The Poverty of Identity Politics

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Lucky Black Cat's picture
Lucky Black Cat
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Jun 1 2018 20:54
ticking_fool wrote:
Lucky Black Cat wrote:

Honestly, I don't want to accuse anyone of having blood on their hands for abuse, other than the abusers.

Like, I get and appreciate you trying to be scrupulously fair here, and it totally makes you a better person than me

I really doubt that!

radicalgraffiti
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Jun 1 2018 22:25
birdtiem wrote:
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.

out of all the people one the thread Fleur is the one you complain about? did you read any of the other posts at all?

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Jun 1 2018 22:52

Birdtiem
Is this aimed at Fleur in particular or Libcom posters in general...

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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.
ticking_fool
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Jun 2 2018 07:37
radicalgraffiti wrote:

out of all the people one the thread Fleur is the one you complain about? did you read any of the other posts at all?

Prob worth pointing out to people that aren't in the know on these things that birdtiem's post was one long TERF dogwhistle. (Raising lesbian for no real reason, posing transphobia as a disagreement, singling out people calling out transphobia as abusive.) It's a problem with these conversations that people who are familiar with TERF discourse can spot them a mile off, but it's only when they become actively abusive that other people see them. This is what happened with Helen Steel, trans people and cis folk who know how it works knew she'd go over the edge long before the bookfair because we could see the swamp she was wading into. The grassing and abuse was a shock to others because they bought the 'disagreement' line. Like, it'd be nice if those with genuine problems with their idpol bogeyman (not the bigots using it for cover) would acknowledge that they're getting expertly played by reactionaries and be careful in their criticisms and attentive to marginalised folks. It won't happen, but it's how you avoid ending up supporting conspiracy mongering trashfires.

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Jun 2 2018 10:28

Some proper academic word soup in places, but this special issue of Historical Materialism journal might have some stuff of interest in it. Or not, I've not read any of it yet.

birdtiem
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Jun 2 2018 10:40

Are you serious? I actually think my only exposure to TERF is through stuff on this forum, and my impression of it is not remotely favorable (e.g.. opposing legal protections for trans people, I think I remember a thread about someone outing trans people?). I mean, my first impulse is to defend myself by explaining how I support trans self-identification blah blah but actually I’m not gonna bother; the word of a rando with a drinking problem on the internet means nothing lol (not that it should be otherwise, but). You’re gonna assume what you want, I’m not gonna go on the defensive. It’s just very weird.

I’ll say that I have never quite been able to make heads or tails of the discussion about gender, though. I feel like my identity as a woman doesn’t have any other basis than the fact that I was born biologically female and socialized accordingly, and I can’t relate – on a level of personal experience – to feeling innate identification as a particular gender. What’s clear though is that a lot of (seemingly most) people do have such an identification and in cases where a deep identification with a particular gender is present but is not congruent with the gender that is assigned, people feel like they are hiding and it causes a lot of distress, so of course I support the right of people to revise their assigned gender to match their identity. I can’t think of anything remotely objectionable about that and the opposition to it seems to come mostly from people making arguments reminiscent of late 20th century homophobia, where trans people are implicitly painted as sexual predators.

I also kind of want to not even go here, but I have to ask because I’m at a complete loss how my sexual orientation factors into the assumption about my political views? I brought up that I was a lesbian because it seemed like important context to provide to preempt any response that my problem with people being abusive in these discussions was based on not having firsthand experience of the frustration of dealing with oppressive shit in my own life. I guess the advice about "being attentive to marginalized folks" only applies when those views agree with your own? Of course, "marginalized folks" run the whole gambit of political opinion like every other subset of the population, which to me just underlines the importance of not devolving into spewing abuse every time somebody expresses a backwards view about something. But I don't primarily conduct my existence in a self-reinforcing political bubble, so I think we just dont even exist in the same universe and that's the problem

Fleur
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Jun 2 2018 16:25

I think birdtiem needs to be a little more specific here because I've been a right nasty bitch in these forums, so I don't know which occasions particularly stick out for her. I don't really see posting on libcom as a valuable use of my time and for the last couple of years I've only really inserted myself into a discussion when someone has said something especially bigoted, so I have to say, with my hand on my heart, when I've been a meanie to the transphobes and racists, I don't give an actual solitary fuck about hurting their feelings. Boo hoo, go get better feelings.

