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

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Mike Harman
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Feb 19 2018 22:46
Noa Rodman wrote:
Your logic is to cast aspersions on Reed based on nothing.

Yes the countless articles, quotes, all of which you've failed to engage with are 'nothing', but your "I don't agree", "you're wrong" posts are everything.

Just found out Adolph Reed supported Hillary Clinton not only in 2017, but also 2008:

Adolph Reed wrote:
I’m hardly a Clinton fan. I’m on record in last November’s issue as saying that I’d rather sit out the election entirely than vote for either her or Obama. At this point, though, I’ve decided that she’s the lesser evil in the Democratic race, for the following reasons: 1) Obama’s empty claims to being a candidate of progressive change and to embodying a “movement” that exists only as a brand will dissolve into disillusionment in either a failed campaign against McCain or an Obama Presidency that continues the politics he’s practiced his entire career; 2) his horribly opportunistic approach to the issues bearing on inequality—in which he tosses behaviorist rhetoric to the right and little more than calls to celebrate his success to blacks—stands to pollute debate about racial injustice whether he wins or loses the Presidency; 3) he can’t beat McCain in November.

https://louisproyect.org/2016/07/13/adolph-reed-master-of-marxism-clinto...

All that effort he puts into class reductionism only to end up supporting Hillary Clinton over and over again.

Mike Harman
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Feb 20 2018 13:42

Here's a new one from the co-writer of Jonathan Pie. He's written such fine essays as It's time us left-wingers stood up to PC.

Labour needs to drop identity politics

Doyle is clearly 'left wing', thinks that people should focus on 'class' and hates 'identity politics', he says so himself. So I'm sure Noa will be nodding along with bits of this:

Andrew Doyle wrote:
Patronising tweets aside, a Labour Party that fails to connect with its traditional working-class base is unlikely to find itself in power again. Latest figures put the median pre-tax income in the UK at roughly £22,400 per annum, and a fifth of workers earn salaries that fall below the living wage. Those who are struggling to sustain themselves financially tend not to be concerned with intersectional matrices of oppression. Identity politics, in its present form, is an irredeemably middle-class game. Whatever else you might say about the plummy voiced activists who recently barged into a Winston Churchill themed café in north London to protest against ‘colonialism’, it’s clear that they have a lot of time on their hands.
[...]

As Mark Lilla has argued, an overemphasis on diversity has created ‘a generation of liberals and progressives narcissistically unaware of conditions outside their self-defined groups’. No civilised individual would suggest that racism, homophobia and sexism should not be tackled, but more often than not disciples of intersectionality are blind to everything but their own grievances. The realities of economic inequality are rarely addressed, because such considerations would threaten the dogmatic assumption that all straight white men are inherently ‘privileged’. If Young Labour was truly motivated by a desire for equality, its priority would be to elect a representative for working-class members.
[..]

Identity politics, on the other hand, enables its proponents to appear honourable without threatening an economic system that works to their advantage. In addition, the indentitarian worldview is one that, paradoxically, finds empowerment through victimhood, which explains why its adherents are inclined to perceive intolerance where it does not exist.

But oh look, here it is, the one positive suggestion in the article.

"If Young Labour was truly motivated by a desire for equality, its priority would be to elect a representative for working-class members."

Could this be a working class representative like David Blunkett? Whose dad fell into a vat of boiling water in a factory accident. He has a northern accent, which he used to tell the head of the prison service to machine gun rioting prisoners, accuse asylum seekers of 'swamping' schools, said that Roma migration to the UK would lead to race riots, voted for the Iraq War, ID cards, indefinite detention without trial, was the director and shareholder of a biotech firm, landlord, helped his ex's Filipina nanny get a fast-tracked visa while he was tightening immigration controls for everyone else.

Or maybe John Major? Grew up in Brixton after his dad's small business failed, then left school at 16 with three O Levels

Or Alan Johnson? Orphan, council house tenant, postman, former general secretary of the CWU, voter for Iraq War, author of an article in Progress magazine in 2013 which said "[trade union officials are fat, white, finger-jabbing blokes on rostrums shouting and screaming"[38] and said in 2014 that "A perception that Labour is in the pocket of the unions is damaging to the party ... The precious link between Labour and the unions becomes a liability rather than an advantage when it is allowed to look like a transaction." (obviously criticising the unions from an ultra-left perspective as an MP writing in Progress Magazine)

And because Andrew Doyle completely rejects identity politics, his test for whether someone is middle class is that they have a 'plummy' accent, because class is entirely about social background and cultural markers, not your relationship to the means of production or anything.

