The Poverty of Identity Politics

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Fleur
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May 25 2018 22:58

That's such nonsense. #MeToo was started over a decade ago by a black woman, to reach out to young, working class and especially WOC. BLM as a consequence of Zimmerman's acquittal and cops murdering African American men. Where have these people been?

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Noah Fence
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May 26 2018 03:50

Well Weinstein has now been charged.
https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/world-us-canada-44...

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Noa Rodman
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May 26 2018 05:06
Fleur wrote:
I am actually not being sarcastic here but can anyone actually define the kind of identity politics that has caused such conflict among anarchists? Organizations split, schisms, arguments, etc over what exactly. Absolutely promise no snark here.

I get that the liberal identity politics - banknotes etc- has no place in anarchism but I don't believe that is happening anyway. So, what exactly is the behavior people are referring to, when they complain about identity politics in anarchism? In not too heavily theoretical language if at all possible, I would like a straightforward explanation.

I don't think this was really a question about the definition of IP in anarchism , but rather a statement of your view that it is not causing splits, arguments, etc. (among anarchists).

And I don't know why that (splits, arguments, even fist fights etc.) in itself would be bad from your viewpoint. Surely you're not saying that the kind of IP in anarchism was totally accepted by every anarchist from the first day of its mythical birth. And if you consider the IP of the anarchist variety so vital, then surely you would think it is worth to cause splits, etc. in its defence.

btw, small point, but the term "liberal" is not exact to describe the bad kind of IP that you apparently reject. IP can be criticised purely from a liberal/enlightenment point of view.

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May 26 2018 08:12

WSWS have a long, long history of taking the worst possible line on these questions -here's their "solidarity with CNN against the ISO" piece on Steubenville from 2013: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/03/20/ohio-m20.html

Michael Jackson in 2005: https://wsws.org/en/articles/2005/06/jack-j15.html

And so on. I don't think the fact that they came out of the WRP is irrelevant here.

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May 26 2018 08:44
Noa Rodman wrote:
Fleur wrote:
I am actually not being sarcastic here but can anyone actually define the kind of identity politics that has caused such conflict among anarchists? ... So, what exactly is the behavior people are referring to, when they complain about identity politics in anarchism? In not too heavily theoretical language if at all possible, I would like a straightforward explanation.

I don't think this was really a question about the definition of IP in anarchism , but rather a statement of your view that it is not causing splits, arguments, etc. (among anarchists).

Maybe this is just a really wild, out-there, crazy interpretation, but I think if you look at the parts where Fleur says "can anyone actually define the kind of identity politics that has caused such conflict among anarchists?" and "what exactly is the behavior people are referring to, when they complain about identity politics in anarchism?", and "I would like a straightforward explanation", they might possibly be understod as asking a question about the definition of IP in anarchism, and not just making a wild claim that, for instance, the whole controversy about the London Anarchist Bookfair never happened. Perhaps that's too wacky a take, but that's my personal theory about how maybe Fleur's post actually says exactly what it says and not something completely different.

Sadie
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May 26 2018 09:22

There’s a surprising degree of resistance to being clear and specific about what is actually being discussed from some quarters here. Doesn’t seem like a good way to have a sensible conversation to me.

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May 26 2018 09:53
Sadie wrote:
to being clear and specific about what is actually being discussed from some quarters here.

I think you gave a decent working-definition, it's not really a question of analysing the circuits of capital here. We also use catch-all terms like 'liberal', 'reformist' (apparently strikers can be labeled reformists now as well), 'Leninist', 'authoritarian', etc. Even if the origin of the term 'identity politics' were right-wing, or has become used now by the right-wing, that in itself still wouldn't be a reason to reject its use.

R Totale wrote:
not just making a wild claim that, for instance, the whole controversy about the London Anarchist Bookfair never happened.

But those who reject identity politics will no longer be considered really as being anarchist, or how can someone whose views you regard as dog-whistle racist/sexist/transphobic still be an anarchist? Or to broaden it to the wider left, e.g. the WSWS, whose articles against #MeToo you linked. Do you still consider them to be on the left then (as opposed to the ISO)? Would you not rather argue for the necessity and justness of a split, banning, a complete no-platforming of them?

If you believe you're right, then I don't see why you should have a problem with creating splits, up to physical altercations.

