The Poverty of Identity Politics

Submitted by link on May 21, 2018

The basic problem with identity politics is that is focuses on identity in the past and now. What exists now is a product of an abusive, divisive alienated society. Certainly it seeks to change things that need changing BUT on what basis and towards what goal? No one knows! We can perhaps identity some characteristics of what equality and non-oppression means but we cannot be precise in this, its only guesswork and everyone is entitled to their own guesses. We cannot say now what should exist in future because no individual has any idea of what a non-alienated cooperative society where people can behave and establish relationships an open and self-identifying manner truly is. This is why the definitions of non-sexist, non-racist, non-oppressive behaviours are the subject of argument and disputes between different factions who seek to represent oppressed minorities. No one knows what is right!!

By basing arguments solely on what individual behaviour has been in the past and in the present, all identity politics is proposing is changes to current behaviour and reforms to society when no change is being threatened to the material conditions that produce those behaviours in the first place.

Today’s so-called anarchists and libertarians have fallen in to this morass of identity politics demonstrating a wishful thinking for revolution. In fact all they do is continue the trend of reformist politician since the middle of the 19th century who maybe correctly identify evils in society but seem to think that fighting them means changing laws and social morality. Today’s identity politics fail to recognise see that it’s the actions of their antecedents that have led to the behaviours they condemn today because they continue the same type of activity as though is progressive!! As a result we see the vicious squabbles between the radical feminists of 1960s/70s with those of today without recognising they are in fact part of the same movement - reformist bourgeois feminism – nor that they actually demonstrate the impossibility of them truly uniting to fight an oppressive system.

What is missing from the discussions about identity and oppression libcom is any awareness of the distinction between bourgeois and working class movements and any application of a class analysis to such movements. Intersectionality as a theory tries it hardest to ignore class and that leads down a reformist path. Accepting leadership from bourgeois feminism, bourgeois anti racism, bourgeois nationalism and any bourgeois movement leads away from revolution. What is really important here is to identify and distinguish between campaigns that are initiated by for example academics, actresses, press, trotskyists and mainstream political parties or those that appear as movements developed genuinely from below by working class and the poor.

The key meaning here is that real change ie revolution, can only come about in the practice of a revolution by a property-less and non-oppressive class. So yes, it is important to understand sexism racism, transphobia and how capitalism oppresses individual groups, but all the movements based on these oppressions have not got rid of capitalism. Only a class war can engage the real enemy and start to make these changes to society as part of a revolution against property money and class power.

Ed

4 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge, I realise you just find Mike Harman really annoying but what he's saying isn't that different from what others on this thread have said i.e. 'identity politics' being contrasted with 'class struggle' is actually just a vague idea that means 'things people on the left talk about which I don't like I want them to talk about class struggle' (i.e. they're talking about talking about class struggle).

But then what happens when we start to actually 'talk about class struggle' i.e. struggles of workers who fought for migrant workers to be paid the same as everyone else linked earlier in the thread or Sisters Uncut fighting cuts to domestic violence services, or people campaigning against police violence? From my experience, these magically become 'not identity politics' even though the experience of class in those struggles can't be separated from the particular identities of the working-class people involved (and, indeed, are often central to the reason there was even a struggle in the first place).

So that's the difference between 'talking about class struggle' and 'talking about talking about class struggle'. Now stop being such a grump ;)

Serge Forward

4 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Grrr... I'll grump if I want to :(

Unless I'm misunderstanding you, I would say that's the wrong way round. The examples you give are certainly features of class struggle but it's that they sometimes get boiled down to 'all about identity' in other words, 'identity politics' rather than different facets of class struggle. It's not the issues, it's about focus and how people perceive those issues, I think.

And yes, I do find Mike Harmon really annoying :D

Rob Ray

4 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

That's where the vagueness comes in though, because most class strugglists who'd pick up on identity as a factor don't make it "all about" identity, as a practical measure they work identity into the framework of what they're doing about class.

On this thread specifically for example Fingers has been pretty consistently excellent in making this distinction and has repeatedly been talked past by people banging on about "Identity politics" as though her experience of having to work her tactics around organising with black and female co-workers in a precarious position are some sort of odd blind spot on an otherwise rigid rule.