Now you could say that it's Spiked, is inherently in bad faith, almost a strawman of a class vs. identity position, and that'd be fair enough, it's an incredibly shit article that's been written a thousand times before. But remember this is the person who RT paid to co-write a 'satirical' news TV show for about a year, and whose colleague Tom Walker gets invited onto Andrew "Wapping" Neil's current affairs programme to talk about Why Trump Won with Michael Portillo and Rachel "Rivers of Blood' Reeves. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkoRODfEMyY

Of course there's one half-sentence where he says "No civilised individual would suggest that racism, homophobia and sexism should not be tackled" so I'm sure Noa will be leaping to his defense, that actually he's really pro protests against police violence even though he doesn't mention them etc etc.

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Noa Rodman
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Feb 20 2018 21:04
fingers malone wrote:
What are some examples of fighting them that do not have the negative effects of id-pol, as you see it?

I appeal to the traditional socialist organisation, which stated in the Erfurt Program 1891:

Kautsky and Bernstein wrote:
The German Social Democratic Party therefore does not fight for new class privileges and class rights, but for the abolition of class rule and of classes themselves, for equal rights and equal obligations for all, without distinction of sex or birth. Starting from these views, it fights not only the exploitation and oppression of wage earners in society today, but every manner of exploitation and oppression, whether directed against a class, party, sex, or race.

Anarchists reject that Soc-Dem ever was a real "self-organisation" of the working-class (although btw anarchists first wanted to join the Second International, but were kicked out), just as leftcoms now would criticise Reed's union-based labor party as not a genuine form of socialist activism.
Nevertheless we can still recognise that they had to grapple with the problem of oppression of a sex or "race", and came up with some answers. In any case we must look back in history, since the reality today is that there are no real genuine mass class-struggle organisations, and pointing to examples (of non-IdPol activism) would thus be difficult.

But I can (again) refer to Jenny Bourne's example of the Bund, as an early form of IdPol (or national separatism), of what not to do, see e.g. this 1913 criticism by Stalin (which was positively mentioned by some Dutch leftcoms IIRC).

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Feb 20 2018 21:22

Adolph Reed Jr. Shreds, yo. Mike, you can't connect Reed's socdem (read Bernstein) politics necessarily to his critique of idpol; you can take one and leave the other.

Programmatic politics don't have to be Bernsteinian. So you're just saying Reed's critique is invalid because otherwise views he holds is invalid. That was the problem.with the original piece.

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fingers malone
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Feb 20 2018 21:47

Examples from history is fine but can you give me some specific examples of the struggles, what they were fighting, how they went about it?

Mike Harman
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Feb 20 2018 22:15
Pennoid wrote:
Adolph Reed Jr. Shreds, yo. Mike, you can't connect Reed's socdem (read Bernstein) politics necessarily to his critique of idpol; you can take one and leave the other.

Programmatic politics don't have to be Bernsteinian. So you're just saying Reed's critique is invalid because otherwise views he holds is invalid. That was the problem.with the original piece.

No I've also said his arguments attack a strawman and erase the history of class struggle against racism and sexism - that was in the original piece and it's also been discussed at length in this thread.

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Feb 21 2018 12:30
Quote:
some specific examples of the struggles, what they were fighting, how they went about it?

Quote:
erase the history of class struggle against racism and sexism

If we consider workplace organising (of blacks/women etc.), and struggles for general social/economic improvement in living conditions (which would help them most), as things that are (or should be) part of proper class struggle, then you're really talking about activism against specifically racist/sexist legislation (e.g. the struggle for the voting right of women) or random cases of persecution (like pogroms). Such activism, like anyone knows, can take passive forms from writing pamphlets or holding demonstrations to armed insurrection. For instance one reporter on the Negro struggle in Mississippi, wrote in the Trotskyist The Bulletin that things could be solved only by a civil war.

