The Poverty of Identity Politics

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Mike Harman
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May 29 2018 19:07

Noa if you continue to derail threads it's going to be time for a temp ban, I've wasted too much time the past week or so cleaning up after you.

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commieprincess
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May 29 2018 20:13

Just wanted to say massive solidarity to trans comrades who have smashed the shit out of all the nonsense on this embarrassing thread <3

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Noa Rodman
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May 29 2018 20:37

admin - split to https://libcom.org/forums/feedback-content/noa-derailing-29052018

Sadie
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May 29 2018 22:46

Side note, it’s a huuuge fucking bugbear of mine that intersectionality and idpol keep being conflated as if they’re the same thing in so many of these interminable conversations. They’re really not.

ZJW
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May 30 2018 03:16

Here's a link to the 'strir' mentioned by ajohnstone in #141 : https://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/forum/world-socialist-movement/summer-school-0?page=1

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AnythingForProximity
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May 30 2018 05:53
ticking_fool wrote:
'being a decent person is bad'

If that's your takeaway from my post, I can only assume that Libcom has become a safe space for people with severe reading comprehension problems. But yeah, being a 'decent person' can be good or bad depending on who gets to define 'decency', which is itself a political question. (There is an Eastern European far-right grouplet whose name literally translates to 'Decent People'.) The only thing that's for sure is that a replacement of class analysis with whiny individualized moralizing along the lines of "be the change you want to see in the world" is bound to be idiotic no matter what.

LeninistGirl wrote:
And its honestly jarring to see how split the vote is on craftworks first comments.

I find that encouraging, as it goes to show that there still is a substantial minority of people who can tell genuine communist politics from liberal bullshit with pretensions to radicalism.

R Totale wrote:
I appreciate that this is something of a side issue, and the main point is that it's not that no-one has ever defined idpol but rather that there are many wildly differing definitions, but just on this,
Carly M wrote:
M-C-M' is therefore in reality the general formula of capital as it appears prima facie within the sphere of circulation.

You can't really get much more formulaic than that?

Well, since the thread has been declared a trainwreck anyway (a diagnosis I agree with, albeit for reasons that are probably the polar opposite of Chilli Sauce's), let's dive into the side issue.

The quotation you give is certainly formulaic, but I don't think it qualifies as a definition of capitalism. In the paragraph that immediately precedes it, Marx notes that the M-C-M' formula is also applicable (even particularly well applicable) to merchant capital, whose origin predates the capitalist mode of production. Moreover, in this sentence, Marx explicitly limits himself to the sphere of circulation, while he emphasizes in Volume 3 that capitalism can only be understood as the unity of the processes of production and circulation. There is no reference in the sentence to a number of other characteristics of capitalism that are often considered to be its defining features, such as wage labor (and consequently the existence of a class of wage laborers that is distinct from the ruling class) or the equalization of different rates of profit through the competition of individual capitals. One of the "abstract theoretical questions" I had in mind was actually the question of which of these moments of capitalism constitute its sine qua non presuppositions, and which are merely contingencies that can be (under certain conditions) dispensed with. This comes up a lot in discussions about the nature of the USSR, for example.

Sadie
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May 30 2018 06:01
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But yeah, being a 'decent person' can be good or bad depending on who gets to define 'decency', which is itself a political question.

Ability of mediocre people to present statements of the mind numbingly obvious as if they’re news to anybody is always interesting to witness.

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May 30 2018 06:31
AnythingForProximity wrote:
I find that encouraging, as it goes to show that there still is a substantial minority of people who can tell genuine communist politics from liberal bullshit with pretensions to radicalism.

See, this is kind of hilarious to me, seeing as how much of Craftwork's comments drew on like "individual conscience" and "the right to offend". Real hardcore communist shit right there. And just to clarify, are you aligning yourself with all the nonsense Craftwork spewed on this thread, or trying to set up some kind of false division between "the young Craftwork" and "later Craftwork"?

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One of the "abstract theoretical questions" I had in mind was actually the question of which of these moments of capitalism constitute its sine qua non presuppositions, and which are merely contingencies that can be (under certain conditions) dispensed with. This comes up a lot in discussions about the nature of the USSR, for example.

