The Poverty of Identity Politics

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May 27 2018 16:42
Noa Rodman wrote:

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?

No, I don't want anyone to ban any words, I'm not that bothered about specifically using the words 'identity politics'. I'm talking about a political position, very common, I've been having to deal with it my entire life, which dismisses activity around sexism, racism and so on as 'divisive' 'bourgeois' 'not important' 'not class politics'.

The things I'm talking about: people assuming what you are bringing up is a trivial little thing, often without waiting to find out what is really going on, dismissing fears you have (through experience) as silly, assuming anything to do with feminism is middle class, assuming all feminism is just 'elect Hillary Clinton' also people not really giving you guidance about how to deal with sexism in a campaign or not supporting you when you go to them for help about it, saying it will damage the campaign or you have unrealistic expectations or it's a side issue.

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May 27 2018 17:18
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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.

I really hope you’re not suggesting that descriptions of sexist or anti-feminist assholery by posters on this thread is just them misconstruing what they hear? That is a teeny tiny step away from the old misogynistic wankers classic line “ffs, stop being so sensitive”.

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May 27 2018 18:18
fingers malone wrote:
I'm talking about a political position, very common, I've been having to deal with it my entire life, which dismisses activity around sexism, racism and so on as 'divisive' 'bourgeois' 'not important' 'not class politics

I don't think that is the common position in the past on the left. Contrary to what Juan earlier claimed for example, the US Stalinist CP in the 1930s wasn't "color-blind", but did engage in activity around racism. https://isreview.org/issue/1/communist-party-and-black-liberation-1930s

Paul D'Amato wrote:
The CP initiated a multitude of struggles against racism through the Depression decade. CP members led struggles against poor housing and evictions, for unemployment relief, against police terror and lynching. They organized mass campaigns for the defense of victims of racist injustice; they petitioned against segregation in baseball; they organized interracial meetings and dances, demonstrations and social gatherings both in the North and in the South; they initiated campaigns to root out manifestations of racism inside the party. When Communists traveled to Washington to demonstrate on behalf of the Scottsboro Boys, they stopped off on the way to sit down in restaurants that refused to serve Blacks—a tactic adopted by the civil rights movement in the 1960s.14 In these years, the CP was able to challenge traditional Black organizations like the NAACP and the Garveyites.

As a result, the CP’s Black membership grew from 200 members in 1930 (less than 3 percent of the total) to 7,000 in 1938 (over 9 percent). In some cities, the percentage of Black members was considerably higher. In Chicago in 1931, close to one-quarter of the city’s 2,000 members were Black. As Blacks constituted 11 percent of the total U.S. population at the time, these figures represent a small but important step in building a multiracial movement. At a time when segregation was rampant—legally in the South, defacto in the North—the CP was virtually the only integrated organization in the country.

See also: https://johnriddell.wordpress.com/2018/05/08/the-cominterns-1922-initiat...

And today the average left group or people always gives special attention to racism, sexism, etc. At least I see they devote special articles on it in their papers etc. I'm sure they also take part in activities (SWP particularly anti-racism).

Noah Offense wrote:
I really hope you’re not suggesting that descriptions of sexist or anti-feminist assholery by posters on this thread is just them misconstruing what they hear? That is a teeny tiny step away from the old misogynistic wankers classic line “ffs, stop being so sensitive”.

No, I just asked if the person in the incident fingers brought up really used the term 'identity politics'. I fully understand that 'feminist' can and is used as a put-down (by an average bigot).

I don't think anyone would or should be offended to be called a 'feminist' though.That would be a god-gift to the right, like someone getting upset by being called the term 'snowflake'.

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May 27 2018 18:24

mate he was BEATING UP HIS GIRLFRIEND I'm not being offended about him using feminist as an insult, there was a problem because he was BEATING UP HIS GIRLFRIEND

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May 27 2018 18:32
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I don't think that is the common position in the past on the left.

Thanks a lot I think I may have sprained my eyebrow from raising it too hard. The left has always been prone to dismissing issues of race and gender in its campaigning, from the need for Milly Witkop to found a separate women's section in the FAUD to the Mujeres Libres, to the total neglect of black workers by the UK trade union movement [pdf].

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And today the average left group or people always gives special attention to racism, sexism, etc.

