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

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Mike Harman
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Feb 17 2018 16:47

Let's remind you again of what you said:

Noa Rodman wrote:
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.

Noa Rodman wrote:
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.

O'Neill does not actually discuss the protests in Ferguson at all (let alone contrast), because his aim is to discredit them by association with a (possibly apocryphal or at least exaggerated, given it's Spiked Online!) story from Ottawa.

Reed does similar - either he focuses on what people are talking about on campus (where he works, he's a professor of political science) as a way of damning protestors by association, or where he does talk about protestors, it's only as a voiceless amorphous mass devoid of politics who can't speak and must inevitably be recuperated by the new generation of race leaders - as if we couldn't read and even discuss with Ferguson protestors on twitter as it unfolded, let alone afterwards.

When Spencer talks about Black Lives Matter, he means any protest by black people against police violence at all, because he would like the police to be rounding up black people for forced repatriation.

There you have social democratic left, some sort of bizarre centrist libertarian middle, and far right. Let's not assume you're right, but instead admit that you're deeply wrong and talk about that.

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R Totale
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Feb 17 2018 16:52

My understanding of the situation is that shoddy critiques of IdPol are frustrating precisely because they never deal with things like the Ferguson/Baltimore/St Louis uprisings, or the Detroit RUMs or whatever. It's not, or it's very rarely, "BLM has these negative tendencies, but then it's also used as a slogan associated with these serious grievances, and the spontaneous uprisings against them", much more often it tends to be "BLM has these negative tendencies, end of story".

So, by way of analogy: if I say "Marxism is bad because it's nationalist, and the majority of the Second International supported WWI", we can all recognise that as a shitty critique, right? And if I then say, "oh, I recognise there were some minority tendencies that didn't support WWI, that's not who my critique is about", but then don't engage any further with those tendencies at all, we can still recognise my critique as bad, right?

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Noa Rodman
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Feb 17 2018 22:00
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but instead admit that you're deeply wrong and talk about that.

Suppose you're right and everyone who rants about IdPol does have in mind people like the non-activist ordinary Ferguson protestors, who are not positively engaged with, their voices not heard, dismissed/ignored/criticised. If it weren't for those ranters against IdPol, would then the local protestors' voices be better heard, would they be more positively engaged? What does that mean concretely?

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R Totale
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Feb 18 2018 14:58
Noa Rodman wrote:
Suppose you're right and everyone who rants about IdPol does have in mind people like the non-activist ordinary Ferguson protestors, who are not positively engaged with, their voices not heard, dismissed/ignored/criticised. If it weren't for those ranters against IdPol, would then the local protestors' voices be better heard, would they be more positively engaged? What does that mean concretely?

I'm confused. Are you taking a hard nihilist stance here, where all theory and critique is essentially useless, so it doesn't really matter whether a critique is vaguely accurate or not? Because sure, that's definitely a stance you could take, if you want, but I didn't think it's where you were coming from.
But if we agree to bracket that question aside and assume that theory is of some use, and that it's a good thing for theory to have some kind of relationship to reality, then it seems pretty obvious to me that a theoretical model that can recognise and unpack different tendencies and critique them accurately is more desirable than one that just sweepingly bundles a variety of wildly different things together.
To row things a long way back, because honestly I'm kind of mystified by how you got from Michael Rechtenwald to arguing about whether your headcanon versions of Brendan O'Neill and Richard Spencer would support protests against police brutality, what Mike actually said, many posts ago, was:

Mike Harman wrote:
What the IRR crowd generally tend to do is to counterpose identity politics and anti-racism (as the first excerpt does), whereas someone like Adolph Reed Jr. will say that anti-racism (including organising against police killings, against mass deportations, or against workplace discrimination) is identity politics to conflate it with 'first woman president' bullshit.

The IRR lot tends to have a pretty specific target, whereas Reed et al shift their constantly.

Now, we can argue about whether that characterisation of Reed is accurate, but if it is then surely it shouldn't be that hard to grasp why we might prefer a line of argument that distinguishes between those different tendencies, and is able to examine their specific features, rather than one that lumps them all together?
Like, to give another example of how unhelpful and muddled "left-anti-idpol" can be, take this example, cited in a review of Angela Nagle's book:

Quote:
...this is a classic sleight of hand – to attack those to one’s left by associating them with those to one’s right. The politics Nagle is espousing are that of a parlour trick. She repeatedly throughout the book will combine in a single paragraph or even a single sentence a perfectly reasonable and defensible left position – let’s say Justin Trudeau being a white supremacist – with an absurd one – Hillary Clinton being a feminist and “Bernie Bros” being anti-feminist. So, to be clear, Nagle is saying to Indigenous people and the great swathe of the Left that have finally come to support Indigenous social movements that they are the equivalent of a liberal because they justifiably argue that, even if personally Justin is a nice guy with a tattoo, he is not your friend, he is an upholder of white supremacy. Opposing Justin Trudeau and the Canadian Liberal Party’s history of white supremacy is the same as supporting Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders. Okay.