Happy to concede defeat on the side issue, the real issue on this thread is which moments of "identity politics", and of "anti-identity politics" are core propositions and which are merely contingencies that can be dispensed with.

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May 30 2018 07:07

AFP, a question for you - is supporting a trans co-worker when they are being discriminated against “liberal bullshit with pretensions to radicalism”?

Here’s another - is transphobia a bullshit liberal notion?

One more, and if you answer this honestly it may get us to the nub - do you think that transitioning is a bullshit lifestylist personal choice?

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May 30 2018 07:35
Sadie wrote:
Side note, it’s a huuuge fucking bugbear of mine that intersectionality and idpol keep being conflated as if they’re the same thing in so many of these interminable conversations. They’re really not.

So is idpol according to you (or anyone who cares to answer) even a real thing; should people know idpol is different from intersectionality (and thus know what idpol is); and should it be necessary to criticise idpol? To quote you: "Thinking about how a proper intersectional analysis should probably be anti-identity politics, properly considered"

It sounds like what jura and Lucky Black Cat said. But to me it just seems to be holding up your intersectionality card to be allowed to believe much the same things like the idpol critics, but without being attacked for being a enabler of racism etc.

Sadie
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May 30 2018 07:49
Noa Rodman wrote:
So is idpol according to you (or anyone who cares to answer) even a real thing; should people know idpol is different from intersectionality (and thus know what idpol is); and should it be necessary to criticise idpol?
I, six fucking pages of this absurd thread ago, wrote:
While identity politics is a very real thing (and limited in some fundamental ways that should be criticised, as I said upthread)

I can see how my posts have been very confusing for you because they involved criticising what identity politics actually is instead of screaming vague bullshit about irrelevant 1950s psychiatrists into the void, so I apologise for any ambiguity you might have struggled with.

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May 30 2018 08:08
Sadie wrote:
my posts have been very confusing for you because they involved criticising what identity politics actually is

So you know what idpol is?

Sadie
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May 30 2018 08:10
Noa Rodman wrote:
Sadie wrote:
my posts have been very confusing for you because they involved criticising what identity politics actually is

So you know what idpol is?

I know that it’s used in many different senses, some of which describe real phenomena and some of which are nonsense smears against queer folks and/or feminism. I also know that you should answer Fleur’s question.

Mike Harman
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May 30 2018 08:12
AnythingForProximity wrote:
The only thing that's for sure is that a replacement of class analysis with whiny individualized moralizing along the lines of "be the change you want to see in the world" is bound to be idiotic no matter what.
LeninistGirl wrote:
And its honestly jarring to see how split the vote is on craftworks first comments.

I find that encouraging, as it goes to show that there still is a substantial minority of people who can tell genuine communist politics from liberal bullshit with pretensions to radicalism.

Imagine, just for a moment, that it was possible to have genuine communist politics while also not spewing paranoid shite about 'queer ideology' being imposed on workers by the ruling class. That you could have a critical approach to 'rights' discourse without moments later lamenting the decline of the 'right to offend'. Or that when lamenting how much bollocks from academia has 'infected' anarchism you might also remember the complete substitution of communist analysis for faux-radical social democracy that Marxist academic wankers like David Harvey get up to. Or for that matter that people could talk about class in terms of its composition/formation without being caricatured as 'be the change you want to see in the world'.

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May 30 2018 08:29
Sadie wrote:
I know that it’s used in many different senses, some of which describe real phenomena and some of which are nonsense smears against queer folks and/or feminism.

Right, but those different senses, and some of them being nonsense smears, didn't stop you from taking up a position against identity politics.

Quote:
I also know that you should answer Fleur’s question.

If it's not just simple point-scoring or trolling against me in particular, then Fleur's "question" can be asked of anyone who takes up a position against identity politics (even if they wave an intersectionality card).

admin - Noa was warned about derailing and ignored it, three contentless posts in a row is enough, banned

Mike Harman
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May 30 2018 08:35
Sadie wrote:
Side note, it’s a huuuge fucking bugbear of mine that intersectionality and idpol keep being conflated as if they’re the same thing in so many of these interminable conversations. They’re really not.