Spikymike
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May 26 2018 10:37

And a bit late but there are a whole lot of problems with pro-revolutionary groups basing their strategy and priorities on ''We have to meet the class where it is....'' when where the class is fluctuates in time and place with some serious defeats and backward shifts taking account also of our desire to be 'internationalists' in our analysis and responses - though on some occasions the class is well in advance of our revolutionary minorities!!
Fleur, I think I was clear about what aspects of 'identity politics' in it's full range was problematical whether you agree with that or not, but then I wasn't claiming as other had that this is specifically a problem for all anarchists.

Sadie
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May 26 2018 11:03
Spikymike wrote:
And a bit late but there are a whole lot of problems with pro-revolutionary groups basing their strategy and priorities on ''We have to meet the class where it is....'' when where the class is fluctuates in time and place with some serious defeats and backward shifts taking account also of our desire to be 'internationalists' in our analysis and responses - though on some occasions the class is well in advance of our revolutionary minorities!!

It’s not an absolute thing by any means, I’m not arguing, for instance, that we should all join the Labour Party because that’s the in thing right now. I don’t believe there are any solid, clear lines though (with a few obvious exceptions) and we have to be prepared to move with the times and adjust our tactics to the situation we find ourselves in. As said in previous post, it’s a judgement call, we should trust our comrades to know where to draw the line.

It’s a particular bugbear of mine that for a movement that praises spontaneity and critical thinking so much, we are so slow to change with the times. Our methods of propaganda and analysis always seem to be about a decade behind the rest of the world. There’s a kind of small c conservativism that comes with fetishising having the Correct Line on everything and it comes with real costs.

Fleur
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May 26 2018 11:40

No Noa, it was a straight up, good faith question. Some people are always complaining about identity politics in the anarchist movement, I want to know what it actually is this is. I think we've established that liberal identity politics isn't actually going on in anarchism. So define it.

And Noa, do not fucking tell me what I actually mean, presume to speak for me, reframe what it is I said, extrapolate anything from my words which are not there. You don't have an answer to my straightforward question? Stumped? Then a splainy response to it isn't needed tyvm.

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May 26 2018 16:46
Fleur wrote:
Some people are always complaining about identity politics in the anarchist movement, I want to know what it actually is this is. I think we've established that liberal identity politics isn't actually going on in anarchism. So define it.

Can you admit this possibility: that there are "liberals" who do acknowledge the class factor? Like I said, French liberal historians already had a class analysis of society, prior to Marx. So "liberal" identity politics can make reference to class. Really, even fascists can make reference to class. It's a pretty low bar.

And how do you define "liberal" identity politics? Apparently in a very restrictive sense: people who want more minorities on corporate boards or their face on the banknote. And do you actually oppose that? Why would anyone oppose such harmless stuff in principle? Does it mean then that there is active campaign in the anarchist movement for it? Not that I know. But that's only your very restrictive definition of liberal identity politics.

On the other hand the good kind of "anarchist" identity politics is very broadly defined by you (not just you of course Fleur, don't take it personal). It includes any organising that involves minorities, even if it is just by accident that e.g. a company has a large number of workers that are black, etc. Even it is for health assistance to people who are sick, but also happen to be gay, or suffer mental health problems, etc. We defend all people's right to health care, and this in reality includes also minorities, by definition. I don't think that is what is meant ( at least by me) by identity politics in the anarchist movement. Actually, again, I don't think such organsing (the original street protests against police violence, etc.) is even meant by rightwing/mainstream rants against IP.

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May 26 2018 17:02
Noa Rodman wrote:
Fleur wrote:
Some people are always complaining about identity politics in the anarchist movement, I want to know what it actually is this is. I think we've established that liberal identity politics isn't actually going on in anarchism. So define it.

On the other hand the good kind of "anarchist" identity politics is very broadly defined by you (not just you of course Fleur, don't take it personal). It includes any organising that involves minorities, even if it is just by accident that e.g. a company has a large number of workers that are black, etc. Even it is for health assistance to people who are sick, but also happen to be gay, or suffer mental health problems, etc. We defend all people's right to health care, and this in reality includes also minorities, by definition. I don't think that is what is meant ( at least by me) by identity politics in the anarchist movement. Actually, again, I don't think such organsing (the original street protests against police violence, etc.) is even meant by rightwing/mainstream rants against IP.