Here's an article from The Bulletin which addresses your legitimate concern with the conservative socialist/labor-union politics of Reed:

September 28, 1964

NORMAN HILL QUITS CORE

SPer Seeks to Blunt Negro Struggle by Channelling It Into Democratic Party

Recently, the New York Times reported that Norman Hill, national program director of the Congress of Racial Equality, had resigned In "a split over election year tactics." The report indicated that Hill resigned because he favored "a curtailment of demonstrations and a new emphasis on political action during the campaign." It will be remembered that CORE, along with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, refused to go along with the moratorium on demonstrations which was called for earlier this summer by the NAACP and the Urban League, and supported by A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin.

The Times apparently considered this story extremely significant, for it allotted three columns to it. A certain receptivity on the Times' part to Hill's views also emerged from this story.

It is not surprising that the Times was pleased with Hill's action. He represents the kind of "responsible" leader the capitalist government prefers to work with. Like Hill, James Parmer, the national director of CORE, supports Johnson for reelection. But Parmer, under pressure from the militant CORE rank-and-file, could not go along with the moratorium on demonstrations. In commenting on Hill's resignation, Parmer said, significantly, "i don't think we can appease this so-called white backlash." The moratorium on demonstrations coincides directly with the aims and interests of the decisive section of the U.S. ruling class. This means precisely to appease the white backlash, whose growth is not only a sign of a deep and growing social crisis in the country, but. also has been encouraged by this same ruling class.

Radical Camouflage

Like his mentor, Bayard Rustin, Hill camouflages his real program behind some high-sounding and even at times radical phrases. He seizes on obvious weaknesses in the Negro movement, and exploits these weaknesses in order to turn as many active and dedicated civil rights fighters as possible towards the Democratic Party and away from militant struggle against the entire system of exploitation and second class citizenship.

Hill says that we cannot Ignore the white backlash; we cannot ignore the labor movement; we must do more than simply demonstrate; we cannot ignore politics and political action. In saying these things, he Is pointing out real weaknesses: a tendency to simply ignore the white backlash; to concen­trate on demonstrations and exclude politics; to concentrate on Individual action and "electrifying" the masses through adventuristic actions. This attitude on the part of many Negro militants is understandable, springing from the frustration and desperation in the face of so little having been accomplished thus far, after civil rights bills, marches on Washington, and even rent strikes and school boycotts.

But what does Hill propose? He proposes to appease the white backlash, not to fight it with a revolutionary working-class program; to make an alliance with the con­servative capitalist-minded trade union bureaucracy, not with the rank and file workers hit by speedup, automation, and unemployment; to turn the Negro movement towards Lyndon B, Johnson and the capitalist Democratic Party, not towards independent political action. Thus at every point Hill's and Rustin's answers to the' crucial questions facing the Negro movement serve the interests of capitalism, are a complete acceptance of tokenism and gradualism, and lead to disaster and defeat for the Negro movement, and the entire working class, movement as well.

Phony Labor-Negro Alliance

Hill's call for a labor-Negro alliance is exposed as phony by the fact that Hill himself has taken a position as part of the AFL-CIO bureaucracy in Washington. Is he boring from within? Exactly what is he trying to accomplish by this approach? He Is silent about the treacherous role of the labor bureaucrats in relation to the civil rights movement, in organizing the unorganized, In fighting for jobs for all. Does Hill perhaps expect to convince the union leadership of the need to help the unemployed Negroes or whites? If this is his aim, he can expect very little success. The fact that he orients to the union officialdom rather than the rank and file unionists, unorganized, and unem­ployed, shows what he is really after.

Hill makes no secret of his Socialist Party membership. Of course this "socialist" has no qualms about supporting Johnson. This "socialist," like the "communists" of the Communist Party, also advocates that the Negro militants stop demonstrating for fear of further antagonizing "public opinion" and endangering Johnson's election chances. The though of working for a fighting unity of all workers behind a socialist program, the thought of winning workers to the cause of socialism as a solution in this time of great crisis, is furthest from the mind of Hill, the "socialist." Is it any wonder that many militant Negroes regard socialism and communism with a certain amount of suspicion?