So I think there are two parts to this:

1. There's a lot of people who claim to be using 'intersectionality' but are not, sometimes these are opportunistic liberals, sometimes they're people just unknowingly/carelessly using the word.

jura described some of this here a couple of pages back:

jura wrote:
and the substitution of "intersectionality" as an empty slogan ("a catalog of oppressions", including "classism" or, even worse, "social inequality") for "intersectionality" as a means of analysing class formation and of looking at how the various power relations in fact support and determine one another.

(Although I'd add to this, that for example racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism manifest differently, so while rattling off lists is not necessarily great, you do often need to treat them as distinct things, and this can involve listing them).

2. But then, instead of emphasising class formation and the way that 'various power relations in fact support and determine one another' against liberal versions, it gets written off as a buzzword/liberalism. Including when people who obviously both have a communist understanding of class but also give a shit about class formation get lumped in as 'liberal faux-radicals'.

The massive increase of radical social democrats and tankies over the past 5-10 years doesn't get nearly this much attention though.

The people who are anti-idpol/anti-intersectionality probably could, if they tried really really hard, to talk about class formation instead. I'm skeptical about a fair bit Viewpoint's output, but I would put them in this category (there are several other pieces along similar lines). Instead, they're posting on fucking threads like this.

People who are arguing against this blanket anti-idpol straw manning, could probably also talk about class formation more, but instead we're posting on fucking threads like this.

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May 30 2018 08:43
Mike Harman wrote:
People who are arguing against this blanket anti-idpol straw manning, could probably also talk about class formation more, but instead we're posting on fucking threads like this.

And the people who are complaining about rightwing anti-IP discourse could actually counter that (if they really think it is such a threat), instead of throwing IP-critical communists under the bus.

Sadie
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May 30 2018 08:59
Mike Harman wrote:
Sadie wrote:
Side note, it’s a huuuge fucking bugbear of mine that intersectionality and idpol keep being conflated as if they’re the same thing in so many of these interminable conversations. They’re really not.

So I think there are two parts to this:

1. There's a lot of people who claim to be using 'intersectionality' but are not, sometimes these are opportunistic liberals, sometimes they're people just unknowingly/carelessly using the word.

jura described some of this here a couple of pages back:

jura wrote:
and the substitution of "intersectionality" as an empty slogan ("a catalog of oppressions", including "classism" or, even worse, "social inequality") for "intersectionality" as a means of analysing class formation and of looking at how the various power relations in fact support and determine one another.

(Although I'd add to this, that for example racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism manifest differently, so while rattling off lists is not necessarily great, you do often need to treat them as distinct things, and this can involve listing them).

Yeah, misuse comes from people who think they’re doing intersectionality just as often as from people who attempt to criticise it in bad ways. I do think that there are times when lists are useful, e.g. there was a quote from Sisters Uncut you posted in another thread which listed a bunch of different factors which can effect experience of DV, I think that’s reasonable as it’s literally true that these are all things that will colour ones experience. Issue is when this goes unexamined and is never elaborated on, so we end up with analyses that try to treat, say, homophobia as like racism but for teh gays.

Quote:
2. But then, instead of emphasising class formation and the way that 'various power relations in fact support and determine one another' against liberal versions, it gets written off as a buzzword/liberalism. Including when people who obviously both have a communist understanding of class but also give a shit about class formation get lumped in as 'liberal faux-radicals'.

The massive increase of radical social democrats and tankies over the past 5-10 years doesn't get nearly this much attention though.

I think there’s a massive amount of bad faith involved to be honest. People who are capable of understanding that there are differing communist and liberal understandings of class or socialism often seem to struggle a suspicious amount with the notion that other communists might be using “intersectionality” differently to the #StillWithHer crowd.

