Submitted by Noa Rodman on February 28, 2017

It seems that Michael Rectenwald now supports Trump. I remember on facebook a couple of years ago he was well-respected by some leftcom/marxist people (I too found his comments often sound). Here are some of his articles:

http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=11411
http://insurgentnotes.com/2015/07/syriza-and-sanders-just-say-no-to-neo-liberalism/

It seems he started an "experiment" to pose as a friend of the rightwing (on twitter, apparently also setting up a newssite "Citizens for Legitimate Government"). I did not really understand his explanation for that (which he gave on some self-described Marxist podcasts).

So what is happening? Why this silence? For example, the usual source on latest scandals on the left, Ross Wolfe's Charnal House blog, has not been active for over two weeks.

There are several "leftists" who more or less openly support Trump. I think Dennis Kucinich falls in that catergory. One leftist-Keynesian blogger, though vehemently anti-marxist, calls for an Altl-left. Perhaps not such a surprise though, since "Keynesian" etc. money cranks are basically populist-nationalists (see also prof. Werner, or revleft forum user DieNeueZeit).

Tyrion

5 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Rectenwald's hobbies these days seem to mostly consist of mocking trans people and blasting "transmania", whining about how he's being persecuted by the PC police over some stunt he pulled in which he pretended he was being forced to go on leave, threatening students at his university, and dubbing pretty much all criticism of him "totalitarianism"--and being such an esteemed scholar, those critics probably don't have the academic cred to be worthy of criticizing him anyway. Apparently his latest classy cause is defending Milo's pedophilia advocacy. Fittingly enough, Citizens for Legitimate Government is a Sandy Hook truther site.

Guy's a total scumbag as well as remarkably unpleasant on a personal level. This piece gets at Rectenwald's bizarre degeneration into an alt rightist crackpot pretty well.

Steven.

5 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

What a tosser. I wonder if there is any chance he is the same as the "left communist"-type guy on here who turned into a nutty racist who was obsessed with crimes by migrants and we had to ban him? Can't remember his username…

Similarly racist arsehole Zizek supported Trump as well

Noa Rodman

5 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Not the same. Rectenwald is a professor in NY.

Chilli Sauce

5 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Dennis Kucinich supports Trump!? When the f*ck did that happen?

Man, I remember arguing with my liberal friends back when Kucinich was running for the Democratic nomination that it was easy to be left-wing when you're out of power. Man do I feel vindicated.

S. Artesian

5 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Don't think Kucinich has actually come out as a Trump supporter-- he is a living example of the so-called left-right convergence that sees the "deep state" as waging a struggle against Trump to maintain power.

Conspiracy theorists of a feather flock together.... kind of. Unlike Trump, Kucinich has some basis for claiming he's a populist-- not that it matters.

Noa Rodman

5 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

dp

Noa Rodman

5 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This tweet:
GREAT #inauguration speech @RealDonaldTrump!

(which caused some of his followers to express disbelief, wondering if he was drunk or his account hacked)

His positive review of the Inaugural Address:
https://www.facebook.com/denniskucinich/posts/10154527639948218

A "left-right convergence" does not relate to belief in conspiracies (the mainstream has its own "Trump is a puppet of Putin"), but to political/ideological lines, ie nationalism.

Noa Rodman

5 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Rectenwald's response to the piece Tyrion linked.

With regard to bourgeois media attention/access (eg appearing on Fox), the general position in socialist tradition was to reject this I think. Consequently, appearing on the BBC, writing in the Guardian, etc. should be rejected on principle.

Tyrion

5 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Michael Rectenwald

You're merely an axeman for the left, which is now nothing but a mob of lunatics without thoughts, without ideas and with nothing but robotic chants and pointless violence. Congratulations for using my situation as a means of pledging your fealty to this pathetic culture and politics. You deserve each other. But I suggest you emend or remove your article lest you be sued for slander. I have the means. I have an army of pro bono attorneys behind me.

Pleasant as ever.

bastarx

5 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

It seems that Michael Rectenwald now supports Trump. I remember on facebook a couple of years ago he was well-respected by some leftcom/marxist people (I too found his comments often sound). Here are some of his articles:

http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=11411
http://insurgentnotes.com/2015/07/syriza-and-sanders-just-say-no-to-neo-liberalism/

That Insurgent Notes article says it is written by Amiri Barksdale. MR makes numerous comments below it.

el psy congroo

5 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Rectenwald in the IN comments above

My aim in this article

So Barksdale is an alias of Rectenwald?

Noa Rodman

5 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

bastarx, on his website Rectenwald linked the IN-article as his own material.

So Barksdale is an alias of Rectenwald?

No, it seems Amiri Barksdale is just the admin of the site who posted it. Here's an audio of Barksdale speaking on 5 February in the panel Against Whiteness Again: http://insurgentnotes.com/2017/02/february-5-2017-conference-audio-recordings/

el psy congroo

5 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The person in the recording is definitely not Rectenwald. I can't grasp why he would a) link to the material as his own as you've pointed out and b) in the comments here: http://insurgentnotes.com/2015/07/syriza-and-sanders-just-say-no-to-neo-liberalism/ he makes multiple statements that seem to verify this.

While this may not have been stated on IN, I have written it elsewhere

I’ve made it clear

The paragraph is called a “faulty path” in writing theory. I travel down the path, only to return to the main argument

Where is your article on Greece and Syriza?

In any case, thank you for your comments. They have been duly considered.

My aim in this article

Seems pretty clear he has written at least portions of it to me, judging from his comments in this IN thread. I guess Barksdale is a name used by a number of peeps?

Jim

5 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Michael Rectenwald

You're merely an axeman for the left, which is now nothing but a mob of lunatics without thoughts, without ideas and with nothing but robotic chants and pointless violence.

I wish that was an accurate description of the left.

Mike Harman

5 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I guess Barksdale is a name used by a number of peeps?

No it's just the person who physically posted the article onto their website using an admin account. It's the same as when you get articles by Goldman here and they're posted by Mike Harman. The problem (and I'm sure we have similar here) is that there's no separate attribution of the article to Rectenwald.

His twitter account (see links from tyrion from above) now has a pinned tweet saying "Goodbye to the left", this is apparently because some people were rude to him and right wing people are nicer to him, wonder why.

S. Artesian

5 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Goldner confirms that Rectenwald wrote the article on Greece.

The separation of Rectenwald and IN took place some time ago, and was not, as I understand it, a friendly one.

potrokin

5 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Surely, if this dude was an actual libertarian socialist it's much worse than Hitchens, as Hitchens was never actually anti-capitalist. I don't actually know who this Rectenwald character is though.

Craftwork

5 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Not a libertarian socialist, he identified as left communist.

As for Hitchens, he was once a Trotskyist, if I remember the facts correctly(?)

Noa Rodman

5 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yes a Trotskyist, I mentioned Hitchens just to have a thread title, it's maybe not a good comparison. And yes it's worse in the case of a once genuine anti-capitalist (btw, was Judith Miller once a leftcom? - I heard that gossip on fb. All I heard her say is that in her youth she smoked pot.). Earlier in the 2000s Rectenwald already had made an appearance on Fox, entering into a shouting match with the host (politicking), so the willingness to seek the bourgeois media spot light was always there.

Mike Harman

5 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Looks like Insurgent Notes trying to figure out what to do with his articles on their site:

(link not an endorsement, I think they should drag him one way or the other):

https://academeblog.org/2017/03/31/disappearing-the-scholarauthor/

S. Artesian

5 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Not exactly. The change in names was a technical glitch, caused by eliminating Rectenwald's access to the IN website; Barksdale was making the technical security adjustment and his name got substituted for authorship.

petey

5 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

(btw, was Judith Miller once a leftcom? - I heard that gossip on fb. All I heard her say is that in her youth she smoked pot.).

judith miller? of the NYTimes??

Noa Rodman

5 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

At least that's what I remember a couple of years ago catching my eye (and I assume this would have to be before her career, early 1970s). Issues online of Internationalism USA only start from 1999.

Entdinglichung

4 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

https://nypost.com/2018/01/13/deplorable-nyu-professor-sues-colleagues-for-defamation/

Mike Harman

4 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Michael Rectenwald

Deep-state swamp serves the oligarchy. Challenge its agenda of endless war, regime change & unbridled immigration & you get "investigated."

https://twitter.com/antipcnyuprof/status/865718916445863936

NY Post

“I’ve been universally shunned by the entire department,” the liberal-studies professor said. “In academia, to be called a ‘racist’ and a ‘sexist’ is like the kiss of death.”

The kiss of death:

NY Post

On May 8, 2017, Rectenwald tweeted about a $75,000 advance he was to get from a publisher to share his “deplorable prof” experience.

Noa Rodman

4 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

AFAIK Rectenwald didn't make any explicit racist, sexist or transphobic remarks. As for saying stupid things, Zizek once mentioned transgender people in the same breath as having sex with animals, his book Disparities had a Kraken/octopus, representing capitalism or whatever, on its cover (a highly problematic imagery), but he is still welcome at NYU. The main focus isn't (or shouldn't be) on Rectenwald's character flaws, which he seems to apply consistently, like once on twitter to some rightwinger, I read he denounced them of plagiarizing him for using some actually very ordinary metaphor about SJWs, which he believed to have invented. The shock is about his turn to Trump, which apparently he could reconcile with his prior "leftist" (anti-war, populist) reasoning. But then he probably claims (as others do in Insurgent Notes) that this turn to Trump was present in many disaffected of the working class.

Mike Harman

4 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The majority of racists, sexists and homophobes don't makes explicitly racist, sexist or homophobic remarks - this is about someone who was ostensibly a left communist moving to support for racialised state violence/right populism. Like you don't see Theresa may using slurs but it doesn't mean she doesn't deport people to their deaths.

As for Zizek.

Bannon aims to lead a populist revolt of underprivileged people against the elites – he is taking Trump’s message of a government by and for the people more literally than Trump himself dares to do.

Noa Rodman

4 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

in terms of harmfulness: Rectenwald < Zizek < Michael Schmidt (who is in the libcom library)

Mike Harman

4 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

That sounds about right, Zizek has a considerably higher profile than either while Schmidt has had more connections to anarchist groups rather than being 'just' an academic. Although there's a fair bit of Zizek in the library here as well :/

We did remove every article of Schmidt's from the library except Black Flame, and added a massive content note to that.

While AK Press has released statements on Schmidt, there are still announcements about the book that show up highly in google results without any disclaimer and it's being sold for $100+ on Amazon. http://www.revolutionbythebook.akpress.org/black-flame-the-revolutionary-class-politics-of-anarchism-and-syndicalism-%E2%80%94-book-excerpt/

On the other hand, we don't have any of the actual statements on here about Schmidt yet, just the long thread: https://libcom.org/forums/general/ak-press-says-michael-schmidt-fascist-25092015 - at some point that should be corrected, but it's hard to know where to start given the volume that's been written at this point

Rectenwald gets a mention here, but otherwise isn't on the site: https://libcom.org/library/intersectionality-just-another-form-identity-politics-feminist-fightback

Jay_S

4 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Rectalwart is POS, however, it is genuinely surprising to not see more anarchists and ultraleftists turn to the right-wing. Some of them, so rabid in their anti-"identity politics" and with activity mostly aimed at transgressive critiques (i.e., polemic trolling) of the rest of the left, seem ripe for the picking when it comes to left-right conversions.

Noa Rodman

4 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Jay_S

so rabid in their anti-"identity politics" and with activity mostly aimed at transgressive critiques (i.e., polemic trolling) of the rest of the left,

We all like to see more well-researched, informative, sharp critiques and less low-effort trolling.

Noa Rodman

4 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Jay_S

it is genuinely surprising to not see more anarchists and ultraleftists turn to the right-wing. Some of them [..] seem ripe for the picking when it comes to left-right conversions.

If this was not just meant as a cheap provocation, then you should probably elaborate. Or are you afraid to expose those "anarchists and ultraleftists"?

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Jay_S has left the building.

FWIW, an often-cited critique of IdPol by Jenny Bourne: 'Homelands of the mind: Jewish feminism and Identity Politics' (Race & Class, July 1987) opens with the lines:

Identity Politics is all the rage. Exploitation is out (it is extrinsically determinist). Oppression is in (it is intrinsically personal). What is to be done is replaced by who am I. Political culture has ceded to cultural politics. The material word has passed into the metaphysical. The Blacks, the Women, the Gays have all searched for themselves. and now, combining all their quests, has arrived the quest for Jewish feminist identity.

Khawaga

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Jenny Bourne

What is to be done is replaced by who am I

That is pithy and well put. A lot of the (for lack of better word), vulgar identity politics seem to get it from, at least in part, Foucault, but they all seem to forget or ignore his warning that "resistance is a trap".

jaycee

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

"his book Disparities had a Kraken/octopus, representing capitalism or whatever, on its cover (a highly problematic imagery)"

I was confused by this. What is 'problematic' about this image/metaphor (the worst I can think is that it's a bit cliche- but the best metaphors tend to be anyway)

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

jaycee

"his book Disparities had a Kraken/octopus, representing capitalism or whatever, on its cover (a highly problematic imagery)"

I was confused by this. What is 'problematic' about this image/metaphor (the worst I can think is that it's a bit cliche- but the best metaphors tend to be anyway)

There are many, many political cartoons where they put someone's head on an octopus - Murdoch, Bill Gates, often encircling the world.

One explicitly anti-Semitic usage is Churchill with a star of David controlling him from the Nazis: https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/churchill/interactive/_html/wc0213.html

The use of the octopus pre-dates that though - see this from the IWW, though no human head: http://depts.washington.edu/labhist/strike/images/iwwgiftwo1.jpg

And even earlier (1888) with a head on it for the British Empire with the Head of John Bull: http://www.historytoday.com/sites/default/files/johnbull.jpg

And this from Japan in 1908 just before war with Russia (no human head again):
http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_l8rpjtzG0R1qaxtrf.jpg

So it didn't start off anti-Semetic, but it was very easy to adapt.

jaycee

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I thought that might be it but it seems like going a bit far to label the image itself as 'problematic' because of that. Context and intention seem important. I would say that its a bit stupid to suggest Zizek should be suspected of anti-semtism because of it (Stalinism and generally terrible politics at a lot of the time- for sure but anti-semtism? I don't see it).

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

jaycee

the worst I can think is that it's a bit cliche- but the best metaphors tend to be anyway

I said it was stupid, at least the metaphor (don't know if Zizek himself approved the cover). It's problematic, because now it is usually associated with antisemitism.

its a bit stupid to to suggest Zizek should be suspected of anti-semtism

I didn't suggest that. I said it is like his analogy of transsexuals to people who want to marry their pet, which is associated with being a transphobic talking-point, but "itself" isn't transphobic, though sure is stupid.

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

My post was down-voted.

And an earlier post by Mike Harman (where he said: "The majority of racists, sexists and homophobes don't makes explicitly racist, sexist or homophobic remarks") even got three down-votes.

So to recall (as was said on the thread about AFed): "down votes are to be used on the comments which are abusive or in breach of site guidelines."

Khawaga

A lot of the (for lack of better word), vulgar identity politics seem to get it from, at least in part, Foucault, but they all seem to forget or ignore his warning that "resistance is a trap".

I don't know man. Criticism can be directed even against the best forms of IdPol. And it's not just pointing at its re-integration into the system, but it sabotaging actual resistance or even feeding into rightwing (ethnic/religious) identity politics.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

Criticism can be directed even against the best forms of IdPol.

Can you define what this is though and give examples?

Pennoid

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I think identity politics is better explained not by historical roots (which seem to be multiple; foucault, or various forms of nationalism, or postmodernism, etc.) but by the political ends it serves. Usually the class interests of the bourgeois in the long term, and the immediate interest of coalitional (read divide the class and rule) democratic party hucksters.

I think it's clearer to look at particular arguments and the premises they presuppose or potentially require (this depends on the nature of an argument).

I want to say that by identity politics, I don't mean all forms of dealing with political oppression based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality and the like. I mean the form of dealing with the problems these groups confront in terms of some inherent and immutable identity.

This identity is presumed to be paramount epistimologically, strategically, tactically, and culturally.

On the right, the idea of common humanity is openly derided as a farce. On the liberal side of things, it has to be attacked on less race-realist grounds, but the premise of fundamental difference and irreconcialbility of interests across identity lines is often lurking. And it's used to play-down class politics in the party (Bernie Sanders).

However, if these social groups don't share some mythical, inherent, unifying characteristics, but instead share characteristics as a result of their position in society; that position can change. What's more, the struggle to change them can take the form of a social and political struggle, much like that of workers in general.

But this doesn't serve the needs of bourgeois politicians and so it remains politically sterile. The left is pretty disorganized, so it's ability to raise a program of far reaching, class-based, attacks on gender, race, and sexuality oppression (and their nexus in class) is muted. So the identity politics media machine that feeds liberals and the far right continues in its cycles with little alternative.

jef costello

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I agree with jaycee, the nazis equated jews with rats, that doesn't mean that anyone using the image of a rat is a nazi. (except banksy, fuck banksy) The octopus is one image used for anti-semitism but it isn't exclusively that. Otherwise we couldn't use the numbers 18 or 88 etc

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

Can you define what this is though and give examples?

By best forms of IdPol, I mean those that acknowledge the reality of class struggle. That's a low bar (French liberal historians discovered it already). Jenny Bourne's article mentioned Bundism, which retro-actively can be classified as a form of IdPol. Even political Zionism had a large socialist current within it (Israel as a safe space).
Jef Costello

The octopus is one image used for anti-semitism but it isn't exclusively that.

My point was Zizek's stupidity of employing such bizarre metaphor (and other statements), his appearance in bourgeois media, etc. makes Rectenwald's comments look harmless. There are people like RedKahina who do accuse Zizek of antisemitism, not on account of explicit antisemitic statements, but just suspicious motifs he employs (aka dog-whistling). Yet many at NYU still defend Zizek from that charge, yet criticise Rectenwald.

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Just as an example of Zizek's sensationalism, in a recent lecture he mentioned the mid-1920s human-ape hybridization experiment by the zoologist Ivanov. In Zizek's telling Stalin (or the Bolsheviks) ordered the scientist: "I want a new invincible human being, insensitive to pain, resistant and indifferent about the quality of food they eat."

The only source for this quote is Chris Stephen and Allan Hall, “Stalin's half-man, halfape super-warriors,” The Scotsman, December 20, 2005.

They seem to reference unspecified "Moscow newspapers", which I doubt either of the authors could read in Russian. But Zizek just repeats this quote as gospel truth.