Do they? Because I'll be honest, I've come across a lot of superficially "woke" groups which are actually more along the lines you seem to want, mouthing a vague commitment to equality but turning a blind eye to sexist bullshit, up to and including actual rape in some cases.

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May 27 2018 19:08
fingers malone wrote:
I'm not being offended about him using feminist as an insult, there was a problem because he was BEATING UP HIS GIRLFRIEND

I didn't say you were offended by it. But when you bring up this story of someone beating up his girlfriend, and you object to that, and they call you a feminist bourgeois, then I understand you're not so subtly implying that critics of IP are enabling/defending woman-beaters.

Rob Ray wrote:
Because I'll be honest, I've come across a lot of superficially "woke" groups which are actually more along the lines you seem to want, mouthing a vague commitment to equality but turning a blind eye to sexist bullshit, up to and including actual rape in some cases.

Well yes like Steven said earlier, self-proclaimed male feminists can prove to be quite abusive of women in reality.

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May 27 2018 19:22

So, nobody has actually given a straightforward definition of what exactly constitutes the kind of identity politics which is ruining anarchism. Sike thinks my position on not being down with a bunch of liberals disrupting anarchist space, spreading misinformation and bigotry is identity politics, even though terfs could be described as the poster children for liberal identity politics. The same group of people who weaponize gender and call anyone who disagrees with them misogynist. Presumably not inviting liberal bigots into anarchist spaces is some kind of identity politics, someone drop Jordan Peterson a line, give him an invite. We wouldn't want to impinge on anyone's free speech.

Fleur
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May 27 2018 19:15

Oh and the cherry on the cake, Noa splaining away a woman's experience of sexism. Again.

I wonder why I fall back into sarcasm...

Fleur
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May 27 2018 19:21

Lucky Black Cat:

Sorry I missed your post, thank you for answering me. However I don't think that very specifial kind of weirdness which happens in SF Bay area is particularly the same as in Doncaster or Ottawa or anywhere else really. That part of California has always been a bit different to everyone else.

Fleur
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May 27 2018 19:27

Also, what is this guilt by associate bullshit people are always self-flaggelating about? Get a fucking grip. If someone disagrees with you, it doesn't mean we're calling you fascists or abusers. Bloody martyrs.

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May 27 2018 19:50
Noa Rodman wrote:
fingers malone wrote:
I'm not being offended about him using feminist as an insult, there was a problem because he was BEATING UP HIS GIRLFRIEND

I didn't say you were offended by it. But when you bring up this story of someone beating up his girlfriend, and you object to that, and they call you a feminist bourgeois, then I understand you're not so subtly implying that critics of IP are enabling/defending woman-beaters.

Hey no sneakiness was intended on my part. I'm trying to say that sometimes badly thought through critiques of idpol can enable or defend woman beaters or other kinds of harmful behaviour yes. Not all idpolcritiquers ok, and often when people do it they don't realise the possible effects because in this society often these kinds of things are really hidden behind closed doors and people say harmful things in ignorance of this context.

Can I just repeat here 'sometimes' and 'badly thought through' not all critiques of idpol do this.

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May 27 2018 19:54
fingers malone wrote:
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.

Noa Rodman wrote:
when you bring up this story of someone beating up his girlfriend, and you object to that, and they call you a feminist bourgeois, then I understand you're not so subtly implying that critics of IP are enabling/defending woman-beaters.

Forget subtly implying. I will just come out and say: Trashing identity politics as a whole -- without qualifying that you mean bad versions of identity politics -- does enable woman-beating assholes like the one Fingers Malone mentioned.

I almost don't want to make this post because I don't want to make Noa or anyone else think I'm blaming them for abuse that other people commit. That's not my intention. I also assume you're as disgusted and upset by abusive behavior as me or anyone else here.

But still, the point must be made that there are harmful repercussions of blanket dismissal of identity politics, feminism, etc.

I'll just quote Fingers Malone again:

wrote:
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.

This guy was able to deflect criticisms by calling it "middle class feminist bullshit" only because there are enough people on the left who conflate feminism with middle class bullshit.

Are there types of feminism that are middle class bullshit? Of course. But criticizing a man for abusing his girlfriend is far from that! Obviously. So how could he even say such a thing? He can say it because there are anarchists and other leftists who dismiss ALL feminism as middle class bullshit.