Quote:
The people who are anti-idpol/anti-intersectionality probably could, if they tried really really hard, to talk about class formation instead. I'm skeptical about a fair bit Viewpoint's output, but I would put them in this category (there are several other pieces along similar lines). Instead, they're posting on fucking threads like this.

People who are arguing against this blanket anti-idpol straw manning, could probably also talk about class formation more, but instead we're posting on fucking threads like this.

Indeed. It’s draining to be constantly having these 101 level conversations.

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May 30 2018 12:31

Also, like I know that four Yorkshiremen-type prolier-than-thouness is pretty useless as an impulse and probably just reinforces the race to the bottom if anything, but god I wonder if Craftwork has any idea how soft and cushy their workplace sounds to those of us with experience of the kind of workplaces (probably the majority?) where HR are more likely to break equalities legislation rather than punish people for breaching it - not saying they can't do both at once, of course.
Like I just wish there was some way we could change places and I could be oppressed by the iron heel of queer ideology in return for not having to listen to the endless stream of shit sexist/homophobic/occasionally transphobic/pretty much always unfunny "banter" that managers at my place tend to come out with? Sorry if that's like a really petty and unhelpful contribution, but you try spending a few hours within earshot of these arseholes and not thinking some really petty and unhelpful thoughts. [/rant]

Burgers
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May 30 2018 19:39

Just wow and I'll leave it at that, walk away and do something different.

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May 30 2018 20:48

So this thread sure turned out to be something. I've been trying to catch up but with 272 new replies some of them very long or very well emotionally charged.

So apologies if this has been covered already.

Quote:
The politics of identity are fundamentally statist, reformist, NGO-centred and really quite authoritarian.
Why? Because for the majority of these people, concrete political action takes the form of working with the State, to ensure that their agenda and ideology are enforced over society using state power.

Over the past couple of years, I've noticed this argument becoming more common from certain quarters, like Theorie Communiste's essay "We aren't anti anything" and it always confuses the hell out of me. Since 1917 the majority of people calling themselves communists have -and before that a large minority- actively taken political action via the state in one form or another and have gone to great lengths to justify those actions as part of their communistic worldview and praxis.

So if the criticism of Idpol or anti-X politics is genuinely justified on these grounds then the groups and individuals in question must also reject communism as a statist, reformist etc ideology. But curiously communism or rather the Revolution(tm) appears to be the exception that proves the rule....

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May 30 2018 21:28

I can do nothing but agree with R Totale, and I'll even say that I'm gladly more of a prolier-than-thou. Currently I'm working a "blue-collar" night job and it's a constant struggle both with my self and dysphoria, but it is also a struggle every day because it is very male dominated and they are all very dudebro-y. Constantly having bigoted "banter" and throwing slurs all over the place(but as we've learned from this thread, slurs are thrown about on leftist forums as well).

Before I started this job I never really understood the connection fully between work and social issues but now that I've thrown myself head first into it I almost get a big irritated when no mention is made of the oppression of women, non-white people, trans people and so on during things like first of may speeches. Even worse when I face transphobia directly in so-called socialist spaces, like I didn't run around carrying shit and working at machines destroying my back for eight hours to come and home and be called a t-word who supports evil queer ideology by some pencil pusher like Craftwork.

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May 30 2018 21:45

On the one hand we have the description of daily experience in LGs comment above, on the other we have...

Marching up and down with an expression of religious ecstasy carved on manly features hollering REAL COMMUNISM!!! at the top of its voice, only to have it's fervour dashed by those pesky bourgeois anarcho-statists and their poncey idpol liberalism.
In the light of this I’d like to know what the fuck LG is complaining about?

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May 30 2018 21:57
Quote:
In the light of this I’d like to know what the fuck LG is complaining about?

At this point I'm just frustrated that really no space is safe and that it is allowed to turn into such a debate. Like why is people using the t-word(especially in a negative way) and making up conspiracy theories about queer ideology turning into a such a big debate instead of just being cleaned up? And who are the people up-voting it? It's like nobody seems to get how serious it is to just casually use the word t-word. Does the admin team have any trans representation?