Alot of the absolute worst whinging on this thread has mentioned intersectionality as the big bugbear because middle class student liberals, who mostly do fuck all outside of the internet, sometimes use the idea of black/queer/gender oppressions as an excuse to be disruptive, judgmental and useless shits.

But this is a totally blockheaded approach to take, because it allows sensible and vital concepts, like understanding where your comrades are coming from and how to engage with them constructively in class struggle, to be permanently co-opted by the very dickheads being whined about. If you want to have a go be specific, aim it at the people being dickheads, rather than huffing around demanding that people pipe down about what they see and feel about the struggles they face "cos ID-Pol".

rat

4 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

At least now we're talking about 'talking about talking about class struggle'.

Mike Harman

3 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

Who said I'm outraged? There you go again. I do wish you'd stop falsely ascribing feelings or ideas to people. It's piss poor.

What do you think is more of a problem?

1. Someone reproducing an alt-right meme on here.
2. Someone pointing that out.

Serge Forward

3 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Good grief. Firstly, until you gave a 'know your meme' link, I was unaware of that being a right wing meme as I never spend any internet time looking at right wing websites. It beats me why so many non right wing people do. Second, the pointing out of the meme isn't a problem unless pointing it out is intended to discredit everything else the person says rather than actually tackle those things directly - ie you used a saying commonly used by right wing people therefore everything you say is shit. That's how it was done here and that seems to be the way things are generally are done on Libcom these days and Libcom is the poorer for it.

AndrewF

3 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Personally if I'd accidentally fallen into using a right-wing meme and someone pointed out to me thats what it was I'd be thanking them for the heads up.

Uncreative

3 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

Good grief. Firstly, until you gave a 'know your meme' link, I was unaware of that being a right wing meme as I never spend any internet time looking at right wing websites. It beats me why so many non right wing people do.

So, as far as i understand it, thats kinda the point of the right wing memes (all political memes, actually), to get slogans and ideas and discussions and so on out into the general population without having to rely on people visiting their websites and to try and influence the common sense narrative and frame discussions, etc. Like an online version of political stickers, you dont need to go to a meeting to stumble across one. Clearly works quite well, better than stickers do. Ive not been on any far right websites in a long time, but im familiar with their memes and lines of argument.

Edited to remove irrelevant waffle based on my mistaken belief that part of Serges post referred back to something i said ages ago somewhere else.

Ed

3 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

The examples you give are certainly features of class struggle but it's that they sometimes get boiled down to 'all about identity' in other words, 'identity politics' rather than different facets of class struggle.

Well, I think we'd both agree that they are examples of class struggle where identity is a central factor (i.e. being a woman, regardless of class, is central to the struggle for DV services, it's not 'just class struggle' even if it is still definitely class struggle, if you see what I mean). But as Rob says, that's the problem with anti-'identity politics' arguments (I put it in inverted commas because I personally hate the term and I only use it coz it seems to be the one foisted upon anyone who takes an intersectional approach to class politics): they're so vague and don't actually seem to refer to anything that any pro-'identity politics' groups are doing in particular (hence the 'talking about talking about class struggle').

Serge Forward

Second, the pointing out of the meme isn't a problem unless pointing it out is intended to discredit everything else the person says rather than actually tackle those things directly - ie you used a saying commonly used by right wing people therefore everything you say is shit. That's how it was done here and that seems to be the way things are generally are done on Libcom these days and Libcom is the poorer for it.

I mean, Mike wrote about double the amount of words responding to a separate point made by the same poster so I don't think it was pointed out "to discredit everything else" they said as their other points were also responded to separately. At the same time, if in the middle of a discussion between communists one of them uses a far-right slogan, not in an ironic 'isn't this such a stupid slogan' kind of way but actually just in its straightforward meaning, I think it's fair enough to pull them up on it.

This is what Mike did and this is what you're having a go at him for. It's fair enough that you didn't know it before, but you do now. The fact that someone like you, whose politics and experience I've got a lot of respect for, is whinging about this because you happen to not like the person who's pulled them up is baffling to me.

