Is autonomy advanced by identity struggles? - humanaesfera

A short article on how identity politics necessarily destroys class solidarity and autonomy by reinforcing the separation (and competition) through which submission to ruling class is reproduced - reinforcing all its power structures: state, law, police, company, private property, gangs...

Submitted by Joaos on April 25, 2019


There is no doubt that solidarity among women (or black people, etc.) is essential: welcoming each other, recognizing and sharing the problems that only they suffer and ways of treating them. However, when closed in on themselves, that is, as identity struggles, they are necessarily punitive, and as such merely claim the reinforcement of the state's repressive apparatus, when not the direct gang repression ("escraches", “exposures”). For example, in practice, what does indentity feminism propose to transform society? More repression. Repression is the only possible social praxis of identity struggles. We are not saying that they can demand something other than repression, but rather that one cannot expect from identity struggles, as such, the least possibility of going beyond the status quo, in which repression - rewards and punishments - is the only possible praxis.

Women are the overwhelming majority of those earning a minimum wage or less in Brazil. And they're the ones who continue to earn the same thing for the rest of their lives... How to deal with this? There are two ways. One is by identity politics and consists simply of protesting for new laws and further strengthening repression to implement them, "empowering" the ruling class even more than today. The other way is through the solidarity that arises through mutual trust between men and women, black people and white people, which is the only way to break the power of the ruling class and its repressive apparatus, a mutual trust founded justly on the dissolution of privileges (of sex, race, ethnicity...), a trust in the solidarity of others if one suffers such identity violence. Obviously this is a perspective of class, of proletarian autonomy.  (In fact, "privilege" comes from "privus legis" - private law).

Of course, in our "given" context of mistrust and widespread competition in which we survive, in this war of all against all in which the appeal to a violence more threatening than all others (gang, manager, police and/or state) is always the only "guarantee", identitarians will always argue that it is "hypocritical naivety" to expect to find solidarity and mutual trust among proletarians, or to expect them to refuse their crumbs of privilege ("meritocracy"). Identitarians are right, because in the face of the suffering of identity violence, there is no time to wait for the still hypothetical solidarity of class, and there is no way out except to appeal to the ruling class (to power) as the only available resource to reduce suffering.

However, this context, this status quo, is unbearable and absurd. The real hypocrisy is to accept it. It is necessary to seek to make the call for "a violence more threatening than all others" (gang, manager, police and / or state) to be materially meaningless. And, for this, it is not a question of defending "facts", but of affirming a position (which is not a "militancy" or "activism", since these always lead to a dynamic of gangsterism, but, on the contrary, relationships of equals in daily life, on the street, at work, on the bus, train): to favor solidarity, mutual trust, refusal of privileges, proposing "to each according to his needs" against competition (undermining the corresponding "meritocracy", method of domination of those who hold the "most threatening violence", that is, the ruling class), that is, to favor everything that contributes to proletarian autonomy, and the "disempowerment" of the ruling class.... 

humanaesfera, December 2014

Note: identity struggles (of women, black people, gays, consumers, ethnic groups, young people and even militant groups ...) intend to exist outside the sphere of production. But anything that happens outside of production is something that did not come to be, that is, something that is not produced, that is like an eternal platonic form, something given once and for all - in short, it is reification. Therefore, every struggle that supposes defending something outside of production is, for this reason, reifying - and this is the case of all identity struggles. To consider everything as production was really the great insight of Marx, in a radical contrast to Marxists and anarchists, who cling to their "pureblood" identities, their militancies and their doctrines.

Thus, for example, the oppression of women can only be fought in the sphere of production, transforming the material conditions of existence in which women are practically forced to submit to others. The oppression of women will never end as long as the woman is affirmed as an identity against other identity(ies) (this only leads to punitive action, that is, to pure irrationality, to adherence to the violence of power), but only if they free themselves from this reification, by transforming (together with all of us) their conditions of existence in order to produce themselves freely. This evidently involves a general struggle to produce the conditions of existence of a universal free association in which free individuality can develop forever. (The proletariat is defined as the one to whom production is private - thus, when it takes over production, it dissolves all identities, including its own).

[Original version in Portuguese: A autonomia é favorecida pelas lutas identitárias?]