Whether or not you think "white supremacist" is a useful term to use for Justin Trudeau, can we agree that a politics that can distinguish between people criticising Trudeau and the Canadian Liberals for upholding a colonial project on one hand, and people using the language of feminism to support Clinton and the Democrats on the other, is more useful than a politics that just goes "people criticising Trudeau say words that are to do with identity, people supporting Clinton say words that are to do with identity, SAME THING!"?

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Noa Rodman
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Feb 18 2018 16:56
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I'm confused. Are you taking a hard nihilist stance here, where all theory and critique is essentially useless, so it doesn't really matter whether a critique is vaguely accurate or not?

Mike's problem is not just that rants against IdPol are inaccurate (in that they supposedly conflate local protest against police violence with e.g. Hilary Clinton or campus activism), but that their main target is not really Hilary at all but the local protestors (which are ignored/dismissed/unstatedly attacked). So I say, in order to understand what is at stake here for Mike, suppose that is true, then how should these local protestors be engaged more positively, how should their voices be better listened to? And what does that concretely mean?

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your headcanon versions of Brendan O'Neill and Richard Spencer would support protests against police brutality,

I said Spencer didn't criticise BLM for identity politics.

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a politics that just goes "people criticising Trudeau say words that are to do with identity, people supporting Clinton say words that are to do with identity, SAME THING!"?

The example is made up by the reviewer it seems.

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R Totale
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Feb 18 2018 18:45
Noa Rodman wrote:
Mike's problem is not just that rants against IdPol are inaccurate (in that they supposedly conflate local protest against police violence with e.g. Hilary Clinton or campus activism), but that their main target is not really Hilary at all but the local protestors (which are ignored/dismissed/unstatedly attacked). So I say, in order to understand what is at stake here for Mike, suppose that is true, then how should these local protestors be engaged more positively, how should their voices be better listened to? And what does that concretely mean?

Mike can probably speak for himself, although this is probably quite indicative of what his main concern is:

Mike Harman wrote:
What the IRR crowd generally tend to do is to counterpose identity politics and anti-racism (as the first excerpt does), whereas someone like Adolph Reed Jr. will say that anti-racism (including organising against police killings, against mass deportations, or against workplace discrimination) is identity politics to conflate it with 'first woman president' bullshit.

The IRR lot tends to have a pretty specific target, whereas Reed et al shift their constantly.

But anyway, as I understand it, the critique of standard anti-IdPol rhetoric here is not that it's not about Clinton (gosh, what a lot of double negatives I'm having to employ), but that it fails to distinguish between people fighting the cops in the street and the mainstream of the Democratic party. If we can't agree on that much, then I think we're getting into full-on Humpty Dumpty territory here.

Noa Rodman wrote:
The example is made up by the reviewer it seems.

Page 13 in this PDF:

Nagle wrote:
calling everyone from saccharine pop stars to Justin Trudeau a ‘white supremacist’ and everyone who wasn’t With Her a sexist

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Noa Rodman
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Feb 18 2018 19:36
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the critique of standard anti-IdPol rhetoric here is not that it's not about Clinton (gosh, what a lot of double negatives I'm having to employ),

Mike claims that the rhetoric is really about dismissing non-activist ordinary people in the street, so when the ranters go on about the IdPol activist/liberal elite, that is just a fig-leaf.

Quote:
but that it fails to distinguish between people fighting the cops in the street and the mainstream of the Democratic party. If we can't agree on that much, then I think we're getting into full-on Humpty Dumpty territory here.

I understand that is your/Mike's position, but I don't agree with it. You feel so strongly that you're right, that you can't conceive even that I have reason to disagree. You're saying that ranters against IdPol fail to distinguish between non-activist ordinary people in the street and the IdPol activists-liberals. I posit that the anti-IdPol rhetoric doesn't *explicitly* criticise people like the Ferguson local protestors. When the mainstream/rightwing attacked the local protestors it was in terms of law and order. Mike's claim is that *implicitly* the anti-IDPol rhetoric does criticise people like the Ferguson local protestors, moreover that those people are the real target (not so much the Clinton).