Noah Fence

3 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I think this is really good analysis...

https://youtu.be/T0GHBrEK3sE

Konsequent

3 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Was reminded recently of this terrible thread, specifically the part where we endlessly discussed what are trans issues and what are class issues. Some of the trans members of rabl recently attended a trans march and distributed this leaflet as a sort of friendly intervention, to recruit to the class struggle, to encourage people to think of their "trans issues" as "class issues" on the grounds that this would offer better solutions. The leaflet was a bit of a rushed job as we weren't sure until days beforehand whether to bother, but you get the gist. The person who wrote it hadn't read this thread but it is pretty much the kind of thing I was banging on about a few pages ago. Considering rabl has a disproportionate number of trans members (none of whom are involved in "trans politics") I think it made sense to go. I believe it was a better way of engaging with the march than ignoring it (as we did last year) or decrying it as counter to our aims.

The response was positive/curious.

Spikymike

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Libcom are entitled to refuse this text as a library document if they so choose, although it was, or would have been, justified as a linked text in the earlier part of this otherwise lengthy critical discussion which inevitably remains open to disagreement amongst many anarchist and other communists. jondwhite is a bit late in the day with this now and should perhaps have joined in with his own views earlier rather than relying on this second-hand previously discussed text. jondwhite has his own axe to grind over these issues within the spgb and could still better express his own views on the related spgb conference report thread on libcom. Still it never looks good for libcom to simply remove threads it doesn't like as though they never existed!

Fleur

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm sure there other places which would be delighted to host it. It has a lot of common ground with some of the stuff Jordan Peterson says. Maybe it belongs somewhere like that.

R Totale

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yes, I'd appreciate it if jondwhite could explain exactly what they find of value about that particular text. Obviously you don't have to be an anarchist to find something written by anarchists worthwhile, but it does seem a particularly odd text for a non-anarchist to want to share - if it was the other way around and one group of impossibilists wrote a particularly incoherent text having a go at other impossibilists I don't think I'd have much interest in trying to share or rehost it.

Jim

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Has anybody shared this article in this thread yet? It seems relevant.

http://www.datawranglers.com/negations/issues/96w/96w_peretti.html

Serge Forward

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

While I agree, the politics in the "woke anarchists collective" text are poor and very sloppy, giving little coherent criticism of identity politics... linking it to people like Jordan Peterson is just bloody daft.

Noah Fence

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

While I agree, the politics in the "woke anarchists collective" text are poor and very sloppy, giving little coherent criticism of identity politics... linking it to people like Jordan Peterson is just bloody daft.

Well Serge, I read it as a joke, a pretty funny one at that!

Jim

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

While I agree, the politics in the "woke anarchists collective" text are poor and very sloppy, giving little coherent criticism of identity politics... linking it to people like Jordan Peterson is just bloody daft.

I don't know, I think you can link thinly-veiled transphobia from anarchists with very public transphobia from reactionaries without looking daft. I'd even go as far as to say that ignoring the links between reactionary views being pushed by some anarchists and the likes of Peterson is what's actually daft.

Serge Forward

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noah Fence

Serge Forward

While I agree, the politics in the "woke anarchists collective" text are poor and very sloppy, giving little coherent criticism of identity politics... linking it to people like Jordan Peterson is just bloody daft.

Well Serge, I read it as a joke, a pretty funny one at that!

It'd only be funny if the idpol supporters didn't routinely link critics of identity politics with right wing, chauvinistic, misogynistic and transphobic tossers.

Fleur

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Clearly my sense of humour is a little niche but if you are going to trot out a confused mess of a word soup, yet again ranting about something you can't define, then you might expect to have the piss taken. Also, if you are going to use the same talking points as the reactionaries, safe spaces, triggering etc, then you are wilfully inviting comparisons. If you want your objections to exactly the same things the right complains about not compared to their objections, then explain the difference. Explain, don't whine.