When they do so, they make it that much easier for assholes like this to deflect criticism of their abusive behavior. And to do so in a language that gives their deflection some cover of leftist legitimacy. This is really quite dangerous.

It doesn't always have to be so extreme as a dude beating up his girlfriend. It can be other forms of sexist, racist, etc. behavior. And when people are criticized for it, they can dismiss those criticisms as being "only identity politics" and therefore illegitimate.

When we make identity politics a bad word, this is what can happen.

Again, I do agree there are bad forms of identity politics out there, bad forms of feminism, etc. But we have to be very careful when making these criticisms to be clear and specific that we are not talking about feminism as a whole, or identity politics as a whole. Otherwise, we give abusive and bigoted leftists a handy, powerful tool to deflect well deserved criticism.

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May 27 2018 19:54

Thanks LBC. And Fleur. And other people. Noa, did you ever think about that this might be quite an upsetting topic for me to talk about?

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May 27 2018 20:40

As Fleur pointed out, it is worth noting that none of these anti-identity politics warriors (including Noa) have pointed out what exactly this "identity politics" is which is ruining anarchism, or given any practical examples.

The only person who has given any sort of practical example is Lucky Black Cat – although in my experience that sort of thing like in the Bay Area happens amongst people who call themselves anarchists but are in fact just angry liberals.

I did attend an anarchist meeting in New York some years ago, where I guess you could say the "bad" end of identity politics (not that I would use this terminology myself though) reared its head, in terms of white male participants apologising for being white and male and things like that. But a much bigger problem was that none of the participants actually had revolutionary politics. When it came to talking about strategic orientation all anyone wanted to do was set up housing co-ops and workers co-ops.

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May 27 2018 21:22

This shit really blows my mind, this wilfull, almost obsessional persistence to ignore every word that many people are saying in order to hang on to a position that bears no scrutiny whatsoever. I’ve seen it so many times on here and elsewhere, there are other topics that create similar patterns but none so much as those involving misogyny.

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May 27 2018 21:25
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Sovereign Nations was honored to have Dr. Jordan B. Peterson address the thesis “Identity Politics & The Marxist Lie of White Privilege” to guests gathered at the Sovereign Nations Conference at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC.

https://youtu.be/ofmuCXRMoSA

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May 27 2018 21:42
Mike Harman wrote:
Quote:
Sovereign Nations was honored to have Dr. Jordan B. Peterson address the thesis “Identity Politics & The Marxist Lie of White Privilege” to guests gathered at the Sovereign Nations Conference at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC.

https://youtu.be/ofmuCXRMoSA

There’s nothing I’d like to do more than to get a lesson in idpol from good old Jordan but I’ve got some very important pins I need to stick in my eyes! If I don’t get it done tonight I won’t have time to watch a Joe Rogan vid tomorrow.

Sadie
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May 28 2018 06:34
Steven. wrote:
As Fleur pointed out, it is worth noting that none of these anti-identity politics warriors (including Noa) have pointed out what exactly this "identity politics" is which is ruining anarchism, or given any practical examples.

Honestly I think that’s a feature rather than a bug for some people. While identity politics is a very real thing (and limited in some fundamental ways that should be criticised, as I said upthread), the way it’s used by some people is as a sneer. It’s a way to dismiss the words and/or actions of marginalised workers when they make the speaker uncomfortable.

I mean in this thread we’ve seen challenging TERFs at an anarchist event used as an example of “identity politics”, when basically the entirety of TERF politics and theory is built around policing the borders of womanhood and defending them from perceived interlopers lest their identities as its true representatives be undermined. It’s also been suggested that challenging the actual Green Party parliamentary candidate who was handing out those leaflets was an example of liberal reformism, so I guess you can put words in whatever fucking order you please if it helps tell the trannies to stop inconveniencing you by being actual human beings.

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May 28 2018 06:45
link wrote:
So that caring has limits then!! You are quite happy to bully and abuse women who don’t agree with you.

This sentence is a bit telling as well. Two green party members distributing transphobic literature at the bookfair and who gloat about calling the police against anarchists are "women who don't agree with you". Why should their identity as women shield them from being ejected from the bookfair? Perhaps link thinks women cops, Theresa May and others should be welcome at the bookfair just due to their identity, regardless of their politics or actions?