Perhaps Zizek was just being provocative/entertaining, and I, as an idiot, should learn to take everything he says with a grain of salt. But he seemed quite sincerely to buy this tabloid gossip:

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19926701-000-blasts-from-the-past-the-soviet-ape-man-scandal/

IT WAS the story with everything: secret papers, an evil Soviet dictator and a zealous zoologist hell-bent on breeding a creature that was half man, half ape. When details of Ilia Ivanov’s attempts to create an ape-human hybrid emerged in the 1990s from the newly opened Russian archives, they prompted a rash of lurid headlines. Ivanov became the “Red Frankenstein”. His proposed liaisons were invariably dangerous. .There was even the suggestion that he had been ordered to breed super-strong hairy warriors for what The Sun in London dubbed “Stalin’s mutant ape army”.

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

That Zizek story begins at 20min.30 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ov5c23jlNvA

The experiment was done by artificial insemination, but Zizek tells it like there was actual sex between man and ape. He also calls it misogynist because a male human mated with a female ape, not the other way around. What I read was actually male ape sperm was inseminated in human females. He also calls it racist, because the experiment was done in Africa on blacks (which supposedly are closer to apes). I think it was just a question about difficulty in preserving ape sperm. Later Ivanov managed to take some apes back to USSR (Abkhazia) and did the experiment on Georgian women.

This outrageous telling of the story featured in a lecture delivered in St.Petersburg on October 25th 2017 on 100th anniversary of Russian revolution!

Compared to that, Rectewald's open anti-bolshevikism looks like harmless idiocy:

Official Soviet sources show that the term politicheskaya korrektnost (political correctness) was used as early as 1921 to positively describe “correct” thinking. As expected, its author was none other than the primary architect of the Bolshevik revolution, Vladimir Lenin. Lenin’s promotion and later enforcement of political correctness followed from his notion of partiĭnost, or party spirit, which also stood for “party truth,” or the correct interpretation of the world and everything in it. After the revolution, political correctness was enforced by the Soviet terror.

http://www.ibtimes.com/why-political-correctness-incorrect-2645346

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

FWIW, an often-cited critique of IdPol by Jenny Bourne: 'Homelands of the mind: Jewish feminism and Identity Politics' (Race & Class, July 1987) opens with the lines:

Identity Politics is all the rage. Exploitation is out (it is extrinsically determinist). Oppression is in (it is intrinsically personal). What is to be done is replaced by who am I. Political culture has ceded to cultural politics. The material word has passed into the metaphysical. The Blacks, the Women, the Gays have all searched for themselves. and now, combining all their quests, has arrived the quest for Jewish feminist identity.

I haven't read the Jenny Bourne yet, but have added it to the list.

I had a quick look to see what Bourne had said more recently, and found these:

http://www.irr.org.uk/news/irrs-submission-to-the-labour-party-inquiry-into-anti-semitism-and-other-forms-of-racism/

A. Sivanandan, Liz Fekete and Jenny Bourne

5. Impact of identity politics: Simultaneously with the subjectivisation of racism has come the influence of identity-based politics, which tends to personalise the political and individualise the social, and move the fight against racism to a fight for culture. Obviously cultural exclusion can in certain circumstances lead to institutional racism (for example Sikhs in the 1960s being effectively banned from driving buses because the wearing of turbans was not compatible with the official uniform cap). And in other circumstances, a fight for culture can also be a fight against racism (e.g. the Gypsy and Travellers’ struggle for provision of sites). But it does not follow that all cultural or ethnic demands unmet by an organisation or state agency are tantamount to racism. This emphasis on cultural/religious/ethnic rights became official policy following Lord Scarman’s finding on the 1981 ‘riots’,[3] that ‘racial disadvantage’ and not institutional racism was the problem and could therefore be compensated by meeting ‘the problems and needs of the ethnic minorities’. In the event, it encouraged different ethnic groups to vie with each other for preference and reduced multiculturalism from meaning inter-culturalism to culturalism meaning separateness.

And:

http://www.irr.org.uk/news/government-u-turn-on-single-identity-group-funding/

Jenny Bourne

Jenny Bourne, of the Institute of Race Relations, said: ‘We have always argued that it is not how groups are constituted that matters but whether they are ethnically-focused and inward looking or whether they tackle a social issue. What a group does is more important than what it is. Hopefully, the government is coming round to that view.’

(writing against government's withdrawal of funding from groups such a Southall Black Sisters).

What the IRR crowd generally tend to do is to counterpose identity politics and anti-racism (as the first excerpt does), whereas someone like Adolph Reed Jr. will say that anti-racism (including organising against police killings, against mass deportations, or against workplace discrimination) is identity politics to conflate it with 'first woman president' bullshit.

The IRR lot tends to have a pretty specific target, whereas Reed et al shift their constantly.

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Lenin against identity politics of Jews. The Position of the Bund in the Party (1903):
...
And Karl Kautsky, in particular reference to the Russian Jews, expresses him self even more vigorously. Hostility towards non-native sections of the population can only be eliminated “when the non-native sections of the population cease to be alien and blend with the general mass of the population. That is the only possible solution of the Jewish problem, and we should support everything that makes for the ending of Jewish isolation."

Yet the Bund is resisting this only possible solution, for it is helping, not to end but to increase and legitimise Jewish isolation, by propagating the idea of a Jewish “nation” and a plan of federating Jewish and non- Jewish proletarians. That is the basic mistake of “Bundism”, which consistent Jewish Social-Democrats must and will correct. This mistake drives the Bundists to actions unheard of in the international Social-Democratic movement, such as stirring up distrust among Jewish towards non-Jewish proletarians, fostering suspicion of the latter and disseminating falsehoods about them. Here is proof, taken from this same pamphlet:

“Such an absurdity [as that the organisation of the proletariat of a whole nationality should be denied representation on the central Party bodies] could be openly advocated only [mark that!] in regard to the Jewish proletariat, which, owing to the peculiar historical fortunes of the Jewish people, still has to fight for equality [!!] in the world family of the proletariat."

We recently came across just such a trick in a Zionist leaflet, whose authors raved and fumed against Iskra, purporting to detect in its struggle with the Bund a refusal to recognise the “equality” of Jew and non-Jew. And now we find the Bundists repeating the tricks of the Zionists! This is disseminating an outright falsehood, for we have “advocated” “denying representation” not “only” to the Jews, but also to the Armenians, the Georgians and so on, and in the case of the Poles, too, we called for the closest union and fusion of the entire proletariat fighting against the tsarist autocracy. It was not for nothing that the P.S.P. (Polish Socialist Party) raged and fulminated against us! To call a fight for the Zionist idea of a Jewish nation, for the federal principle of Party organisation, a “fight for the equality of the Jews in the world family of the proletariat” is to degrade the struggle from the plane of ideas and principles to that of suspicion, incitement and fanning of historically-evolved prejudices. It glaringly reveals a lack of real ideas and principles as weapons of struggle.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Well Lenin never really broke with social democracy.

Lenin to Zetkin:

Lenin

I have heard strange things about that from Russian and German comrades. I must tell you what I mean. I understand that in Hamburg a gifted Communist woman is bringing out a newspaper for prostitutes, and is trying to organize them for the revolutionary struggle. Now Rosa a true Communist, felt and acted like a human being when she wrote an article in defense of prostitutes who have landed in jail for violating a police regulation concerning their sad trade. They are unfortunate double victims of bourgeois society. Victims, first, of its accursed system of property and, secondly, of its accursed moral hypocrisy. There is no doubt about this. Only a coarse-grained and short-sighted person could forget this. To understand this is one thing, but it is quite another thing how shall I put it? To organize the prostitutes as a special revolutionary guild contingent and publish a trade union paper for them. Are there really no industrial working women left in Germany who need organizing, who need a newspaper, who should be enlisted in your struggle? This is a morbid deviation. It strongly reminds me of the literary vogue which made a sweet madonna out of every prostitute. Its origin was sound too: social sympathy, and indignation against the moral hypocrisy of the honorable bourgeoisie. But the healthy principle underwent bourgeois corrosion and degenerated. The question of prostitution will confront us even in our country with many a difficult problem. Return the prostitute to productive work, find her a place in the social economy that is the thing to do. But the present state of our economy and all the other circumstances make it a difficult and complicated matter. Here you have an aspect of the woman problem which faces us in all its magnitude, after the proletariat has come to power, and demands a practical solution.

Lenin

It seems to me that this superabundance of sex theories, which for the most part are mere hypotheses, and often quite arbitrary ones, stems from a personal need. It springs from the desire to justify one’s own abnormal or excessive sex life before bourgeois morality and to plead for tolerance towards oneself. This veiled respect for bourgeois morality is as repugnant to me as rooting about in all that bears on sex. No matter how rebellious and revolutionary it may be made to appear, it is in the final analysis thoroughly bourgeois. Intellectuals and others like them are particularly keen on this. There is no room for it in the Party, among the class-conscious, fighting proletariat.

Wait until after the revolution dears, written 100 years ago.

Lenin of course never one to support one faction of the ruling class against another for opportunistic reasons later to be proved terrible:

Lenin

Thus the liberal bourgeoisie are abandoning the historical system of “two parties” (of exploiters), which has been hallowed by centuries of experience and has been extremely advantageous to the exploiters, and consider it necessary for these two parties to join forces against the Labour Party. A number of Liberals are deserting to the Labour Party like rats from a sinking ship. The Left Communists believe that the transfer of power to the Labour Party is inevitable and admit that it now has the backing of most workers. From this they draw the strange conclusion which Comrade Sylvia Pankhurst formulates as follows:

“The Communist Party must not compromise. . . . The Communist Party must keep its doctrine pure, and its independence of reformism inviolate, its mission is to lead the way, without stopping or turning, by the direct road to the communist revolution.”

On the contrary, the fact that most British workers still follow the lead of the British Kerenskys or Scheidemanns and have not yet had experience of a government composed of these people—an experience which was necessary in Russia and Germany so as to secure the mass transition of the workers to communism—undoubtedly indicates that the British Communists should participate in parliamentary action, that they should, from within parliament, help the masses of the workers see the results of a Henderson and Snowden government in practice, and that they should help the Hendersons and Snowdens defeat the united forces of Lloyd George and Churchill. To act otherwise would mean hampering the cause of the revolution, since revolution is impossible without a change in the views of the majority of the working class, a change brought about by the political experience of the masses, never by propaganda alone. “To lead the way without compromises, without turning”—this slogan is obviously wrong if it comes from a patently impotent minority of the workers who know (or at all events should know) that given a Henderson and Snowden victory over Lloyd George and Churchill, the majority will soon become disappointed in their leaders and will begin to support communism (or at all events will adopt an attitude of neutrality, and, in the main, of sympathetic neutrality, towards the Communists). It is as though 10,000 soldiers were to hurl themselves into battle against an enemy force of 50,000, when it would be proper to “halt”, “take evasive action”, or even effect a “compromise” so as to gain time until the arrival of the 100,000 reinforcements that are on their way but cannot go into action immediately. That is intellectualist childishness, not the serious tactics of a revolutionary class.

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

Well Lenin never really broke with social democracy.

How is that relevant to his critique of Bundism? From your standpoint you would have to make the case that Lenin ignored antisemitism by insisting on the primacy of class struggle, and to be consistent, call him an antisemitic chauvinist Russian.

Lenin

is as repugnant to me as rooting about in all that bears on sex. No matter how rebellious and revolutionary it may be made to appear, it is in the final analysis thoroughly bourgeois.

Incidentally, when I started a thread on why there's little discussion about sex on libcom, it was mothballed precisely by the libcommers IdPol fraction.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

Mike Harman

Well Lenin never really broke with social democracy.

How is that relevant to his critique of Bundism? From your standpoint you would have to make the case that Lenin ignored antisemitism by insisting on the primacy of class struggle, and to be consistent, call him an antisemitic chauvinist Russian.

It's relevant because he is not describing the self-organisation of the working class, but the programme of a Social Democratic political party - from that same piece, a paragraph you didn't quote:

Lenin

How can you talk of independence in questions of programme in connection, for example, with the demand for civil equality for the Jews? The Social-Democratic programme only sets forth the basic demands, common to the entire proletariat, irrespective of occupational, local, national, or racial distinctions. The effect of these distinctions is that one and the same demand for complete equality of citizens before the law gives rise to agitation against one form of inequality in one locality and against another form of inequality in another locality or in relation to other groups of the proletariat, and so on. One and the same point in the programme will be applied differently depending on differences in conditions of life, differences of culture, differences in the relation of social forces in different parts of the country, and so forth. Agitation on behalf of one and the same demand in the programme will be carried on in different ways and in different languages taking into account all these differences. Consequently, autonomy in questions specifically concerning the proletariat of a given race, nation, or district implies that it is left to the discretion of the organisation concerned to determine the specific demands to be advanced in pursuance of the common programme, and the methods of agitation to be employed. The Party as a whole, its central institutions, lay down the common fundamental principles of programme and tactics; as to the different methods of carrying out these principles in practice and agitating for them, they are laid down by the various Party organisations subordinate to the centre, depending on local, racial, national, cultural, and other differences.

Lenin's later comments to Zetkin castigated German women trying to organise prostitutes as a distraction - presumably this autonomy that he's opposed to. Sex workers are still organising (and went out on strike in New York recently) today. Elsewhere criminalisation is a massive obstacle to organisation - one that doesn't figure in the programmes of most groups because it doesn't affect them, and also which many 'feminists' are actually in favour of because they lump proletarians working in the industry in with the industry itself, taking a moral stance on sex work which undermines conditions and safety for sex workers themselves.

Or for another analogy we can see the anti-immigration rhetoric of a Trumka or Len McCluskey - who would like stricter border controls to try to control supply of labour - something which impedes workers organising - makes people easier to sack, evict and deport if they take any kind of action.

If we take Lenin's words literally "one and the same demand for complete equality of citizens before the law" this literally excludes non-citizens. Lenin might not have meant it like that, but modern border regimes certainly do - and social democracy has been one of the main 'left' creators of those regimes - the British Labour Party with the repatriation of Chinese sailors from Liverpool in 1946, the 1968 immigration act to exclude Kenyan Asians, and the 1999 immigration act which created Yarls Wood and the modern immigration detention and deportation regime.

Is this relevant enough?

Noa Rodman

Incidentally, when I started a thread on why there's little discussion about sex on libcom, it was mothballed precisely by the libcommers IdPol fraction.

1. The thread is still open.

2. I did not read the whole thread, but the last few comments were you positively citing Red Kahina, I think you may have mothballed yourself.

https://twitter.com/RedKahina/status/961615349530726400

Red Kahina

He virtually plagizarized +then vitiated the reporting of cory morningstar and vanessa beeley exposing the white helmets: he stole their research then insisted on stuffing it full of CIA/DoS propaganda lies about their "rescues" from Assad's genocidal program

https://twitter.com/RedKahina/status/960888296019779586

Red Kahina

Hello, that guy you are talking to is a Larouchie. I agree with you largely about 21st c wire, but some people doing good work end up publishing there because left "independent" media platforms are actually Soros or Omidyar or other CIA and

(both from this week).

radicalgraffiti

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

Well Lenin never really broke with social democracy.

Lenin to Zetkin:

Lenin

I have heard strange things about that from Russian and German comrades. I must tell you what I mean. I understand that in Hamburg a gifted Communist woman is bringing out a newspaper for prostitutes, and is trying to organize them for the revolutionary struggle. Now Rosa a true Communist, felt and acted like a human being when she wrote an article in defense of prostitutes who have landed in jail for violating a police regulation concerning their sad trade. They are unfortunate double victims of bourgeois society. Victims, first, of its accursed system of property and, secondly, of its accursed moral hypocrisy. There is no doubt about this. Only a coarse-grained and short-sighted person could forget this. To understand this is one thing, but it is quite another thing how shall I put it? To organize the prostitutes as a special revolutionary guild contingent and publish a trade union paper for them. Are there really no industrial working women left in Germany who need organizing, who need a newspaper, who should be enlisted in your struggle? This is a morbid deviation. It strongly reminds me of the literary vogue which made a sweet madonna out of every prostitute. Its origin was sound too: social sympathy, and indignation against the moral hypocrisy of the honorable bourgeoisie. But the healthy principle underwent bourgeois corrosion and degenerated. The question of prostitution will confront us even in our country with many a difficult problem. Return the prostitute to productive work, find her a place in the social economy that is the thing to do. But the present state of our economy and all the other circumstances make it a difficult and complicated matter. Here you have an aspect of the woman problem which faces us in all its magnitude, after the proletariat has come to power, and demands a practical solution.

does "find her a place in the social economy that is the thing to do." mean shoot her or is it the other way round?

Lenin

It is obvious that a whiteguard insurrection is being prepared in Nizhni. You must strain every effort, appoint three men will) dictatorial powers (yourself, Markin and one other), organise immediately mass terror, shoot and deport the hundreds of prostitutes who are making drunkards of the soldiers, former officers and the like.

Not a minute of delay.

https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1918/aug/09gff.htm

radicalgraffiti

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

Noa Rodman

Incidentally, when I started a thread on why there's little discussion about sex on libcom, it was mothballed precisely by the libcommers IdPol fraction.

1. The thread is still open.

2. I did not read the whole thread, but the last few comments were you positively citing Red Kahina, I think you may have mothballed yourself.

https://twitter.com/RedKahina/status/961615349530726400

Red Kahina

He virtually plagizarized +then vitiated the reporting of cory morningstar and vanessa beeley exposing the white helmets: he stole their research then insisted on stuffing it full of CIA/DoS propaganda lies about their "rescues" from Assad's genocidal program

https://twitter.com/RedKahina/status/960888296019779586

Red Kahina

Hello, that guy you are talking to is a Larouchie. I agree with you largely about 21st c wire, but some people doing good work end up publishing there because left "independent" media platforms are actually Soros or Omidyar or other CIA and

(both from this week).

Red Kahina also denies genocide in the Bosnian war eg https://twitter.com/RedKahina/status/955815778967785472

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

It's relevant because he is not describing the self-organisation of the working class, but the programme of a Social Democratic political party

You asked me what I meant by "Criticism can be directed even against the best forms of IdPol" and to give examples. I replied that: "By best forms of IdPol, I mean those that acknowledge the reality of class struggle." The example I gave was the Bund (which was part of the RSDLP.), which thus recognised class struggle, yet it was still perfectly legitimate for Lenin to direct criticism against it.

You didn't ask me about (criticism of) specifically non-party, a-political organisations/examples. But apparently that is your question properly formulated.

So then, please answer your own question: can you provide an example of an a-political/non-party group, which recognises class struggle, but whose focus is on a particular identity, that is open to criticism according to you (or was given a fair criticism by someone else)? If you can't provide an example, then you effectively precluded the possibility of criticism of IdPol groups whose only low criteria is to also pay some lip service to class struggle.