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May 30 2018 22:13

I hope you realise I’m on your side here? I guess my post may be pretty dumb though? I’m extremely frustrated and disappointed by the vile BS on here, fuck knows how it feels when you’re somebody directly affected by these issues. On top of the daily shit you have supposed comrades that essentially are saying you’re just making it all up. It’s just ridiculous.

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May 30 2018 22:13
LeninistGirl wrote:
I can do nothing but agree with R Totale, and I'll even say that I'm gladly more of a prolier-than-thou. Currently I'm working a "blue-collar" night job and it's a constant struggle both with my self and dysphoria, but it is also a struggle every day because it is very male dominated and they are all very dudebro-y. Constantly having bigoted "banter" and throwing slurs all over the place(but as we've learned from this thread, slurs are thrown about on leftist forums as well).

Before I started this job I never really understood the connection fully between work and social issues but now that I've thrown myself head first into it I almost get a big irritated when no mention is made of the oppression of women, non-white people, trans people and so on during things like first of may speeches. Even worse when I face transphobia directly in so-called socialist spaces, like I didn't run around carrying shit and working at machines destroying my back for eight hours to come and home and be called a t-word who supports evil queer ideology by some pencil pusher like Craftwork.

Sorry to hear that, and wishing you good luck with keeping your head up and getting thru it.

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May 31 2018 06:17

BOOM!.

This video.

Seriously.

It's like someone took a bunch of the good things people have been saying in this thread (and in many other conversations) and smushed them together into an eloquent take down of liberal-IDpol* and lefty-classreductionism.

Intersectional Class Struggle FTW

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0GHBrEK3sE

*no one on this thread has been speaking in favour of liberal IDpol, just to clarify, I don't want anyone to think i think that.

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May 31 2018 08:24
Noah Fence wrote:
AFP, a question for you - is supporting a trans co-worker when they are being discriminated against “liberal bullshit with pretensions to radicalism”?

Here’s another - is transphobia a bullshit liberal notion?

One more, and if you answer this honestly it may get us to the nub - do you think that transitioning is a bullshit lifestylist personal choice?

Is it too early to take the silence as three resounding yes’s

birdtiem
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May 31 2018 12:44

Man, I very rarely check the libcom forums. I am American, and the political orientations expressed on this forum may as well exist in a completely different dimension...

I am also a woman, and a lesbian, and I live in an environment where it is a constant struggle.

And one thing I notice whenever I read these discussions is how unbelievably abusive the poster Fleur is. And it is always mind-boggling, because she seems to be exactly the sort of person who I would imagine I’d be able to relate to. But instead, she treats anyone who disagrees with her like a piece of trash, in the most sanctimonious way possible, and I don’t believe that behavior would be tolerated by any other poster.

I don’t even have anything more to add here beyond pointing out how to depressing and miserable the current state of the world is, and wonder whether people like you ever engage in any introspection at all, or maybe that quick hit of dopamine you get from being self-righteous on the internet is a lot more important than helping other young women with radical inclinations clarify their ideas.

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Jun 1 2018 20:58
AnythingForProximity wrote:
Craftwork wrote:
This is often shrouded in an NGO-style moralist language of popular appeal, rather than the language of class interests and struggle.

Indeed – witness Lucky Black Cat claiming that "the core goal of identity politics" is something "any decent person should support" in this very thread.

I can accept your critique about using the language of popular appeal. But you should have included my full quote:

Lucky Black Cat wrote:
The core goal of identity politics -- to overcome all forms of identity based oppression -- is a good one that any decent person should support.

I think we can agree that this core goal is one that any decent communist or working class person should support.

The point I was trying to make is that if we're going to critique identity politics (and I believe this critique is very important) we need to make it crystal clear that we support the goal of overcoming oppression. Because far too often, critiques of idpol are used as a cover for indifference to these struggles.

If we don't make ourselves clear, there are two negative outcomes:

1. It poisons the discussion. People who might have listened to you will become hostile because they think you don't give a shit.

2. It gives validation to the people who really are indifferent to these struggles (and validation to actual bigots). They mistakenly think, "Hey, this person doesn't give a shit either!"