The most dangerous aspect of Hill's program is that he can mislead and demoralize Negro militants while besmirching the name of socialism and the struggle for a real labor-Negro alliance. The task for the militants in CORE, SNCC, and around the various nationalist groups is to repudiate Hill and Rustin, as well as Wilkins and the other middle class leaders, and at the same time develop a genuine revolutionary working class program.

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Feb 21 2018 12:42

OK, but in contemporary terms, what about, for example, Sisters Uncut or Disabled People Against Cuts? Are they identity politics or proper class struggle? And if they are identity politics, then what should they be doing differently to enable them to become proper class struggle? What's your take on the Clydeside Pride defendants (is that case still going on, does anyone know?), or the Black Pride 4 in Columbus, Ohio? Are they doing identity politics or class struggle or what?

Mike Harman
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Feb 21 2018 13:49

R Totale's questions are good.
The last I saw about the Clydeside Pride defendants was https://libcom.org/news/call-court-solidarity-clydeside-iww-member-7th-d... btw.

Another couple for you.

Noa Rodman wrote:
If we consider workplace organising (of blacks/women etc.), and struggles for general social/economic improvement in living conditions (which would help them most), as things that are (or should be) part of proper class struggle, then you're really talking about activism against specifically racist/sexist legislation

Amazingly, racism and sexism can happen at work.

Here's a strike by nurses in Guyana against the rape of one of their workmates, from 2008: https://www.stabroeknews.com/2008/news/stories/09/13/nurses-at-linden-co...

In 1970, also in Guyana, there was also a protest by nurses, when a white American DEMBA (Demerara Bauxite Company Limited) employee invaded their living quarters, trying to break into a bedroom occupied by two nurses. The man was arrested handed over to DEMBA security, but when they learned he was a DEMBA employee just let him off entirely. This was not the first time the living quarters had been invaded, in 1969 another white man had invaded with a handgun demanding a woman. (Summarised from The Bauxite Strike and the New Politics, Eusi Kwayana, OOAA publishers pg117).

In the 1970 case we have direct action against gendered violence, and also the perpetrator of said violence getting off lightly due to their race and position as a (presumably technical/management although that's not stated explicitly) employee of a multinational in the 1970 case.

ASCRIA (which was in the process of transitioning from a cultural auxiliary of one of the nationalist parties to supporting wildcat strikes by Bauxite and sugar cane workers against the post-colonial government, the main focus of the OOOA book) issued a threat that if anyone else went into the nurses' quarters, they wouldn't make it out again.

'idpol' or class struggle with those?

You're also making a too easy division between workplace struggle and racist laws. We can look at the newsletter of the Asian Youth Movement in Bradford from about 1979/80:

https://libcom.org/library/kala-tara-paper-asian-youth-movement-bradford...

This has:
- accounts from organising community self-defense against the national front (and by the way that history is ignored in most 'anti-fascist' accounts of the '70s/'80s).
- accounts from the police riot at Southall where Blair Peach was killed
- accounts of workplace discrimination against Asian workers on a bus network (via passport checks linked to immigration law)
- state deportations and the legislation backing them up
- a black rastafarian student's successful campaign to return to school after suspension and a juvenile court appearance because he refused to cut his hair, via a mass multi-racial picket of the school on the first day back.

So we can see racism, backed up by the full force of the state (but not necessarily 'racist laws' as such, I'm sure the kid's school didn't have a rastafarian exclusion policy but rather just one for hair length, same as Sikh bus drivers weren't explicitly excluded from working on buses in the '60s, but because turbans weren't compatible with uniform policies) affecting people at work, school, where they live. Some of this was campaign-y, some of it was direct community self defense and mass pickets etc.

Or more recently when Byron Burgers set up a fake training meeting for immigrant staff, so that the home office could mass arrest them, and the demonstrations against it afterwards: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jul/28/it-was-a-fake-meeting-by...

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Feb 21 2018 14:22

I don't really see the point of putting this much effort against one of the more cantankerous posters this site has seen, but I think Mike is getting somewhere with some of his posts. It does seem to me that the people being put forward as the intellectuals of anti-identity politics are usually pretty average social democrats. A lot of what they put forward reminds me of the old CP 'colorblind' stuff from the 1930s.

