Michael Rectenwald and other left/ex-left identity politics critics

155 posts / 0 new
Last post
Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Feb 10 2018 21:07
Noa Rodman wrote:
As for your first example (of the IWAs), you acknowledge they did criticisable stuff, but immediately add that "these are all divisions which affect non-identity-based class struggle groups". In other words, it is not related to their IdPol orientation.

Well joining the Commission for Racial Equality you could put specifically down to identity politics.

But that's exactly my point - if trade unions, 'workers parties' suffer from the same problems as identity groups, is the problem the identity bit, or that they're trying to represent the group within capitalism? I think it's the latter the vast majority of the time. So then we could move away from a million boring boilerplate critiques of identity politics and look at representational politics in general - not leaving things open to crude workerist social democratic politics - something that's been pushed massively in the past three years.

Noa Rodman wrote:
My example of a critique of the Bund did relate to their IdPol orientation. In your extremely restricted (arbitrary) definition, they were not a class-organisation.

I didn't say they weren't a class organisation, I just said they were social democratic. It's you who's obsessed with definitions.

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Feb 10 2018 22:04
Red Marriott wrote:
Sivanandan, mentioned in #47 above, died last month. From an obituary;
Quote:
... Siva’s many celebrated aphorisms – easy-to-remember encapsulations of complex ideas that challenged simplistic assumptions. Others included: “We are here because you were there” (relating to post-colonial migration); “If those who have do not give, those who haven’t must take”; and “The personal is not political, the political is personal”.

The latter illustrated his growing frustration with the solipsism of emerging identity politics, particularly among what he saw as a more well-heeled, younger generation of intellectuals, who he felt were reluctant to engage with issues of class even though it was the struggles of the black working-class who had paved the way for them. “The people who made this mobility possible were those who took to the streets,” he once told me. “But they did not benefit.”

This is the thing though. The movements Sivanandan documented of black and asian workers in the UK - the IWAs, British Black Panthers etc. are exactly the groups that someone like Adolph Reed (or Noa Rodman it seems) will lump in as 'identity politics'. Sivandan's not criticising those, a major part of his project was documenting autonomous working class black organisation - and he takes great care to do so in this essay - to show examples of what he thought was useful political work, while criticising the capitulation to the Labour Party and arithmetical representation from New Times.

Sivanandan wrote:
As for domicile, location, Marxism Today was to find these in the thinking of a Left intelligentsia eviscerated of class and the counsels of a Labour Party thrashing around for a showing at the polls. In France and Italy the Eurocommunists were parties in their own electoral right, but in Britain Marxism Today, having broken with the “Stalinists,” had no comparable base — nor, presumably, having broken so violently with the theory and practice of the vanguard party, could it countenance one. Labour, besides, was the established party of socialism.
[...]
Could Labour do the same? Could it abandon its traditional class perspective and accept that a social bloc has to be “constructed out of groups which are very different in terms of their material interests and social positions”? And could these “diverse identities” be welded together into a “collective will”?

[...]
There may well be all sorts of “resistance to the system,” as Stuart Hall suggests, in civil society today, all sorts of new social movements and “a politics of the family, of health, of food, of sexuality, of the body.” And they may even succeed in pushing out the boundaries of individual freedom. But the moment they threaten to change the system in any fundamental way or go beyond the personal politics of health, food, sexuality, etc., they come up against the power of the state. That power does not need to be used at every turn, just to intimate that it is there is sufficient to change the politics of the new social forces, personal politics, to a politics of accommodation.

Civil society is no pure terrain of consent where hegemonies can play at will; it is ringed around, if not with coercion, with intimations of coercion — and that is enough to buttress the system's hegemony. It is only in challenging state power that you expose the coercive face of the state to the people, sharpening their political sense and resistance, providing the temper and climate for “the construction” of more effective “social blocs.” Conversely, you cannot take on the dominant hegemonies in civil society without at some point — at the point of effectiveness, in fact — falling foul of the system.
[..]

By their very nature and location, the underclass are the most difficult to organise in the old sense of organisation. They do not submit to the type of trade union regimen which operates for the straight “official” workforce — but they come together, like villagers, through hearsay and common hurt, over a deportation case here or a death in custody there, to take on the immediate power of the immigration officer or the police and to go beyond it, if that is where it takes them, to oppose the power of the state itself as it presents itself on the street. They come together, too, over everyday cases of hardship to help out each other's families, setting up informal community centres to help them consolidate whatever gains they make. These are not great big things they do, but they are the sort of organic communities of resistance that, in a sense, were prefigured in the black struggles of the 1960s and 1970s and the insurrections of 1981 and 1985.

If we look since 1990, then there are ever more bizarre strands of 'identity politics' - the banknote stuff a couple of years back, Lean In, Hillary Clinton etc., but there's also been a knee-jerk productivist backlash from Bernie Sanders and supporters - who are just doing the mirror image in terms of electoral coalition building that New Times was reacting to in the '80s.