I did not read the whole thread, but the last few comments were you positively citing Red Kahina, I think you may have mothballed yourself.

You quoted Lenin's repugnancy of sex talk in politics. I didn't understand the relevance of that, nor your exclamation "Wait until after the revolution dears, written 100 years ago."

I merely note that Lenin's feeling was shared by many of the IdPol-inclined posters on that thread. In fact today it are Leninists (from Spiked to WSWS) who prominently sound the alarm about curtailment of sexual freedom.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

You didn't ask me about (criticism of) specifically non-party, a-political organisations/examples. But apparently that is your question properly formulated.

Well you said the 'best forms of IdPol' then you cited a criticism of an organisation that was organising within a social democratic political party, by one of the leaders of that social democratic political party.

Do you think the RSDLP was the best form of class struggle? If not how could an identity-formation within it be the best form of identity politics? If you do think the RSDLP was the best form of class struggle, then I don't think we'll agree on an example. Social Democracy has been about the representation of the working class in state institutions, not about the abolition of classes.

Noa Rodman

So then, please answer your own question: can you provide an example of an a-political/non-party group, which recognises class struggle, but whose focus is on a particular identity, that is open to criticism according to you (or was given a fair criticism by someone else)?

So the various Indian Worker Association (s) in the UK would be an example.

https://web.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/CRER_RC/publications/pdfs/Research%20Papers%20in%20Ethnic%20Relations/RP%20No.18.pdf is a good overview (I've not read it end-to-end, but dipped into different bits several times, see also Sivanandan 1982).

In the '30s they were mostly concerned with Indian independence, revived in the '50s/'60s to deal with campaigning against immigration laws, strike support, and more general social issues like language or navigating bureaucracy.

In the '60s you still had union-enforced colour bars, like on the Bristol buses: https://libcom.org/history/black-white-buses-1963-colour-bar-dispute-bristol

There were splits between groups that wanted a society for 'all Indians' vs. those committed to an Indian Workers Association. There were splits around membership/control via the CPGB, and on positions towards say the Naxalites in India in the '60s. There were tendencies that tried to organise community self-defence against the far right, vs. ones that drifted into state-affiliated institutions like the Labour Party, Commission for Racial Equality and similar.

So you have the full range of tendencies from rank-and-file within the trade unions, strike support outside the union structure (sometimes by necessity due to racial antipathy from the unions themselves, sometimes not), commitment to not using state institutions, drifts into state institutions, party affiliation/frontism, non-party-affiliated communiss.

These are all divisions which affect non-identity-based class struggle groups - see Plan C's gradual incorporation into the Labour Party, 2012-2018: https://libcom.org/forums/announcements/plan-c-website-launched-check-it-out-17102012 The tension in the US IWW between NRLB or not.

My issue is that in the case of the IWA, the drift to the Labour Party or the CRE will be placed on it being an 'identity-based' group - a natural tendency of identity politics towards cross-class alliances. With Plan C, there is more of a sense of either disbelief, or that it's the fault of careerism and similar, but identity politics is not blamed, nor a natural tendency towards cross-class alliances (although I personally do think that some post-autonomism re-introduces social democracy by the back door and in fact does contain such an ideological tendency - because it has a failed analysis of capitalism and class struggle and a lack of theory of the state).

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

Do you think the RSDLP was the best form of class struggle?

It is enough to admit that the RSDLP practised/recognised a form of class struggle.

If not how could an identity-formation within it be the best form of identity politics?

My criterion for the best forms of IdPol is merely their recognition of class struggle. You may argue that anarchist Jewish organisations were better forms of IdPol groups than socialist Jewish organisations, but the point would still stand that the Bund was better than non-class Jewish organisations.

If you do think the RSDLP was the best form of class struggle, then I don't think we'll agree on an example.

Even if you want to make the (implausible) case that the Bund was not engaged in any form of class struggle, that still leaves the fact that the Bund is an example of IdPol, which can be criticised.

Apparently your problem with the Bund would to be that they joined a Soc-Dem political party, a non-class group in your view. But clearly you must have a criticism of the Bund as an IdPol group too. It is not clear if your criticism of the Bund would be different from Lenin's.

Otherwise you can shield all IdPol groups from criticism by arbitrarily classifying them as "No True Class Organisations", i.e. cross-class alliances. So when they do some criticisable thing, you can say it is because they are non-class, not, however, because they adhere to IdPol.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Here's another example, although you've ignored my first one entirely so far.

https://libcom.org/history/burnsall-strike-glimpse-future-sarbjit-johal

They criticise themselves in that piece:

SASG

Workplaces are too small, too isolated, and trade unions leadership wields too much reactionary force. The strikers must then have new support networks from the community, from among unemployed workers, women's groups and so on. However the Burnsall strike shows that the role of the support group needs to be looked at carefully. The Burnsall Strikers Support Group London (in which SASG members were active) was successful in publicising the strike and raising its profile nationally but an assessment of the strike suggests that we spent too much time and energy in trying to push the union into action. We should have concentrated more on strategies independent of the union - such as mass pickets - to win the strike, irrespective of whether the union was going to support or block us.

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

They criticise themselves in that piece

That's a criticism of their over-reliance on unions. It is not a criticism of identity politics, on the contrary (I'd say it's a good justifying reason for IdPol).

As for your first example (of the IWAs), you acknowledge they did criticisable stuff, but immediately add that "these are all divisions which affect non-identity-based class struggle groups". In other words, it is not related to their IdPol orientation.

My example of a critique of the Bund did relate to their IdPol orientation. In your extremely restricted (arbitrary) definition, they were not a class-organisation. I think my criterion (namely the recognition of class struggle) is a low bar, but on the other hand it still excludes the great majority of IdPol groups which the rightwing/mainstream regards as the "left" (e.g. the Democratic Party, various NGOs, etc.).

radicalgraffiti

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

any thing can be criticised for any reason, that doesn't make the criticism useful or valid

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

radicalgraffiti

any thing can be criticised for any reason, that doesn't make the criticism useful or valid

Any sentence can be composed of words, that doesn't mean it contributes anything to discussion.

Red Marriott

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Sivanandan, mentioned in #47 above, died last month. From an obituary;

... Siva’s many celebrated aphorisms – easy-to-remember encapsulations of complex ideas that challenged simplistic assumptions. Others included: “We are here because you were there” (relating to post-colonial migration); “If those who have do not give, those who haven’t must take”; and “The personal is not political, the political is personal”.

The latter illustrated his growing frustration with the solipsism of emerging identity politics, particularly among what he saw as a more well-heeled, younger generation of intellectuals, who he felt were reluctant to engage with issues of class even though it was the struggles of the black working-class who had paved the way for them. “The people who made this mobility possible were those who took to the streets,” he once told me. “But they did not benefit.”

... In his polemic he was scathing. In the essay The Hokum of New Times (1990), he slated the shift towards a progressive politics rooted more in identity than class, branding it “a sort of bazaar socialism, bizarre socialism, a hedonist socialism: an eat, drink and be merry socialism because tomorrow we can eat drink and be merry again … a socialism for disillusioned Marxist intellectuals who had waited around too long for the revolution”. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/07/ambalavaner-sivanandan

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

As for your first example (of the IWAs), you acknowledge they did criticisable stuff, but immediately add that "these are all divisions which affect non-identity-based class struggle groups". In other words, it is not related to their IdPol orientation.

Well joining the Commission for Racial Equality you could put specifically down to identity politics.

But that's exactly my point - if trade unions, 'workers parties' suffer from the same problems as identity groups, is the problem the identity bit, or that they're trying to represent the group within capitalism? I think it's the latter the vast majority of the time. So then we could move away from a million boring boilerplate critiques of identity politics and look at representational politics in general - not leaving things open to crude workerist social democratic politics - something that's been pushed massively in the past three years.

Noa Rodman

My example of a critique of the Bund did relate to their IdPol orientation. In your extremely restricted (arbitrary) definition, they were not a class-organisation.

I didn't say they weren't a class organisation, I just said they were social democratic. It's you who's obsessed with definitions.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Red Marriott

Sivanandan, mentioned in #47 above, died last month. From an obituary;

... Siva’s many celebrated aphorisms – easy-to-remember encapsulations of complex ideas that challenged simplistic assumptions. Others included: “We are here because you were there” (relating to post-colonial migration); “If those who have do not give, those who haven’t must take”; and “The personal is not political, the political is personal”.

The latter illustrated his growing frustration with the solipsism of emerging identity politics, particularly among what he saw as a more well-heeled, younger generation of intellectuals, who he felt were reluctant to engage with issues of class even though it was the struggles of the black working-class who had paved the way for them. “The people who made this mobility possible were those who took to the streets,” he once told me. “But they did not benefit.”

This is the thing though. The movements Sivanandan documented of black and asian workers in the UK - the IWAs, British Black Panthers etc. are exactly the groups that someone like Adolph Reed (or Noa Rodman it seems) will lump in as 'identity politics'. Sivandan's not criticising those, a major part of his project was documenting autonomous working class black organisation - and he takes great care to do so in this essay - to show examples of what he thought was useful political work, while criticising the capitulation to the Labour Party and arithmetical representation from New Times.

Sivanandan

As for domicile, location, Marxism Today was to find these in the thinking of a Left intelligentsia eviscerated of class and the counsels of a Labour Party thrashing around for a showing at the polls. In France and Italy the Eurocommunists were parties in their own electoral right, but in Britain Marxism Today, having broken with the “Stalinists,” had no comparable base — nor, presumably, having broken so violently with the theory and practice of the vanguard party, could it countenance one. Labour, besides, was the established party of socialism.
[...]
Could Labour do the same? Could it abandon its traditional class perspective and accept that a social bloc has to be “constructed out of groups which are very different in terms of their material interests and social positions”? And could these “diverse identities” be welded together into a “collective will”?

[...]
There may well be all sorts of “resistance to the system,” as Stuart Hall suggests, in civil society today, all sorts of new social movements and “a politics of the family, of health, of food, of sexuality, of the body.” And they may even succeed in pushing out the boundaries of individual freedom. But the moment they threaten to change the system in any fundamental way or go beyond the personal politics of health, food, sexuality, etc., they come up against the power of the state. That power does not need to be used at every turn, just to intimate that it is there is sufficient to change the politics of the new social forces, personal politics, to a politics of accommodation.

Civil society is no pure terrain of consent where hegemonies can play at will; it is ringed around, if not with coercion, with intimations of coercion — and that is enough to buttress the system's hegemony. It is only in challenging state power that you expose the coercive face of the state to the people, sharpening their political sense and resistance, providing the temper and climate for “the construction” of more effective “social blocs.” Conversely, you cannot take on the dominant hegemonies in civil society without at some point — at the point of effectiveness, in fact — falling foul of the system.
[..]

By their very nature and location, the underclass are the most difficult to organise in the old sense of organisation. They do not submit to the type of trade union regimen which operates for the straight “official” workforce — but they come together, like villagers, through hearsay and common hurt, over a deportation case here or a death in custody there, to take on the immediate power of the immigration officer or the police and to go beyond it, if that is where it takes them, to oppose the power of the state itself as it presents itself on the street. They come together, too, over everyday cases of hardship to help out each other's families, setting up informal community centres to help them consolidate whatever gains they make. These are not great big things they do, but they are the sort of organic communities of resistance that, in a sense, were prefigured in the black struggles of the 1960s and 1970s and the insurrections of 1981 and 1985.

If we look since 1990, then there are ever more bizarre strands of 'identity politics' - the banknote stuff a couple of years back, Lean In, Hillary Clinton etc., but there's also been a knee-jerk productivist backlash from Bernie Sanders and supporters - who are just doing the mirror image in terms of electoral coalition building that New Times was reacting to in the '80s.

I've added this here btw: https://libcom.org/library/all-melts-air-solid-sivanandan

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

But that's exactly my point - if trade unions, 'workers parties' suffer from the same problems as identity groups, is the problem the identity bit, or that they're trying to represent the group within capitalism? I think it's the latter the vast majority of the time. So then we could move away from a million boring boilerplate critiques of identity politics and look at representational politics in general - not leaving things open to crude workerist social democratic politics - something that's been pushed massively in the past three years.

Accepting this reasoning, let me turn the tables: why do you (and Jay_S) rant about boilerplate critiques of IdPol, when in fact your problem really is with "workerist" social democratic politics and rightwing/mainstream attacks on the lifes of minorities?

Further, isn't it "idealistic" to regard the rightwing assault as based mainly on their having a critique of IdPol and appealing to the (white) working class? That's just a mirror version of the rightwing's story that the mainstream/elite's IdPol ideology is the tool of a leftwing ploy to destroy the country.

I didn't say they weren't a class organisation, I just said they were social democratic. It's you who's obsessed with definitions.

You asked me a definition/example. When I first referred to the Bund (mentioned by Jenny Bourne) you seemed to have no objection. Only when I brought up Lenin did you try to limit the range of definition. By the way, it was irrelevant for your to bring up organising prostitutes, unless you regard them as an identity.

The movements Sivanandan documented of black and asian workers in the UK - the IWAs, British Black Panthers etc. are exactly the groups that someone like Adolph Reed (or Noa Rodman it seems) will lump in as 'identity politics'. Sivandan's not criticising those, a major part of his project was documenting autonomous working class black organisation - and he takes great care to do so in this essay - to show examples of what he thought was useful political work, while criticising the capitulation to the Labour Party and arithmetical representation from New Times.

I don't think Sivanandan (and Jenny Bourne) were criticising the Labour Party (or Democratic Party) for being the Labour Party (ie electoralists) and being "workerist". They were criticising them for IdPol (hence Red Marriott, who I understand is against IdPol, rightfully could cite Sivanandan).

If you want to a hold critical discussion about Adolph Reed, give some quotes so that I know what you're on about.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

If you want to a hold critical discussion about Adolph Reed, give some quotes so that I know what you're on about.

See https://libcom.org/blog/identity-crisis-leftist-anti-wokeness-bullshit-22082017 and the footnotes.

If you want to watch three bald men arguing over combs, then Jacobin's Birch and Heideman vs. Reed is possibly where I first really started looking into him:
http://nonsite.org/editorial/how-racial-disparity-does-not-help-make-sense-of-patterns-of-police-violence
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/10/adolph-reed-blm-racism-capitalism-labor
http://nonsite.org/editorial/splendors-and-miseries-of-the-antiracist-left-2

(I think it's those three pieces unless there was a later rejoinder).

I picked Reed as the main focus of that article, because his close associate Cedric Johnson (author of Revolutionaries to Race Leaders) is cited in both 'Brown vs. Ferguson' and 'Black Representation after Ferguson' - he consistently traces an arc from the Black Panthers to figures like Obama, ignoring the dozen or so still in prison and people like Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin, and they barely even touch DRUM or the League of Revolutionary Black Workers.

Noa Rodman

Accepting this reasoning, let me turn the tables: why do you (and Jay_S) rant about boilerplate critiques of IdPol, when in fact your problem really is with "workerist" social democratic politics and rightwing/mainstream attacks on the lifes of minorities?

Because when they critique identity politics, it can be hard to tell which is which. Genuine communists have good reasons to critique identity politics, but they are often not actually that familiar with black socialist feminists (or subaltern studies or whatever the target is - and I include myself in that), so even when it's a good faith critique, it can still fall far short of the mark.

Let's take the original subject of this thread:

Rectumwald

The problem with identity politics, then, is that it is one-sided and undialectical. It treats identities as static entities, and its methods only serve to further reify those categories. It aims to liberate identity groups (or members thereof) qua identity groups (or individuals), rather than aiming to liberate them from identity itself. Identity politics fails not because it begins with various subaltern groups and aims at their liberation, but because it ends with them and thus cannot deliver their liberation. It makes identities and their equality with other “privileged” groups the basis of political activity, rather than making the overcoming of the alienated identity, for themselves and all identity groups, the goal. The abolition of the one-sidedness of identity – as worker, woman, man, or what have you – represents real human emancipation. Always failing this, identity politics settles for mere linguistic emancipation, which is offered (and policed so assiduously, as Fisher notes) by the defenders of the sanctuary of identity.

http://www.thenorthstar.info/2013/12/02/what%E2%80%99s-wrong-with-identity-politics-and-intersectionality-theory-a-response-to-mark-fisher%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%9Cexiting-the-vampire-castle%E2%80%9D-and-its-critics/

Compare to the foundational text of identity politics:

Combahee River Collective

We believe that sexual politics under patriarchy is as pervasive in Black women's lives as are the politics of class and race. We also often find it difficult to separate race from class from sex oppression because in our lives they are most often experienced simultaneously. We know that there is such a thing as racial-sexual oppression which is neither solely racial nor solely sexual, e.g., the history of rape of Black women by white men as a weapon of political repression.
...
We realize that the liberation of all oppressed peoples necessitates the destruction of the political-economic systems of capitalism and imperialism as well as patriarchy. We are socialists because we believe that work must be organized for the collective benefit of those who do the work and create the products, and not for the profit of the bosses. Material resources must be equally distributed among those who create these resources. We are not convinced, however, that a socialist revolution that is not also a feminist and anti-racist revolution will guarantee our liberation. We have arrived at the necessity for developing an understanding of class relationships that takes into account the specific class position of Black women who are generally marginal in the labor force, while at this particular time some of us are temporarily viewed as doubly desirable tokens at white-collar and professional levels. We need to articulate the real class situation of persons who are not merely raceless, sexless workers, but for whom racial and sexual oppression are significant determinants in their working/economic lives.

So Rectenwald is arguing against a strawman, a paper tiger - and has now largely turned into a strawman himself.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

I don't think Sivanandan (and Jenny Bourne) were criticising the Labour Party (or Democratic Party) for being the Labour Party (ie electoralists) and being "workerist". They were criticising them for IdPol (hence Red Marriott, who I understand is against IdPol, rightfully could cite Sivanandan).

I think they were criticising Stuart Hall et all, who had abandoned class (more specifically the workplace) as a site of struggle, and were looking for a new electoral coalition for the Labour party.

Sivanandan positively cited a lot of things that you would class as identity politics in that essay - such as the Bradford 12/Asian Youth Movements against the 'identity politics' of Hall et all - so we need to be clear what we're talking about, which 'idpol' does not do for us.

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Because when they critique identity politics, it can be hard to tell which is which. Genuine communists have good reasons to critique identity politics, but they are often not actually that familiar with black socialist feminists (or subaltern studies or whatever the target is - and I include myself in that), so even when it's a good faith critique, it can still fall far short of the mark.