Now I do agree that Reed criticises the activists ,as well as the Democratic Hilary types. but I don't think that means that he is against ordinary people protesting police violence, or any type of organised activism (to combat police violence). He' just opposed to activism framed in anti-racist terms.

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Feb 18 2018 19:58
Noa Rodman wrote:
Mike claims that the rhetoric is really about dismissing non-activist ordinary people in the street, so when the ranters go on about the IdPol activist/liberal elite, that is just a fig-leaf.

I can't quite believe that we're having to engage in this level of hermeneutics in order to try and work out what a poster on this thread thinks, as if they were someone who died 100 years ago writing in a different language or something, but it would be helpful if you could provide a citation so we can judge why it is that you think that. Or possibly Mike could explain exactly what he means, although I don't think that's likely to stop you at this point.

Quote:
I understand that is your/Mike's position, but I don't agree with it. You feel so strongly that you're right, that you can't conceive even that I have reason to disagree.

I'm fine with you disagreeing, I'd just like some clarity about what it is that you're disagreeing with.

Quote:
You're saying that ranters against IdPol fail to distinguish between non-activist ordinary people in the street and the IdPol activists-liberals. I posit that the anti-IdPol rhetoric doesn't *explicitly* criticise people like the Ferguson local protestors.

Sure, much of the time it doesn't, and that's exactly the point: precisely where it should deal with things like the Ferguson or Baltimore uprisings, it disappears them, they get perhaps a cursory sentence or two and then get whisked away behind the figure of the Bad Identity Activist Who Wants You To Vote For Clinton. That's how erasure works.

Quote:
Now I do agree that Reed criticises the activists ,as well as the Democratic Hilary types. but I don't think that means that he is against ordinary people protesting police violence, or any type of organised activism (to combat police violence). He' just opposed to activism framed in anti-racist terms.

That's grand. Lovely to know. Now, can you provide citations for the bits in Reed that you interpret as saying "I am fine with ordinary people protesting against police violence, and think that it's good, as long as they're not doing Bad Identity Activism"?
(By the by, I also think it's probably unhelpful to think in terms of a strict division between Activists and Ordinary People, just as there's not much use in separating economic class struggle organisations out into goodies like the IWW and baddies like USDAW, I think it's much more fruitful to think in terms of a communist/anti-political/whatever tendency and a liberal/representational one as both being present, more or less strongly, within pretty much any situation. But that's possibly a matter for a different, much less inane, conversation.)

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Noa Rodman
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Feb 18 2018 21:01

sorry this post messes up your quotes, I wanted to copy it entirely (my only comment is at the very end )

admin, sort of fixed the quoting

Quote:
R Totale wrote:
..
Noa Rodman wrote:
Mike claims that the rhetoric is really about dismissing non-activist ordinary people in the street, so when the ranters go on about the IdPol activist/liberal elite, that is just a fig-leaf.

I can't quite believe that we're having to engage in this level of hermeneutics in order to try and work out what a poster on this thread thinks, as if they were someone who died 100 years ago writing in a different language or something, but it would be helpful if you could provide a citation so we can judge why it is that you think that. Or possibly Mike could explain exactly what he means, although I don't think that's likely to stop you at this point.

Quote:
I understand that is your/Mike's position, but I don't agree with it. You feel so strongly that you're right, that you can't conceive even that I have reason to disagree.

I'm fine with you disagreeing, I'd just like some clarity about what it is that you're disagreeing with.

Quote:
You're saying that ranters against IdPol fail to distinguish between non-activist ordinary people in the street and the IdPol activists-liberals. I posit that the anti-IdPol rhetoric doesn't *explicitly* criticise people like the Ferguson local protestors.

Sure, much of the time it doesn't, and that's exactly the point: precisely where it should deal with things like the Ferguson or Baltimore uprisings, it disappears them, they get perhaps a cursory sentence or two and then get whisked away behind the figure of the Bad Identity Activist Who Wants You To Vote For Clinton. That's how erasure works.

Quote:
Now I do agree that Reed criticises the activists ,as well as the Democratic Hilary types. but I don't think that means that he is against ordinary people protesting police violence, or any type of organised activism (to combat police violence). He' just opposed to activism framed in anti-racist terms.

That's grand. Lovely to know. Now, can you provide citations for the bits in Reed that you interpret as saying "I am fine with ordinary people protesting against police violence, and think that it's good, as long as they're not doing Bad Identity Activism"?

(By the by, I also think it's probably unhelpful to think in terms of a strict division between Activists and Ordinary People, just as there's not much use in separating economic class struggle organisations out into goodies like the IWW and baddies like USDAW, I think it's much more fruitful to think in terms of a communist/anti-political/whatever tendency and a liberal/representational one as both being present, more or less strongly, within pretty much any situation. But that's possibly a matter for a different, much less inane, conversation.)