Interesting point, complaining about call out culture and then going on to call out Freedom Press. Presumably there is some personal beef there. Tbh the whole thing sounds like a petulant tract of some kind of beef. I bet there's a story there.

Serge Forward

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fleur, I've literally got no idea what are you talking about.

Ed

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

At the risk of opening a can of worms, I feel like the anti-idpol lot do a pretty good job of that themselves, Serge.

A case in point: how many on the left (including many anarchists) raved about Angela Nagle's book? And in it she literally recycles fascists' descriptions of themselves and right-wing talking points about campus free speech panics. People still defend her, even after public events with Sargon of Akkad (now famously of UKIP) and calling for closed borders.

Or, perhaps even more likely to cause a row, you've got people like Helen Steel, so gripped by her transphobia that she's sharing articles on Twitter about how George Soros is funding the 'transgender movement'.

I mean ffs, if the 'anti-idpol' lot don't want to be linked to the right then they need to do a better job of not sounding like them when they make their arguments (which, in Nagle's case, I'm not sure she particularly cares about tbh)

Fleur

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It's not very hard. If you are going to use the same language as the right, snowflakes, triggering, safe spaces, call out culture, blahdy blahdy blah, then explain explain exactly what your problem is because the woke anarchists are madly struggling with that. The disgruntled anti idpol anarchists seem to whine incessantly about things that anarchists aren't doing, like pink washing capitalism or women on banknotes etc. If you're making the same complaints about the same things, try and spell out what your angle is, because I really don't fucking know the difference between them whining about safe spaces and the right doing the same thing. That text is a jumble of contradiction and half truths. The best reaction to it is to take the piss because what a bunch of numpties. (I say bunch, I'm actually imagining 2 or 3 people with a personal grudge.)

Fleur

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

To be fair, this train wreck of a thread started because someone threw a tantrum about being asked to call someone by their preferred pronouns. If you don't want your anti idpol politics to be read as a dog whistle for whatever petty prejudices may be lurking, try and get a coherent argument going. I prefer to think of the woke anarchists as a joke because, fuck me, the alternative is really rather sad

Serge Forward

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Ed

At the risk of opening a can of worms, I feel like the anti-idpol lot do a pretty good job of that themselves, Serge.

A case in point: how many on the left (including many anarchists) raved about Angela Nagle's book? And in it she literally recycles fascists' descriptions of themselves and right-wing talking points about campus free speech panics. People still defend her, even after public events with Sargon of Akkad (now famously of UKIP) and calling for closed borders.

Or, perhaps even more likely to cause a row, you've got people like Helen Steel, so gripped by her transphobia that she's sharing articles on Twitter about how George Soros is funding the 'transgender movement'.

I mean ffs, if the 'anti-idpol' lot don't want to be linked to the right then they need to do a better job of not sounding like them when they make their arguments (which, in Nagle's case, I'm not sure she particularly cares about tbh)

I agree Ed, all those examples are really bad. Though when you say "anti idpol lot" that sounds a bit all encompassing and again, whether intentional or not, tars everyone with the same brush used for people like that Sargon of Asshat et al.

Mike Harman

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

I agree Ed, all those examples are really bad. Though when you say "anti idpol lot" that sounds a bit all encompassing and again, whether intentional or not, tars everyone with the same brush used for people like that Sargon of Asshat et al.

Not really though is it. Sargon of Akkad is a UKIP candidate, and therefore obviously right wing. That Angela Nagle was happy to have a friendly debate in Dublin where she emphasised their mutual agreement on many points, as well as writing an anti-immigration screed in American Affairs damns both Nagle and her supporters.

Some people who praised the Nagle book when it came out have distanced themselves from her more recent escapades since, some have not, for those who've distanced there's also the question of whether they've re-examined the way that book was constructed or not, or 'forgotten' their enthusiasm. During some of the Nagle debacle she also lined up with 'anti-imperialist' journos Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton (Assad apologism etc.) trying to make out criticism of her book as support for American intervention in Syria (yes really).