OK, so the thing that is meant by "identity politics in the anarchist movement is"...?

link
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May 26 2018 17:53

Fleur and Sadie nearly got to me. I was about to write in support of the passion that cares about people and improving lives for all. Really good stuff. But then when looking for info about the split between AF and ACG I found this from Fleur: “…I’d be one of the awful bullies chucking these nasty fuckers out. Then they can whine about being silenced, like they always do.”

So that caring has limits then!! You are quite happy to bully and abuse women who don’t agree with you. Presumably you will apply that also to black people too and to disabled and to OAPs if they don’t agree that trans-women are more oppressed let alone black working working class males, working class women and working class OAPs and as for white working class males!!! Who are more oppressed – black people or women, black men or white women, trans black or trans white? Who would you prefer to bully? It goes just on indefinitely. Absurd. The shambles at the bookfair last year is also a very good example of why I call identity politics a morass as the split in AF and JC’s penchant for accusations of fascism as is the very vagueness of ideas about identity politics and its implications that are expressed here.

Identity politics and political correctness had their origins in the slogan ‘the personal is political’ a long time ago and ok it helped me understand that the way we behave is a product of the society we live. Unfortunately it has lead today to individuals attacking other individuals and nobody having the right answer. It encourages attacking each other for using the wrong words and behaviours, it blames individuals not the society those individuals grew up in. Everybody is oppressed by somebody else who in turn is oppressed by others and nobody can ever be right – that is why this is just a ridiculously messy type of politics.

Overall, its pure idealism and individualism to believe that you can simply persuade others to be change behaviour as an intellectual exercise – that is an idea that capitalist system fosters to keep the population under control. ( I wont say libcom posters think you create a revolution that way cos most now seem be accepting that it is a reformist activity)

I read something by an anarchist (not on libcom) recently that talked of a hierarchy of oppressions. He suggests always supporting Palestinians oppressed by Israelis and always support Israelis who are oppressed by British. Nowadays we also see remainers and brexiteers are complaining that the British are oppressed by the USA and by EU respectively. That’s a slippery route to national defence.

How is his approach to nationalities and libcom posters approach to defending oppressed social categories different from the Trots theory of the lesser evil where there is always some bourgeois faction to support who is less damaging to workers. Im struggling to see how identity politics will ever not be a point of contention for anarchists and libertarian communists.

link
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May 26 2018 18:06

Those arguing in favour of fighting for oppressed groups and nationalities never seems to mention working class movements within these categories and frankly that is essential. By not doing so you just spread the idea that you are supporting middle class and upper class women, blacks, disabled, Palestinians and so forth. If you aren’t then you need to distinguish between wc movements and bourgeois movements.

I keep seeing support given to campaigns and organisations like metoo and black lives matters, repeal the 8th, and so on. I cannot see these types of organisations as independent actions by the working class even if I understand the individual issues; they clearly get taken over by bourgeois liberals even if its not clear they start out so clear. I don’t see most posters criticising them at all and that’s why I used the term so-called anarchists. I don’t see how supporting campaigns to change laws and reform the way capitalism manages itself can be seen as anarchist.

As i said before what I want to see independent working class action that emerges from below and that’s not led from above by politicians and trade unions. There is not a lot to see at the moment agreed, but if its getting rid of capitalism that you want, they you have to ask what leads to a revolution. As one of the texts referenced earlier in the thread says ‘identity criteria does not mean solidarity or political agreement, whereas working class struggle can lead to that. Ok we are not at this stage at present but looking at periods of revolution and mass strikes after WW1 (particularly in Russia and Germany) then the working class set up workers councils, their own organisations, opposed to existing states and created militias to defend oppressed groups against pogroms, they took over what was manufacturing to benefit workers they took over the provision of food, limited rents, created childcare and education systems, took over communication systems This seems to me to be excellent example of why the working class is capable of being revolutionary and creating a new humane society.

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May 26 2018 19:04
Quote:
Apparently in a very restrictive sense: people who want more minorities on corporate boards or their face on the banknote. And do you actually oppose that? Why would anyone oppose such harmless stuff in principle?