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Feb 21 2018 14:54

This may also have some relevance to the discussion: http://nothingiseverlost.wordpress.com/2017/10/28/yankee-theorists-are-a...

jolasmo
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Feb 21 2018 15:30
R Totale wrote:
the Clydeside Pride defendants (is that case still going on, does anyone know?)

Yes, the case is still ongoing. One of the defendants has a court date coming up soon.

~J.

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Feb 21 2018 16:27
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OK, but in contemporary terms, what about, for example, Sisters Uncut or Disabled People Against Cuts? Are they identity politics or proper class struggle? And if they are identity politics, then what should they be doing differently to enable them to become proper class struggle?

The question is what differentiates an IdPol class-recognising group (like Sisters Uncut, who use terms like "classicism") from a non-IdPol class-recognising group.

The problem of separation of a particular section from the general working class can happen also with trade unions, say of miners. That's an indication that the critique of IdPol is not against (the organisation/rights of) that particular people, since when socialists criticise the particularism of a miners' trade union, it is (I hope) understood that they are not attacking the miners, their organisation into a trade union or the "identity" of them being miners. Nor is it driven by a crude "class reductionism", since miners are obviously part of the working class.

Now you could say, with a bit of sophistry, that the critique of IdPol then is not really about IdPol, since non-IdPol groups can be marked by the same problem. Moreover, since the critics of IdPol don't seem to make much fuss about the particularism of trade-unions, they must be prejudiced to pick only on the class-recognising groups of persons with a different skin colour etc.

What I posit is that in most rants against IdPol, it is not about the IdPol groups who recognise class. And at least the miners' trade union recognises (the normal wage) class struggle.

I posit that most of the time it is against the vulgar (most-widespread) IdPol, adhered to by the "elite" media and Democrats/Labour Party. That also explains the vagueness of such rants, they are made against the mainstream pundits/liberals, and these rants are addressed at everyone. I'm fully willing to admit that most of them rarely go into a detailed critique of a class-recognising IdPol group, perhaps because it would be more difficult to hit a precise punch, but also those groups are not the audience.

Mike Harman
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Feb 21 2018 16:51

I'm half way through http://nothingiseverlost.wordpress.com/2017/10/28/yankee-theorists-are-a..., but this sentence encapsulates much of my exasperation on this thread and elsewhere (and the rest of the post is great so far as well):

Cautiously Pessimistic wrote:
I raise this point not because I hate class politics and want to tear it down in favour of identity politics, but because I think class politics is important, and I want it to feel relevant to people’s lives, and I’m worried that a version of class politics that denies obvious features of people’s lived experiences is going to feel like a joke.

Also this one:

Cautiously Pessimistic wrote:
Again, that’s quite a busy, breathless sentence, but more to the point, it’s a very nostalgic one, crying out for a return to the good old days, before we “abandoned” and “stopped” doing things right. This kind of nostalgia fits OK with social democratic or Stalinist perspectives that want to reinstate the social conditions of the mid-20th century, but as I understand it Katalenac is coming from some kind of a left-communist perspective, a school of thought that could be roughly but not totally unfairly characterised as having the basic assumption that nothing has been good ever, so it’s very strange to see him coming out with this “good old days” stuff.

edit: and also this one:

Cautiously Pessimistic wrote:
After having spent all this time building up a picture of workers as a kind of “homo economicus”, with no specific features other than our relationship to capital, he then turns around and acknowledges “in reality, the working class is highly divided by various interests that are based on the position of certain workers within the capitalist division of labour or on certain industries/sectors they work in. Various identities, such as gender, ethnicity etc. also divide the working class.”

But what does it mean? What lessons do we draw from this? What strategies might be effective in addressing these divisions? If this essay was to be a good, useful one, it would spend some time actually engaging with the implications of these issues – the actual problems facing workers that identity politics/“American Thought” attempts, however imperfectly, to address. Instead, we just get a brief acknowledgement that these things exist, and then they’re immediately waved away.