But why does "which is which" in "boilerplate critiques of IdPol" matter at all, when your real problem is with (rightwing/mainstream) policy/attacks on the lifes of minorities? When good faith critique of genuine communists "falls far short of the mark", then, if "which is which" is to matter, in your view they must be complicit in "policy/attacks on the lifes of minorities". So why do you rant about those genuine communists' misguided boilerplate critiques of IdPol, if really your concern with them is that they their are complicit in or enabling policy/attacks on the lifes of minorities? I'm throwing back to you here your reasoning that:

if trade unions, 'workers parties' suffer from the same problems as identity groups, is the problem the identity bit, or that they're trying to represent the group within capitalism? I think it's the latter the vast majority of the time.

Evidently according to you the vast majority of the time (even genuine) critique of IdPol falls short (and enables "attacks on the lifes of minorities"), so why does "which is which" matter? Genuine critique of IdPol in your view should not be a critique of the identity bit.

Sivanandan positively cited a lot of things that you would class as identity politics in that essay - such as the Bradford 12/Asian Youth Movements against the 'identity politics' of Hall et all - so we need to be clear what we're talking about, which 'idpol' does not do for us.

I differentiated the vulgar IdPol from the class -recognising IdPol, and indeed said that even the best form (the latter) can be criticised (for their IdPol). But I'm not oblivious to the fact that there is a difference between vulgar and class-recognising IdPol.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

Evidently according to you the vast majority of the time (even genuine) critique of IdPol falls short (and enables "attacks on the lifes of minorities"), so why does "which is which" matter? Genuine critique of IdPol in your view should not be a critique of the identity bit.

I'm not sure I understand this entire section, but I'd just point back to the Sivanandan piece - where as well as critiquing 'identity politics', he also offers specific counter-examples of what he considers to be class-based anti-racist organising - so we at least know what he is criticising, and what he is not.

It matters in the sense that I hope when the next person whose read these discussions, or Robin Kelley or one of the other communist 'critique of critique of identity politics' pieces goes to write their next post, it will take some of these arguments into account and not just be bland boilerplate that a social democrat like Nagle would write.

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

So because boilerplate critiques of IdPol by social democrats in your view ignore/overlook "class-based anti-racist organising", you jump to the conclusion that they oppose organising the sweat shop labourers, etc. that compose what Sivanandan calls the "underclass"?

And even when a mainstream rightwinger rants about IdPol, do you think they primarily have in mind things like labour organising of sweat shop workers?

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

He's not only talking about workplace organising, he's also talking about stuff like this: https://libcom.org/library/politics-britains-asian-youth-movements-anandi-ramamurthy

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

So what is the equivalent today of the AYMs in your view (in the West)?

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The Ferguson and Baltimore uprisings, the self-organised protests in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis, and to some extent some of the local groups that either pre-existed them or came out of them (not the national Black Lives Matter org which is essentially an NGO, and especially not Campaign Zero).

Adolph Reed dismissed the uprisings as pseudo-radicalism - that people were not facing the repression that the civil rights movement did and it was essentially a front for Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders, despite people being shot in the head, being found dead in their cars, imprisoned for 8 years for lighting a trash can fire.

Some of the same sort of anti-deportation work that the AYMs used to get involved with (although organised on a different basis), has been done by the Unity Centre in Glasgow: http://unitycentreglasgow.org/fighting-deportation/

And the Kent Anti-Racism network: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/samim-bigzad-deport-uk-afghan-asylum-seeker-taliban-death-threats-government-pilot-refuse-take-off-a7918706.html - this example wasn't quite a mass picket of the airport, but it succeeded in getting the pilot to take on the job action to stop the deportation.

There's also the anti-raids network which publicises the disruption of immigration raids: http://antiraids.net/

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The Ferguson and Baltimore uprisings,
...
Adolph Reed dismissed the uprisings as pseudo-radicalism ... it was essentially a front for Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders,

My guess is that Reed was talking about the utilisation/portrayal by the mainstream "Left" of the uprising, not the ordinary people actually on the street. You'd have to give a quote. As for the Right, they didn't portray the people on the street as IdPol, but as criminals. If they brought in IdPol, it was only to point out that the city/police force itself was largely black (and the Right's problem wasn't with the fact that blacks are in the police, but that it was corrupt).

Your argument against Reed is all over the place. First you say that Reed in his critiques of IdPol ignores/overlooks "class-based anti-racist organising", next you say that that the problem is that he criticises it.

Your entire problem with boilerplate rants about IdPol seems to be based on the notion that they have primarily in mind things like the Baltimore uprisings or the anti-raids network. That notion is bizarre, to say the least.

radicalgraffiti

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

The Ferguson and Baltimore uprisings,
...
Adolph Reed dismissed the uprisings as pseudo-radicalism ... it was essentially a front for Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders,

My guess is that Reed was talking about the utilisation/portrayal by the mainstream "Left" of the uprising, not the ordinary people actually on the street. You'd have to give a quote. As for the Right, they didn't portray the people on the street as IdPol, but as criminals. If they brought in IdPol, it was only to point out that the city/police force itself was largely black (and the Right's problem wasn't with the fact that blacks are in the police, but that it was corrupt).

lol wat?

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

Your argument against Reed is all over the place. First you say that Reed in his critiques of IdPol ignores/overlooks "class-based anti-racist organising", next you say that that the problem is that he criticises it.

It's not me who's all over the place, he does both of these things as a rhetorical strategy. Even in the same essay.

Noa Rodman

You'd have to give a quote.

I posted three links above the last time you asked for quotes, did you not read them before replying? Why is it up to me to provide quotes from articles that are considerably shorter combined than the posts on this thread?

Mike Harman

If you want to watch three bald men arguing over combs, then Jacobin's Birch and Heideman vs. Reed is possibly where I first really started looking into him:
http://nonsite.org/editorial/how-racial-disparity-does-not-help-make-sense-of-patterns-of-police-violence
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/10/adolph-reed-blm-racism-capitalism-labor
http://nonsite.org/editorial/splendors-and-miseries-of-the-antiracist-left-2

Here's some quotes anyway though:

1. 'The civil rights movement started off radical in the '40s to mid-'60s then became conservative'. This is at the time the Panthers, LRBW, DRUM appeared, while COINTELPRO was assassinating and framing people all over the place - but these don't exist and instead we only have black electoral campaigns.

Adolph Reed

In fact, another, more richly grounded and textured perspective makes clear that their characterization of an initially conservative movement that became radical “through the course of struggle itself” is exactly the opposite of the movement’s trajectory. Preston Smith II’s important account of the constitutive tension between programs of racial democracy – an ideal of strict equality of opportunity within capitalism – and social democracy shows how the former tendency, under pressure of Cold War anti-leftism, the predominant class commitments among black civic elites, and positive reinforcement from the courts, liberal opinion-leaders, and the national Democratic coalition, became the dominant trend in the 1950s. The social-democratic tendency persisted; e.g., through the agency of A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin and their Negro American Labor Council, that tendency was the originating and primary organizing force of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which became Martin Luther King, Jr.’s event only in posthumous reinvention.3 But the victory of the racial-democratic orientation in the mid-1960s – illustrated symbolically in the emergence of Black Power ideology and defeat of the social-democratic initiatives spearheaded by Randolph and Rustin — underwrote consolidation of a new black political class of public officials, functionaries, and race relations administrators as the central force in black political agenda-formation.4 And, contrary to Birch and Heideman’s odd contention that racial redistribution is actually intrinsically anti-capitalist, the record of the black political regime consolidated in the late 1960s and early 1970s is most markedly class-skewed and amounts to at best a sort-of racial trickle down. That is, on this front, Birch and Heideman simply do not know what they’re talking about.

Shitting on the Ferguson and Baltimore uprisings, denying that people were quite able to speak for themselves over social media etc. (not just the Derays and Nettas):

Reed

Birch and Heideman do this regarding Occupy and Black Lives Matter, to the point even of projecting political profiles onto demonstrators in “cities like Baltimore, Ferguson, and now Charlotte” to counter my arguments regarding the class character of anti-disparitarianism as a political program. Basing themselves on what they understand to be “the logic of [demonstrators’] actions,” they assert “[p]eople do not risk their lives just to tinker with the social order, just as civil rights workers in the South did not risk theirs merely in the hopes of registering some more black voters.” Of course, describing what opposition BLM protesters may confront as at all comparable to the dangers faced by campaigners in the high period of southern civil rights activism is absurd and trivializes the conditions those activists faced. Moreover, very many civil rights workers most certainly did risk their lives “merely” to fight for registering black voters, but that is beside the point at the moment and is only another illustration of how poorly the authors understand the political history they declaim about.

Instead of self-organised uprisings against police violence, we should build a new independent political party of the working class and get union affiliations:

Reed

The idea behind the Labor Party was straightforward: to build an independent political party of the working class and to anchor it in the trade union movement. You can’t be a working-class party unless you’re anchored in the trade union movement; that’s where the working class is organized politically as a class, to the extent that it’s organized anywhere politically as a class. The immediate historical precipitants that it grew out of were networks of trade union activists who had been active in the anti-concessions movement in the 1970s and 80s; that’s why we were centered disproportionally in the industrial sector. The idea, as reflected in one of our popular slogans, was that the bosses have two parties so we should have one of our own. We tried to build around a program that was worked out in a participatory way but was shaped by a vision of pursuing class power. We were not interested in organizing the Left in the sense of aggregating left stances; we wanted instead to be a political party anchored in the working class. We always focused more on institutional affiliations from unions than on individual memberships because we knew that the key was to have the political capacity as well as the broader institutional capacity of the trade union movement. We were relatively successful in winning and retaining institutional affiliations.

Self-organisation, wildcat strikes, insurrections, work refusal etc. are an academic theory from cultural studies programmes, not central to the last 150 years of class struggle:

Reed

More than a decade and a half ago I criticized similar formulations of a notion of “infrapolitics,” understood as the domain of pre-political acts of everyday “resistance” undertaken by subordinated populations, which was then all the rage in cultural studies programs. Proponents of the political importance of this domain insisted that, because insurgent movements emerge within such cultures of quotidian resistance, a) examining them could help in understanding the processes through which insurgencies develop and/or b) they therefore ought to be considered as expressions of an insurgent politics themselves. Several factors accounted for the popularity of that version of the argument, which mainly had to do to with the political economy of academic life, including the self-propulsion of academic trendiness and the atrophy of the left outside the academy, which encouraged flights into fantasy for the sake of optimism. The infrapolitics idea also resonated with the substantive but generally unadmitted group essentialism underlying claims that esoteric, insider knowledge is necessary to decipher the “hidden transcripts” of the subordinate populations; put more bluntly, elevating infrapolitics to the domain on which the oppressed express their politics most authentically increased its interpreters’ academic capital.

Ferguson protestors suffering PTSD from getting tear gassed, shot at, watching other people die etc are 'self-referential nonpolitics':

Reed

AR: I don’t really see anything useful arising out of it. On the “new Jim Crow” front, have you seen the recent news about the mental health problems suffered by the protesters in Ferguson?1 That’s indicative of where this sort of nonpolitics as politics is overwhelmingly likely to go. When all is said and done, its only political standpoint is self-referential. I have been at meetings on campus recently where earnest activist-ist kids full of the Holy Ghost of political righteousness rise to declaim on what the “Young Activists in Ferguson” want the rest of us to do, the rules of racial and gender etiquette they want us to follow, and to demand that we all declare our willingness to follow those rules, as well as meetings where faculty babble on about the lessons of “intersectionality” we should take from this nonexistent movement, e.g., how meaningful it is that the actual authors of #blacklivesmatter are black lesbians or whatever.

All of these from http://nonsite.org/editorial/splendors-and-miseries-of-the-antiracist-left-2

(Reminder, the Jacobin article he's responding to is also shit, it's the way he's prepared to both erase and shit on self-organised working class movements to push shitty AFL-CIO affiliated third party campaigns).

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It's not me who's all over the place, he does both of these things as a rhetorical strategy. Even in the same essay.
...
The civil rights movement started off radical in the '40s to mid-'60s then became conservative'. This is at the time the Panthers, LRBW, DRUM appeared,
...
Shitting on the Ferguson and Baltimore uprisings

These are two periods/things. If he were to pay attention to the first (1970s radical black workers), e.g. LRBW, then he would probably criticise the LRBW's black nationalism (or retroactively, IdPol), as done here and also see the link in the comment section here. That he doesn't pay attention to it, is because his main target is the vulgar (most-widespread) non-class form of IdPol.

As for his criticism of Baltimore,his critique is not so much for its IdPol, as for the limitations associated with any protest movements (like the 1999 Seattle WTO-protests), acts of everyday resistance, etc. I don't think this criticism can be made only from a "boring Social-Democratic" perspective.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

It's not me who's all over the place, he does both of these things as a rhetorical strategy. Even in the same essay.
...
The civil rights movement started off radical in the '40s to mid-'60s then became conservative'. This is at the time the Panthers, LRBW, DRUM appeared,
...
Shitting on the Ferguson and Baltimore uprisings

These are two periods/things. If he were to pay attention to the first (1970s radical black workers), e.g. LRBW, then he would probably criticise the LRBW's black nationalism (or retroactively, IdPol), as done here and also see the link in the comment section here. That he doesn't pay attention to it, is because his main target is the vulgar (most-widespread) non-class form of IdPol.

If here were to do that though, then he'd also have to address the explicit shift in organisations like the Black Panthers from 'black nationalism' to class struggle in about 1970 - something which is the exact opposite trajectory to what he describes, or for that matter MLK starting to talk explicitly about anti-capitalism vs. legal rights shortly before he was assassinated.

If you'd read the whole piece, which your comment suggests you haven't (or maybe it's that charitable reading style you apply to Lenin on the other thread) he historicises the civil rights movement as starting out social democratic, then leading to a racial communalism by 1970, whereas we actually saw two divergent trends - into a representational race politics and an explicitly revolutionary anti-capitalist one, the revolutionary anti-capitalist one might be the more minor trend, but that is also the case vis a vis social democracy, it doesn't mean we just fucking jettison it due to superficially similar critiques of other things we don't like.

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

then leading to a racial communalism by 1970, whereas we actually saw two divergent trends - into a representational race politics and an explicitly revolutionary anti-capitalist one,

The LRBW was still marked by black nationalism.

the revolutionary anti-capitalist one might be the more minor trend, but that is also the case vis a vis social democracy, it doesn't mean we just fucking jettison it

Who said anything about jettisoning it? Reed just criticises the dominant trend of IdPol, because its the dominant trend. The better form of IdPols (which recognise class struggle) can be criticised as well.

I posit that when anyone, whether Left or Right, rants about IdPol they don't have in mind things like the LRBW (clearly Reed, as you strangely complain, doesn't have primarily it in mind).

I posit that when anyone rants about IdPol they don't have in mind the people on the street in Baltimore.

I posit that when anyone rants about IdPol they mean the dominant, non-class vulgar form of IdPol.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

I posit that when anyone rants about IdPol they don't have in mind the people on the street in Baltimore.

Maybe less positing and more reading things that are literally in front of your face as you type.

Adolph Reed

AR: I don’t really see anything useful arising out of it. On the “new Jim Crow” front, have you seen the recent news about the mental health problems suffered by the protesters in Ferguson?1 That’s indicative of where this sort of nonpolitics as politics is overwhelmingly likely to go. When all is said and done, its only political standpoint is self-referential. I have been at meetings on campus recently where earnest activist-ist kids full of the Holy Ghost of political righteousness rise to declaim on what the “Young Activists in Ferguson” want the rest of us to do, the rules of racial and gender etiquette they want us to follow, and to demand that we all declare our willingness to follow those rules, as well as meetings where faculty babble on about the lessons of “intersectionality” we should take from this nonexistent movement, e.g., how meaningful it is that the actual authors of #blacklivesmatter are black lesbians or whatever.

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I don't think he has in mind the ordinary local people spontaneously on the street, but rather "the earnest activist-ist kids" on campus, the activist scene and finally Democratic politicians, which latch on to the events. The mental health problems discussed include e.g. also depression and burn-out, a well-known problem with activism in general.

Again, the black protestors were not criticised even by the Right for IdPol, but simply for criminality.

When the Right (or anyone) rants about IdPol, I posit they have in mind primarily the non-class, vulgar form of IdPol, symbolic things like speech, cultural appropriation in the media and campus, not black youth on the streets of Baltimore or Ferguson. Or is that just my crazy impression?

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

Again, the black protestors were not criticised even by the Right for IdPol, but simply for criminality.

You can keep saying this in the face of four years of evidence, but it doesn't make it any less bullshit.

Richard Spencer, interviewed by Russia Today, 2016:

Richard Spencer

What we have here is that the Black Lives Matter protesters will take an unfortunate incident and use it as a way to express something much bigger, a much bigger concern that they have. Black Lives Matter is not really about police violence because it is not a problem in the US. What it is about is a Black power movement; you could say it is a Black identity movement. They are using police violence as, you could say, an excuse or as a spark, as a way of expressing their bigger agenda. And that’s what this is about. It really isn’t about these cases. Every time you look into these cases, sometimes they are ambiguous, sometimes they are not ambiguous. The fact is if you resist a police officer, you are effectively committing suicide. That’s not nice, but it is just the facts.

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/360414-charlotte-protests-police-brutality/

New York Times, 2014, "The Retreat to Identity"
Ross Douthat

Unfortunately, identity is also the most primal, reliable form of political division. And Ferguson has provided a case study in exactly how powerfully it works.

There was a moment, early in the debate over the death of Michael Brown, when it felt as if this story might vindicate the case for optimism about racial politics — that the original tragedy might be sufficiently transparent, the subsequent police misconduct in quelling protests sufficiently clear-cut, for Ferguson to become a more powerful exhibit in the increasingly bipartisan case for various criminal justice reforms.

But then it became clear that the situation was murkier — that the cop had witnesses and physical evidence supporting his side of the story, that police had to deal with looters as well as peaceful protesters. As John McWhorter wrote in Time magazine, by the time the grand jury handed down its non-indictment the original narrative about Ferguson could only survive with “a degree of elision” and “adjustment.” Which meant, predictably, that the potential for consensus receded, and how people felt about the story became primarily a matter of identification instead.

Do you identify more with a black teenager or with a cop? With protesters menaced by playing-soldier cops or with business owners menaced by the protest’s violent fringe? With various government spokesmen or with, say, Al Sharpton?

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/30/opinion/sunday/ross-douthat-the-retreat-to-identity.html

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Is my distinction between local protestors (direct family, friends, school children, neighbourhood residents), and activist groups like BLM (which of course are identity politics) incomprehensible?

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Again, please read the fucking articles:

RT

A curfew went into effect for Charlotte, North Carolina during a third night of protests against the police. Unrest broke out in southeastern US city on Wednesday when a Black Lives Matter march spiraled out of control after Tuesday's fatal police shooting of a Black civilian.

...

