27 comments

  1. Be careful what you ask for, you might get it.

    If Glenn Greenwald has called it correctly, we’re going to see the first visible stages of Greek-style austerity programs on the streets of America within a few months with massive cutbacks in “entitlement” programs such as Social Security (including SS-D) and veterans programs and basically, any government income transfer programs that don’t transfer money directly into the bank accounts of the wealthy, in exchange for a symbolic increase in tax rates paid by the super-rich.

    He is claiming that the “grand bargain” between the Obama Administration and the GOP-controlled Congress is going to go down within the next 2 weeks, if so, it’ll happen while even people who pay attention to conventional politics want to think about anything but politics.

    The kind of action you are asking for happens in response to economic trouble. The outcome of the kind of economic change I describe is the economy tanking and tanking hard. The people who are going to be pissed off about this will be across the political spectrum and it won’t be possible to identify who’s pissed off at the system by appearance.

    For details, click here…From Liberal Victory to Disempowerment in Six Easy Steps: http://www.disinfo.com/2012/11/from-liberal-victory-to-disempowerment-in-six-easy-steps/ – the devil is in the details and knowing how this played out the last time the US people got screwed en masse by a political program allegedly intended to benefit everyone.

    And the system is only “liberal as fuck” in a symbolic sort of way. What the election produced was an apparent triumph of “left” centrism. What people don’t realize is that the similarity underlying the two major parties is centrism itself, i.e. the concept that the only legitimate purpose of government is upward transfer of wealth and the main difference between the parties is which market demographics they appeal to.

    The “liberal” victories such as gay marriage and marijuana decriminalization are ones that either don’t matter economically to or increase the cash flows of the upper 0.001%. (Romney and up, assuming Romney really isn’t a billionaire yet, just an enabler of billionaires)

  2. “The counterculture becoming the dominant culture was all the hope and change that we wanted, right?” … that was tried already. How’d that play out? Two members of the iconic 1960s Grateful Dead becoming members of the transnational elite Bohemian Grove.

    The “hipster” counterculture started out corrupted, the creative class who is most of its membership went straight from listening to whatever subversive ideas are inherent in industrial in college into the corporations or their ad agencies.

      • Of course, and I got it the first time you explained it to me. Was merely pointing out that this is the second time this has happened in recent history to countercultures nominally intended to “change the system”.

          • Only in the intergenerational sense in that countercultures of succeeding generations tend to be as opposite symbolically to their parents’ cultures as possible. It’s unfashionable for kids to enjoy their parents’ music, and for parental generation to enjoy younger generation music is even more so. Youth culture as we know that’s nominally trying to “change the world” is a relatively recent development.

            My guess is that a counter-counter culture would be too marginalized to be viable and it would make more sense to pick off the most pissed off elements of the current countercultures and appeal to them. You personally may be a very good position to do this, since you connect to elements of two that I know of. Have an idea here, but having trouble getting it to focus. If you tried to make it work, you would REALLY piss off some of your current associates.

              • Agreed. If you’d like to work out some ideas with me about the possibilities I mentioned above, feel free to contact me directly.

              • Difficult to discuss concepts relating to specific situation and its possibilities in vague generalities. Better to fully bake ideas where neither of us has to be concerned about public opinion or what local userbase is interested in (e.g. new gen music electronics), some things only of personal interest. Do Your Will.

                p.s. early Happy Birthday – I really did remember without computer reminder – was in a book I once had occasion to read very carefully.

  3. The new, hot political movement starting next year?

    “Fuck the [whichever major political party one nominally belongs to].”

    And as the heat keeps getting turned up under the pot under the frog, that political movement is only going to grow.

  4. Copious amounts of urine on the ‘Left’.
    Notice how they howled about 9-1 being a false flag attack, yet once there Obamamessiah was elected, that issue went down the memoryhole.
    Orwell was describing the ‘left’ in works.’
    (Off topic: The best youtube site concerning 9-11 is ‘September Clues’)

  5. superficial to the point of pointlessness. Packaging and commodification are inseperable.If you just want to create an identity package that stands out by contrasting the last fashion wave that hit the perceptual field of your social network -or that of your parents and teachers- by all means spend time and money on sartorial rebellion. Stop thinking in such categories if you’re interested in change. Radical means root- fashion is like leaves that fall as seasons change.