---

This whole reasoning sounds much like when you criticise the unions or parliamentary parties and people reply; so you want to do nothing? Are you against organising/politics?

Is it really necessary for Reed (or even Spiked), to say that they are fine with ordinary people protesting police violence? Concretely it would not mean much any way, if Reed et al. did, nor does it mean much that you are saying 'let us not neglect the ordinary protestors'.

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Feb 18 2018 21:38
Noa Rodman wrote:
This whole reasoning sounds much like when you criticise the unions or parliamentary parties and people reply; so you want to do nothing? Are you against organising/politics?

Is it really necessary for Reed (or even Spiked), to say that they are fine with ordinary people protesting police violence? Concretely it would not mean much any way, if Reed et al. did, nor does it mean much that you are saying 'let us not neglect the ordinary protestors'.


The point isn't that I want Adolph Reed to say "I think it is good when people protest against police violence", the point is that, if their critiques are to be of much use to communists, they should be able to identify moments of working-class self-organisation and discuss and analyse those moments in their own terms, rather than sweeping them up in a discussion of something else.
If Reed et al can't recognise w-c s-o at work in those moments, then that speaks to him/the politics he represents having a narrow and inadequate understanding of working-class activity.
I'm not saying anyone should simply praise Ferguson or Baltimore or whatever, any more than they should with any other moment of history, but that it would be good to have a proper understanding of those moments, what their limitations were, what forces and tendencies within those situations pointed towards a possible overcoming of those limitations, and so on.
A critique that just picks up on the fact that some people in those moments said some stuff to do with identity and automatically comes out with "triggered snowflake sjw liberals, basically the same as Hillary Clinton", does not advance us towards that in any meaningful way.

Finally, I'm nervous of derailing this conversation even further, but I'd like to return to the analogy I offered of a critique of Marxism that just says "the majority of the Second International supported WWI, therefore Marxism is bad because it's nationalist". Can we agree that that critique would be bad? If I came out with that critique, and people got annoyed by it, would that be because they just wanted me to say that I was fine with internationalist, anti-war socialists? After all, concretely it would not mean much any way, if I did.

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Feb 18 2018 22:10
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Finally, I'm nervous of derailing this conversation even further, but I'd like to return to the analogy

I have given your analogy much thought, because it superficially appeals to what I hold dear, but it doesn't clarify what the supposed fallacy consists of.

Quote:
If I came out with that critique, and people got annoyed by it, would that be because they just wanted me to say that I was fine with internationalist, anti-war socialists? After all, concretely it would not mean much any way, if I did.

If that Marx-critic is willing to recognise that the anti-war socialists are Marxists, then the thesis that Marxism=nationalism should be abandoned. The other thesis, that the majority of the Second International supported WWI, remains standing.

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Feb 18 2018 22:28
Noa Rodman wrote:
I have given your analogy much thought, because it superficially appeals to what I hold dear, but it doesn't clarify what the supposed fallacy consists of.

Bundling together disparate things on the basis of a superficial resemblance, and using that superficial resemblance to something that can be easily dismissed to avoid engaging with a range of other things. Do you see what I'm getting at?

Quote:
If that Marx-critic is willing to recognise that the anti-war socialists are Marxists, then the thesis that Marxism=nationalism should be abandoned. The other thesis, that the majority of the Second International supported WWI, remains standing.

And what if I initially fail to mention the existence of anti-war socialists, but then briefly pay them lip service if pressed on the matter, but never really analyse them in any meaningful way and always insist on turning the conversation back around to the SPD and Labour Party majorities as quickly as I can?

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Feb 19 2018 08:38
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And what if I initially fail to mention the existence of anti-war socialists, but then briefly pay them lip service if pressed on the matter, but never really analyse them in any meaningful way and always insist on turning the conversation back around to the SPD and Labour Party majorities as quickly as I can?

When the main goal is to criticise the majority SPD's support for war, then it is permissible to just pay lip service to the existence of anti-war socialists, since this can serve to damn the claim of the SPD to be Marxists/genuine socialists even more. However, in the case of Reed, he could not have mentioned an example of non-IdPol activism (to buttress his critique of the majority IdPol activism), since his point is that the majority are really IdPol activists (whereas bringing up the anti-war socialists would be done to depict the majority SPD as false Marxists).