Black Lives Matter protesters will take an unfortunate incident and use it as a way to express something much bigger, a much bigger concern that they have. Black Lives Matter is not really about police violence because it is not a problem in the US. What it is about is a Black power movement; you could say it is a Black identity movement.

Do you think Richard Spencer makes a distinction between local protestors and activist groups in that statement? If not can you acknowledge you're just talking complete shit when you said that protestors were only described as criminals and not dismissed as identity politics?

Pennoid

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike, your grand strategy is that workers will wildcat their way to communism? No wonder you get wrong on so much else.

When's the last time workers wildcatted their way to social power? It's a mirage. A strike committee even at the city level has to grapple with taking political power so soon as it extends beyond a narrow industry and grasps all the workers in it's sway. When this generalization takes place, who is going to keep the peace?

And since we know this is the case, how are to organize? In clandestine cells? Pretend we don't know that this will happen? Not prepare and educate the workers to aim for this end effectively so that they can readily hold this political power and wield it?

Are we supposed to just sit in our reading groups and wait to spring to action when the spontaneous mass wildcats starts unfolding?

Yikes.

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Do you think Richard Spencer makes a distinction between local protestors and activist groups in that statement? If not can you acknowledge you're just talking complete shit when you said that protestors were only described as criminals and not dismissed as identity politics?

Spencer is a proponent of white identity politics, so I don't think he's dismissing/criticising them (whether mere local protestors, or particularly activist groups - let's leave that minor point aside) for identity politics. His problem is just that the "black side" is better at mobilising itself in what he sees as race war.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

As for the Right, they didn't portray the people on the street as IdPol, but as criminals.

Noa Rodman

Spencer is a proponent of white identity politics, so I don't think he's dismissing/criticising them (whether mere local protestors, or particularly activist groups - let's leave that minor point aside) for identity politics.

Richard Spencer

What it is about is a Black power movement; you could say it is a Black identity movement.

???

Here's another one from Brendan O'Neill in 2014, where he only just stops short of calling Ferguson protestors racist:

http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/after-ferguson-whos-really-racialising-america/16331#.WodTgJPFK1s
Brendan O'Neill

Progressives are now the most fervent promoters of racialised thinking.
..
the most rigid racialised commentary has come, not from the police or the state, but from the protesting liberals and radicals.
..
it hasn’t been American officialdom that has explicitly played the race card, talking about whole sections of society as homogenous entities with particular characteristics that need to be closely monitored and possibly corrected. No, it’s the supposedly progressive side in the debate that has done this, which has indulged in highly racialised political commentary and action. This tells us a great deal about where the racialising dynamic is really coming from today.
..
But among the apparently more progressive sections of public life, racial thinking now comes naturally and causes little controversy.

I really can't be arsed to continue this discussion if you're going to dismiss the examples I've given you of exactly what you asked for.

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I think Spiked is talking about the post-Ferguson activist/movement. Even if I were to grant you that Spencer is speaking also about the original local protests (not yet politicized), that would be just because he regards anything a minority group does as an expression of their identity. The point you're missing though is that he, unlike the mainstream rightwing, portrays identity not in a dismissive/negative light. Spencer is a proponent of identity politics. So you're reading too much into Spencer's statement.

R Totale

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

I think Spiked is talking about the post-Ferguson activist/movement. Even if I were to grant you that Spencer is speaking also about the original local protests (not yet politicized)...

If you think that O'Neill is talking about BLM as an IdPol activist movement, separate and distinct from the original spontaneous street uprisings, would you be able to point out where he discusses the spontaneous street uprisings as a separate distinct thing that has nothing to do with IdPol?

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Sure, he contrasts the activist protests in Ottowa with the original protests in Ferguson:

The clearest sign that a rigid racial consciousness is now at least as strong, if not stronger, among the supposed opponents of police brutality as it is among the police themselves came during the big Ottawa protest over the grand jury’s decision not to indict the cop who killed Brown in Ferguson. The protest was, in essence, segregated. The radical organisers of the demo paid lip service to the ideal of solidarity, saying ‘we appreciate the solidarity shown by White and Non-Black People of Colour’, but then suggested whites should march separately from blacks. ‘Please refrain from taking up space in all ways possible’, they told white attendees, before cautioning against white people speaking to the media, because ‘you should never be at the centre of anything’. The protest was slammed by critics for being not so much ‘anti-racist’ as ‘pro-segregation’.

Imagine if, post-Ferguson, the police in Missouri had issued instructions that effectively segregated political marches. There would, rightly, have been outrage. But among the apparently more progressive sections of public life, racial thinking now comes naturally and causes little controversy.

R Totale

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

OK, you've provided another example of him talking about BLM-as-IdPol-activist-movement. Now can you show where he says "also the street protests in Ferguson were nothing to do with the IdPol activist movement I'm discussing, they were just pure criminality"?

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

O'Neill didn't call the local protests criminality, since he's not a law-an-order type. As a liberal he can support protests to hold police accountable.

Let's untangle why Mike Harman is trying to disprove my claim that when people rant about IdPol, they don't have in mind Ferguson local protestors. Why does he feel the need to argue against such claim? Suppose I'm right, what general position does Mike believe will follow?

That those ranting against IdPol aren't criticising ordinary people with serious grievances (like e.g. organisers of sweatshop workers, protestors against police violence, fracking, unsafe drinking water, etc.)? Or that these ranters against IdPol aren't inherently rightwing? Just trying to understand what's at issue here for you.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Let's remind you again of what you said:

Noa Rodman

Again, the black protestors were not criticised even by the Right for IdPol, but simply for criminality.

When the Right (or anyone) rants about IdPol, I posit they have in mind primarily the non-class, vulgar form of IdPol, symbolic things like speech, cultural appropriation in the media and campus, not black youth on the streets of Baltimore or Ferguson.

Noa Rodman

O'Neill didn't call the local protests criminality, since he's not a law-an-order type. As a liberal he can support protests to hold police accountable.

O'Neill does not actually discuss the protests in Ferguson at all (let alone contrast), because his aim is to discredit them by association with a (possibly apocryphal or at least exaggerated, given it's Spiked Online!) story from Ottawa.

Reed does similar - either he focuses on what people are talking about on campus (where he works, he's a professor of political science) as a way of damning protestors by association, or where he does talk about protestors, it's only as a voiceless amorphous mass devoid of politics who can't speak and must inevitably be recuperated by the new generation of race leaders - as if we couldn't read and even discuss with Ferguson protestors on twitter as it unfolded, let alone afterwards.

When Spencer talks about Black Lives Matter, he means any protest by black people against police violence at all, because he would like the police to be rounding up black people for forced repatriation.

There you have social democratic left, some sort of bizarre centrist libertarian middle, and far right. Let's not assume you're right, but instead admit that you're deeply wrong and talk about that.

R Totale

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

My understanding of the situation is that shoddy critiques of IdPol are frustrating precisely because they never deal with things like the Ferguson/Baltimore/St Louis uprisings, or the Detroit RUMs or whatever. It's not, or it's very rarely, "BLM has these negative tendencies, but then it's also used as a slogan associated with these serious grievances, and the spontaneous uprisings against them", much more often it tends to be "BLM has these negative tendencies, end of story".

So, by way of analogy: if I say "Marxism is bad because it's nationalist, and the majority of the Second International supported WWI", we can all recognise that as a shitty critique, right? And if I then say, "oh, I recognise there were some minority tendencies that didn't support WWI, that's not who my critique is about", but then don't engage any further with those tendencies at all, we can still recognise my critique as bad, right?

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

but instead admit that you're deeply wrong and talk about that.

Suppose you're right and everyone who rants about IdPol does have in mind people like the non-activist ordinary Ferguson protestors, who are not positively engaged with, their voices not heard, dismissed/ignored/criticised. If it weren't for those ranters against IdPol, would then the local protestors' voices be better heard, would they be more positively engaged? What does that mean concretely?

R Totale

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

Suppose you're right and everyone who rants about IdPol does have in mind people like the non-activist ordinary Ferguson protestors, who are not positively engaged with, their voices not heard, dismissed/ignored/criticised. If it weren't for those ranters against IdPol, would then the local protestors' voices be better heard, would they be more positively engaged? What does that mean concretely?

I'm confused. Are you taking a hard nihilist stance here, where all theory and critique is essentially useless, so it doesn't really matter whether a critique is vaguely accurate or not? Because sure, that's definitely a stance you could take, if you want, but I didn't think it's where you were coming from.
But if we agree to bracket that question aside and assume that theory is of some use, and that it's a good thing for theory to have some kind of relationship to reality, then it seems pretty obvious to me that a theoretical model that can recognise and unpack different tendencies and critique them accurately is more desirable than one that just sweepingly bundles a variety of wildly different things together.
To row things a long way back, because honestly I'm kind of mystified by how you got from Michael Rechtenwald to arguing about whether your headcanon versions of Brendan O'Neill and Richard Spencer would support protests against police brutality, what Mike actually said, many posts ago, was:
Mike Harman

What the IRR crowd generally tend to do is to counterpose identity politics and anti-racism (as the first excerpt does), whereas someone like Adolph Reed Jr. will say that anti-racism (including organising against police killings, against mass deportations, or against workplace discrimination) is identity politics to conflate it with 'first woman president' bullshit.

The IRR lot tends to have a pretty specific target, whereas Reed et al shift their constantly.

Now, we can argue about whether that characterisation of Reed is accurate, but if it is then surely it shouldn't be that hard to grasp why we might prefer a line of argument that distinguishes between those different tendencies, and is able to examine their specific features, rather than one that lumps them all together?
Like, to give another example of how unhelpful and muddled "left-anti-idpol" can be, take this example, cited in a review of Angela Nagle's book:

...this is a classic sleight of hand – to attack those to one’s left by associating them with those to one’s right. The politics Nagle is espousing are that of a parlour trick. She repeatedly throughout the book will combine in a single paragraph or even a single sentence a perfectly reasonable and defensible left position – let’s say Justin Trudeau being a white supremacist – with an absurd one – Hillary Clinton being a feminist and “Bernie Bros” being anti-feminist. So, to be clear, Nagle is saying to Indigenous people and the great swathe of the Left that have finally come to support Indigenous social movements that they are the equivalent of a liberal because they justifiably argue that, even if personally Justin is a nice guy with a tattoo, he is not your friend, he is an upholder of white supremacy. Opposing Justin Trudeau and the Canadian Liberal Party’s history of white supremacy is the same as supporting Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders. Okay.

Whether or not you think "white supremacist" is a useful term to use for Justin Trudeau, can we agree that a politics that can distinguish between people criticising Trudeau and the Canadian Liberals for upholding a colonial project on one hand, and people using the language of feminism to support Clinton and the Democrats on the other, is more useful than a politics that just goes "people criticising Trudeau say words that are to do with identity, people supporting Clinton say words that are to do with identity, SAME THING!"?

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm confused. Are you taking a hard nihilist stance here, where all theory and critique is essentially useless, so it doesn't really matter whether a critique is vaguely accurate or not?

Mike's problem is not just that rants against IdPol are inaccurate (in that they supposedly conflate local protest against police violence with e.g. Hilary Clinton or campus activism), but that their main target is not really Hilary at all but the local protestors (which are ignored/dismissed/unstatedly attacked). So I say, in order to understand what is at stake here for Mike, suppose that is true, then how should these local protestors be engaged more positively, how should their voices be better listened to? And what does that concretely mean?

your headcanon versions of Brendan O'Neill and Richard Spencer would support protests against police brutality,

I said Spencer didn't criticise BLM for identity politics.

a politics that just goes "people criticising Trudeau say words that are to do with identity, people supporting Clinton say words that are to do with identity, SAME THING!"?

The example is made up by the reviewer it seems.

R Totale

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

Mike's problem is not just that rants against IdPol are inaccurate (in that they supposedly conflate local protest against police violence with e.g. Hilary Clinton or campus activism), but that their main target is not really Hilary at all but the local protestors (which are ignored/dismissed/unstatedly attacked). So I say, in order to understand what is at stake here for Mike, suppose that is true, then how should these local protestors be engaged more positively, how should their voices be better listened to? And what does that concretely mean?

Mike can probably speak for himself, although this is probably quite indicative of what his main concern is:
Mike Harman

What the IRR crowd generally tend to do is to counterpose identity politics and anti-racism (as the first excerpt does), whereas someone like Adolph Reed Jr. will say that anti-racism (including organising against police killings, against mass deportations, or against workplace discrimination) is identity politics to conflate it with 'first woman president' bullshit.

The IRR lot tends to have a pretty specific target, whereas Reed et al shift their constantly.

But anyway, as I understand it, the critique of standard anti-IdPol rhetoric here is not that it's not about Clinton (gosh, what a lot of double negatives I'm having to employ), but that it fails to distinguish between people fighting the cops in the street and the mainstream of the Democratic party. If we can't agree on that much, then I think we're getting into full-on Humpty Dumpty territory here.

Noa Rodman

The example is made up by the reviewer it seems.

Page 13 in this PDF:
Nagle

calling everyone from saccharine pop stars to Justin Trudeau a ‘white supremacist’ and everyone who wasn’t With Her a sexist

[youtube]kQFKtI6gn9Y[/youtube]

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

the critique of standard anti-IdPol rhetoric here is not that it's not about Clinton (gosh, what a lot of double negatives I'm having to employ),

Mike claims that the rhetoric is really about dismissing non-activist ordinary people in the street, so when the ranters go on about the IdPol activist/liberal elite, that is just a fig-leaf.

but that it fails to distinguish between people fighting the cops in the street and the mainstream of the Democratic party. If we can't agree on that much, then I think we're getting into full-on Humpty Dumpty territory here.

I understand that is your/Mike's position, but I don't agree with it. You feel so strongly that you're right, that you can't conceive even that I have reason to disagree. You're saying that ranters against IdPol fail to distinguish between non-activist ordinary people in the street and the IdPol activists-liberals. I posit that the anti-IdPol rhetoric doesn't *explicitly* criticise people like the Ferguson local protestors. When the mainstream/rightwing attacked the local protestors it was in terms of law and order. Mike's claim is that *implicitly* the anti-IDPol rhetoric does criticise people like the Ferguson local protestors, moreover that those people are the real target (not so much the Clinton).

Now I do agree that Reed criticises the activists ,as well as the Democratic Hilary types. but I don't think that means that he is against ordinary people protesting police violence, or any type of organised activism (to combat police violence). He' just opposed to activism framed in anti-racist terms.

R Totale

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

Mike claims that the rhetoric is really about dismissing non-activist ordinary people in the street, so when the ranters go on about the IdPol activist/liberal elite, that is just a fig-leaf.

I can't quite believe that we're having to engage in this level of hermeneutics in order to try and work out what a poster on this thread thinks, as if they were someone who died 100 years ago writing in a different language or something, but it would be helpful if you could provide a citation so we can judge why it is that you think that. Or possibly Mike could explain exactly what he means, although I don't think that's likely to stop you at this point.

I understand that is your/Mike's position, but I don't agree with it. You feel so strongly that you're right, that you can't conceive even that I have reason to disagree.

I'm fine with you disagreeing, I'd just like some clarity about what it is that you're disagreeing with.

You're saying that ranters against IdPol fail to distinguish between non-activist ordinary people in the street and the IdPol activists-liberals. I posit that the anti-IdPol rhetoric doesn't *explicitly* criticise people like the Ferguson local protestors.

Sure, much of the time it doesn't, and that's exactly the point: precisely where it should deal with things like the Ferguson or Baltimore uprisings, it disappears them, they get perhaps a cursory sentence or two and then get whisked away behind the figure of the Bad Identity Activist Who Wants You To Vote For Clinton. That's how erasure works.

Now I do agree that Reed criticises the activists ,as well as the Democratic Hilary types. but I don't think that means that he is against ordinary people protesting police violence, or any type of organised activism (to combat police violence). He' just opposed to activism framed in anti-racist terms.

That's grand. Lovely to know. Now, can you provide citations for the bits in Reed that you interpret as saying "I am fine with ordinary people protesting against police violence, and think that it's good, as long as they're not doing Bad Identity Activism"?
(By the by, I also think it's probably unhelpful to think in terms of a strict division between Activists and Ordinary People, just as there's not much use in separating economic class struggle organisations out into goodies like the IWW and baddies like USDAW, I think it's much more fruitful to think in terms of a communist/anti-political/whatever tendency and a liberal/representational one as both being present, more or less strongly, within pretty much any situation. But that's possibly a matter for a different, much less inane, conversation.)

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

sorry this post messes up your quotes, I wanted to copy it entirely (my only comment is at the very end )

admin, sort of fixed the quoting

R Totale

..Noa Rodman

Mike claims that the rhetoric is really about dismissing non-activist ordinary people in the street, so when the ranters go on about the IdPol activist/liberal elite, that is just a fig-leaf.

I can't quite believe that we're having to engage in this level of hermeneutics in order to try and work out what a poster on this thread thinks, as if they were someone who died 100 years ago writing in a different language or something, but it would be helpful if you could provide a citation so we can judge why it is that you think that. Or possibly Mike could explain exactly what he means, although I don't think that's likely to stop you at this point.

I understand that is your/Mike's position, but I don't agree with it. You feel so strongly that you're right, that you can't conceive even that I have reason to disagree.

I'm fine with you disagreeing, I'd just like some clarity about what it is that you're disagreeing with.

You're saying that ranters against IdPol fail to distinguish between non-activist ordinary people in the street and the IdPol activists-liberals. I posit that the anti-IdPol rhetoric doesn't *explicitly* criticise people like the Ferguson local protestors.

Sure, much of the time it doesn't, and that's exactly the point: precisely where it should deal with things like the Ferguson or Baltimore uprisings, it disappears them, they get perhaps a cursory sentence or two and then get whisked away behind the figure of the Bad Identity Activist Who Wants You To Vote For Clinton. That's how erasure works.

Now I do agree that Reed criticises the activists ,as well as the Democratic Hilary types. but I don't think that means that he is against ordinary people protesting police violence, or any type of organised activism (to combat police violence). He' just opposed to activism framed in anti-racist terms.

That's grand. Lovely to know. Now, can you provide citations for the bits in Reed that you interpret as saying "I am fine with ordinary people protesting against police violence, and think that it's good, as long as they're not doing Bad Identity Activism"?

(By the by, I also think it's probably unhelpful to think in terms of a strict division between Activists and Ordinary People, just as there's not much use in separating economic class struggle organisations out into goodies like the IWW and baddies like USDAW, I think it's much more fruitful to think in terms of a communist/anti-political/whatever tendency and a liberal/representational one as both being present, more or less strongly, within pretty much any situation. But that's possibly a matter for a different, much less inane, conversation.)

---

This whole reasoning sounds much like when you criticise the unions or parliamentary parties and people reply; so you want to do nothing? Are you against organising/politics?