I don't understand why she should thinks I ought to be ought moulding the opinions of young women, like they need to sit at the feet of an older women and get guidance. To be quite honest the young women I know are not only pretty awesome but they are completely capable of thinking for themselves and don't need me or anyone else to tell them what to think. On the other hand, the people I have tangled with here are usually grown assed men who are old enough to have better educated themselves and middle age Terfs, who most likely will never relinquish their bigoted, dangerous and out of date ideology.

I don't get a hit of dopamine posting here, fwiw. It's more like a blast of despair that people who consider themselves radicals are happy to hold onto bigoted opinions. I have always held anarchists to a higher standard than the general public and I've come to a sad realization that this is a misplaced faith.

Bobbi-Jo
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Jun 2 2018 17:30

Man, class anarchists with "safe space" policy on forums and events... This is totally crazy. You should limit yourselves to OCRing articles, close these forums and also stop writing.

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Jun 2 2018 18:06
Bobbi-Jo wrote:
Man, class anarchists with "safe space" policy on forums and events... This is totally crazy. You should limit yourselves to OCRing articles, close these forums and also stop writing.

Thanks for sharing. I'm sure your opinion will be given the consideration it deserves, random person off the internet.

Bobbi-Jo
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Jun 2 2018 18:21

A simple question. You talk about "non-liberal identity politics". What that exactly means? It sounds pretty confusing, like saying "hey, I'm a Democrat. A non-liberal Democrat, you know"

Also, one suggestion. Stop a random person on the street. Tell him about your political views, issues you care (LGBT, "trans issues", TERFs, "working class struggles", "intersectionality" and so on and so on) and ask him to guess what your political orientation is. He'll say you're a liberal. Is that right?

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Jun 2 2018 18:34

I like how you put "trans issues", "intersectionality" as well as "working class struggles" in quotation marks. Did we lose working class struggles to the liberals as well? What is liberal is basing your entire politics on what a random hypothetical guy of the street might hypothetically guess that you are.

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Jun 2 2018 18:40
Bobbi-Jo wrote:
A simple question. You talk about "non-liberal identity politics". What that exactly means? It sounds pretty confusing, like saying "hey, I'm a Democrat. A non-liberal Democrat, you know"

Don't think ive said that, so i cant answer that. Generally though, if im confused by the terminology someone else is using i try to understand what the other person means, rather than thinking "i dont understand, therefore you are an idiot". Maybe you should try it some time?

Bobbi-Jo wrote:
Also, one suggestion. Stop a random person on the street. Tell him about your political views, issues you care (LGBT, "trans issues", TERFs, "working class struggles", "intersectionality" and so on and so on) and ask him to guess what your political orientation is. He'll say you're a liberal. Is that right?

Nope, they'd probably say I'm "a lefty" or "a socialist", or possibly "a communist/anarchist", because I'm in the UK (as i think are most of the posters on the site) and people dont use the term liberal here like they do over in the US. Although actually, theyd most likely just be weirded out that some random guy had stopped them in the street and started listing "causes" (or "issues" or whatever you're calling them) at them, and make their excuses and leave.

Mike Harman
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Jun 2 2018 19:07
birdtiem wrote:
Are you serious?

Going to try to answer this one, bear with me because it's not that long since I've become conversant with the dogwhistles.

birdtiem wrote:
I actually think my only exposure to TERF is through stuff on this forum, and my impression of it is not remotely favorable (e.g.. opposing legal protections for trans people, I think I remember a thread about someone outing trans people?).

You might be right that this is a UK/US thing. While there is right wing christian 'trans panic' bathroom laws and similar in the US, I'm not sure there's the same mainstreaming of actual TERFs that there is in the UK, which is all over the national press and TV seemingly daily. 'Left' publications like the Guardian, New Statesman, as well as the Stalinist Morning Star all regularly give platforms to TERFs.

birdtiem wrote:
I also kind of want to not even go here, but I have to ask because I’m at a complete loss how my sexual orientation factors into the assumption about my political views?