Then there are the people still defending Nagle in 2018 (ed. Paul Mattick jr no less) https://libcom.org/blog/who-s-got-bad-faith-reply-pavlos-roufos-moral-panics-power-relationships-sodding-book-02082 Or promoting her book as one of five in their resources lists
https://helensteelbookfairstatement.wordpress.com/author/helensteelbookfairstatement/

It would be really great if there were clear lines between all these things, but there is not (and of course you could find lots of anti-Nagle stuff written by left-liberals/social democrats, but instead of that we have supposed left communists doing sub-Andrew Doyle).

Spikymike

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Some presumably 'anti-idpol' political criticism from a Left-communist rather than, and distinct from, a right-wing viewpoint here:
https://libcom.org/blog/mistaken-identity-review and
https://libcom.org/blog/class-perspective-women-question-24042019
Some of the terminology in that last piece might not be current usage on libcom but I think we can all understand what is meant there by ''institutional feminism'' or '' democratic feminism'.
As I suggested in some of my earlier comments on this discussion thread some anarchist and left-wing 'intersectionalism' fails to clearly distinguish it's approach from what might best be described as the predominant 'establishment' or 'liberal' and reformist versions of 'identity politics' ( beyond narrow gender issues) preferring a strategy that simply tails end that in practice.

Ed

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

I agree Ed, all those examples are really bad. Though when you say "anti idpol lot" that sounds a bit all encompassing and again, whether intentional or not, tars everyone with the same brush used for people like that Sargon of Asshat et al.

Well, not really. Imo I'm using two separate brushes; it's just the tar that's a bit similar.

So you've got far-right racist wankers like Sargon of Akkad/whoever else; they're obviously far-right racist wankers. But the 'anti-idpol' lefties/anarchos; they're not far-right racist wankers, but they're happy to use the same language, the same arguments, but ***magically transformed*** to be 'from the left'. Certainly not 'the same', but certainly some common ground.

So, as well as my previous egs of Helen Steel sharing 'Soros is funding transgenderism' articles or Nagle being Nagle, go back two pages on this very thread and you've got a poster unironically using a transphobic meme with origins in far-right internet culture. Is that poster far-right? No, hence why we haven't banned them when we would've banned a Nazi or whatever. But they're happy to circulate the in-jokes and, therefore, the common assumptions about the left/non-binary people that make the joke work. Again, not 'the same', but certainly some common ground. Is it wrong to point that out?

Similarly, when Fleur says the Woke Anarchists text has "a lot of common ground with some of the stuff Jordan Peterson says" and you complain that "idpol supporters [...] routinely link critics of identity politics with right wing tossers", my question is: do you not see any common ground between the Woke Anarchists/idpol critics and the talking points of those right-wing tossers?

I mean, the examples above are clear enough imo (the first two in terms of significance of the individuals, the third in terms of just how common it is) but, as Fleur points out, even the Woke Anarchists text itself is full of it: "Identity politics is feeding the far right", "anarchism is being hollowed out in a rush to virtue-signal", "identity politicians" are "confined to the ‘safe space’ of people like them". The Woke Anarchists lot talk about how 'identity politics' (whatever that means as they never give any examples) is infecting anarchism; my response would be that it's the language and talking points of the right that's infecting anarchism and the Woke Anarchists text is just one example of it.

Which, again, is not to say they're 'the same' or tar them with the same brush, but just point out there is a worrying amount of common ground and that anyone who calls themselves an anarchist should think about why that is rather than have a go at the people pointing it out.

Serge Forward

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

do you not see any common ground between the Woke Anarchists/idpol critics and the talking points of those right-wing tossers?

Of course there's common ground but it's as meaningless as emphasising common ground between the idpol supporters on libcom and those alt-right wankers also steeped in their own identity politics.

Mike Harman

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Ed: here are some very specific examples of the way some left anti-idpol rhetoric reproduces right wing talking points.

Serge: yes, but that's as meaningless as calling anti-racists nazis because they both discuss white supremacy.

Ed

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

do you not see any common ground between the Woke Anarchists/idpol critics and the talking points of those right-wing tossers?

Of course there's common ground but it's as meaningless as emphasising common ground between the idpol supporters on libcom and those alt-right wankers also steeped in their own identity politics.