Fuck it and also this one:

Cautiously Pessimistic wrote:
And, to complicate things further, there are some cases where it’s difficult to say where exactly “identity” ends and specific relations to capital begin – is it a transclass distraction to talk about disabled people, but proper class politics addressing proletarian experience if we talk about people receiving ESA or PIP? Because there is definitely a specific “identity” connected to that particular economic position. Or what about “migrant” – is that one of those transclass identities, or a specific form of relationship to capital and the state? How about if we break down “migrant” further into the different categories that constitute it – EU migrant, Tier 2 migrant, illegal immigrant? There may have been a black president, and a female prime minister, but I can’t imagine that we’ll see an undocumented head of state any time soon.

radicalgraffiti
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Feb 21 2018 16:54

look noa when eg the mail publishes stories about pc gone mad banning black boards what do you think that is about?

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Feb 21 2018 16:59

I mean, you can't equate Reed's critique with that of the daily mail. Or I hope you wouldn't....

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Feb 21 2018 18:22
Noa Rodman wrote:
The problem of separation of a particular section from the general working class can happen also with trade unions, say of miners. That's an indication that the critique of IdPol is not against (the organisation/rights of) that particular people, since when socialists criticise the particularism of a miners' trade union, it is (I hope) understood that they are not attacking the miners, their organisation into a trade union or the "identity" of them being miners. Nor is it driven by a crude "class reductionism", since miners are obviously part of the working class.

Now you could say, with a bit of sophistry, that the critique of IdPol then is not really about IdPol, since non-IdPol groups can be marked by the same problem. Moreover, since the critics of IdPol don't seem to make much fuss about the particularism of trade-unions, they must be prejudiced to pick only on the class-recognising groups of persons with a different skin colour etc.

That's the thing: I'm interested in why it is that the critique of the organisation of one section of the working class (what you're calling class-recognising IdPol groups) is conducted so differently to the critique of the organisation of another section of the working class (say, militant unions).

It seems that there are people who, whenever the subject of anything to do with identity comes up, respond by rattling off a standard critique of all the worst possible things associated with IdPol, but not even the most hackneyed parody of a left communist would respond to news about the Picturehouse dispute by saying "well, sometimes unions have contracts that include no-strike clauses, and did you know that the UAW leadership physically attacked wildcat strikers in the 1960s and 1970s, and Jimmy Hoffa was connected to the mob?"

Noa Rodman wrote:
What I posit is that in most rants against IdPol, it is not about the IdPol groups who recognise class. And at least the miners' trade union recognises (the normal wage) class struggle.

I posit that most of the time it is against the vulgar (most-widespread) IdPol, adhered to by the "elite" media and Democrats/Labour Party. That also explains the vagueness of such rants, they are made against the mainstream pundits/liberals, and these rants are addressed at everyone. I'm fully willing to admit that most of them rarely go into a detailed critique of a class-recognising IdPol group, perhaps because it would be more difficult to hit a precise punch, but also those groups are not the audience.

That's the thing though: if you can't go into a detailed critique of a class-recognising IdPol group, then you don't have a critique of IdPol. It's dead easy to make a really strong argument against the Labour Party by just saying "Tony Blair did X, Jack Straw did Y, Ed Miliband said Z", but it's, in your terms, a lot harder to hit precise punches against Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and most of their supporters.
But if we just vaguely rant against Tony Blair, Owen Smith and Liz Kendall, then we don't have a real argument against the Labour Party, and nothing we say is going to have any chance of convincing Corbyn supporters, and just saying "oh, my rant is not directed towards Jeremy Corbyn" is not really enough to compensate for that. And if you have a really strong argument against Hillary Clinton's social media strategist, but not against Disabled People Against Cuts, then you do not have an argument against organising around identity.

Pennoid wrote:
I mean, you can't equate Reed's critique with that of the daily mail. Or I hope you wouldn't....

Here's a compromise: how about if I just argue against the Daily Mail's critique, and then proudly announce that I've got a really good argument against critiques of IdPol, and then if people bring up Reed's critique I just say "oh, I was just arguing against the against the vulgar (most-widespread) critique of IdPol"? Do you see how I'd look a bit daft?

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Feb 21 2018 19:22

Why is it not as arbitrary to define lrbw and balck Panthers as idpol as it is for Noa to define idpol as liberal hucksterdom? Iirc lrbw and bp never used the term.