An example would be the constant assertion in this article about Linda Bellos that she's a lesbian. Or this article in Feminist Current that insists people are trying to force lesbians to have sex with trans women and calling them bigots if they won't. ( Of course what's actually bigoted is constantly writing articles about this of course, not who they personally choose to have sex with, which most people don't feel it necessary to write thinkpieces about).

So lesbian identity is often weaponised to suggest that trans women are a project of infiltration of women's spaces by men.

Burgers
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Jun 2 2018 19:09

I should lock myself away in a cupboard and throw away the key for throwing this into the melting pot. But the whole gay marriage thing, I always found really disappointing. Both leftist and anarchists seemed to welcome it, all be it begrudgingly. I find the whole notion of marriage, a totally reactionary idea that should be opposed on all front and not equalised.

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Jun 2 2018 19:23
Burgers wrote:
I should lock myself away in a cupboard and throw away the key for throwing this into the melting pot. But the whole gay marriage thing, I always found really disappointing. Both leftist and anarchists seemed to welcome it, all be it begrudgingly. I find the whole notion of marriage, a totally reactionary idea that should be opposed on all front and not equalised.

Burgers, I am with you 100%. I stand with you in solidarity in preparation for you getting ripped a new one, as happened with me when I expressed the same view several years ago!

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Jun 2 2018 19:26
Burgers wrote:
I should lock myself away in a cupboard and throw away the key for throwing this into the melting pot. But the whole gay marriage thing, I always found really disappointing. Both leftist and anarchists seemed to welcome it, all be it begrudgingly. I find the whole notion of marriage, a totally reactionary idea that should be opposed on all front and not equalised.

I never knew you were into queer theory, Burgers.

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Jun 2 2018 20:17
Bobbi-Jo wrote:
Also, one suggestion. Stop a random person on the street. Tell him about your political views, issues you care (LGBT, "trans issues", TERFs, "working class struggles", "intersectionality" and so on and so on) and ask him to guess what your political orientation is. He'll say you're a liberal. Is that right?

As it happens, I'm on a train right now, sharing a table with two complete strangers, but I've got to spend the next two hours here, so I reckon I might not get the guy next to me to pull his headphones out so I can greet him with "alright mate, I'm a fucking idiot who gets overexcited about class struggle and thinks workers' autonomy is crucial, what do you make of that?", if that's alright with you.

So, has anyone read any of those historical materialism articles?

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Jun 2 2018 20:54
Burgers wrote:
I should lock myself away in a cupboard and throw away the key for throwing this into the melting pot. But the whole gay marriage thing, I always found really disappointing. Both leftist and anarchists seemed to welcome it, all be it begrudgingly. I find the whole notion of marriage, a totally reactionary idea that should be opposed on all front and not equalised.

The "Gay Marriage thing" was a product of the AIDs fallout, we live in societies were only certain relationships are recognised as legitimate and that recognition is based on certain qualifications and comes with many material effects. Like for example a significant other not being allowed to visit a dying loved one because the family of the stricken can have them blocked from seeing them. There's also issues of cohabitation, adoption, taxation rates and work place benefits.

Yeah marriage is reactionary and better of got rid of, but the movement to abolish all marriage is dead, and even if it wasn't opposing the moves to equalise it is just as daft as a work abolitionist finding it really disappointing the Unions and employers lost control of the colour bars and had to hire ethnic minorities, and thus expose more people to the reactionary nature of wage labour and commodity production.

Besides apart from the UK several countries have as a consequence of the push for marriage equalisation also recognised partnerships between consenting adults without the requirement of a formal marriage, and in some have expanded the grounds for divorce and seperation. Also currently many former gay marriage campaigners in the UK have been trying to turn the UK's Civil Union status into a similar relationship open to all adults.

Burgers
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Jun 3 2018 18:07

I don't think it had anything to do with HIV/AIDS and more to do with capitalism, the pink pound etc, but I'll have to leave it, as not around for the next 3 weeks.

Burgers
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Jun 3 2018 20:35
Joseph Kay wrote:
Burgers wrote:
I should lock myself away in a cupboard and throw away the key for throwing this into the melting pot. But the whole gay marriage thing, I always found really disappointing. Both leftist and anarchists seemed to welcome it, all be it begrudgingly. I find the whole notion of marriage, a totally reactionary idea that should be opposed on all front and not equalised.