You are asking not just for cheap acknowledgement/praise, but a helpful critique of the anti-war socialists. If the critic turns the conversation back to the majority SPD, it is because his main priority here is to expose them. To offer the anti-war socialists helpful suggestions can be done after his critique of the majority SPD has been accepted, after the SPD majority has been exposed. You don't accept his critique yet, but rather cast it aside by insisting he also, or first, criticse/engage the anti-war socialists. Why would he need to first find the limitations of the anti-war socialists?

DevastateTheAvenues
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Feb 19 2018 11:01

Incredibly confusing point being made by Noa Rodman here.

Noa Rodman wrote:
However, in the case of Reed, he could not have mentioned an example of non-IdPol activism (to buttress his critique of the majority IdPol activism), since his point is that the majority are really IdPol activists (whereas bringing up the anti-war socialists would be done to depict the majority SPD as false Marxists).

So Reed does not and apparently cannot, for some mysterious reason, come up with a single example of, hrm, "legitimate" non-idpol protest to throw the non-idpol protestors and the idpol activists into sharper relief, but we are just going to assume and inject into his argument that Reed maintains such a distinction in the first place.

Quote:
You are asking not just for cheap acknowledgement/praise, but a helpful critique of the anti-war socialists. If the critic turns the conversation back to the majority SPD, it is because his main priority here is to expose them. To offer the anti-war socialists helpful suggestions can be done after his critique of the majority SPD has been accepted, after the SPD majority has been exposed. You don't accept his critique yet, but rather cast it aside by insisting he also, or first, criticse/engage the anti-war socialists. Why would he need to first find the limitations of the anti-war socialists?

I believe what's being asked for is an argument that Reed's arguments can do the theoretical work that you want, of criticizing only the activisty Left idpol types and leaving alone the genuine class struggle elements in those same struggles. So far you have engaged only in constant misdirection, coming up with all sorts of excuses as to why Reed does not actually need to make this distinction, while Mike Harman and R Totale are making a convincing argument that Reed's whole problem is that such a distinction is not to be found in Reed's analysis. Or, let me put it this way: right now, it looks like it's as if you are using reactionary, anti-communist propaganda to argue against the pro-war social democrats of the Second International, while pretending that this propaganda isn't also intended to go after the anti-war internationalist socialists.

Mike Harman
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Feb 19 2018 11:15
R Totale wrote:
Like, to give another example of how unhelpful and muddled "left-anti-idpol" can be, take this example, cited in a review of Angela Nagle's book:

Quote:
...this is a classic sleight of hand – to attack those to one’s left by associating them with those to one’s right. The politics Nagle is espousing are that of a parlour trick.

Yes that paragraph in that review is excellent and describes the rhetorical strategy exactly, this is one of the most publicised political books of the past year, it also cites Adolph Reed more than once. You can see similar tricks in the 'critique of anti-fascism from the right' tendency, which is the same rough group of people, in this Comrade Motopu blog post: https://libcom.org/blog/do-marxian-academics-dream-affluent-larpers-1708...

R Totale wrote:
Sure, much of the time it doesn't, and that's exactly the point: precisely where it should deal with things like the Ferguson or Baltimore uprisings, it disappears them, they get perhaps a cursory sentence or two and then get whisked away behind the figure of the Bad Identity Activist Who Wants You To Vote For Clinton. That's how erasure works.

Exactly.

Noa Rodman wrote:
This whole reasoning sounds much like when you criticise the unions or parliamentary parties and people reply; so you want to do nothing? Are you against organising/politics?

Except to my knowledge no-one on that thread makes this argument?

We know that workers organised in the most reactionary trade unions can end up on strike for weeks, such as the 1925 seaman's strike, where the union itself organised strike breakers: https://libcom.org/library/strike-across-empire-baruch-hirson-lorraine-v...

Or that the most revolutionary organisations like the CNT-FAI can do things like vote (albeit narrowly) to keep Morocco as a colony, and have leading figures join a liberal government and repress rank and file movements. Or that the IWW can end up with branches signing no strike clauses. But if the only thing we ever say is "Unions are against the workers" then it's an understandable response for someone who sees this without context to ask what the fuck we're on about.

R Totale wrote:
And what if I initially fail to mention the existence of anti-war socialists, but then briefly pay them lip service if pressed on the matter, but never really analyse them in any meaningful way and always insist on turning the conversation back around to the SPD and Labour Party majorities as quickly as I can?

And we should add, what if I don't do this in one article or forum thread (we've all done that), but consistently for decades with a large platform?