I would never support or oppose either of these things in themselves, they’re an irrelevance. It’s like the vegan campaign against the new polymer banknotes - if the worst you can say about money is that there’s a teeny weeny amount of tallow in it then you are so bereft of understanding of the nature of oppression you may as well give up and go do a course in butchery, same for who’s mugshot appears on the filthy stuff or the colour of the face that’s living the highlife off of your hard graft.
However, to call these things ‘harmless’ displays a level of myopia similar to that of those that propose such nonsense. I oppose these type of things as a general overall principle as the belief that voting, ethical shopping, Black faces in high places, women in the boardroom etc are an effective way to end oppression is a huge obstacle in the road that leads to the working class taking action to defend itself and eventually take itself out of existence.
Now I’m not into gang banging posters who’s views don’t fit the generally accepted norms of Libcom, far from it, but you seem to be going out of your way to be contrary. So much so that I’m really starting to wonder if you’re trolling? If so, you’ve been knocking it out of the park mate!

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May 26 2018 20:05
R Totale wrote:
OK, so the thing that is meant by "identity politics in the anarchist movement is"...?

identity politics + reference to class/anarchy. But then what is meant by "identity politics" as such, or as Fleur called it the "liberal" identity politics outside of the anarchist (or say the broad "left") movement? A very restrictive answer is: anything that doesn't mention a concern for the working class is "liberal identity politics". My response was that this definition overlooks that a "liberal" can talk about class. Liberals can even organise protests in the streets.

Noah Fence wrote:
However, to call these things ‘harmless’ displays a level of myopia similar to that of those that propose such nonsense. I oppose these type of things as a general overall principle as the belief that voting, ethical shopping, Black faces in high places, women in the boardroom etc are an effective way to end oppression is a huge obstacle in the road that leads to the working class taking action to defend itself and eventually take itself out of existence.
Now I’m not into gang banging posters who’s views don’t fit the generally accepted norms of Libcom, far from it, but you seem to be going out of your way to be contrary. So much so that I’m really starting to wonder if you’re trolling? If so, you’ve been knocking it out of the park mate!

I called it 'harmless' because I was in a concessionary, not contrarian, mood. But I agree, it can be opposed, e.g. on the grounds that you mention (rather than say e.g. on the basis of meritocracy).

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May 27 2018 07:56
Noa Rodman wrote:
R Totale wrote:
OK, so the thing that is meant by "identity politics in the anarchist movement is"...?

identity politics + reference to class/anarchy.

OK, so when people talk about identity politics they're talking about identity politics? Brilliant, I'm glad we've got that one sorted, this whole discussion has been really worthwhile.

Quote:
But then what is meant by "identity politics" as such, or as Fleur called it the "liberal" identity politics outside of the anarchist (or say the broad "left") movement? A very restrictive answer is: anything that doesn't mention a concern for the working class is "liberal identity politics". My response was that this definition overlooks that a "liberal" can talk about class. Liberals can even organise protests in the streets.

OK, so we've got another inadequate description that doesn't tell us what identity politics is, but if it's not that very restrictive answer, then what is it?

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May 27 2018 08:32
link wrote:
Fleur and Sadie nearly got to me. I was about to write in support of the passion that cares about people and improving lives for all. Really good stuff. But then when looking for info about the split between AF and ACG I found this from Fleur: “…I’d be one of the awful bullies chucking these nasty fuckers out. Then they can whine about being silenced, like they always do.”

So that caring has limits then!! You are quite happy to bully and abuse women who don’t agree with you.

OK, so Fleur doesn't think that people should be given space to spread shit reactionary politics as part of organised anarchist events, even if they're women. Do you think that people should be given space to spread shit reactionary politics as part of organised anarchist events? Does being a woman trump everything else about them? Obviously we can and should disagree, discuss, etc about what kinds of politics should be welcome and what movements should be excluded, but I think we all actually agree on the basic principle that nasty fuckers spreading bigoted ideas should be shown the door, not welcomed with open arms.

Quote:
Presumably you will apply that also to black people too and to disabled and to OAPs if they don’t agree that trans-women are more oppressed let alone black working working class males, working class women and working class OAPs and as for white working class males!!! Who are more oppressed – black people or women, black men or white women, trans black or trans white? Who would you prefer to bully? It goes just on indefinitely. Absurd.