I've added this here btw: https://libcom.org/library/all-melts-air-solid-sivanandan

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
Feb 11 2018 10:38
Mike Harman wrote:
But that's exactly my point - if trade unions, 'workers parties' suffer from the same problems as identity groups, is the problem the identity bit, or that they're trying to represent the group within capitalism? I think it's the latter the vast majority of the time. So then we could move away from a million boring boilerplate critiques of identity politics and look at representational politics in general - not leaving things open to crude workerist social democratic politics - something that's been pushed massively in the past three years.

Accepting this reasoning, let me turn the tables: why do you (and Jay_S) rant about boilerplate critiques of IdPol, when in fact your problem really is with "workerist" social democratic politics and rightwing/mainstream attacks on the lifes of minorities?

Further, isn't it "idealistic" to regard the rightwing assault as based mainly on their having a critique of IdPol and appealing to the (white) working class? That's just a mirror version of the rightwing's story that the mainstream/elite's IdPol ideology is the tool of a leftwing ploy to destroy the country.

Quote:
I didn't say they weren't a class organisation, I just said they were social democratic. It's you who's obsessed with definitions.

You asked me a definition/example. When I first referred to the Bund (mentioned by Jenny Bourne) you seemed to have no objection. Only when I brought up Lenin did you try to limit the range of definition. By the way, it was irrelevant for your to bring up organising prostitutes, unless you regard them as an identity.

Quote:
The movements Sivanandan documented of black and asian workers in the UK - the IWAs, British Black Panthers etc. are exactly the groups that someone like Adolph Reed (or Noa Rodman it seems) will lump in as 'identity politics'. Sivandan's not criticising those, a major part of his project was documenting autonomous working class black organisation - and he takes great care to do so in this essay - to show examples of what he thought was useful political work, while criticising the capitulation to the Labour Party and arithmetical representation from New Times.

I don't think Sivanandan (and Jenny Bourne) were criticising the Labour Party (or Democratic Party) for being the Labour Party (ie electoralists) and being "workerist". They were criticising them for IdPol (hence Red Marriott, who I understand is against IdPol, rightfully could cite Sivanandan).

If you want to a hold critical discussion about Adolph Reed, give some quotes so that I know what you're on about.

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Feb 11 2018 21:16
Noa Rodman wrote:
If you want to a hold critical discussion about Adolph Reed, give some quotes so that I know what you're on about.

See https://libcom.org/blog/identity-crisis-leftist-anti-wokeness-bullshit-22082017 and the footnotes.

If you want to watch three bald men arguing over combs, then Jacobin's Birch and Heideman vs. Reed is possibly where I first really started looking into him:
http://nonsite.org/editorial/how-racial-disparity-does-not-help-make-sense-of-patterns-of-police-violence
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/10/adolph-reed-blm-racism-capitalism-labor
http://nonsite.org/editorial/splendors-and-miseries-of-the-antiracist-left-2

(I think it's those three pieces unless there was a later rejoinder).

I picked Reed as the main focus of that article, because his close associate Cedric Johnson (author of Revolutionaries to Race Leaders) is cited in both 'Brown vs. Ferguson' and 'Black Representation after Ferguson' - he consistently traces an arc from the Black Panthers to figures like Obama, ignoring the dozen or so still in prison and people like Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin, and they barely even touch DRUM or the League of Revolutionary Black Workers.

Noa Rodman wrote:
Accepting this reasoning, let me turn the tables: why do you (and Jay_S) rant about boilerplate critiques of IdPol, when in fact your problem really is with "workerist" social democratic politics and rightwing/mainstream attacks on the lifes of minorities?

Because when they critique identity politics, it can be hard to tell which is which. Genuine communists have good reasons to critique identity politics, but they are often not actually that familiar with black socialist feminists (or subaltern studies or whatever the target is - and I include myself in that), so even when it's a good faith critique, it can still fall far short of the mark.

Let's take the original subject of this thread:

Rectumwald wrote:
The problem with identity politics, then, is that it is one-sided and undialectical. It treats identities as static entities, and its methods only serve to further reify those categories. It aims to liberate identity groups (or members thereof) qua identity groups (or individuals), rather than aiming to liberate them from identity itself. Identity politics fails not because it begins with various subaltern groups and aims at their liberation, but because it ends with them and thus cannot deliver their liberation. It makes identities and their equality with other “privileged” groups the basis of political activity, rather than making the overcoming of the alienated identity, for themselves and all identity groups, the goal. The abolition of the one-sidedness of identity – as worker, woman, man, or what have you – represents real human emancipation. Always failing this, identity politics settles for mere linguistic emancipation, which is offered (and policed so assiduously, as Fisher notes) by the defenders of the sanctuary of identity.