Is it really necessary for Reed (or even Spiked), to say that they are fine with ordinary people protesting police violence? Concretely it would not mean much any way, if Reed et al. did, nor does it mean much that you are saying 'let us not neglect the ordinary protestors'.

R Totale

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

This whole reasoning sounds much like when you criticise the unions or parliamentary parties and people reply; so you want to do nothing? Are you against organising/politics?

Is it really necessary for Reed (or even Spiked), to say that they are fine with ordinary people protesting police violence? Concretely it would not mean much any way, if Reed et al. did, nor does it mean much that you are saying 'let us not neglect the ordinary protestors'.


The point isn't that I want Adolph Reed to say "I think it is good when people protest against police violence", the point is that, if their critiques are to be of much use to communists, they should be able to identify moments of working-class self-organisation and discuss and analyse those moments in their own terms, rather than sweeping them up in a discussion of something else.
If Reed et al can't recognise w-c s-o at work in those moments, then that speaks to him/the politics he represents having a narrow and inadequate understanding of working-class activity.
I'm not saying anyone should simply praise Ferguson or Baltimore or whatever, any more than they should with any other moment of history, but that it would be good to have a proper understanding of those moments, what their limitations were, what forces and tendencies within those situations pointed towards a possible overcoming of those limitations, and so on.
A critique that just picks up on the fact that some people in those moments said some stuff to do with identity and automatically comes out with "triggered snowflake sjw liberals, basically the same as Hillary Clinton", does not advance us towards that in any meaningful way.

Finally, I'm nervous of derailing this conversation even further, but I'd like to return to the analogy I offered of a critique of Marxism that just says "the majority of the Second International supported WWI, therefore Marxism is bad because it's nationalist". Can we agree that that critique would be bad? If I came out with that critique, and people got annoyed by it, would that be because they just wanted me to say that I was fine with internationalist, anti-war socialists? After all, concretely it would not mean much any way, if I did.

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Finally, I'm nervous of derailing this conversation even further, but I'd like to return to the analogy

I have given your analogy much thought, because it superficially appeals to what I hold dear, but it doesn't clarify what the supposed fallacy consists of.

If I came out with that critique, and people got annoyed by it, would that be because they just wanted me to say that I was fine with internationalist, anti-war socialists? After all, concretely it would not mean much any way, if I did.

If that Marx-critic is willing to recognise that the anti-war socialists are Marxists, then the thesis that Marxism=nationalism should be abandoned. The other thesis, that the majority of the Second International supported WWI, remains standing.

R Totale

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

I have given your analogy much thought, because it superficially appeals to what I hold dear, but it doesn't clarify what the supposed fallacy consists of.

Bundling together disparate things on the basis of a superficial resemblance, and using that superficial resemblance to something that can be easily dismissed to avoid engaging with a range of other things. Do you see what I'm getting at?

If that Marx-critic is willing to recognise that the anti-war socialists are Marxists, then the thesis that Marxism=nationalism should be abandoned. The other thesis, that the majority of the Second International supported WWI, remains standing.

And what if I initially fail to mention the existence of anti-war socialists, but then briefly pay them lip service if pressed on the matter, but never really analyse them in any meaningful way and always insist on turning the conversation back around to the SPD and Labour Party majorities as quickly as I can?

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

And what if I initially fail to mention the existence of anti-war socialists, but then briefly pay them lip service if pressed on the matter, but never really analyse them in any meaningful way and always insist on turning the conversation back around to the SPD and Labour Party majorities as quickly as I can?

When the main goal is to criticise the majority SPD's support for war, then it is permissible to just pay lip service to the existence of anti-war socialists, since this can serve to damn the claim of the SPD to be Marxists/genuine socialists even more. However, in the case of Reed, he could not have mentioned an example of non-IdPol activism (to buttress his critique of the majority IdPol activism), since his point is that the majority are really IdPol activists (whereas bringing up the anti-war socialists would be done to depict the majority SPD as false Marxists).

You are asking not just for cheap acknowledgement/praise, but a helpful critique of the anti-war socialists. If the critic turns the conversation back to the majority SPD, it is because his main priority here is to expose them. To offer the anti-war socialists helpful suggestions can be done after his critique of the majority SPD has been accepted, after the SPD majority has been exposed. You don't accept his critique yet, but rather cast it aside by insisting he also, or first, criticse/engage the anti-war socialists. Why would he need to first find the limitations of the anti-war socialists?

DevastateTheAvenues

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Incredibly confusing point being made by Noa Rodman here.

Noa Rodman

However, in the case of Reed, he could not have mentioned an example of non-IdPol activism (to buttress his critique of the majority IdPol activism), since his point is that the majority are really IdPol activists (whereas bringing up the anti-war socialists would be done to depict the majority SPD as false Marxists).

So Reed does not and apparently cannot, for some mysterious reason, come up with a single example of, hrm, "legitimate" non-idpol protest to throw the non-idpol protestors and the idpol activists into sharper relief, but we are just going to assume and inject into his argument that Reed maintains such a distinction in the first place.

You are asking not just for cheap acknowledgement/praise, but a helpful critique of the anti-war socialists. If the critic turns the conversation back to the majority SPD, it is because his main priority here is to expose them. To offer the anti-war socialists helpful suggestions can be done after his critique of the majority SPD has been accepted, after the SPD majority has been exposed. You don't accept his critique yet, but rather cast it aside by insisting he also, or first, criticse/engage the anti-war socialists. Why would he need to first find the limitations of the anti-war socialists?

I believe what's being asked for is an argument that Reed's arguments can do the theoretical work that you want, of criticizing only the activisty Left idpol types and leaving alone the genuine class struggle elements in those same struggles. So far you have engaged only in constant misdirection, coming up with all sorts of excuses as to why Reed does not actually need to make this distinction, while Mike Harman and R Totale are making a convincing argument that Reed's whole problem is that such a distinction is not to be found in Reed's analysis. Or, let me put it this way: right now, it looks like it's as if you are using reactionary, anti-communist propaganda to argue against the pro-war social democrats of the Second International, while pretending that this propaganda isn't also intended to go after the anti-war internationalist socialists.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R Totale

Like, to give another example of how unhelpful and muddled "left-anti-idpol" can be, take this example, cited in a review of Angela Nagle's book:

...this is a classic sleight of hand – to attack those to one’s left by associating them with those to one’s right. The politics Nagle is espousing are that of a parlour trick.

Yes that paragraph in that review is excellent and describes the rhetorical strategy exactly, this is one of the most publicised political books of the past year, it also cites Adolph Reed more than once. You can see similar tricks in the 'critique of anti-fascism from the right' tendency, which is the same rough group of people, in this Comrade Motopu blog post: https://libcom.org/blog/do-marxian-academics-dream-affluent-larpers-17082017

R Totale

Sure, much of the time it doesn't, and that's exactly the point: precisely where it should deal with things like the Ferguson or Baltimore uprisings, it disappears them, they get perhaps a cursory sentence or two and then get whisked away behind the figure of the Bad Identity Activist Who Wants You To Vote For Clinton. That's how erasure works.

Exactly.

Noa Rodman

This whole reasoning sounds much like when you criticise the unions or parliamentary parties and people reply; so you want to do nothing? Are you against organising/politics?

Except to my knowledge no-one on that thread makes this argument?

We know that workers organised in the most reactionary trade unions can end up on strike for weeks, such as the 1925 seaman's strike, where the union itself organised strike breakers: https://libcom.org/library/strike-across-empire-baruch-hirson-lorraine-vivian

Or that the most revolutionary organisations like the CNT-FAI can do things like vote (albeit narrowly) to keep Morocco as a colony, and have leading figures join a liberal government and repress rank and file movements. Or that the IWW can end up with branches signing no strike clauses. But if the only thing we ever say is "Unions are against the workers" then it's an understandable response for someone who sees this without context to ask what the fuck we're on about.

R Totale

And what if I initially fail to mention the existence of anti-war socialists, but then briefly pay them lip service if pressed on the matter, but never really analyse them in any meaningful way and always insist on turning the conversation back around to the SPD and Labour Party majorities as quickly as I can?

And we should add, what if I don't do this in one article or forum thread (we've all done that), but consistently for decades with a large platform?

Another Reed example:

Adolph Reed

Within the women’s movement, goals have shifted from practical objectives such as comparable worth and universal child care in the 1980s to celebrating appointments of individual women to public office and challenging the corporate glass ceiling.

https://harpers.org/archive/2014/03/nothing-left-2/

Now if I think of feminist organising this decade, I can think of organising against sexual harassment and domestic violence, sex worker organising, and against continued pay and job discrimination, and a concerted effort by (usually younger) feminists to include trans issues under feminist organising vs. TERFs. Reed does not attempt to engage with any of these either positively or critically, but instead gives us Hillary Clinton and Sheryl Sandberg.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Also

R Totale

Noa Rodman

The example is made up by the reviewer it seems.

Page 13 in this PDF:
Nagle

calling everyone from saccharine pop stars to Justin Trudeau a ‘white supremacist’ and everyone who wasn’t With Her a sexist

Once again you've denied something, been given a citation with a page number, then ignored it.

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

Once again you've denied something, been given a citation with a page number, then ignored it.

Calling Justin Trudeau a white supremacist is indeed an example Nagle gives of hysterical liberal IdPol. It is your interpretation that therefore she's against support of Indigenous social movements or opposing the Canadian Liberal Party’s history of crimes against Indigenous people. One can equally call Obama a racist, since he presided over the crack down on the (I think mostly black) Baltimore protestors, etc. The point of Nagle I think would be that Trudeau(/Obama), as one the stalwart adherents of IdPol, himself is equated to real/open white supremacist/mass murder advocates like the Alt-Right, so all nuance is lost, when the real/open white supremacist appears. Perhaps a bit like the Stalinist Third Period denunciation of Social-democrats as Social-fascists, equating social-democrats to fascists.

DevastateTheAvenues

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

Mike Harman

Once again you've denied something, been given a citation with a page number, then ignored it.

Calling Justin Trudeau a white supremacist is indeed an example Nagle gives of hysterical liberal IdPol. It is your interpretation that therefore she's against support of Indigenous social movements or opposing the Canadian Liberal Party’s history of crimes against Indigenous people. One can equally call Obama a racist, since he presided over the crack down on the (I think mostly black) Baltimore protestors, etc. The point of Nagle I think would be that Trudeau(/Obama), as one the stalwart adherents of IdPol, himself is equated to real/open white supremacist/mass murder advocates like the Alt-Right, so all nuance is lost, when the real/open white supremacist appears. Perhaps a bit like the Stalinist Third Period denunciation of Social-democrats as Social-fascists, equating social-democrats to fascists.

Given your argument for nuance, what is your response to this:

R Totale

Whether or not you think "white supremacist" is a useful term to use for Justin Trudeau, can we agree that a politics that can distinguish between people criticising Trudeau and the Canadian Liberals for upholding a colonial project on one hand, and people using the language of feminism to support Clinton and the Democrats on the other, is more useful than a politics that just goes "people criticising Trudeau say words that are to do with identity, people supporting Clinton say words that are to do with identity, SAME THING!"?

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

DevastateTheAvenues

So Reed does not and apparently cannot, for some mysterious reason, come up with a single example of, hrm, "legitimate" non-idpol protest to throw the non-idpol protestors and the idpol activists into sharper relief, but we are just going to assume and inject into his argument that Reed maintains such a distinction in the first place.

If the point of the critic of the majority SPD's nationalism is to show that there were anti-war socialists, then he is challenging the SPD's claim to be Marxists/genuine socialists. If Reed were to give example of non-IdPol protests, that would challenge the claim that the IdPol activists are the only game in town, but it would not challenge (and not meant to challenge) that they are genuine IdPol activists. His point is not merely to present an alternative, but to argue that the anti-racist (or IdPol) activism is wrongheaded. If he were to present merely an example of non-IdPol activism (in the spirit of peaceful co-existence with IdPol activism, let a thousand flowers bloom), the IdPol would not be convinced at all of their errors, and would probably still just attack the non-IdPol activists for insufficiently paying attention to race/sex/etc.

what's being asked for is an argument that Reed's arguments can do the theoretical work that you want, of criticizing only the activisty Left idpol types and leaving alone the genuine class struggle elements in those same struggles.

I allow for a distinction between vulgar IdPol activists and class-recognising IdPol activists. Examples of the latter are the Bund and the LBRW. Mike's attempt seemed first to deny that the Bund was a class-recognising group, but then he admitted it was. I said even the best form of IdPol, namely the activists who recognise class, can still be criticised for IdPol.

Perhaps Reed indeed doesn't focus on the class-recognising IdPol activists enough for your tastes in his writings (Mike particularly brought up the lack of mention of e.g. the LRBW). I don't think that's his main goal, so find no problem with it. If he were to bring them up, he would criticise them for IdPol, whilst, I think still being able to recognise the qualitative difference between vulgar IdPol like the Democrats and class-recognising IdPol activists like the LRBW. At least I can make that distinction and of course I think Reed too, if he had to choose between the two, would prefer the class-recognising type.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

Calling Justin Trudeau a white supremacist is indeed an example Nagle gives of hysterical liberal IdPol.

You could call it that, or you could look at the context it was said in, and say it's a clumsy shorthand for Trudeau upholding systems of white supremacy/environmental racism - such as when he approved the building of a pipeline through a Native American reservation with the phrase.

Trudeau

It is a major win for Canadian workers, for Canadian families, and for the Canadian economy now and into the future

(are people who live in the path of the pipeline 'Canadian', or not?)
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/11/canada-greenlights-controversial-oil-pipelines-161130113258928.html

The only reference I can find to Trudeau being a white supremacist, is this one video of a speech at a Black Lives Matter protest. Of course Nagle never cites anything, making it hard to verify any of her claims whatsoever.

The speaker mentions Trudeau responding to 'white supremacist Trump' (not really an exaggeration with Trump) saying he'll accept everyone not accepted into the US following the muslim ban, and a cheer goes up from the crowd thinking it's a positive reference to Trudeau. The 'white supremacist terrorist' statement is in response to that cheer, pointing out how Trudeau's a fucking hypocrite (and by extension those cheering in the crowd), that liberal anti-fascist support for Trudeau against Trump is empty when he's presiding over racist policy at home, that Trudeau is not better.

You could criticise the speech for hyperbole, and you could probably describe the politics being espoused as a bit Maoist (Quebec as semi-colony appears to be a specifically American Maoist construct, although recognising Canada's colonial history and continual attacks on indigenous people obviously is not - but just raw statement of fact). It's not criticising Trudeau for saying something not politically correct, but for concrete things the Canadian state is doing like killing black people and enforcing strict border controls. And something tells me the speaker would not support Hillary Clinton.

Either way without mind-reading, the 'white supremacist' is not someone's considered thought in an article, but a response to a bunch of liberals in the crowd cheering on Trudeau's twitter one-upmanship with Donald Trump.

And if you take some of the hyperbole out, is it really that much of a different argument to the one Dauve makes in When Insurrections Die?

Dauve

According to current left-wing wisdom, fascism is raw state power and brutal capital unmasked, so the only way to do away with fascism is to get rid of capitalism altogether.

Unfortunately, the analysis usually turns round on itself: since fascism is capitalism at its worst, we ought to prevent it from actually producing its worst, i.e. we ought to fight for a “normal”, non-fascist capitalism, and even rally non-fascist capitalists.

Moreover, as fascism is capital in its most reactionary forms, such a vision means trying to promote capital in its most modern, non-feudal, non-militarist, non-racist, non-repressive, non-reactionary forms, i.e. a more liberal capitalism, in other words a more capitalist capitalism.
....
The liberals — the same people anti-fascism counts on to stop fascism — joined the government. With the exception of the socialists and the communists, all parties sought a rapprochement with the PNF and voted for Mussolini: the parliament, with only 35 fascist MPs, supported Mussolini’s investiture 306-116. Giolitti himself, the great liberal icon of the time, an authoritarian reformer who had been head of state many times before the war, and then again in 1920-21, whom fashionable thought still fancies in retrospect as the sole politician capable of opposing Mussolini, supported him up to 1924. Democracy not only surrendered its powers to the dictator, but ratified them.

Canadian Black Lives Matter protestor: "Liberals, are, in-fact, fascists".
Dauve: "Liberalism is, in-fact, fascism".

Now Dauve might criticise anti-fascism, but he does so in the sense of arguing against support for non-fascist politicians and popular fronts. Reed and Nagle will criticise anti-fascism, but they do so from the point of view of promoting votes for Bernie Sanders (and in Reed's case, Clinton) via active support for Bernie and lesser evilism for Hillary - exactly what Dauve's piece argues against.

R Totale

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

There's a lot going on in this thread, and I don't think I can respond adequately on my phone so will give a fuller reply when I get home, but just to say: it's unfortunate that my analogy wasn't as helpful as I was hoping (I thought there might be a click of recognition and a "yes, I would find that frustrating" moment, clearly that hasn't happened), but it is truly impressive to see that Noa's powers of charitable interpretation are so great that they can actually come up with an excessively generous reading of an imaginary person I invented in my head solely for the purpose of offering a shoddy argument.

Craftwork

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Slavoj Zizek: https://www.facebook.com/bxsxnxss/videos/1622260711150904/

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R Totale

an imaginary person I invented in my head

Anarchist Marx-haters here such as Red Marriott more or less reason like that, so it didn't sound imaginary at all.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

Anarchist Marx-haters here such as Red Marriott more or less reason like that, so it didn't sound imaginary at all.

The same Red Marriott who posts German council communists texts to this site? That one?

Ed

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

Anarchist Marx-haters here such as Red Marriott

U wot m8?

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Ed

Noa Rodman

Anarchist Marx-haters here such as Red Marriott

U wot m8?

Red Marriott, can we be cool? Let's join forces to fight these IdPol Reed-haters.

Battlescarred

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Tee-jus.

R Totale

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I mean, my unsuccessful metaphor is far from the most interesting thing here, I'd be much more interested to hear your take on whether or not you think opposing a neoliberal politician like Justin Trudeau, no matter how poorly-chosen the language, is the same thing as defending a neoliberal politician like Hillary Clinton from radical critiques. I was mostly just impressed by how you managed to read:
me, deliberately setting out a bad argument

"Marxism is bad because it's nationalist, and the majority of the Second International supported WWI"

and
me, reiterating my bad argument

"the majority of the Second International supported WWI, therefore Marxism is bad because it's nationalist"

and conclude:
Noa Rodman

he is challenging the SPD's claim to be Marxists/genuine socialists.

With reading skills like that, no wonder you can make any quote from Lenin, Adolph Reed or anyone else mean anything you want.