I never knew you were into queer theory, Burgers.

Guess I'm a trend setter, as I was arguing it well before someone came out with a theory.

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Jun 4 2018 02:41

It seems other titans of communist discourse have been weighing in on the issue too.

Sadie
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Jun 4 2018 06:55
Burgers wrote:
I should lock myself away in a cupboard and throw away the key for throwing this into the melting pot. But the whole gay marriage thing, I always found really disappointing. Both leftist and anarchists seemed to welcome it, all be it begrudgingly. I find the whole notion of marriage, a totally reactionary idea that should be opposed on all front and not equalised.

I’ve never been convinced by the left arguments against marriage equality, but I wouldn’t say that it’s homophobic to make them. Esp given that literally everybody I’ve seen do so is pretty gay.

I can’t remember if you were a member when we put out What’s Wrong With Angry, but that included an article making pretty much the exact argument you are making and was pretty heavily criticised on these forums as a result. Alongside some pretty vicious transphobia, of course.

Burgers
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Jun 4 2018 09:45

I wasn't a member then, though I did read it and will look at the criticisms on here when I get back from Ireland, Thanks.

Sadie wrote:
Burgers wrote:
I should lock myself away in a cupboard and throw away the key for throwing this into the melting pot. But the whole gay marriage thing, I always found really disappointing. Both leftist and anarchists seemed to welcome it, all be it begrudgingly. I find the whole notion of marriage, a totally reactionary idea that should be opposed on all front and not equalised.

I’ve never been convinced by the left arguments against marriage equality, but I wouldn’t say that it’s homophobic to make them. Esp given that literally everybody I’ve seen do so is pretty gay.

I can’t remember if you were a member when we put out What’s Wrong With Angry, but that included an article making pretty much the exact argument you are making and was pretty heavily criticised on these forums as a result. Alongside some pretty vicious transphobia, of course.

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Jun 4 2018 16:42
Burgers wrote:
I don't think it had anything to do with HIV/AIDS and more to do with capitalism,the pink pound etc, but I'll have to leave it, as not around for the next 3 weeks.

The Pink Pound is a myth thrown around to allege that homosexuals are effete rich people out of touch with the common people, you really shouldn't use it. Rates of poverty are generally much higher amongst queer people than on average.

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2001/jun/05/marketingandpr

https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/LGB-Poverty-Update-Jun-2013.pdf

It was also based largely on the assumption that same sex couples don't have children so have more disposable income, and since a consequence of this push for relationship acceptance has been an increase in adoptions, surrogacy and fostering that would pretty much kill it of if it were real. So no I don't think it has much to do at all with this. In fact quite a few of the genuinely rich homosexuals have openly spoken against marriage equalisation like https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/dolce-and-gabbana-hit-out-same-sex-families-‘-only-family-traditional-one’140315/#gs.vXTxo44

So no I don't think a myth has much to do with it, especially given that the campaigns came out of the push to get recognition and acceptance out of the AIDs crisis. Remember that good victims and bad victims nonsense?

Burgers
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Jun 4 2018 19:10
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The Pink Pound is a myth thrown around to allege that homosexuals are effete rich people out of touch with the common people, you really shouldn't use it.

LOL, I shall beat myself daily for being such a bad homophobe. Seriously though, their was a huge change between the late 80's and the 2000's and much of that change involved companies and money, the pink pound, or you could call it capitalism realising the potential for making profit.
Same could be said today of the vegan pound, which is total blasphemy on my part for comparing the two.

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Jun 4 2018 18:34
Burgers wrote:

LOL, I shall beat myself daily for being such a bad homophobe. Seriously though, their was a huge change between the late 80's and the 2000's and much of that change involved companies and money, the pink pound, or you could call it capitalism realising the potential for making profit.
Same today could be said today of the vegan pound, which is total blasphemy on my part for comparing the two.

I wasn't calling you a homophobe I was explaining that using a myth in analysis is a really bad idea. Perhaps you should chill out if you're taking criticism so personally.

I'm well aware of the changes between the 80's and the 2000's, more so than you apparently since the role of companies catering to a small number of wealthy queers and liberal types doesn't have any real connection to grass roots queer activism at all.