http://www.thenorthstar.info/2013/12/02/what%E2%80%99s-wrong-with-identity-politics-and-intersectionality-theory-a-response-to-mark-fisher%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%9Cexiting-the-vampire-castle%E2%80%9D-and-its-critics/

Compare to the foundational text of identity politics:

Combahee River Collective wrote:
We believe that sexual politics under patriarchy is as pervasive in Black women's lives as are the politics of class and race. We also often find it difficult to separate race from class from sex oppression because in our lives they are most often experienced simultaneously. We know that there is such a thing as racial-sexual oppression which is neither solely racial nor solely sexual, e.g., the history of rape of Black women by white men as a weapon of political repression.
...
We realize that the liberation of all oppressed peoples necessitates the destruction of the political-economic systems of capitalism and imperialism as well as patriarchy. We are socialists because we believe that work must be organized for the collective benefit of those who do the work and create the products, and not for the profit of the bosses. Material resources must be equally distributed among those who create these resources. We are not convinced, however, that a socialist revolution that is not also a feminist and anti-racist revolution will guarantee our liberation. We have arrived at the necessity for developing an understanding of class relationships that takes into account the specific class position of Black women who are generally marginal in the labor force, while at this particular time some of us are temporarily viewed as doubly desirable tokens at white-collar and professional levels. We need to articulate the real class situation of persons who are not merely raceless, sexless workers, but for whom racial and sexual oppression are significant determinants in their working/economic lives.

So Rectenwald is arguing against a strawman, a paper tiger - and has now largely turned into a strawman himself.

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Feb 11 2018 21:19
Noa Rodman wrote:
I don't think Sivanandan (and Jenny Bourne) were criticising the Labour Party (or Democratic Party) for being the Labour Party (ie electoralists) and being "workerist". They were criticising them for IdPol (hence Red Marriott, who I understand is against IdPol, rightfully could cite Sivanandan).

I think they were criticising Stuart Hall et all, who had abandoned class (more specifically the workplace) as a site of struggle, and were looking for a new electoral coalition for the Labour party.

Sivanandan positively cited a lot of things that you would class as identity politics in that essay - such as the Bradford 12/Asian Youth Movements against the 'identity politics' of Hall et all - so we need to be clear what we're talking about, which 'idpol' does not do for us.

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
Feb 12 2018 18:12
Quote:
Because when they critique identity politics, it can be hard to tell which is which. Genuine communists have good reasons to critique identity politics, but they are often not actually that familiar with black socialist feminists (or subaltern studies or whatever the target is - and I include myself in that), so even when it's a good faith critique, it can still fall far short of the mark.

But why does "which is which" in "boilerplate critiques of IdPol" matter at all, when your real problem is with (rightwing/mainstream) policy/attacks on the lifes of minorities? When good faith critique of genuine communists "falls far short of the mark", then, if "which is which" is to matter, in your view they must be complicit in "policy/attacks on the lifes of minorities". So why do you rant about those genuine communists' misguided boilerplate critiques of IdPol, if really your concern with them is that they their are complicit in or enabling policy/attacks on the lifes of minorities? I'm throwing back to you here your reasoning that:

Quote:
if trade unions, 'workers parties' suffer from the same problems as identity groups, is the problem the identity bit, or that they're trying to represent the group within capitalism? I think it's the latter the vast majority of the time.

Evidently according to you the vast majority of the time (even genuine) critique of IdPol falls short (and enables "attacks on the lifes of minorities"), so why does "which is which" matter? Genuine critique of IdPol in your view should not be a critique of the identity bit.

Quote:
Sivanandan positively cited a lot of things that you would class as identity politics in that essay - such as the Bradford 12/Asian Youth Movements against the 'identity politics' of Hall et all - so we need to be clear what we're talking about, which 'idpol' does not do for us.

I differentiated the vulgar IdPol from the class -recognising IdPol, and indeed said that even the best form (the latter) can be criticised (for their IdPol). But I'm not oblivious to the fact that there is a difference between vulgar and class-recognising IdPol.

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Feb 14 2018 20:06
Noa Rodman wrote:
Evidently according to you the vast majority of the time (even genuine) critique of IdPol falls short (and enables "attacks on the lifes of minorities"), so why does "which is which" matter? Genuine critique of IdPol in your view should not be a critique of the identity bit.

I'm not sure I understand this entire section, but I'd just point back to the Sivanandan piece - where as well as critiquing 'identity politics', he also offers specific counter-examples of what he considers to be class-based anti-racist organising - so we at least know what he is criticising, and what he is not.

It matters in the sense that I hope when the next person whose read these discussions, or Robin Kelley or one of the other communist 'critique of critique of identity politics' pieces goes to write their next post, it will take some of these arguments into account and not just be bland boilerplate that a social democrat like Nagle would write.