But anyway, that analogy didn't work, nevermind. I'll try again: If you imagine a person, let's call them Dr Example, who over the course of their career publishes a series of articles arguing that "communism is bad because communists support Stalin and the gulag". These articles are certainly well-written, and are very good on their own terms - they convincingly make the case that it's bad to support Stalin and the gulag, and they give lots and lots of examples of people who call themselves communists and support Stalin and the gulag. Now, Internet Poster A criticises Dr Example's work, and says it's flawed because it refuses to discuss the existence of communists who actually oppose Stalinism. Internet Poster B responds to this with, variously:
"even when a mainstream rightwinger rants about communism, do you think they primarily have in mind things like libertarian/council communism?"
"Your entire problem with boilerplate rants about communism seems to be based on the notion that they have primarily in mind things like libertarian communism. That notion is bizarre, to say the least."
"That he doesn't pay attention to it, is because his main target is the vulgar (most-widespread) Stalinist form of communism."
"I posit that when anyone, whether Left or Right, rants about communism, they don't have in mind things like libertarian communism (clearly Dr Example, as you strangely complain, doesn't have primarily it in mind)."
"You're saying that ranters against communism fail to distinguish between anti-state communists and the Stalinists. I posit that the anti-communist rhetoric doesn't *explicitly* criticise people like the council communists... Poster A's claim is that *implicitly* the anti-communist rhetoric does criticise people like the libertarian communists, moreover that those people are the real target..."
"Is it really necessary for Dr Example, to say that they are fine with ordinary workers organising against capital? Concretely it would not mean much any way, if Dr Example did, nor does it mean much that you are saying 'let us not neglect the ordinary protestors'."
"If Dr Example were to give example of non-Stalinist communists, that would challenge the claim that the Stalinists are the only game in town, but it would not challenge (and not meant to challenge) that they are genuine communists. His point is not merely to present an alternative, but to argue that the communism is wrongheaded."
"Perhaps Dr Example indeed doesn't focus on the libertarian communists enough for your tastes in his writings... I don't think that's his main goal, so find no problem with it."
And so on and so on and so on. Can you see why people might find Internet Poster B a bit annoying? And if you can, can you see where else the same logic might apply?

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Your logic is to cast aspersions on Reed based on nothing.

fingers malone

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa, seeing as sexism, racism and so on are a major blight on working class peoples lives, what is in your opinion the right way to oppose them? What are some examples of fighting them that do not have the negative effects of id-pol, as you see it?

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

Your logic is to cast aspersions on Reed based on nothing.

Yes the countless articles, quotes, all of which you've failed to engage with are 'nothing', but your "I don't agree", "you're wrong" posts are everything.

Just found out Adolph Reed supported Hillary Clinton not only in 2017, but also 2008:

Adolph Reed

I’m hardly a Clinton fan. I’m on record in last November’s issue as saying that I’d rather sit out the election entirely than vote for either her or Obama. At this point, though, I’ve decided that she’s the lesser evil in the Democratic race, for the following reasons: 1) Obama’s empty claims to being a candidate of progressive change and to embodying a “movement” that exists only as a brand will dissolve into disillusionment in either a failed campaign against McCain or an Obama Presidency that continues the politics he’s practiced his entire career; 2) his horribly opportunistic approach to the issues bearing on inequality—in which he tosses behaviorist rhetoric to the right and little more than calls to celebrate his success to blacks—stands to pollute debate about racial injustice whether he wins or loses the Presidency; 3) he can’t beat McCain in November.

https://louisproyect.org/2016/07/13/adolph-reed-master-of-marxism-clintonism/

All that effort he puts into class reductionism only to end up supporting Hillary Clinton over and over again.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Here's a new one from the co-writer of Jonathan Pie. He's written such fine essays as It's time us left-wingers stood up to PC.

Labour needs to drop identity politics

Doyle is clearly 'left wing', thinks that people should focus on 'class' and hates 'identity politics', he says so himself. So I'm sure Noa will be nodding along with bits of this:

Andrew Doyle

Patronising tweets aside, a Labour Party that fails to connect with its traditional working-class base is unlikely to find itself in power again. Latest figures put the median pre-tax income in the UK at roughly £22,400 per annum, and a fifth of workers earn salaries that fall below the living wage. Those who are struggling to sustain themselves financially tend not to be concerned with intersectional matrices of oppression. Identity politics, in its present form, is an irredeemably middle-class game. Whatever else you might say about the plummy voiced activists who recently barged into a Winston Churchill themed café in north London to protest against ‘colonialism’, it’s clear that they have a lot of time on their hands.
[...]

As Mark Lilla has argued, an overemphasis on diversity has created ‘a generation of liberals and progressives narcissistically unaware of conditions outside their self-defined groups’. No civilised individual would suggest that racism, homophobia and sexism should not be tackled, but more often than not disciples of intersectionality are blind to everything but their own grievances. The realities of economic inequality are rarely addressed, because such considerations would threaten the dogmatic assumption that all straight white men are inherently ‘privileged’. If Young Labour was truly motivated by a desire for equality, its priority would be to elect a representative for working-class members.
[..]

Identity politics, on the other hand, enables its proponents to appear honourable without threatening an economic system that works to their advantage. In addition, the indentitarian worldview is one that, paradoxically, finds empowerment through victimhood, which explains why its adherents are inclined to perceive intolerance where it does not exist.

But oh look, here it is, the one positive suggestion in the article.

"If Young Labour was truly motivated by a desire for equality, its priority would be to elect a representative for working-class members."

Could this be a working class representative like David Blunkett? Whose dad fell into a vat of boiling water in a factory accident. He has a northern accent, which he used to tell the head of the prison service to machine gun rioting prisoners, accuse asylum seekers of 'swamping' schools, said that Roma migration to the UK would lead to race riots, voted for the Iraq War, ID cards, indefinite detention without trial, was the director and shareholder of a biotech firm, landlord, helped his ex's Filipina nanny get a fast-tracked visa while he was tightening immigration controls for everyone else.

Or maybe John Major? Grew up in Brixton after his dad's small business failed, then left school at 16 with three O Levels

Or Alan Johnson? Orphan, council house tenant, postman, former general secretary of the CWU, voter for Iraq War, author of an article in Progress magazine in 2013 which said "[trade union officials are fat, white, finger-jabbing blokes on rostrums shouting and screaming"[38] and said in 2014 that "A perception that Labour is in the pocket of the unions is damaging to the party ... The precious link between Labour and the unions becomes a liability rather than an advantage when it is allowed to look like a transaction." (obviously criticising the unions from an ultra-left perspective as an MP writing in Progress Magazine)

And because Andrew Doyle completely rejects identity politics, his test for whether someone is middle class is that they have a 'plummy' accent, because class is entirely about social background and cultural markers, not your relationship to the means of production or anything.

Now you could say that it's Spiked, is inherently in bad faith, almost a strawman of a class vs. identity position, and that'd be fair enough, it's an incredibly shit article that's been written a thousand times before. But remember this is the person who RT paid to co-write a 'satirical' news TV show for about a year, and whose colleague Tom Walker gets invited onto Andrew "Wapping" Neil's current affairs programme to talk about Why Trump Won with Michael Portillo and Rachel "Rivers of Blood' Reeves. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkoRODfEMyY

Of course there's one half-sentence where he says "No civilised individual would suggest that racism, homophobia and sexism should not be tackled" so I'm sure Noa will be leaping to his defense, that actually he's really pro protests against police violence even though he doesn't mention them etc etc.

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

fingers malone

What are some examples of fighting them that do not have the negative effects of id-pol, as you see it?

I appeal to the traditional socialist organisation, which stated in the Erfurt Program 1891:
Kautsky and Bernstein

The German Social Democratic Party therefore does not fight for new class privileges and class rights, but for the abolition of class rule and of classes themselves, for equal rights and equal obligations for all, without distinction of sex or birth. Starting from these views, it fights not only the exploitation and oppression of wage earners in society today, but every manner of exploitation and oppression, whether directed against a class, party, sex, or race.

Anarchists reject that Soc-Dem ever was a real "self-organisation" of the working-class (although btw anarchists first wanted to join the Second International, but were kicked out), just as leftcoms now would criticise Reed's union-based labor party as not a genuine form of socialist activism.
Nevertheless we can still recognise that they had to grapple with the problem of oppression of a sex or "race", and came up with some answers. In any case we must look back in history, since the reality today is that there are no real genuine mass class-struggle organisations, and pointing to examples (of non-IdPol activism) would thus be difficult.

But I can (again) refer to Jenny Bourne's example of the Bund, as an early form of IdPol (or national separatism), of what not to do, see e.g. this 1913 criticism by Stalin (which was positively mentioned by some Dutch leftcoms IIRC).

Pennoid

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Adolph Reed Jr. Shreds, yo. Mike, you can't connect Reed's socdem (read Bernstein) politics necessarily to his critique of idpol; you can take one and leave the other.

Programmatic politics don't have to be Bernsteinian. So you're just saying Reed's critique is invalid because otherwise views he holds is invalid. That was the problem.with the original piece.

fingers malone

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Examples from history is fine but can you give me some specific examples of the struggles, what they were fighting, how they went about it?

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Pennoid

Adolph Reed Jr. Shreds, yo. Mike, you can't connect Reed's socdem (read Bernstein) politics necessarily to his critique of idpol; you can take one and leave the other.

Programmatic politics don't have to be Bernsteinian. So you're just saying Reed's critique is invalid because otherwise views he holds is invalid. That was the problem.with the original piece.

No I've also said his arguments attack a strawman and erase the history of class struggle against racism and sexism - that was in the original piece and it's also been discussed at length in this thread.

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

some specific examples of the struggles, what they were fighting, how they went about it?

erase the history of class struggle against racism and sexism

If we consider workplace organising (of blacks/women etc.), and struggles for general social/economic improvement in living conditions (which would help them most), as things that are (or should be) part of proper class struggle, then you're really talking about activism against specifically racist/sexist legislation (e.g. the struggle for the voting right of women) or random cases of persecution (like pogroms). Such activism, like anyone knows, can take passive forms from writing pamphlets or holding demonstrations to armed insurrection. For instance one reporter on the Negro struggle in Mississippi, wrote in the Trotskyist The Bulletin that things could be solved only by a civil war.

Here's an article from The Bulletin which addresses your legitimate concern with the conservative socialist/labor-union politics of Reed:

September 28, 1964

NORMAN HILL QUITS CORE

SPer Seeks to Blunt Negro Struggle by Channelling It Into Democratic Party

Recently, the New York Times reported that Norman Hill, national program director of the Congress of Racial Equality, had resigned In "a split over election year tactics." The report indicated that Hill resigned because he favored "a curtailment of demonstrations and a new emphasis on political action during the campaign." It will be remembered that CORE, along with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, refused to go along with the moratorium on demonstrations which was called for earlier this summer by the NAACP and the Urban League, and supported by A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin.

The Times apparently considered this story extremely significant, for it allotted three columns to it. A certain receptivity on the Times' part to Hill's views also emerged from this story.

It is not surprising that the Times was pleased with Hill's action. He represents the kind of "responsible" leader the capitalist government prefers to work with. Like Hill, James Parmer, the national director of CORE, supports Johnson for reelection. But Parmer, under pressure from the militant CORE rank-and-file, could not go along with the moratorium on demonstrations. In commenting on Hill's resignation, Parmer said, significantly, "i don't think we can appease this so-called white backlash." The moratorium on demonstrations coincides directly with the aims and interests of the decisive section of the U.S. ruling class. This means precisely to appease the white backlash, whose growth is not only a sign of a deep and growing social crisis in the country, but. also has been encouraged by this same ruling class.

Radical Camouflage

Like his mentor, Bayard Rustin, Hill camouflages his real program behind some high-sounding and even at times radical phrases. He seizes on obvious weaknesses in the Negro movement, and exploits these weaknesses in order to turn as many active and dedicated civil rights fighters as possible towards the Democratic Party and away from militant struggle against the entire system of exploitation and second class citizenship.

Hill says that we cannot Ignore the white backlash; we cannot ignore the labor movement; we must do more than simply demonstrate; we cannot ignore politics and political action. In saying these things, he Is pointing out real weaknesses: a tendency to simply ignore the white backlash; to concen­trate on demonstrations and exclude politics; to concentrate on Individual action and "electrifying" the masses through adventuristic actions. This attitude on the part of many Negro militants is understandable, springing from the frustration and desperation in the face of so little having been accomplished thus far, after civil rights bills, marches on Washington, and even rent strikes and school boycotts.

But what does Hill propose? He proposes to appease the white backlash, not to fight it with a revolutionary working-class program; to make an alliance with the con­servative capitalist-minded trade union bureaucracy, not with the rank and file workers hit by speedup, automation, and unemployment; to turn the Negro movement towards Lyndon B, Johnson and the capitalist Democratic Party, not towards independent political action. Thus at every point Hill's and Rustin's answers to the' crucial questions facing the Negro movement serve the interests of capitalism, are a complete acceptance of tokenism and gradualism, and lead to disaster and defeat for the Negro movement, and the entire working class, movement as well.

Phony Labor-Negro Alliance

Hill's call for a labor-Negro alliance is exposed as phony by the fact that Hill himself has taken a position as part of the AFL-CIO bureaucracy in Washington. Is he boring from within? Exactly what is he trying to accomplish by this approach? He Is silent about the treacherous role of the labor bureaucrats in relation to the civil rights movement, in organizing the unorganized, In fighting for jobs for all. Does Hill perhaps expect to convince the union leadership of the need to help the unemployed Negroes or whites? If this is his aim, he can expect very little success. The fact that he orients to the union officialdom rather than the rank and file unionists, unorganized, and unem­ployed, shows what he is really after.

Hill makes no secret of his Socialist Party membership. Of course this "socialist" has no qualms about supporting Johnson. This "socialist," like the "communists" of the Communist Party, also advocates that the Negro militants stop demonstrating for fear of further antagonizing "public opinion" and endangering Johnson's election chances. The though of working for a fighting unity of all workers behind a socialist program, the thought of winning workers to the cause of socialism as a solution in this time of great crisis, is furthest from the mind of Hill, the "socialist." Is it any wonder that many militant Negroes regard socialism and communism with a certain amount of suspicion?

The most dangerous aspect of Hill's program is that he can mislead and demoralize Negro militants while besmirching the name of socialism and the struggle for a real labor-Negro alliance. The task for the militants in CORE, SNCC, and around the various nationalist groups is to repudiate Hill and Rustin, as well as Wilkins and the other middle class leaders, and at the same time develop a genuine revolutionary working class program.

R Totale

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

OK, but in contemporary terms, what about, for example, Sisters Uncut or Disabled People Against Cuts? Are they identity politics or proper class struggle? And if they are identity politics, then what should they be doing differently to enable them to become proper class struggle? What's your take on the Clydeside Pride defendants (is that case still going on, does anyone know?), or the Black Pride 4 in Columbus, Ohio? Are they doing identity politics or class struggle or what?

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R Totale's questions are good.
The last I saw about the Clydeside Pride defendants was https://libcom.org/news/call-court-solidarity-clydeside-iww-member-7th-december-14112017 btw.

Another couple for you.

Noa Rodman

If we consider workplace organising (of blacks/women etc.), and struggles for general social/economic improvement in living conditions (which would help them most), as things that are (or should be) part of proper class struggle, then you're really talking about activism against specifically racist/sexist legislation

Amazingly, racism and sexism can happen at work.

Here's a strike by nurses in Guyana against the rape of one of their workmates, from 2008: https://www.stabroeknews.com/2008/news/stories/09/13/nurses-at-linden-continue-strike-following-hospital-rape/

In 1970, also in Guyana, there was also a protest by nurses, when a white American DEMBA (Demerara Bauxite Company Limited) employee invaded their living quarters, trying to break into a bedroom occupied by two nurses. The man was arrested handed over to DEMBA security, but when they learned he was a DEMBA employee just let him off entirely. This was not the first time the living quarters had been invaded, in 1969 another white man had invaded with a handgun demanding a woman. (Summarised from The Bauxite Strike and the New Politics, Eusi Kwayana, OOAA publishers pg117).

In the 1970 case we have direct action against gendered violence, and also the perpetrator of said violence getting off lightly due to their race and position as a (presumably technical/management although that's not stated explicitly) employee of a multinational in the 1970 case.

ASCRIA (which was in the process of transitioning from a cultural auxiliary of one of the nationalist parties to supporting wildcat strikes by Bauxite and sugar cane workers against the post-colonial government, the main focus of the OOOA book) issued a threat that if anyone else went into the nurses' quarters, they wouldn't make it out again.

'idpol' or class struggle with those?

You're also making a too easy division between workplace struggle and racist laws. We can look at the newsletter of the Asian Youth Movement in Bradford from about 1979/80:

https://libcom.org/library/kala-tara-paper-asian-youth-movement-bradford-issue-1

This has:
- accounts from organising community self-defense against the national front (and by the way that history is ignored in most 'anti-fascist' accounts of the '70s/'80s).
- accounts from the police riot at Southall where Blair Peach was killed
- accounts of workplace discrimination against Asian workers on a bus network (via passport checks linked to immigration law)
- state deportations and the legislation backing them up
- a black rastafarian student's successful campaign to return to school after suspension and a juvenile court appearance because he refused to cut his hair, via a mass multi-racial picket of the school on the first day back.

So we can see racism, backed up by the full force of the state (but not necessarily 'racist laws' as such, I'm sure the kid's school didn't have a rastafarian exclusion policy but rather just one for hair length, same as Sikh bus drivers weren't explicitly excluded from working on buses in the '60s, but because turbans weren't compatible with uniform policies) affecting people at work, school, where they live. Some of this was campaign-y, some of it was direct community self defense and mass pickets etc.

Or more recently when Byron Burgers set up a fake training meeting for immigrant staff, so that the home office could mass arrest them, and the demonstrations against it afterwards: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jul/28/it-was-a-fake-meeting-byron-hamburgers-staff-on-immigration-raid

Juan Conatz

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I don't really see the point of putting this much effort against one of the more cantankerous posters this site has seen, but I think Mike is getting somewhere with some of his posts. It does seem to me that the people being put forward as the intellectuals of anti-identity politics are usually pretty average social democrats. A lot of what they put forward reminds me of the old CP 'colorblind' stuff from the 1930s.

R Totale

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This may also have some relevance to the discussion: http://nothingiseverlost.wordpress.com/2017/10/28/yankee-theorists-are-always-on-the-tv-a-reply-on-americans-academics-and-so-on/

jolasmo

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R Totale

the Clydeside Pride defendants (is that case still going on, does anyone know?)

Yes, the case is still ongoing. One of the defendants has a court date coming up soon.

~J.