Like most material concessions liberal types and corporation didn't come on board until after it became clear it was now safe to do so. That's why so many liberal politicians in the late 200's announced they had "evolved" on the issue, once the grass roots type had gotten some successes and the poll numbers started trending in favour.

This is also why companies are only pro LGBT (superficially anyway) in certain areas where there's already a high level of acceptance and not in areas we're its still contested. like say Zambia https://youtu.be/CS3Lin3YHZE?t=42m34s

What your doing here is confusing an effect for a cause. To go back to desegregation -which also included scrapping anti miscegenation marriage laws- didn't happen because liberals in the Democrats and corporate America suddenly realised it could sell more crap domestically, it happened after parts had already been forced to desegregate, the numbers were now more favourable to it, and the costs seemed less than putting up with more desegregation campaigns and struggles.

Burgers
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Jun 4 2018 19:19

No that is your assertion, you can't just go around claiming the pink pound was a myth so it fits in with your pro-marriage theory.

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Jun 4 2018 19:22
Burgers wrote:
No that is your assertion, you can't just go around claiming the pink pound was a myth so it fits in with your pro-marriage theory.

??? Sure if you ignore all the data I provided I guess its just my assertion. Could you actually do me the same courtesy and back up any of your assertions with evidence?

Burgers
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Jun 5 2018 07:52

An article from the wet Guardian doesn't amount to proof or fact and no I can't, as I'm way to busy doing something far more interesting. What I will say though, I was there and saw the changes, I don't need the Guardian to tell me.

link
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Jun 8 2018 16:11

Much earlier on, MHarman and R Totale asked what I thought about some of the texts on Identity politics and intersectionality that had been posted on this thread. Its taken me a while to respond im afraid but I just wanted to make a few overall comments about them.

The texts I have looked at are
Eleanor Robertson: Intersectional Identity and the Path to Progress
http://libcom.org/library/intersectional-identity-path-progress
Identity and Identity Politics, Marie Moran
http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/articles/identity-and-identity-politics
Intersectionality and Marxism, AJ Bohrer
http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/articles/intersectionality-and-marxism
Refusing to Wait, Shannon and Rogue
http://libcom.org/library/refusing-wait-anarchism-intersectionality
http://libcom.org/library/intersectionality-identity-politics-class

The first point I want to make is how noticeable it is that are the texts are by academics. This is despite when identity politics and intersectionality have been criticised, the standard reaction on libcom has been to suggest that the criticisms are of liberal proponents and not radicals like libcomers. I’m quite happy that you should want to dismiss ideas and opinions from labour party hacks, left liberals and so forth but then how can you use liberals to define your politics. Very contradictory

My second concern is how none of the authors provide any significant evidence as to how fighting against all oppressions (whether equally or not) leads to revolution. The only evidence provided is based on how oppressions function in bourgeois society (and significantly on how past movements based on identity politics get incorporated into bourgeois society) but not of how the proposals for struggles based on intersectionality can get rid of capitalism. Even where there is an explanation that these are reformist actions there remains a belief that capitalism is as dependent on a range of oppressions as it is on class structure - so fight them all with equal intensity and we should get a revolution!! Frankly so much of what is said about changing society is more assertion and wishful thinking than a clear analysis of society functions under capitalism.

Robertson’s text says that identity politics came out of the working class but then identifies the originator of theories of intersectionality as another american academic. (http://www.aapf.org/our-team/). More surprisingly Robertson viewpoint is purely trotskyist ie “There is nothing to be gained from throwing the identity-politics baby out with the neoliberal bathwater, especially considering how easy it is to show that the vibrant, radical potential of ideas such as intersectionality can never be realised under capitalism.” This also seems to imply a continuity between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ identity politics as ive seen it called on this thread. Robertson’s text was suggested to me remember!

Admittedly the clearest text is one I found in the Libcom library by Shannon and Rogue who again are professional academics but do self-identity as anarchists (im not sure what sort tho) . It does provide an interesting history on the development of intersectionality out of the ‘personal is political’ ideas of the 60s but it still offers no answer to distinguishing between reformist activity that sounds like a good idea and activity that can lead to revolution.

I am not saying that recognising oppression is not constructive and that you/we should not be helping oppressed individuals and groups but I do think it important to ask where is the evidence that a revolution against capitalism can come out of it.