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
Feb 14 2018 21:39

So because boilerplate critiques of IdPol by social democrats in your view ignore/overlook "class-based anti-racist organising", you jump to the conclusion that they oppose organising the sweat shop labourers, etc. that compose what Sivanandan calls the "underclass"?

And even when a mainstream rightwinger rants about IdPol, do you think they primarily have in mind things like labour organising of sweat shop workers?

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Feb 14 2018 22:06

He's not only talking about workplace organising, he's also talking about stuff like this: https://libcom.org/library/politics-britains-asian-youth-movements-anandi-ramamurthy

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
Feb 14 2018 22:50

So what is the equivalent today of the AYMs in your view (in the West)?

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Feb 14 2018 23:30

The Ferguson and Baltimore uprisings, the self-organised protests in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis, and to some extent some of the local groups that either pre-existed them or came out of them (not the national Black Lives Matter org which is essentially an NGO, and especially not Campaign Zero).

Adolph Reed dismissed the uprisings as pseudo-radicalism - that people were not facing the repression that the civil rights movement did and it was essentially a front for Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders, despite people being shot in the head, being found dead in their cars, imprisoned for 8 years for lighting a trash can fire.

Some of the same sort of anti-deportation work that the AYMs used to get involved with (although organised on a different basis), has been done by the Unity Centre in Glasgow: http://unitycentreglasgow.org/fighting-deportation/

And the Kent Anti-Racism network: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/samim-bigzad-deport-uk-afghan-asylum-seeker-taliban-death-threats-government-pilot-refuse-take-off-a7918706.html - this example wasn't quite a mass picket of the airport, but it succeeded in getting the pilot to take on the job action to stop the deportation.

There's also the anti-raids network which publicises the disruption of immigration raids: http://antiraids.net/

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
Feb 15 2018 09:14
Quote:
The Ferguson and Baltimore uprisings,
...
Adolph Reed dismissed the uprisings as pseudo-radicalism ... it was essentially a front for Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders,

My guess is that Reed was talking about the utilisation/portrayal by the mainstream "Left" of the uprising, not the ordinary people actually on the street. You'd have to give a quote. As for the Right, they didn't portray the people on the street as IdPol, but as criminals. If they brought in IdPol, it was only to point out that the city/police force itself was largely black (and the Right's problem wasn't with the fact that blacks are in the police, but that it was corrupt).

Your argument against Reed is all over the place. First you say that Reed in his critiques of IdPol ignores/overlooks "class-based anti-racist organising", next you say that that the problem is that he criticises it.

Your entire problem with boilerplate rants about IdPol seems to be based on the notion that they have primarily in mind things like the Baltimore uprisings or the anti-raids network. That notion is bizarre, to say the least.

radicalgraffiti
Offline
Joined: 4-11-07
Feb 15 2018 10:12
Noa Rodman wrote:
Quote:
The Ferguson and Baltimore uprisings,
...
Adolph Reed dismissed the uprisings as pseudo-radicalism ... it was essentially a front for Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders,

My guess is that Reed was talking about the utilisation/portrayal by the mainstream "Left" of the uprising, not the ordinary people actually on the street. You'd have to give a quote. As for the Right, they didn't portray the people on the street as IdPol, but as criminals. If they brought in IdPol, it was only to point out that the city/police force itself was largely black (and the Right's problem wasn't with the fact that blacks are in the police, but that it was corrupt).

lol wat?

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Feb 15 2018 12:05
Noa Rodman wrote:
Your argument against Reed is all over the place. First you say that Reed in his critiques of IdPol ignores/overlooks "class-based anti-racist organising", next you say that that the problem is that he criticises it.

It's not me who's all over the place, he does both of these things as a rhetorical strategy. Even in the same essay.

Noa Rodman wrote:
You'd have to give a quote.

I posted three links above the last time you asked for quotes, did you not read them before replying? Why is it up to me to provide quotes from articles that are considerably shorter combined than the posts on this thread?

Mike Harman wrote:
If you want to watch three bald men arguing over combs, then Jacobin's Birch and Heideman vs. Reed is possibly where I first really started looking into him:
http://nonsite.org/editorial/how-racial-disparity-does-not-help-make-sense-of-patterns-of-police-violence
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/10/adolph-reed-blm-racism-capitalism-labor
http://nonsite.org/editorial/splendors-and-miseries-of-the-antiracist-left-2

Here's some quotes anyway though:

1. 'The civil rights movement started off radical in the '40s to mid-'60s then became conservative'. This is at the time the Panthers, LRBW, DRUM appeared, while COINTELPRO was assassinating and framing people all over the place - but these don't exist and instead we only have black electoral campaigns.