That's a lot to extrapolate from the fact that some people take an unwelcoming attitude to reactionary politicians trying to hijack an anarchist event. If you want to defend the content of those leaflets and argue that the politics of trans-exclusionary feminism have something to offer the anarchist movement, then make that argument; if you're not going to make that argument, then why all this fuss?

Quote:
The shambles at the bookfair last year is also a very good example of why I call identity politics a morass as the split in AF and JC’s penchant for accusations of fascism as is the very vagueness of ideas about identity politics and its implications that are expressed here.

I don't think JC's contributions have been particularly helpful on this subject, but I also don't think he's accused anyone of fascism. As as for the split in the AF, political groups split all the time for all kinds of reasons - look at any of the IWA threads, they've had more splits than I've had hot dinners.

Quote:
Identity politics and political correctness had their origins in the slogan ‘the personal is political’ a long time ago and ok it helped me understand that the way we behave is a product of the society we live. Unfortunately it has lead today to individuals attacking other individuals and nobody having the right answer. It encourages attacking each other for using the wrong words and behaviours, it blames individuals not the society those individuals grew up in. Everybody is oppressed by somebody else who in turn is oppressed by others and nobody can ever be right – that is why this is just a ridiculously messy type of politics.

Overall, its pure idealism and individualism to believe that you can simply persuade others to be change behaviour as an intellectual exercise – that is an idea that capitalist system fosters to keep the population under control. ( I wont say libcom posters think you create a revolution that way cos most now seem be accepting that it is a reformist activity)

Right, so you're talking about an over-focus on individual behaviour at the expense of systematic analysis. OK, I agree with you that that can be a problem, but I'm interested about where exactly you think it's played out on libcom. And again, that's precisely not what the anarchist bookfair drama was about - it wasn't about like someone calling someone a twat and then getting called sexist or whatever, it was about a conscious, organised intervention by people deliberately acting as representatives of a political campaign and then people reacting to that.

Quote:
I read something by an anarchist (not on libcom) recently that talked of a hierarchy of oppressions. He suggests always supporting Palestinians oppressed by Israelis and always support Israelis who are oppressed by British. Nowadays we also see remainers and brexiteers are complaining that the British are oppressed by the USA and by EU respectively. That’s a slippery route to national defence.

OK, that sounds dumb as hell if that summary's accurate, but again I don't think there'd be much support for that approach here? Have you got a link to it?

Quote:
How is his approach to nationalities and libcom posters approach to defending oppressed social categories different from the Trots theory of the lesser evil where there is always some bourgeois faction to support who is less damaging to workers.

Because, unlike the other two you mention, we don't support bourgeois factions?

link wrote:
Those arguing in favour of fighting for oppressed groups and nationalities never seems to mention working class movements within these categories and frankly that is essential. By not doing so you just spread the idea that you are supporting middle class and upper class women, blacks, disabled, Palestinians and so forth. If you aren’t then you need to distinguish between wc movements and bourgeois movements.

This is frankly untrue? Like, here's the libcom coverage of repealthe8th - OK, you can call it populist for talking about "people" rather than "working class people", but it's directly attacking bourgeois politicians trying to claim credit for the movement? Can you give me some examples of what you would see as "people arguing in favour of fighting for oppressed groups and nationalities" where class doesn't get mentioned?

Quote:
I keep seeing support given to campaigns and organisations like metoo and black lives matters, repeal the 8th, and so on. I cannot see these types of organisations as independent actions by the working class even if I understand the individual issues; they clearly get taken over by bourgeois liberals even if its not clear they start out so clear. I don’t see most posters criticising them at all and that’s why I used the term so-called anarchists. I don’t see how supporting campaigns to change laws and reform the way capitalism manages itself can be seen as anarchist.

Just to be clear, would you also be equally opposed to any kind of economic reform/defensive struggle? And as for there not being any criticism of these movements, how about this:

article hosted on libcom wrote:
We originally took the name, inspired by a rising movement for Black liberation, manifested through spontaneous actions breaking out after the killings of Mike Brown, Jr., and Trayvon Martin. People chanted “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” and “Black Lives Matter.” This was before any serious national structure and unified platform existed. We felt — in that context — we had the right to try to champion the name and give it the meaning worthy of the people it claims to support and defend.