Well, not really though, is it? Let's go over this again and compare my examples with your hypothetical counterpoint:

[*] Angela Nagle: repeats right-wing moral panic about left-wing students shutting down free speech on campus, repeats right-wing attacks on non-binary gender identities, repeats right-wing calls for closed borders because migrants are a threat to native workers' conditions
[*] Helen Steel: shares article repeating right-wing anti-Semitic conspiracy theory about Jewish financier bankrolling the 'transgender movement'
[*] Poster on this thread: repeats right-wing transphobic meme mocking people with non-binary gender identities
[*] Woke Anarchists: repeats right-wing buzzword 'virtue-signalling' used to criticise/undermine expression of sympathy with oppressed groups, repeats right-wing claim that the politics of oppressed minorities is "feeding the far-right"

Your hypothetical counterpoint (to these specific, real world examples) is that this is as significant a similarity as 'idpol supporters' and nazis both being focused on identity.

But there's a difference here: the examples I'm giving from the 'anti-idpol' crowd aren't similar just in the most general, abstracted way (i.e. 'the Black Panthers talk about race, and the KKK also talk about race'); they are similar in the sense that they're infected with the same buzzwords/catchphrases ("virtue signalling", "did you assume my gender?"), the same talking points (migration 'problem', free speech, transphobia, etc) and the same narratives (left threaten free speech/academic freedom, Soros funds trans activism, etc) as those coming from/originating in the right and sometimes even far-right.

Again, this doesn't mean those people are nazis; but when Fleur says some of this stuff wouldn't look out of place on some Jordon Peterson fan club chat, I can't see how you could argue she's wrong. And when you complain that "idpol supporters [...] routinely link critics of identity politics with right wing tossers", I look at the above examples and think, 'well, how are those arguments not, in some way, linked to those of right-wing tossers?' They definitely look more strongly linked than 'Black Panthers talk about race, KKK talk about race' anyway.

Rob Ray

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

when you say "anti idpol lot" that sounds a bit all encompassing and again, whether intentional or not, tars everyone with the same brush used for people like that Sargon of Asshat et al.

So "anti" id-pol isn't actually a single viewpoint but more of a spectrum of ideas which deserve a more intelligent form of consideration than just dismissive insults you reckon?

Serge Forward

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Rob Ray

Serge Forward

when you say "anti idpol lot" that sounds a bit all encompassing and again, whether intentional or not, tars everyone with the same brush used for people like that Sargon of Asshat et al.

So "anti" id-pol isn't actually a single viewpoint but more of a spectrum of ideas which deserve a more intelligent form of consideration than just dismissive insults you reckon?

I've never sought to define "anti idpol" because people oppose it for different reasons, mostly reactionary but sometimes from a genuine pro-revolutionary standpoint. But it's hardly a spectrum and we're talking about enemies not allies. The point I was trying to make was equating people like the "woke anarchists" (even with their poorly argued views) with some fascist is just wrong.

For the record, I agree with many of ed's earlier comments.

Rob Ray

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I've never sought to define "anti idpol" because people oppose it for different reasons

Well that's the thing isn't it, what people call "ID Pol" is incoherent because its primary use is for lumping together whatever an individual/group happens to not like into one easy pile of things that shouldn't happen.

Had an argument with someone from another group who disagrees with your analysis of intersectionality? ID pol. Want to be able to say trans women are men in drag and don't like being told to fuck off because hey, you have a class analysis? ID Pol. Feel like organising gets disrupted by middle class people playing oppression bingo? ID Pol. As though political debate, getting called out for bigoted behaviour and edgelord dilettantism are all part of the same grand problem and somehow a new phenomenon.

For me "anti ID Pol" is just a really crap way of addressing our issues tbh. It's not about consistently targeting bad or self-indulgent behaviour within the movement or comprehensively analysing the gaps and stresses in modern organising, it's fetishising a mythical unified past where we all knew the Real Enemy and could leave some of our collective house cleaning until after His defeat, so let's all just knuckle under eh? It's an a-historic whinge dressed up as critique.

meerov21

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

jondwhite

We, the supporters of the class social revolution, the anarchists, the libertarian socialists, the supporters of the ideas of Mikhail Bakunin and Otto Rule should form our own discourse. This discourse should be directed against identity politics. This should be said directly and frankly.