Adolph Reed wrote:
In fact, another, more richly grounded and textured perspective makes clear that their characterization of an initially conservative movement that became radical “through the course of struggle itself” is exactly the opposite of the movement’s trajectory. Preston Smith II’s important account of the constitutive tension between programs of racial democracy – an ideal of strict equality of opportunity within capitalism – and social democracy shows how the former tendency, under pressure of Cold War anti-leftism, the predominant class commitments among black civic elites, and positive reinforcement from the courts, liberal opinion-leaders, and the national Democratic coalition, became the dominant trend in the 1950s. The social-democratic tendency persisted; e.g., through the agency of A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin and their Negro American Labor Council, that tendency was the originating and primary organizing force of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which became Martin Luther King, Jr.’s event only in posthumous reinvention.3 But the victory of the racial-democratic orientation in the mid-1960s – illustrated symbolically in the emergence of Black Power ideology and defeat of the social-democratic initiatives spearheaded by Randolph and Rustin — underwrote consolidation of a new black political class of public officials, functionaries, and race relations administrators as the central force in black political agenda-formation.4 And, contrary to Birch and Heideman’s odd contention that racial redistribution is actually intrinsically anti-capitalist, the record of the black political regime consolidated in the late 1960s and early 1970s is most markedly class-skewed and amounts to at best a sort-of racial trickle down. That is, on this front, Birch and Heideman simply do not know what they’re talking about.

Shitting on the Ferguson and Baltimore uprisings, denying that people were quite able to speak for themselves over social media etc. (not just the Derays and Nettas):

Reed wrote:
Birch and Heideman do this regarding Occupy and Black Lives Matter, to the point even of projecting political profiles onto demonstrators in “cities like Baltimore, Ferguson, and now Charlotte” to counter my arguments regarding the class character of anti-disparitarianism as a political program. Basing themselves on what they understand to be “the logic of [demonstrators’] actions,” they assert “[p]eople do not risk their lives just to tinker with the social order, just as civil rights workers in the South did not risk theirs merely in the hopes of registering some more black voters.” Of course, describing what opposition BLM protesters may confront as at all comparable to the dangers faced by campaigners in the high period of southern civil rights activism is absurd and trivializes the conditions those activists faced. Moreover, very many civil rights workers most certainly did risk their lives “merely” to fight for registering black voters, but that is beside the point at the moment and is only another illustration of how poorly the authors understand the political history they declaim about.

Instead of self-organised uprisings against police violence, we should build a new independent political party of the working class and get union affiliations:

Reed wrote:
The idea behind the Labor Party was straightforward: to build an independent political party of the working class and to anchor it in the trade union movement. You can’t be a working-class party unless you’re anchored in the trade union movement; that’s where the working class is organized politically as a class, to the extent that it’s organized anywhere politically as a class. The immediate historical precipitants that it grew out of were networks of trade union activists who had been active in the anti-concessions movement in the 1970s and 80s; that’s why we were centered disproportionally in the industrial sector. The idea, as reflected in one of our popular slogans, was that the bosses have two parties so we should have one of our own. We tried to build around a program that was worked out in a participatory way but was shaped by a vision of pursuing class power. We were not interested in organizing the Left in the sense of aggregating left stances; we wanted instead to be a political party anchored in the working class. We always focused more on institutional affiliations from unions than on individual memberships because we knew that the key was to have the political capacity as well as the broader institutional capacity of the trade union movement. We were relatively successful in winning and retaining institutional affiliations.

Self-organisation, wildcat strikes, insurrections, work refusal etc. are an academic theory from cultural studies programmes, not central to the last 150 years of class struggle:

Reed wrote:
More than a decade and a half ago I criticized similar formulations of a notion of “infrapolitics,” understood as the domain of pre-political acts of everyday “resistance” undertaken by subordinated populations, which was then all the rage in cultural studies programs. Proponents of the political importance of this domain insisted that, because insurgent movements emerge within such cultures of quotidian resistance, a) examining them could help in understanding the processes through which insurgencies develop and/or b) they therefore ought to be considered as expressions of an insurgent politics themselves. Several factors accounted for the popularity of that version of the argument, which mainly had to do to with the political economy of academic life, including the self-propulsion of academic trendiness and the atrophy of the left outside the academy, which encouraged flights into fantasy for the sake of optimism. The infrapolitics idea also resonated with the substantive but generally unadmitted group essentialism underlying claims that esoteric, insider knowledge is necessary to decipher the “hidden transcripts” of the subordinate populations; put more bluntly, elevating infrapolitics to the domain on which the oppressed express their politics most authentically increased its interpreters’ academic capital.