Internally, we have agreed for some time that it is our duty to represent a different pole of attraction to the strategy and perspectives of BLM in Cincinnati and nationally. We debated, however, how and when to formally break with the name. Because WE (BLMC) have done real work under that name and did not want to surrender it to those we feel cannot and have no interest in building a revolutionary movement for Black liberation.

But we can no longer use or identify with the name Black Lives Matter — a rally cry that still has meaning, even if perverted by those pushing it as a brand. The depth and scope of betrayal of struggles against police brutality and the families fighting for their loved ones is too great. The continuous shift towards electoral and liberal Democratic Party politics and away from revolutionary ideas is too great. The consequences for Black, brown, and poor people are too great. The possibilities to build a truly independent movement on a national scale for Black liberation are too ripe.

BLM did not create or build this new grassroots movement against police brutality and racism; they capitalized off a nameless groundswell of resistance sweeping the nation, branded it as their own, and profited from the deaths of Black men and women around the country without seriously engaging, as a national formation, in getting justice for fighting families. All the while raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars from high-end speaking engagements and donations from foundations that support the Black struggle (or want to co-opt it). They have gained access to high profile associations, including invitations to the White House and celebrity events; have been on magazine covers; are on the way to profiting as authors and subjects of books; and have accepted numerous awards and accolades as so-called founders of the movement — while families struggle, unassisted, to keep their fights going. So many people on the ground have shared a similar experience: when the reporters leave and the bright lights are gone, so are they (BLM).

Quote:
As i said before what I want to see independent working class action that emerges from below and that’s not led from above by politicians and trade unions. There is not a lot to see at the moment agreed, but if its getting rid of capitalism that you want, they you have to ask what leads to a revolution. As one of the texts referenced earlier in the thread says ‘identity criteria does not mean solidarity or political agreement, whereas working class struggle can lead to that. Ok we are not at this stage at present but looking at periods of revolution and mass strikes after WW1 (particularly in Russia and Germany) then the working class set up workers councils, their own organisations, opposed to existing states and created militias to defend oppressed groups against pogroms, they took over what was manufacturing to benefit workers they took over the provision of food, limited rents, created childcare and education systems, took over communication systems This seems to me to be excellent example of why the working class is capable of being revolutionary and creating a new humane society.

OK, I'd tend to agree with that, the question is then what points in that direction? I always like the old As We See It text here. But to my mind, some of the most exciting developments that could point towards that goal in recent years, at least in the anglosphere, have been the mass uprisings against racist police brutality - if we say we support those, are we then doing identity politics, especially if NGO-type organisations then try to recuperate those uprisings? I mean, it appears that hosting content that explictly attacks those recuperators isn't enough to clear libcom of the charge of supporting them.

By the way, which of these suggestions from earlier in the thread have you read? What did you make of them? I understand there's a lot to take in there, but at the same time you seem to have had time to think about the subject a fair bit already:

Mike Harman wrote:
So here it looks like you're referring to other discussions on the site, but it also looks like you haven't read them. There's a few articles either posted or re-posted that discuss intersectionality vs. class, which you're claiming no-one is doing, including some historical references to past movements:

https://libcom.org/library/intersectionality-identity-politics-class

https://libcom.org/blog/identity-crisis-leftist-anti-wokeness-bullshit-2...

https://libcom.org/blog/workers-world-unite-some-notes-class-unity-ident...

Also this from viewpoint: https://www.viewpointmag.com/2017/03/16/identity-crisis/

And this old one from Robin Kelley: https://libcom.org/library/identity-politics-class-struggle

R Totale wrote:
I'd recommend link read this as well: http://libcom.org/library/intersectional-identity-path-progress

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May 27 2018 11:24

I support identity politics in general, but there've been many times I've seen problems with how identity politics is manifested, both in theory and in practice.

This makes it no different than any other type of politics tho, right? Like environmental politics. There are plenty of dumbass forms of environmental politics out there, but only a dumbass would be against the core goal: protecting the environment.

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

To those people who are dissing identity politics: I highly recommend that you put a qualifier word in front of there. So, not identity politics, but bad identity politics, or liberal identity politics, or extremist identity politics, or reactionary identity politics, or naval gazing identity politics.