Another Reed example:

Adolph Reed wrote:
Within the women’s movement, goals have shifted from practical objectives such as comparable worth and universal child care in the 1980s to celebrating appointments of individual women to public office and challenging the corporate glass ceiling.

https://harpers.org/archive/2014/03/nothing-left-2/

Now if I think of feminist organising this decade, I can think of organising against sexual harassment and domestic violence, sex worker organising, and against continued pay and job discrimination, and a concerted effort by (usually younger) feminists to include trans issues under feminist organising vs. TERFs. Reed does not attempt to engage with any of these either positively or critically, but instead gives us Hillary Clinton and Sheryl Sandberg.

Mike Harman
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Feb 19 2018 12:04

Also

R Totale wrote:
Noa Rodman wrote:
The example is made up by the reviewer it seems.

Page 13 in this PDF:

Nagle wrote:
calling everyone from saccharine pop stars to Justin Trudeau a ‘white supremacist’ and everyone who wasn’t With Her a sexist

Once again you've denied something, been given a citation with a page number, then ignored it.

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Feb 19 2018 12:40
Mike Harman wrote:
Once again you've denied something, been given a citation with a page number, then ignored it.

Calling Justin Trudeau a white supremacist is indeed an example Nagle gives of hysterical liberal IdPol. It is your interpretation that therefore she's against support of Indigenous social movements or opposing the Canadian Liberal Party’s history of crimes against Indigenous people. One can equally call Obama a racist, since he presided over the crack down on the (I think mostly black) Baltimore protestors, etc. The point of Nagle I think would be that Trudeau(/Obama), as one the stalwart adherents of IdPol, himself is equated to real/open white supremacist/mass murder advocates like the Alt-Right, so all nuance is lost, when the real/open white supremacist appears. Perhaps a bit like the Stalinist Third Period denunciation of Social-democrats as Social-fascists, equating social-democrats to fascists.

DevastateTheAvenues
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Feb 19 2018 12:47
Noa Rodman wrote:
Mike Harman wrote:
Once again you've denied something, been given a citation with a page number, then ignored it.

Calling Justin Trudeau a white supremacist is indeed an example Nagle gives of hysterical liberal IdPol. It is your interpretation that therefore she's against support of Indigenous social movements or opposing the Canadian Liberal Party’s history of crimes against Indigenous people. One can equally call Obama a racist, since he presided over the crack down on the (I think mostly black) Baltimore protestors, etc. The point of Nagle I think would be that Trudeau(/Obama), as one the stalwart adherents of IdPol, himself is equated to real/open white supremacist/mass murder advocates like the Alt-Right, so all nuance is lost, when the real/open white supremacist appears. Perhaps a bit like the Stalinist Third Period denunciation of Social-democrats as Social-fascists, equating social-democrats to fascists.

Given your argument for nuance, what is your response to this:

R Totale wrote:
Whether or not you think "white supremacist" is a useful term to use for Justin Trudeau, can we agree that a politics that can distinguish between people criticising Trudeau and the Canadian Liberals for upholding a colonial project on one hand, and people using the language of feminism to support Clinton and the Democrats on the other, is more useful than a politics that just goes "people criticising Trudeau say words that are to do with identity, people supporting Clinton say words that are to do with identity, SAME THING!"?

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Feb 19 2018 13:20
DevastateTheAvenues wrote:
So Reed does not and apparently cannot, for some mysterious reason, come up with a single example of, hrm, "legitimate" non-idpol protest to throw the non-idpol protestors and the idpol activists into sharper relief, but we are just going to assume and inject into his argument that Reed maintains such a distinction in the first place.

If the point of the critic of the majority SPD's nationalism is to show that there were anti-war socialists, then he is challenging the SPD's claim to be Marxists/genuine socialists. If Reed were to give example of non-IdPol protests, that would challenge the claim that the IdPol activists are the only game in town, but it would not challenge (and not meant to challenge) that they are genuine IdPol activists. His point is not merely to present an alternative, but to argue that the anti-racist (or IdPol) activism is wrongheaded. If he were to present merely an example of non-IdPol activism (in the spirit of peaceful co-existence with IdPol activism, let a thousand flowers bloom), the IdPol would not be convinced at all of their errors, and would probably still just attack the non-IdPol activists for insufficiently paying attention to race/sex/etc.

Quote:
what's being asked for is an argument that Reed's arguments can do the theoretical work that you want, of criticizing only the activisty Left idpol types and leaving alone the genuine class struggle elements in those same struggles.

I allow for a distinction between vulgar IdPol activists and class-recognising IdPol activists. Examples of the latter are the Bund and the LBRW. Mike's attempt seemed first to deny that the Bund was a class-recognising group, but then he admitted it was. I said even the best form of IdPol, namely the activists who recognise class, can still be criticised for IdPol.