Ferguson protestors suffering PTSD from getting tear gassed, shot at, watching other people die etc are 'self-referential nonpolitics':

Reed wrote:
AR: I don’t really see anything useful arising out of it. On the “new Jim Crow” front, have you seen the recent news about the mental health problems suffered by the protesters in Ferguson?1 That’s indicative of where this sort of nonpolitics as politics is overwhelmingly likely to go. When all is said and done, its only political standpoint is self-referential. I have been at meetings on campus recently where earnest activist-ist kids full of the Holy Ghost of political righteousness rise to declaim on what the “Young Activists in Ferguson” want the rest of us to do, the rules of racial and gender etiquette they want us to follow, and to demand that we all declare our willingness to follow those rules, as well as meetings where faculty babble on about the lessons of “intersectionality” we should take from this nonexistent movement, e.g., how meaningful it is that the actual authors of #blacklivesmatter are black lesbians or whatever.

All of these from http://nonsite.org/editorial/splendors-and-miseries-of-the-antiracist-left-2

(Reminder, the Jacobin article he's responding to is also shit, it's the way he's prepared to both erase and shit on self-organised working class movements to push shitty AFL-CIO affiliated third party campaigns).

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
Feb 15 2018 17:14
Quote:
It's not me who's all over the place, he does both of these things as a rhetorical strategy. Even in the same essay.
...
The civil rights movement started off radical in the '40s to mid-'60s then became conservative'. This is at the time the Panthers, LRBW, DRUM appeared,
...
Shitting on the Ferguson and Baltimore uprisings

These are two periods/things. If he were to pay attention to the first (1970s radical black workers), e.g. LRBW, then he would probably criticise the LRBW's black nationalism (or retroactively, IdPol), as done here and also see the link in the comment section here. That he doesn't pay attention to it, is because his main target is the vulgar (most-widespread) non-class form of IdPol.

As for his criticism of Baltimore,his critique is not so much for its IdPol, as for the limitations associated with any protest movements (like the 1999 Seattle WTO-protests), acts of everyday resistance, etc. I don't think this criticism can be made only from a "boring Social-Democratic" perspective.

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Feb 15 2018 18:57
Noa Rodman wrote:
Quote:
It's not me who's all over the place, he does both of these things as a rhetorical strategy. Even in the same essay.
...
The civil rights movement started off radical in the '40s to mid-'60s then became conservative'. This is at the time the Panthers, LRBW, DRUM appeared,
...
Shitting on the Ferguson and Baltimore uprisings

These are two periods/things. If he were to pay attention to the first (1970s radical black workers), e.g. LRBW, then he would probably criticise the LRBW's black nationalism (or retroactively, IdPol), as done here and also see the link in the comment section here. That he doesn't pay attention to it, is because his main target is the vulgar (most-widespread) non-class form of IdPol.

If here were to do that though, then he'd also have to address the explicit shift in organisations like the Black Panthers from 'black nationalism' to class struggle in about 1970 - something which is the exact opposite trajectory to what he describes, or for that matter MLK starting to talk explicitly about anti-capitalism vs. legal rights shortly before he was assassinated.

If you'd read the whole piece, which your comment suggests you haven't (or maybe it's that charitable reading style you apply to Lenin on the other thread) he historicises the civil rights movement as starting out social democratic, then leading to a racial communalism by 1970, whereas we actually saw two divergent trends - into a representational race politics and an explicitly revolutionary anti-capitalist one, the revolutionary anti-capitalist one might be the more minor trend, but that is also the case vis a vis social democracy, it doesn't mean we just fucking jettison it due to superficially similar critiques of other things we don't like.

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
Feb 15 2018 20:27
Quote:
then leading to a racial communalism by 1970, whereas we actually saw two divergent trends - into a representational race politics and an explicitly revolutionary anti-capitalist one,

The LRBW was still marked by black nationalism.

Quote:
the revolutionary anti-capitalist one might be the more minor trend, but that is also the case vis a vis social democracy, it doesn't mean we just fucking jettison it

Who said anything about jettisoning it? Reed just criticises the dominant trend of IdPol, because its the dominant trend. The better form of IdPols (which recognise class struggle) can be criticised as well.

I posit that when anyone, whether Left or Right, rants about IdPol they don't have in mind things like the LRBW (clearly Reed, as you strangely complain, doesn't have primarily it in mind).

I posit that when anyone rants about IdPol they don't have in mind the people on the street in Baltimore.

I posit that when anyone rants about IdPol they mean the dominant, non-class vulgar form of IdPol.

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Feb 15 2018 20:37
Noa Rodman wrote:
I posit that when anyone rants about IdPol they don't have in mind the people on the street in Baltimore.

Maybe less positing and more reading things that are literally in front of your face as you type.