If you just talk shit against identity politics, in and of itself, it really comes across like you just don't give a damn about racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism, or any other identity based oppression. If you have any good critiques they will get lost because people won't want to listen to you or let on that they might agree with a point made by someone who seems like they're one Jordan Peterson lecture away from being a reactionary.

Fleur wrote:
I am actually not being sarcastic here but can anyone actually define the kind of identity politics that has caused such conflict among anarchists? Organizations split, schisms, arguments, etc over what exactly. Absolutely promise no snark here.

I get that the liberal identity politics - banknotes etc- has no place in anarchism but I don't believe that is happening anyway. So, what exactly is the behavior people are referring to, when they complain about identity politics in anarchism? In not too heavily theoretical language if at all possible, I would like a straightforward explanation.

I have an anarchist friend who lives in the Bay area of California and they have told me that, over there, most anarchists are into a type of identity politics that makes them excessively focused on the interpersonal. For most of them, their only form of political engagement is to try to get individuals to be more woke. Twitter calls outs and so on. Collective organizing is neglected and ignored.

Another problem: Call out culture can be very toxic, and this view doesn't just come from the outside. There've been many critiques of it put out by identity politics activists.

I've also personally witnessed some bad identity politics in my day, and have even been guilty of it myself, but don't have time to get into all that now. I gave the California example because it's the easiest to explain.

I think maybe the degree to which people have personally witnessed bad identity politics depends on a few things:

> Age: Millennials and Generation Z probably see it more
> Where you live: Perhaps identity politics tend to be better in the UK?
> Where you hang out online: Certain spaces on Tumblr or Twitter, certain FB groups, etc. have a coalescence of bad identity politics

I just want to end by saying that there is also GOOD identity politics out there! I hope we can shift the conversation away from whether identity politics is good or bad in itself, and towards the question of identifying which forms of idpol praxis are good, helpful, effective, etc. and which are shit.

Sadie
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May 27 2018 11:47
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Presumably you will apply that also to black people too and to disabled and to OAPs if they don’t agree that trans-women are more oppressed let alone black working working class males, working class women and working class OAPs and as for white working class males!!! Who are more oppressed – black people or women, black men or white women, trans black or trans white? Who would you prefer to bully? It goes just on indefinitely. Absurd.

Yes, that would be absurd. Good thing nobody is arguing for this then. It’s irrelevant who is “more oppressed” because oppression isn’t a measurable singular quantity, that doesn’t even make sense as a concept.

The issue at the bookfair wasn’t about who is more or less oppressed but about people handing out reactionary leaflets that dehumanised and lied about a marginalised group as part of an ongoing campaign of organised bigotry (a campaign largely waged via the bourgeois press and with the support of several MPs, while we’re talking about what is or isn’t cross class politics). I’d equally support people challenging, say, a group of people handing out misogynistic materials at an anarchist event regardless of their particular identities or where they might fall in some entirely imaginary hierarchy of oppressions.

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May 27 2018 11:50
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OK, so we've got another inadequate description that doesn't tell us what identity politics is, but if it's not that very restrictive answer, then what is it?

I think the original question was what is identity politics within the anarchist movement. Fleur relied on a restrictive definition of liberal identity politics (e.g. tokenist minorities on a banknote) to argue that that didn't exist within anarchism, hence there is no identity politics within the anarchist movement.

I expanded the definition of the 'bad liberal' identity politics to include reference to class and even forms of organising like street protests.

On the other hand, the definition of the 'good' kind of identity politics is so broad that the fight for material conditions of workers who happen to be a minority, women, etc. is already claimed as identity politics, rather than what any class struggle worth its name automatically does. Whence any critique of IP is considered as an attack on the class struggle waged for/by minorities. As if anyone when they rant against IP (even mainstream/rightwing) is arguing against e.g. minority/migrant workers doing serious class organising stuff in the workplace.

So then what is identity politics according to you? Answer: not the bad kind.

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May 27 2018 12:11

I've definitely had people rant about identity politics when I'm doing serious class organising stuff in the workplace

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fingers malone
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May 27 2018 12:32

See this is the thing. I've heard a guy (anarchist as well) say 'don't give me that middle class feminist bullshit' as a response to objections to him beating up his girlfriend. People are always saying 'but no one says that' to the points we make. Yeah people do say that, the people arguing that dismissal of 'identity politics' can be used in a reactionary and dangerous way have been in situations where people really are saying this shit.