      • I still think he missed the point of my article but I do think it’s a great reply.

        To clarify, my article was not about some new political uprising of clothing choices. It was about how the far left had been forced onto the far right due to our current political climate, and how those of us who were once leftists did not change our appearances to fit in with what we were “supposed to look like politically.”

        Getting mistaken for being a liberal gets quite annoying and this goes far beyond some political fashion movement. This is about people who make assumptions on your politics with no confirmation besides your physical appearance. It is the academic version of racial stereotyping.

        At least race actually exists.

        • I actually place blame on the Right because of its reactionary impulse to just do anything the Left believing itself to be diametrically opposed when it fact it ingrains the idea more.

          “If the Left is the dominant culture then the Right needs to be the counter culture” is childish and leads nowhere.

          The Right should be not engaging at all instead focusing on what matters, the essence.

          Let those on the Left define themselves by the clothes they wear. Lets not copy their example and go down the same path “in order to get back at them.” If clothes are chosen for anything, they are chosen for practicality and for nobility (in that we don’t mutilate ourselves threw piercings).

          Everyone fits in as it is impossible to escape current modernity–even me.

          Some are just more entrenched then others. They believe they being more rebellious due to wearing an earring or two, or shaving their head, but that is just going along with the culture–the only thing different is that they are going to a higher extreme.

          • I’ve never been about looking or being ‘hip’. I hate hipsters, especially neocon ones. I remember hearing about hip-hop DJ’s supporting George W. Bush and supposed “conservative punks”, both of which make me sick to my stomach if you ask me. Of course I don’t think it really matters what politics hipsters follow, it’s obvious everything about them is phony. There’s nothing real or original in their hearts at all.

    • “Radical means root- fashion is like leaves that fall as seasons change.”

      Your illustrations with nature makes it so much more beautiful. Less words within simplicity bring out the wisdom in life.

      Only dead fish go with the flow. Those who swim against the current know the strength.

      Unfortunately this can be miscounted into supporting the very idea of this article.

  6. Left/right as presently constituted in US politics is a stage managed distraction,a useful tactic in support of the divide and conquer realpolitik strategy of the extant power structure. The violence at demonstrations against both Iraq wars was orchestrated by agents provocateurs,and was in both cases effective in discrediting the protests in the eyes of middle class bourgeoisie. As a subset of the same strategy ,and despite the genuine passion and intense visceral experiences of it’s adherents, Punk,in the US ,like all other forms of youth culture rebellion for the last 50 years, was co-opted before it even appeared. A way of selling records. perhaps the best example of the semiotics involved is the Che t-shirt trend.Capitalists selling mostly middle class kids signifiers of rebellion.

  7. should say: Capitalists selling mostly middle class kids signifiers of rebellion.against capitalism .
    That the capitalists who make the t-shrits are chinese communists is even more amusing

  8. We should focus on what is within rather then what is without.

    I find that people on the Left and the current Right both believe that expression is something that is best worn.

    From the watered down expression of “don’t look for government for answers” comes the realization of looking within yourself and self mastering is the best thing one can do.

    • A person’s appearance will let you assign that person a probable demographic. It need not tell you anything in particular about what’s inside the head of that person.

      • What you say is true.

        However, a person who is trapped by the belief that clothes is an ultimate expression of one’s self or political belief is trapped by modernity and hedonism.

        This isn’t to say one shouldn’t way clothes, wear clothes against the current culture or with it, but rather look within one’s self and attain deeper understanding of our values and will to power.

        Both values and will to power are transcendent and do not depend upon materialism to be realized.

  9. One can’t control the perceptions of others, one can only provide input. Sometimes clothing is a disguise.

    It’s most important to control one’s own perceptions. In order to inform one’s “Will to power”, one has to know just what it is one is trying to exercise one’s power to interact with.

    That’s part of Robert Anton Wilson’s find out “What the hell is really going on?” philosophy that informed his futurism and the rest of his belief system some of us still try to practice.

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