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

OK, but in contemporary terms, what about, for example, Sisters Uncut or Disabled People Against Cuts? Are they identity politics or proper class struggle? And if they are identity politics, then what should they be doing differently to enable them to become proper class struggle?

The question is what differentiates an IdPol class-recognising group (like Sisters Uncut, who use terms like "classicism") from a non-IdPol class-recognising group.

The problem of separation of a particular section from the general working class can happen also with trade unions, say of miners. That's an indication that the critique of IdPol is not against (the organisation/rights of) that particular people, since when socialists criticise the particularism of a miners' trade union, it is (I hope) understood that they are not attacking the miners, their organisation into a trade union or the "identity" of them being miners. Nor is it driven by a crude "class reductionism", since miners are obviously part of the working class.

Now you could say, with a bit of sophistry, that the critique of IdPol then is not really about IdPol, since non-IdPol groups can be marked by the same problem. Moreover, since the critics of IdPol don't seem to make much fuss about the particularism of trade-unions, they must be prejudiced to pick only on the class-recognising groups of persons with a different skin colour etc.

What I posit is that in most rants against IdPol, it is not about the IdPol groups who recognise class. And at least the miners' trade union recognises (the normal wage) class struggle.

I posit that most of the time it is against the vulgar (most-widespread) IdPol, adhered to by the "elite" media and Democrats/Labour Party. That also explains the vagueness of such rants, they are made against the mainstream pundits/liberals, and these rants are addressed at everyone. I'm fully willing to admit that most of them rarely go into a detailed critique of a class-recognising IdPol group, perhaps because it would be more difficult to hit a precise punch, but also those groups are not the audience.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm half way through http://nothingiseverlost.wordpress.com/2017/10/28/yankee-theorists-are-always-on-the-tv-a-reply-on-americans-academics-and-so-on/, but this sentence encapsulates much of my exasperation on this thread and elsewhere (and the rest of the post is great so far as well):

Cautiously Pessimistic

I raise this point not because I hate class politics and want to tear it down in favour of identity politics, but because I think class politics is important, and I want it to feel relevant to people’s lives, and I’m worried that a version of class politics that denies obvious features of people’s lived experiences is going to feel like a joke.

Also this one:

Cautiously Pessimistic

Again, that’s quite a busy, breathless sentence, but more to the point, it’s a very nostalgic one, crying out for a return to the good old days, before we “abandoned” and “stopped” doing things right. This kind of nostalgia fits OK with social democratic or Stalinist perspectives that want to reinstate the social conditions of the mid-20th century, but as I understand it Katalenac is coming from some kind of a left-communist perspective, a school of thought that could be roughly but not totally unfairly characterised as having the basic assumption that nothing has been good ever, so it’s very strange to see him coming out with this “good old days” stuff.

edit: and also this one:

Cautiously Pessimistic

After having spent all this time building up a picture of workers as a kind of “homo economicus”, with no specific features other than our relationship to capital, he then turns around and acknowledges “in reality, the working class is highly divided by various interests that are based on the position of certain workers within the capitalist division of labour or on certain industries/sectors they work in. Various identities, such as gender, ethnicity etc. also divide the working class.”

But what does it mean? What lessons do we draw from this? What strategies might be effective in addressing these divisions? If this essay was to be a good, useful one, it would spend some time actually engaging with the implications of these issues – the actual problems facing workers that identity politics/“American Thought” attempts, however imperfectly, to address. Instead, we just get a brief acknowledgement that these things exist, and then they’re immediately waved away.

Fuck it and also this one:

Cautiously Pessimistic

And, to complicate things further, there are some cases where it’s difficult to say where exactly “identity” ends and specific relations to capital begin – is it a transclass distraction to talk about disabled people, but proper class politics addressing proletarian experience if we talk about people receiving ESA or PIP? Because there is definitely a specific “identity” connected to that particular economic position. Or what about “migrant” – is that one of those transclass identities, or a specific form of relationship to capital and the state? How about if we break down “migrant” further into the different categories that constitute it – EU migrant, Tier 2 migrant, illegal immigrant? There may have been a black president, and a female prime minister, but I can’t imagine that we’ll see an undocumented head of state any time soon.

radicalgraffiti

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

look noa when eg the mail publishes stories about pc gone mad banning black boards what do you think that is about?

Pennoid

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I mean, you can't equate Reed's critique with that of the daily mail. Or I hope you wouldn't....

R Totale

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

The problem of separation of a particular section from the general working class can happen also with trade unions, say of miners. That's an indication that the critique of IdPol is not against (the organisation/rights of) that particular people, since when socialists criticise the particularism of a miners' trade union, it is (I hope) understood that they are not attacking the miners, their organisation into a trade union or the "identity" of them being miners. Nor is it driven by a crude "class reductionism", since miners are obviously part of the working class.

Now you could say, with a bit of sophistry, that the critique of IdPol then is not really about IdPol, since non-IdPol groups can be marked by the same problem. Moreover, since the critics of IdPol don't seem to make much fuss about the particularism of trade-unions, they must be prejudiced to pick only on the class-recognising groups of persons with a different skin colour etc.

That's the thing: I'm interested in why it is that the critique of the organisation of one section of the working class (what you're calling class-recognising IdPol groups) is conducted so differently to the critique of the organisation of another section of the working class (say, militant unions).

It seems that there are people who, whenever the subject of anything to do with identity comes up, respond by rattling off a standard critique of all the worst possible things associated with IdPol, but not even the most hackneyed parody of a left communist would respond to news about the Picturehouse dispute by saying "well, sometimes unions have contracts that include no-strike clauses, and did you know that the UAW leadership physically attacked wildcat strikers in the 1960s and 1970s, and Jimmy Hoffa was connected to the mob?"
Noa Rodman

What I posit is that in most rants against IdPol, it is not about the IdPol groups who recognise class. And at least the miners' trade union recognises (the normal wage) class struggle.

I posit that most of the time it is against the vulgar (most-widespread) IdPol, adhered to by the "elite" media and Democrats/Labour Party. That also explains the vagueness of such rants, they are made against the mainstream pundits/liberals, and these rants are addressed at everyone. I'm fully willing to admit that most of them rarely go into a detailed critique of a class-recognising IdPol group, perhaps because it would be more difficult to hit a precise punch, but also those groups are not the audience.

That's the thing though: if you can't go into a detailed critique of a class-recognising IdPol group, then you don't have a critique of IdPol. It's dead easy to make a really strong argument against the Labour Party by just saying "Tony Blair did X, Jack Straw did Y, Ed Miliband said Z", but it's, in your terms, a lot harder to hit precise punches against Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and most of their supporters.
But if we just vaguely rant against Tony Blair, Owen Smith and Liz Kendall, then we don't have a real argument against the Labour Party, and nothing we say is going to have any chance of convincing Corbyn supporters, and just saying "oh, my rant is not directed towards Jeremy Corbyn" is not really enough to compensate for that. And if you have a really strong argument against Hillary Clinton's social media strategist, but not against Disabled People Against Cuts, then you do not have an argument against organising around identity.

Pennoid

I mean, you can't equate Reed's critique with that of the daily mail. Or I hope you wouldn't....

Here's a compromise: how about if I just argue against the Daily Mail's critique, and then proudly announce that I've got a really good argument against critiques of IdPol, and then if people bring up Reed's critique I just say "oh, I was just arguing against the against the vulgar (most-widespread) critique of IdPol"? Do you see how I'd look a bit daft?

Pennoid

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Why is it not as arbitrary to define lrbw and balck Panthers as idpol as it is for Noa to define idpol as liberal hucksterdom? Iirc lrbw and bp never used the term.

R Totale

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I should probably just swear off trying to use analogies, since they're clearly not having the effect that I'm intending, but my point was that choosing to only engage with critiques of idpol coming from the likes of the Mail is as arbitrary and unsatisfying as choosing to only engage with idpol in the form of liberal hucksterdom. If you want to try and discredit a position, you need to engage with the strongest, most coherent and convincing arguments for that position.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Pennoid

Why is it not as arbitrary to define lrbw and balck Panthers as idpol as it is for Noa to define idpol as liberal hucksterdom? Iirc lrbw and bp never used the term.

The Combahee River Collective, authors of the statement that probably first introduced 'identity politics' were black feminists who had been active in the Black Panthers and other groups:

Combahee River Collective

Black feminist politics also have an obvious connection to movements for Black liberation, particularly those of the 1960s and I970s. Many of us were active in those movements (Civil Rights, Black nationalism, the Black Panthers), and all of our lives Were greatly affected and changed by their ideologies, their goals, and the tactics used to achieve their goals. It was our experience and disillusionment within these liberation movements, as well as experience on the periphery of the white male left, that led to the need to develop a politics that was anti-racist, unlike those of white women, and anti-sexist, unlike those of Black and white men.

It came a little bit after the heyday of the panthers, but the CRC was formed in 1974, the period in the BPP when Elaine Brown was in charge post-split, and the statement was published in April 1977, the year Elaine Brown quit the panthers. Brown quit in 1977 when Huey Newton came back from Cuba and refused to challenge breaking a woman's jaw as punishment for criticising a male member:

Regina Davis, who managed the Panthers' school, was beaten up by men in the BPP for criticising a male colleague. She ended up in hospital with a broken jaw. Brown writes that when she told Newton of her anger, he refused to take action against the men and instead challenged Brown to a debate in the central committee.

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/women-revolution-more-50-black-panther-party-were-women-carried-guns-1525198

I don't think any of the CRC members were active panthers, since it was set up by people who felt alienated by both the black liberation and women's liberation movements (essentially, formed their own group rather than staying in the Panthers and risking hospitalisation for criticising a man), but it's not exactly unrelated to what was going on at the time.

Even when people like your fav Adolph Reed don't use identity politics to describe earlier movements, he'll just uses 'anti-racism' in exactly the same way (whereas Sivanandan compared anti-racism to identity politics).

http://www.leftbusinessobserver.com/Antiracism.html

Poor Noa, so very wrong again:

Noa Rodman

What I posit is that in most rants against IdPol, it is not about the IdPol groups who recognise class.

Bzzzzzzz.

Adolph Reed

From this perspective even the “left” antiracist line that we must fight both economic inequality and racial inequality, which seems always in practice to give priority to “fighting racism” (often theorized as a necessary precondition for doing anything else), looks suspiciously like only another version of the evasive “we’ll come back for you” (after we do all the business-friendly stuff) politics that the Democrats have so successfully employed to avoid addressing economic injustice.

Left anti-racism is just like Democrat Party neo-liberalism! (Also vote for Hillary Clinton plz).

I'll admit he uses 'economic inequality' rather than class in that paragraph, but not because he's making a distinction between the two, class is used elsewhere in the same piece interchangeably. Might have something to do with him being a liberal social democrat and not a communist.

So no, it's not arbitrary, or at least it's arbitrary only to keep up with the way it's applied to everything under the sun by 'idpol' critics.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R Totale

If you want to try and discredit a position, you need to engage with the strongest, most coherent and convincing arguments for that position.

I think I posted it earlier, but for an example of someone (IMO at least) trying their best at that, https://www.viewpointmag.com/2017/03/16/identity-crisis/ is a good attempt at least at a proper historiography of the US context.

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R Total

my point was that choosing to only engage with critiques of idpol coming from the likes of the Mail is as arbitrary and unsatisfying as choosing to only engage with idpol in the form of liberal hucksterdom. If you want to try and discredit a position, you need to engage with the strongest, most coherent and convincing arguments for that position.

My comment to Khawaga (which prompted Mike's intervention) was precisely that even the best forms of IdPol (i.e. those that recognise class) can be criticised.

Mike Harman

Left anti-racism is just like Democrat Party neo-liberalism!

Of course Reed does criticise even the "left" anti-racism (class-recognising IdPol groups). Perhaps you find some passages where his argument sounds too much like a lazy slippery-slope fallacy. But pointing out similarities doesn't mean to deny there is difference. Lenin dared to equate some Bundist claims to those of outright Zionism, however, that doesn't mean he believed they were literally no better than Zionists.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

My comment to Khawaga (which prompted Mike's intervention) was precisely that even the best forms of IdPol (i.e. those that recognise class) can be criticised.

Yes they can be criticised, but you have not actually done that on this thread, nor come up with an example apart from Lenin and the Bund.

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I did point also to criticism e.g. of the LRBW's black nationalism as done here: https://libcom.org/history/dying-inside-decline-league-revolutionary-black-workers
and also see the link in the comment section here: https://libcom.org/library/league-revolutionary-black-workers-coming-revolution-eric-perkins

fingers malone

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

deleted

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

So why do you rant about those genuine communists' misguided boilerplate critiques of IdPol, if really your concern with them is that they their are complicit in or enabling policy/attacks on the lifes of minorities?

Here's another example of what I'm talking about, on how this plays out within even this site - see Ramona's summary of what happened when someone was excluded from attending the NYC Anarchist Bookfair due to sexual assault allegations in 2012:

https://libcom.org/blog/safer-spaces-false-allegations-nyc-anarchist-bookfair-26042012

Red Marriott

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa

Anarchist Marx-haters here such as Red Marriott more or less reason like that, so it didn't sound imaginary at all.

I'm neither an anarchist nor a Marx-hater - in fact I've put quite a few 'Marxian/marxist' texts in the library - but nor am I, unlike yourself, a worshipper and practitioner of dusty leninist/social democratic taxidermy. But you are a petty, snide, obsessive online persona with poor powers of clarity and coherence.

Pennoid

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I agree that people should offer cogent critiques of particular movements in history on their bases. I.e. as Noa links to critiques of the nationalist elements in LRBW.

The point is that you can draw from these many critiques of the failures of nationalist politics or feminist politics, and draw some overarching conclusions about their functions. You can even point out that they share a commonality, these failures, and indicate them under an umbrella concept of 'identity politics.'

The quote you present doesn't have the term 'identity politics'. Again, this is a nebulous term so it would do to define it, as I have above. Once defined in relation to a strain of thought and practice it is open to criticism. This isn't unreasonable. Identity politics doesn't embrace all forms of meaningful anti-racism or ant-sexism.

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Red Marriott

Noa

Anarchist Marx-haters here such as Red Marriott more or less reason like that, so it didn't sound imaginary at all.

I'm neither an anarchist nor a Marx-hater - in fact I've put quite a few 'Marxian/marxist' texts in the library - but nor am I, unlike yourself, a worshipper and practitioner of dusty leninist/social democratic taxidermy. But you are a petty, snide, obsessive online persona with poor powers of clarity and coherence.

You could have fooled me then, judging from your attempt to paint Marx as a German nationalist and excusing Bakunin's virulent Teutonophobia in these comments.

But my point was to let that slide, and ask if you're willing to defend Reed's critique of anti-racism (since you posted Reed's stuff in the libcom library) in the face of Mike's attempts to discredit it.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Just seen that if you're in the UK on a work is a and on strike for more than 10 consecutive days, your employer is required to report you to the Home Office. The university lecturer and support staff strike beginning today is exactly 10 working days so just within this limit.

If it was 11 days, workers on visas get the choice of scabbing or risking deportation.

https://twitter.com/lottelydia/status/966642117790588928

Red Marriott

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa

You could have fooled me then, judging from your attempt to paint Marx as a German nationalist and excusing Bakunin's virulent Teutonophobia in these comments.

But my point was to let that slide, and ask if you're willing to defend Reed's critique of anti-racism (since you posted Reed's stuff in the libcom library) in the face of Mike's attempts to discredit it.

You’re clearly very easy to fool... and you can't bear to let things slide... I can appreciate that from your logic of slavish adoration of your intellectual authority figures that you imagine that if one is not uncritically & unconditionally ‘for’ Marx or whoever then they must be anti-. But, rationally, one can criticise aspects of people without being totally dismissive of all their views. But in the comments you link to you – and Pennoid - behaved as apologists for your authority figures much as you both did on the recent Lenin & prostitutes thread; http://libcom.org/library/lenin-orders-massacre-prostitutes-1918 trying to excuse the less savoury comments of your marxoid heroes – ie, Marx saying that “the French need a thrashing” in the Franco-Prussian War. Nor did I excuse Bakunin’s prejudices, I noted them and the respective bias of both him & Marx - that’s just another of your distortions, as anyone can go read.

I put one A. Reed article in the library in 2007 long before the current debates about identity politics came to be dominant here so it’s pretty irrelevant to current discussion that I posted it. Nor does the fact I posted it mean I unconditionally defend all Reed’s views or anything else I put in the library. And I’ve learned that arguing with you is all about your competitive ego and not having anything better to do with it than try to bait non-leninists and suck up the attention it wins you.

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yes anyone can go read the thread I linked and judge for themselves. You established with sufficient clarity that I'm an evil Leninist whom you want nothing to do with. And let me be clear too, I do not want your attention. No, I just ask you to comment on the present topic, not just because you posted an article by Reed, but also because at present I think you still are skeptical of identity politics and expressed some dissent about the turn towards it on libcom or its entourage. So don't cop out because of my presence.

Red Marriott

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Your 'asking me to comment' was a later secondary result of making a childish unprovoked slag-off of me in a thread I wasn't participating in - as I have limited interest in the debate and better things to occupy me. Contrary to what your egotism tells you, if someone doesn't do what they never intended to do and what you demand of them it's not a cop out. You're not an "evil Leninist", just a boring leninist bot.

Noa Rodman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fair enough mate. I also think Mike's attempt to discredit Reed is of limited interest.

Mike Harman

3 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Rectumwald has now invited Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at NYU, looks like a two-years-too-late attempt to launch his career as a far right youtuber.

https://nypost.com/2018/10/27/milo-yiannopoulos-invited-to-talk-about-politics-of-halloween-at-nyu/

Also noticed that he's got a book out on 'postmodernism' and snowflakes:

https://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_direct_link.cfm?blog_id=67515

I went back to Insurgent Notes to see what exactly they'd published by Rectenwald, and there's this critique of postmodernism and academic leftism.

http://insurgentnotes.com/2013/03/postmodernism-the-academic-left-and-the-crisis-of-capitalism/

I only skimmed the 2013 article and don't plan to read Rectenwald's book. Don't think it reflects on Insurgent Notes that they posted a critique of postmodernism, but it is interesting to me that Rectenwald appears to have been pre-occupied with it both "before" and "after" his 'break with the left'.

This reddit post suggests he was an 'Al Gore' liberal prior to becoming a 'left communist'. Don't begrudge people changing their politics, but there's a difference between political development and 'being paid to have opinions'.
https://www.reddit.com/r/ChapoTrapHouse/comments/7qrjgf/thus_i_arrive_at_the_final_hijacking_of_our/dsrk5w0/

Khawaga

3 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

IIRC he recently also went on Gavin McInnis' podcast or vice versa.

Entdinglichung

3 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

he has now his own entry at Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Rectenwald without any reference to his leftwing past