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May 28 2018 06:58

The SPGB Summer School in Birmingham will have as one of its topics for discussion

Quote:
'Inside the Matrix'

This talk will argue against the premise that oppression is simply the product of class struggle and that feminism can be dismissed as identity politics which distract from the real issue. Feminism and socialism are not either / or, positions. An understanding of class, patriarchy and intersectionality is crucial to the challenge of establishing a world based on socialist principles

.

The subject has already created a bit of stir on our discussion lists.

The SPGB Summer School welcomes day-visitors if anybody is interested in what can be expected to be a very lively exchange.

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May 28 2018 07:16
Sadie wrote:
It’s a way to dismiss the words and/or actions of marginalised workers when they make the speaker uncomfortable.

This, in fact, often a great deal more than this. Let's be honest, the reaction against 'identity politics', broadly defined and used as a smear, within anarchism is part of a broader backlash against Black Lives Matter and associated movements, organising against sexual violence and trans visibility and rights. It's happening now because of what happened over the last ten years in many, many different organisations and communities.

The anarchist scene is not aloof from this stuff and the anti idpol brigade need to look at the alliances they're making. On this thread already we've seen people defending Ciaron O'Reilly and Seamus Colligan, known abusers both, because they waved the right anti idpol cards. We've seen the defence of actual grassing TERFs actively organising against the rights of a minority. We've seen an organisation shattered by a culture of silence around sexual assault praised because it made the right 'SJWs wrecking the anarchies' noises. If you can't make these arguments (when you bother making them at all) without lining up with abusers and reactionaries maybe you should look at them again.

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May 28 2018 08:41
Fleur wrote:
Oh and the cherry on the cake, Noa splaining away a woman's experience of sexism. Again.

I said I fully believe fingers malone's report on being called a bourgeois feminist when calling out an anarchist who beats his girlfriend. If that's what you're referring to, then you misinterpreted my words. And why do you say "again"? If you're referring to your own experience with sexism, I "again" never doubted your experience when you brought it up in the context of so-called gamergate.

Quote:
So, nobody has actually given a straightforward definition of what exactly constitutes the kind of identity politics which is ruining anarchism.

Why do you add the "kind" of identity politics which is ruining anarchism here? It sounds like a weasel word, that allows you to shift definitions. We/you (not "you" in particular) more or less understand what identity politics is, since there have been linked various pieces criticising the "bad liberal" identity politics, as evidence that libcom holds and allows for critique of the stuff that is designated as such. Example in action of shifting definition:

Steven wrote:
sort of thing like in the Bay Area happens amongst people who call themselves anarchists but are in fact just angry liberals.

So the "bad kind" of IP cannot be held by anarchists, since if they do, they're no longer anarchists, but liberals. (And "liberals" is also poorly defined, apparently liberals can't speak about class).

ticking_fool
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May 28 2018 08:51

Just say it's the trannies and have done with it, FFS. This dance is boring.

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May 28 2018 08:53
fingers malone wrote:
Noa, did you ever think about that this might be quite an upsetting topic for me to talk about?

Of course, which is why I don't force anyone to bring their or others' experiences of abusive, unless they can think it's important and are ready to tell their story.

Fleur wrote:
Also, what is this guilt by associate bullshit people are always self-flaggelating about? Get a fucking grip. If someone disagrees with you, it doesn't mean we're calling you fascists or abusers. Bloody martyrs.

No, but you're calling the critics of IP enablers of abusers/fascists. And I'm not whining about, just noting what arguments you take recourse to (in defense of something that you claim to not even know what it is).

Mike Harman wrote:
Dr. Jordan B. Peterson address the thesis “Identity Politics & The Marxist Lie of White Privilege”

I think you are the right person to do a debunking of him point by point for a libcom blog piece, if you want to engage with Peterson in such a direct way.

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May 28 2018 09:15
Sadie wrote:
Honestly I think that’s a feature rather than a bug for some people. While identity politics is a very real thing (and limited in some fundamental ways that should be criticised, as I said upthread), the way it’s used by some people is as a sneer. It’s a way to dismiss the words and/or actions of marginalised workers when they make the speaker uncomfortable.

Not sure if this is a diversion, but we definitely had something similar in solfed a few years ago.