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May 27 2018 15:40

A lot of these rows about 'identity politics' and how it's bad focus on things somebody said. But I think if you focus on, in feminism, anti racism and so on, on what people actually do it would be different (and more interesting). But a lot of important stuff people do they don't talk about much.

In this referendum campaign I've met people who have been helping people who need to come to England for an abortion. They put people up overnight and help them in other ways. People don't talk about this work much with good reason. Until after 1992 travelling to England for an abortion wasn't even legal. After that it would still be difficult for a lot of people if their family or neighbours found out about it.
A lot of work in trade union activity involves dealing with sexism, racism and so on. I would not really comment on most of it publicly because you are dealing with real people and they probably don't want their situation written about.
I feel people who don't do this stuff then charge in shouting at me about my middle class feminist bullshit and this is really horrible.

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May 27 2018 15:56

Just to return to the demand for a definition, I think people (e.g. R Totale) want to have it both ways: trying to show they/libcom are in fact critical of the stuff designated as identity politics (e.g. R Totale in post #30), whilst demanding others define it. So how you can be critical of identity politics, whilst not knowing the definition?

I can interpret the demand for a definition, as a demand for informed critique. On the Rectenwald-thread someone complained that anti-IP critiques are basically just rabid polemical trolling and I replied: "We all like to see more well-researched, informative, sharp critiques and less low-effort trolling." If that was all the demand was about, then we can agree: there are a lot of uninformed wannabe-edgy rants about it, people should do their research, but it is legitimate to criticise IP.

fingers malone wrote:
I've definitely had people rant about identity politics when I'm doing serious class organising stuff in the workplace

If understand you correctly: not just when you're doing it, but because you're doing it? And was that the exact term they used?

Quote:
I've heard a guy (anarchist as well) say 'don't give me that middle class feminist bullshit' as a response to objections to him beating up his girlfriend. People are always saying 'but no one says that' to the points we make. Yeah people do say that, the people arguing that dismissal of 'identity politics' can be used in a reactionary and dangerous way have been in situations where people really are saying this shit.

I understand "feminist" is used as put-down, but I have some trouble imagining an average bigoted guy in a real-life situation going off about specifically "identity politics".

But even if the target of rants against IP were the kind of serious workplace organising of ordinary people (which I really don't think is the case, it's always targeted against some "liberal elite"), then my response is; how would it matter if we reject the term IP then? Do you believe banning a word will actually change anything materially?

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May 27 2018 16:08
fingers malone wrote:
But I think if you focus on, in feminism, anti racism and so on, on what people actually do it would be different (and more interesting). But a lot of important stuff people do they don't talk about much.
...
I feel people who don't do this stuff then charge in shouting at me about my middle class feminist bullshit and this is really horrible.

Again (like I said before on the Rectenwald thread), it also depends who the audience is of the rants against IP. The audience is not you with your concrete work or specific activist organisation. The audience is the general public, and the target is the general "liberal media/university".

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fingers malone
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May 27 2018 16:11

No it was me, mate, it was a man in my union shouting 'women do lie about rape' at me in the street, target was definitely me.

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May 27 2018 16:32
Noa Rodman wrote:
fingers malone wrote:
I've definitely had people rant about identity politics when I'm doing serious class organising stuff in the workplace

If understand you correctly: not just when you're doing it, but because you're doing it? And was that the exact term they used?

While doing workplace activity, and other activity, housing, anti gentrification, whatever, I've criticised sexist behaviour by people who are also involved, and have been completely dismissed and sometimes people have used the words 'identity politics' although they are more likely to say something about feminism or political correctness. They are angry about being criticised, and perhaps don't feel that I should be walking around acting like I'm some kind of equal human being or something.

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May 27 2018 16:35
Noa Rodman wrote:

I understand "feminist" is used as put-down, but I have some trouble imagining an average bigoted guy in a real-life situation going off about specifically "identity politics".

He went off about specifically 'feminism'

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May 27 2018 16:37

There have always been in general put-downs IRL like "pinko", loony lefty, radical windbag, etc. I hope that's not what's getting under anyone's skin.