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Feb 21 2018 19:57

I should probably just swear off trying to use analogies, since they're clearly not having the effect that I'm intending, but my point was that choosing to only engage with critiques of idpol coming from the likes of the Mail is as arbitrary and unsatisfying as choosing to only engage with idpol in the form of liberal hucksterdom. If you want to try and discredit a position, you need to engage with the strongest, most coherent and convincing arguments for that position.

Mike Harman
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Feb 21 2018 20:38
Pennoid wrote:
Why is it not as arbitrary to define lrbw and balck Panthers as idpol as it is for Noa to define idpol as liberal hucksterdom? Iirc lrbw and bp never used the term.

The Combahee River Collective, authors of the statement that probably first introduced 'identity politics' were black feminists who had been active in the Black Panthers and other groups:

Combahee River Collective wrote:
Black feminist politics also have an obvious connection to movements for Black liberation, particularly those of the 1960s and I970s. Many of us were active in those movements (Civil Rights, Black nationalism, the Black Panthers), and all of our lives Were greatly affected and changed by their ideologies, their goals, and the tactics used to achieve their goals. It was our experience and disillusionment within these liberation movements, as well as experience on the periphery of the white male left, that led to the need to develop a politics that was anti-racist, unlike those of white women, and anti-sexist, unlike those of Black and white men.

It came a little bit after the heyday of the panthers, but the CRC was formed in 1974, the period in the BPP when Elaine Brown was in charge post-split, and the statement was published in April 1977, the year Elaine Brown quit the panthers. Brown quit in 1977 when Huey Newton came back from Cuba and refused to challenge breaking a woman's jaw as punishment for criticising a male member:

Quote:
Regina Davis, who managed the Panthers' school, was beaten up by men in the BPP for criticising a male colleague. She ended up in hospital with a broken jaw. Brown writes that when she told Newton of her anger, he refused to take action against the men and instead challenged Brown to a debate in the central committee.

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/women-revolution-more-50-black-panther-party-we...

I don't think any of the CRC members were active panthers, since it was set up by people who felt alienated by both the black liberation and women's liberation movements (essentially, formed their own group rather than staying in the Panthers and risking hospitalisation for criticising a man), but it's not exactly unrelated to what was going on at the time.

Even when people like your fav Adolph Reed don't use identity politics to describe earlier movements, he'll just uses 'anti-racism' in exactly the same way (whereas Sivanandan compared anti-racism to identity politics).

http://www.leftbusinessobserver.com/Antiracism.html

Poor Noa, so very wrong again:

Noa Rodman wrote:
What I posit is that in most rants against IdPol, it is not about the IdPol groups who recognise class.

Bzzzzzzz.

Adolph Reed wrote:
From this perspective even the “left” antiracist line that we must fight both economic inequality and racial inequality, which seems always in practice to give priority to “fighting racism” (often theorized as a necessary precondition for doing anything else), looks suspiciously like only another version of the evasive “we’ll come back for you” (after we do all the business-friendly stuff) politics that the Democrats have so successfully employed to avoid addressing economic injustice.

Left anti-racism is just like Democrat Party neo-liberalism! (Also vote for Hillary Clinton plz).

I'll admit he uses 'economic inequality' rather than class in that paragraph, but not because he's making a distinction between the two, class is used elsewhere in the same piece interchangeably. Might have something to do with him being a liberal social democrat and not a communist.

So no, it's not arbitrary, or at least it's arbitrary only to keep up with the way it's applied to everything under the sun by 'idpol' critics.

Mike Harman
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Feb 21 2018 21:22
R Totale wrote:
If you want to try and discredit a position, you need to engage with the strongest, most coherent and convincing arguments for that position.

I think I posted it earlier, but for an example of someone (IMO at least) trying their best at that, https://www.viewpointmag.com/2017/03/16/identity-crisis/ is a good attempt at least at a proper historiography of the US context.

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Noa Rodman
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Feb 21 2018 21:49
R Total wrote:
my point was that choosing to only engage with critiques of idpol coming from the likes of the Mail is as arbitrary and unsatisfying as choosing to only engage with idpol in the form of liberal hucksterdom. If you want to try and discredit a position, you need to engage with the strongest, most coherent and convincing arguments for that position.