Perhaps Reed indeed doesn't focus on the class-recognising IdPol activists enough for your tastes in his writings (Mike particularly brought up the lack of mention of e.g. the LRBW). I don't think that's his main goal, so find no problem with it. If he were to bring them up, he would criticise them for IdPol, whilst, I think still being able to recognise the qualitative difference between vulgar IdPol like the Democrats and class-recognising IdPol activists like the LRBW. At least I can make that distinction and of course I think Reed too, if he had to choose between the two, would prefer the class-recognising type.

Mike Harman
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Feb 19 2018 13:28
Noa Rodman wrote:
Calling Justin Trudeau a white supremacist is indeed an example Nagle gives of hysterical liberal IdPol.

You could call it that, or you could look at the context it was said in, and say it's a clumsy shorthand for Trudeau upholding systems of white supremacy/environmental racism - such as when he approved the building of a pipeline through a Native American reservation with the phrase.

Trudeau wrote:
It is a major win for Canadian workers, for Canadian families, and for the Canadian economy now and into the future

(are people who live in the path of the pipeline 'Canadian', or not?)
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/11/canada-greenlights-controversial-o...

The only reference I can find to Trudeau being a white supremacist, is this one video of a speech at a Black Lives Matter protest. Of course Nagle never cites anything, making it hard to verify any of her claims whatsoever.

The speaker mentions Trudeau responding to 'white supremacist Trump' (not really an exaggeration with Trump) saying he'll accept everyone not accepted into the US following the muslim ban, and a cheer goes up from the crowd thinking it's a positive reference to Trudeau. The 'white supremacist terrorist' statement is in response to that cheer, pointing out how Trudeau's a fucking hypocrite (and by extension those cheering in the crowd), that liberal anti-fascist support for Trudeau against Trump is empty when he's presiding over racist policy at home, that Trudeau is not better.

You could criticise the speech for hyperbole, and you could probably describe the politics being espoused as a bit Maoist (Quebec as semi-colony appears to be a specifically American Maoist construct, although recognising Canada's colonial history and continual attacks on indigenous people obviously is not - but just raw statement of fact). It's not criticising Trudeau for saying something not politically correct, but for concrete things the Canadian state is doing like killing black people and enforcing strict border controls. And something tells me the speaker would not support Hillary Clinton.

Either way without mind-reading, the 'white supremacist' is not someone's considered thought in an article, but a response to a bunch of liberals in the crowd cheering on Trudeau's twitter one-upmanship with Donald Trump.

And if you take some of the hyperbole out, is it really that much of a different argument to the one Dauve makes in When Insurrections Die?

Dauve wrote:
According to current left-wing wisdom, fascism is raw state power and brutal capital unmasked, so the only way to do away with fascism is to get rid of capitalism altogether.

Unfortunately, the analysis usually turns round on itself: since fascism is capitalism at its worst, we ought to prevent it from actually producing its worst, i.e. we ought to fight for a “normal”, non-fascist capitalism, and even rally non-fascist capitalists.

Moreover, as fascism is capital in its most reactionary forms, such a vision means trying to promote capital in its most modern, non-feudal, non-militarist, non-racist, non-repressive, non-reactionary forms, i.e. a more liberal capitalism, in other words a more capitalist capitalism.
....
The liberals — the same people anti-fascism counts on to stop fascism — joined the government. With the exception of the socialists and the communists, all parties sought a rapprochement with the PNF and voted for Mussolini: the parliament, with only 35 fascist MPs, supported Mussolini’s investiture 306-116. Giolitti himself, the great liberal icon of the time, an authoritarian reformer who had been head of state many times before the war, and then again in 1920-21, whom fashionable thought still fancies in retrospect as the sole politician capable of opposing Mussolini, supported him up to 1924. Democracy not only surrendered its powers to the dictator, but ratified them.

Canadian Black Lives Matter protestor: "Liberals, are, in-fact, fascists".
Dauve: "Liberalism is, in-fact, fascism".

Now Dauve might criticise anti-fascism, but he does so in the sense of arguing against support for non-fascist politicians and popular fronts. Reed and Nagle will criticise anti-fascism, but they do so from the point of view of promoting votes for Bernie Sanders (and in Reed's case, Clinton) via active support for Bernie and lesser evilism for Hillary - exactly what Dauve's piece argues against.

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Feb 19 2018 13:37

There's a lot going on in this thread, and I don't think I can respond adequately on my phone so will give a fuller reply when I get home, but just to say: it's unfortunate that my analogy wasn't as helpful as I was hoping (I thought there might be a click of recognition and a "yes, I would find that frustrating" moment, clearly that hasn't happened), but it is truly impressive to see that Noa's powers of charitable interpretation are so great that they can actually come up with an excessively generous reading of an imaginary person I invented in my head solely for the purpose of offering a shoddy argument.