Adolph Reed wrote:
AR: I don’t really see anything useful arising out of it. On the “new Jim Crow” front, have you seen the recent news about the mental health problems suffered by the protesters in Ferguson?1 That’s indicative of where this sort of nonpolitics as politics is overwhelmingly likely to go. When all is said and done, its only political standpoint is self-referential. I have been at meetings on campus recently where earnest activist-ist kids full of the Holy Ghost of political righteousness rise to declaim on what the “Young Activists in Ferguson” want the rest of us to do, the rules of racial and gender etiquette they want us to follow, and to demand that we all declare our willingness to follow those rules, as well as meetings where faculty babble on about the lessons of “intersectionality” we should take from this nonexistent movement, e.g., how meaningful it is that the actual authors of #blacklivesmatter are black lesbians or whatever.
Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
Feb 15 2018 21:21

I don't think he has in mind the ordinary local people spontaneously on the street, but rather "the earnest activist-ist kids" on campus, the activist scene and finally Democratic politicians, which latch on to the events. The mental health problems discussed include e.g. also depression and burn-out, a well-known problem with activism in general.

Again, the black protestors were not criticised even by the Right for IdPol, but simply for criminality.

When the Right (or anyone) rants about IdPol, I posit they have in mind primarily the non-class, vulgar form of IdPol, symbolic things like speech, cultural appropriation in the media and campus, not black youth on the streets of Baltimore or Ferguson. Or is that just my crazy impression?

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Feb 15 2018 22:14
Noa Rodman wrote:
Again, the black protestors were not criticised even by the Right for IdPol, but simply for criminality.

You can keep saying this in the face of four years of evidence, but it doesn't make it any less bullshit.

Richard Spencer, interviewed by Russia Today, 2016:

Richard Spencer wrote:
What we have here is that the Black Lives Matter protesters will take an unfortunate incident and use it as a way to express something much bigger, a much bigger concern that they have. Black Lives Matter is not really about police violence because it is not a problem in the US. What it is about is a Black power movement; you could say it is a Black identity movement. They are using police violence as, you could say, an excuse or as a spark, as a way of expressing their bigger agenda. And that’s what this is about. It really isn’t about these cases. Every time you look into these cases, sometimes they are ambiguous, sometimes they are not ambiguous. The fact is if you resist a police officer, you are effectively committing suicide. That’s not nice, but it is just the facts.

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/360414-charlotte-protests-police-brutality/

New York Times, 2014, "The Retreat to Identity"

Ross Douthat wrote:
Unfortunately, identity is also the most primal, reliable form of political division. And Ferguson has provided a case study in exactly how powerfully it works.

There was a moment, early in the debate over the death of Michael Brown, when it felt as if this story might vindicate the case for optimism about racial politics — that the original tragedy might be sufficiently transparent, the subsequent police misconduct in quelling protests sufficiently clear-cut, for Ferguson to become a more powerful exhibit in the increasingly bipartisan case for various criminal justice reforms.

But then it became clear that the situation was murkier — that the cop had witnesses and physical evidence supporting his side of the story, that police had to deal with looters as well as peaceful protesters. As John McWhorter wrote in Time magazine, by the time the grand jury handed down its non-indictment the original narrative about Ferguson could only survive with “a degree of elision” and “adjustment.” Which meant, predictably, that the potential for consensus receded, and how people felt about the story became primarily a matter of identification instead.

Do you identify more with a black teenager or with a cop? With protesters menaced by playing-soldier cops or with business owners menaced by the protest’s violent fringe? With various government spokesmen or with, say, Al Sharpton?

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/30/opinion/sunday/ross-douthat-the-retreat-to-identity.html

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
Feb 15 2018 23:27

Is my distinction between local protestors (direct family, friends, school children, neighbourhood residents), and activist groups like BLM (which of course are identity politics) incomprehensible?

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Feb 15 2018 23:39

Again, please read the fucking articles:

RT wrote:
A curfew went into effect for Charlotte, North Carolina during a third night of protests against the police. Unrest broke out in southeastern US city on Wednesday when a Black Lives Matter march spiraled out of control after Tuesday's fatal police shooting of a Black civilian.

...

Black Lives Matter protesters will take an unfortunate incident and use it as a way to express something much bigger, a much bigger concern that they have. Black Lives Matter is not really about police violence because it is not a problem in the US. What it is about is a Black power movement; you could say it is a Black identity movement.

Do you think Richard Spencer makes a distinction between local protestors and activist groups in that statement? If not can you acknowledge you're just talking complete shit when you said that protestors were only described as criminals and not dismissed as identity politics?

Pennoid's picture
Pennoid
Offline
Joined: 18-02-12
Feb 16 2018 01:49

Mike, your grand strategy is that workers will wildcat their way to communism? No wonder you get wrong on so much else.

When's the last time workers wildcatted their way to social power? It's a mirage. A strike committee even at the city level has to grapple with taking political power so soon as it extends beyond a narrow industry and grasps all the workers in it's sway. When this generalization takes place, who is going to keep the peace?

And since we know this is the case, how are to organize? In clandestine cells? Pretend we don't know that this will happen? Not prepare and educate the workers to aim for this end effectively so that they can readily hold this political power and wield it?

Are we supposed to just sit in our reading groups and wait to spring to action when the spontaneous mass wildcats starts unfolding?

Yikes.