My comment to Khawaga (which prompted Mike's intervention) was precisely that even the best forms of IdPol (i.e. those that recognise class) can be criticised.

Mike Harman wrote:
Left anti-racism is just like Democrat Party neo-liberalism!

Of course Reed does criticise even the "left" anti-racism (class-recognising IdPol groups). Perhaps you find some passages where his argument sounds too much like a lazy slippery-slope fallacy. But pointing out similarities doesn't mean to deny there is difference. Lenin dared to equate some Bundist claims to those of outright Zionism, however, that doesn't mean he believed they were literally no better than Zionists.

Mike Harman
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Feb 21 2018 21:56
Noa Rodman wrote:

My comment to Khawaga (which prompted Mike's intervention) was precisely that even the best forms of IdPol (i.e. those that recognise class) can be criticised.

Yes they can be criticised, but you have not actually done that on this thread, nor come up with an example apart from Lenin and the Bund.

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Feb 21 2018 23:00

I did point also to criticism e.g. of the LRBW's black nationalism as done here: https://libcom.org/history/dying-inside-decline-league-revolutionary-bla...
and also see the link in the comment section here: https://libcom.org/library/league-revolutionary-black-workers-coming-rev...

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fingers malone
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Feb 22 2018 11:39

deleted

Mike Harman
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Feb 22 2018 13:19
Noa Rodman wrote:
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?

Here's another example of what I'm talking about, on how this plays out within even this site - see Ramona's summary of what happened when someone was excluded from attending the NYC Anarchist Bookfair due to sexual assault allegations in 2012:

https://libcom.org/blog/safer-spaces-false-allegations-nyc-anarchist-boo...

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Feb 22 2018 13:29
Noa wrote:
Anarchist Marx-haters here such as Red Marriott more or less reason like that, so it didn't sound imaginary at all.

I'm neither an anarchist nor a Marx-hater - in fact I've put quite a few 'Marxian/marxist' texts in the library - but nor am I, unlike yourself, a worshipper and practitioner of dusty leninist/social democratic taxidermy. But you are a petty, snide, obsessive online persona with poor powers of clarity and coherence.

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Pennoid
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Feb 22 2018 13:33

I agree that people should offer cogent critiques of particular movements in history on their bases. I.e. as Noa links to critiques of the nationalist elements in LRBW.

The point is that you can draw from these many critiques of the failures of nationalist politics or feminist politics, and draw some overarching conclusions about their functions. You can even point out that they share a commonality, these failures, and indicate them under an umbrella concept of 'identity politics.'

The quote you present doesn't have the term 'identity politics'. Again, this is a nebulous term so it would do to define it, as I have above. Once defined in relation to a strain of thought and practice it is open to criticism. This isn't unreasonable. Identity politics doesn't embrace all forms of meaningful anti-racism or ant-sexism.

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Noa Rodman
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Feb 22 2018 17:11
Red Marriott wrote:
Noa wrote:
Anarchist Marx-haters here such as Red Marriott more or less reason like that, so it didn't sound imaginary at all.

I'm neither an anarchist nor a Marx-hater - in fact I've put quite a few 'Marxian/marxist' texts in the library - but nor am I, unlike yourself, a worshipper and practitioner of dusty leninist/social democratic taxidermy. But you are a petty, snide, obsessive online persona with poor powers of clarity and coherence.

You could have fooled me then, judging from your attempt to paint Marx as a German nationalist and excusing Bakunin's virulent Teutonophobia in these comments.

But my point was to let that slide, and ask if you're willing to defend Reed's critique of anti-racism (since you posted Reed's stuff in the libcom library) in the face of Mike's attempts to discredit it.

Mike Harman
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Feb 22 2018 17:19

Just seen that if you're in the UK on a work is a and on strike for more than 10 consecutive days, your employer is required to report you to the Home Office. The university lecturer and support staff strike beginning today is exactly 10 working days so just within this limit.

If it was 11 days, workers on visas get the choice of scabbing or risking deportation.

https://twitter.com/lottelydia/status/966642117790588928