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Feb 19 2018 13:39

Slavoj Zizek: https://www.facebook.com/bxsxnxss/videos/1622260711150904/

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Feb 19 2018 15:00
R Totale wrote:
an imaginary person I invented in my head

Anarchist Marx-haters here such as Red Marriott more or less reason like that, so it didn't sound imaginary at all.

Mike Harman
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Feb 19 2018 15:45
Noa Rodman wrote:
Anarchist Marx-haters here such as Red Marriott more or less reason like that, so it didn't sound imaginary at all.

The same Red Marriott who posts German council communists texts to this site? That one?

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Feb 19 2018 16:44
Noa Rodman wrote:
Anarchist Marx-haters here such as Red Marriott

U wot m8?

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Feb 19 2018 17:29
Ed wrote:
Noa Rodman wrote:
Anarchist Marx-haters here such as Red Marriott

U wot m8?

Red Marriott, can we be cool? Let's join forces to fight these IdPol Reed-haters.

Battlescarred
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Feb 19 2018 19:33

Tee-jus.

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Feb 19 2018 19:38

I mean, my unsuccessful metaphor is far from the most interesting thing here, I'd be much more interested to hear your take on whether or not you think opposing a neoliberal politician like Justin Trudeau, no matter how poorly-chosen the language, is the same thing as defending a neoliberal politician like Hillary Clinton from radical critiques. I was mostly just impressed by how you managed to read:

me, deliberately setting out a bad argument wrote:
"Marxism is bad because it's nationalist, and the majority of the Second International supported WWI"

and

me, reiterating my bad argument wrote:
"the majority of the Second International supported WWI, therefore Marxism is bad because it's nationalist"

and conclude:

Noa Rodman wrote:
he is challenging the SPD's claim to be Marxists/genuine socialists.

With reading skills like that, no wonder you can make any quote from Lenin, Adolph Reed or anyone else mean anything you want.

But anyway, that analogy didn't work, nevermind. I'll try again: If you imagine a person, let's call them Dr Example, who over the course of their career publishes a series of articles arguing that "communism is bad because communists support Stalin and the gulag". These articles are certainly well-written, and are very good on their own terms - they convincingly make the case that it's bad to support Stalin and the gulag, and they give lots and lots of examples of people who call themselves communists and support Stalin and the gulag. Now, Internet Poster A criticises Dr Example's work, and says it's flawed because it refuses to discuss the existence of communists who actually oppose Stalinism. Internet Poster B responds to this with, variously:
"even when a mainstream rightwinger rants about communism, do you think they primarily have in mind things like libertarian/council communism?"
"Your entire problem with boilerplate rants about communism seems to be based on the notion that they have primarily in mind things like libertarian communism. That notion is bizarre, to say the least."
"That he doesn't pay attention to it, is because his main target is the vulgar (most-widespread) Stalinist form of communism."
"I posit that when anyone, whether Left or Right, rants about communism, they don't have in mind things like libertarian communism (clearly Dr Example, as you strangely complain, doesn't have primarily it in mind)."
"You're saying that ranters against communism fail to distinguish between anti-state communists and the Stalinists. I posit that the anti-communist rhetoric doesn't *explicitly* criticise people like the council communists... Poster A's claim is that *implicitly* the anti-communist rhetoric does criticise people like the libertarian communists, moreover that those people are the real target..."
"Is it really necessary for Dr Example, to say that they are fine with ordinary workers organising against capital? Concretely it would not mean much any way, if Dr Example did, nor does it mean much that you are saying 'let us not neglect the ordinary protestors'."
"If Dr Example were to give example of non-Stalinist communists, that would challenge the claim that the Stalinists are the only game in town, but it would not challenge (and not meant to challenge) that they are genuine communists. His point is not merely to present an alternative, but to argue that the communism is wrongheaded."
"Perhaps Dr Example indeed doesn't focus on the libertarian communists enough for your tastes in his writings... I don't think that's his main goal, so find no problem with it."
And so on and so on and so on. Can you see why people might find Internet Poster B a bit annoying? And if you can, can you see where else the same logic might apply?

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Noa Rodman
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Feb 19 2018 21:21

Your logic is to cast aspersions on Reed based on nothing.

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fingers malone
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Feb 19 2018 21:30

Noa, seeing as sexism, racism and so on are a major blight on working class peoples lives, what is in your opinion the right way to oppose them? What are some examples of fighting them that do not have the negative effects of id-pol, as you see it?