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
Feb 16 2018 11:57
Quote:
Do you think Richard Spencer makes a distinction between local protestors and activist groups in that statement? If not can you acknowledge you're just talking complete shit when you said that protestors were only described as criminals and not dismissed as identity politics?

Spencer is a proponent of white identity politics, so I don't think he's dismissing/criticising them (whether mere local protestors, or particularly activist groups - let's leave that minor point aside) for identity politics. His problem is just that the "black side" is better at mobilising itself in what he sees as race war.

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Feb 16 2018 22:01
Noa Rodman wrote:
As for the Right, they didn't portray the people on the street as IdPol, but as criminals.
Noa Rodman wrote:
Spencer is a proponent of white identity politics, so I don't think he's dismissing/criticising them (whether mere local protestors, or particularly activist groups - let's leave that minor point aside) for identity politics.
Richard Spencer wrote:
What it is about is a Black power movement; you could say it is a Black identity movement.

???

Here's another one from Brendan O'Neill in 2014, where he only just stops short of calling Ferguson protestors racist:

http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/after-ferguson-whos-really-racialising-america/16331#.WodTgJPFK1s

Brendan O'Neill wrote:
Progressives are now the most fervent promoters of racialised thinking.
..
the most rigid racialised commentary has come, not from the police or the state, but from the protesting liberals and radicals.
..
it hasn’t been American officialdom that has explicitly played the race card, talking about whole sections of society as homogenous entities with particular characteristics that need to be closely monitored and possibly corrected. No, it’s the supposedly progressive side in the debate that has done this, which has indulged in highly racialised political commentary and action. This tells us a great deal about where the racialising dynamic is really coming from today.
..
But among the apparently more progressive sections of public life, racial thinking now comes naturally and causes little controversy.

I really can't be arsed to continue this discussion if you're going to dismiss the examples I've given you of exactly what you asked for.

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
Feb 17 2018 08:02

I think Spiked is talking about the post-Ferguson activist/movement. Even if I were to grant you that Spencer is speaking also about the original local protests (not yet politicized), that would be just because he regards anything a minority group does as an expression of their identity. The point you're missing though is that he, unlike the mainstream rightwing, portrays identity not in a dismissive/negative light. Spencer is a proponent of identity politics. So you're reading too much into Spencer's statement.

R Totale's picture
R Totale
Offline
Joined: 15-02-18
Feb 17 2018 13:38
Noa Rodman wrote:
I think Spiked is talking about the post-Ferguson activist/movement. Even if I were to grant you that Spencer is speaking also about the original local protests (not yet politicized)...

If you think that O'Neill is talking about BLM as an IdPol activist movement, separate and distinct from the original spontaneous street uprisings, would you be able to point out where he discusses the spontaneous street uprisings as a separate distinct thing that has nothing to do with IdPol?

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
Feb 17 2018 14:13

Sure, he contrasts the activist protests in Ottowa with the original protests in Ferguson:

Quote:
The clearest sign that a rigid racial consciousness is now at least as strong, if not stronger, among the supposed opponents of police brutality as it is among the police themselves came during the big Ottawa protest over the grand jury’s decision not to indict the cop who killed Brown in Ferguson. The protest was, in essence, segregated. The radical organisers of the demo paid lip service to the ideal of solidarity, saying ‘we appreciate the solidarity shown by White and Non-Black People of Colour’, but then suggested whites should march separately from blacks. ‘Please refrain from taking up space in all ways possible’, they told white attendees, before cautioning against white people speaking to the media, because ‘you should never be at the centre of anything’. The protest was slammed by critics for being not so much ‘anti-racist’ as ‘pro-segregation’.

Imagine if, post-Ferguson, the police in Missouri had issued instructions that effectively segregated political marches. There would, rightly, have been outrage. But among the apparently more progressive sections of public life, racial thinking now comes naturally and causes little controversy.

R Totale's picture
R Totale
Offline
Joined: 15-02-18
Feb 17 2018 14:44

OK, you've provided another example of him talking about BLM-as-IdPol-activist-movement. Now can you show where he says "also the street protests in Ferguson were nothing to do with the IdPol activist movement I'm discussing, they were just pure criminality"?

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
Feb 17 2018 16:21

O'Neill didn't call the local protests criminality, since he's not a law-an-order type. As a liberal he can support protests to hold police accountable.

Let's untangle why Mike Harman is trying to disprove my claim that when people rant about IdPol, they don't have in mind Ferguson local protestors. Why does he feel the need to argue against such claim? Suppose I'm right, what general position does Mike believe will follow?

That those ranting against IdPol aren't criticising ordinary people with serious grievances (like e.g. organisers of sweatshop workers, protestors against police violence, fracking, unsafe drinking water, etc.)? Or that these ranters against IdPol aren't inherently rightwing? Just trying to understand what's at issue here for you.