In the membership downturn after the austerity boom (don't know the exact numbers, but federally i reckon we dropped from 200ish members to 80ish in the space of a couple years) there definitely seem to be a theme of harden class warriors - for want of a better term, old school libcom type anarchos - who suddenly started getting super mad about identity politics.

What definitely seemed to be the case, was that basically when people got over the initial euphoria of "lets organise!", and realised that it was actually hard work and involved more than just saying "organise in your workplaces and communities", so people retreated into a comfort zone of just moaning about identity politics. It was almost entirely bullshit ofc - the locals that did best were the ones that took intersectionality etc into account.

So, aside from all sorts of shitty bigotry behind it, I definitely reckon there's an element of using being made at ID politics as a scapegoat for people's own failings.

Sadie
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May 28 2018 09:36
Fall Back wrote:
So, aside from all sorts of shitty bigotry behind it, I definitely reckon there's an element of using being made at ID politics as a scapegoat for people's own failings.

Yeah that’s absolutely a part of it, which is funny because IME the vast majority of real organising work is not done by white, cishet men. The burden of all the boring admin, emotional labour and practical solidarity always seems to fall on women, queer folks and POC (I mean not me, I’m useless, but in general, you know).

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May 28 2018 09:46
Sadie wrote:
The burden of all the boring admin, emotional labour and practical solidarity always seems to fall on women, queer folks and POC (I mean not me, I’m useless, but in general, you know).

I think it's a bit more complicated than this. What's been happening, particularly through survivor led stuff but also queer stuff, has been all that work being made more visible and the 'organisers' or 'intellectuals' or whatever kind of work is valorised in whatever circle starting to be held to account for the vast amount of energy they suck out of the people around them. So many of these people are experiencing a real threat to their status and are lashing out. Like, it's getting intellectualised as 'dividing the class' here, but it's the same shit behind Peterson's bullshit or TERFs or whatever. This is anarchists participating in a wave of reactionary backlash because they feel their status is threatened. It is fucking shameful and embarrassing.

link
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May 28 2018 10:52

Contributions in here base themselves on the idea that identity politics is about the workers but It talks about womens oppressions, mens, black disabled, gay and trans oppressions. We are agreed though that we don’t want to support middle class and ruling class, women, men, black, disable gay trans and so forth then what are we left with. If you really mean working class women, men, black, disabled gay and trans etc then what is the common ground??? Working Class!! So support working class struggle and call to unite the working class. Divide the working class and you have no chance of getting rid of capitalism.

Why are TERFs considered reactionary and TIRFs not. I just see it as an argument within radical feminism and that’s all bourgeois and it shows what I mean by a hierarchy of oppressions which is an idea that R Totale and M Harman wanted to disagree with. I want to see arguments in favour of working class feminism.

R Totale was asking for comments on texts which I am happy to do in a bit more detail later but is there something that you think particularly clear that I can respond to and why?

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May 28 2018 11:07
link wrote:
Why are TERFs considered reactionary and TIRFs not.

Because one is E and the other is I.

I'm sure plenty ppl here have disagreements with non-TERF radical feminists - but the difference between ppl who you just politically disagree with, and bigots actively pushing a toxic ideology that is killing ppl is night and day.

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May 28 2018 11:07
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Why are TERFs considered reactionary and TIRFs not. I just see it as an argument within radical feminism and that’s all bourgeois and it shows what I mean by a hierarchy of oppressions which is an idea that R Totale and M Harman wanted to disagree with.

TERFs organise directly against trans people through harrassment campaigns, malicious prosecutions, directly sabotaging our healthcare, organising against our basic civil rights, supporting conversion therapy and more. Radical feminists who are trans inclusive don't do this. Pretty simple tbh.

Like if you want to make this some fucking ivory tower thing enjoy yourself, but I'm gonna work to deal with the fuckers who are coming after me and I'm gonna hold comrades who refuse to support me in doing that to account. This might be intellectual to you, this might be about the correct classification of politics and feeling pure or whatever bullshit, but it's my fucking life. Will you support people fighting reactionaries coming for them or will you hem and haw about this not being the kind of fight you prefer? It's really very simple and the number of anarchists choosing to defend organised and active reactionaries because the people they're coming for are inconvenient to them is fucking shameful.