Identity politics is against key anarchist principles.

The anarchism of Bakunin, the Anarchism of Bialystok and Warsaw, Kronshtadt and Barcelona in the 19th and first third of the 20th centuries, during its Golden age, was a militant class teaching. It is based on non-cooperation with public authorities (including courts and labour commissions), direct action and various forms of resistance of the poor majority.

Anarchism means freedom to discuss any issue without censorship.

Anarchism is a hate speech directed against rich owners and officials.

Rob Ray

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Case in point.

Meerov's claiming "dead beards against ID Pol" here but he's not identifying anything specific he wants to change other than being able to say whatever he wants without consequence. Presumably this doesn't apply to fascism, or white supremacism, meaning the stipulation is actually that I, Anarchist should be able to discuss any issue without censorship. As though anarchists like Bakunin weren't and aren't capable of dangerous bigotry.

In fact if Bakunin were about today and still as anti-semitic as he was then you bet he'd get a shitload of criticism — and with good reason. That's not ID Pol, that's modern anti-racist action.

meerov21

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Bakunin is not an idol to me. He was a great rebel, a theorist of anarchist workers ' resistance and an international brotherhood of workers. At the same time, he had authoritarian ideas and spoke ill of Jews. This was answered by Russian bakunists of the early 20th century, about 50% of whom were Jews. They responded by the fact of their joining the ranks of Bakunists. I am supporter to talk with him and i like to criticize him and not to deny to the publication of his texts.))

"white supremacism," --- But proponents of identity politics find it everywhere. It's impossible to talk about anything in an environment there there are a millions of restrictions.

Spikymike

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

'Identity Politics' (covering the full spectrum of identities beyond just gender) is a reasonable description of much of the content, form and strategy of capitalist political organisations and should be ruthlessly criticised by libertarian communists. An awareness of how class is structured and changes over time is essential to this, together with a political strategy that addresses the material divisions within the working class with a view to moving beyond those divisions rather than reinforcing them. No one says that is an easy task and some of the arguments within 'our movement' (if it can be called a movement) have been about how to do that without simply ending up as the tail end of the left/liberal wing of capitalism in an attempt to distinguish us from the more obvious right wing nasties currently doing the rounds. Clearly some of the differences about that are more sharply drawn by some here than others.

meerov21

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

" still as anti-semitic" ---- Yeah, but don't tell me about it. I have never met so many anti-Semites as among the supporters of identity politics, insulting me for that I am a "white Jew" (Ashkenazi).

Ed

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

meerov21

Identity politics is against key anarchist principles.

meerov21

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

what's wrong with this photo??

meerov21

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mujeres Libres were not a feminist. On the contrary, it was officially an anti-feminist movement.
Mujeres Libres: "We are not- and were not then feminists. We were not fighting against men. We did not want to substitute a feminist hierarchy for a masculine one. It's necessary to work, to struggle, together because if we don't we'll never have a social revolution. But we needed our own organisation to struggle for ourselves."

You can verify that by finding out their statement. They also considered themselves part of a single family of anarchist organizations.

And besides, in most cases, anarchists - men and women - fought together in anarchist organizations then, without being singled out in separate organizations.

Ed

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Meerov, I don't see the point in getting into a semantic argument about the meaning of the word 'feminism' (I don't know any anarchist/socialist feminists who "want to substitute a feminist hierarchy for a masculine one") with you. Regardless, you didn't say 'feminism', you said 'identity politics'. The politics of Mujeres Libres was, without question, based in significant part on their identity as women (hence the name). Look at your own quote: "we [women] needed our own organisation to struggle for ourselves".

What did this organisation do? Lets see:

they created networks of women anarchists. Attending meetings with one another, they checked out reports of sexist behaviour and worked out how to deal with it. Flying day-care centres were set up in efforts to involve more women in union activities.

They did lots of anti-sexist propaganda work, again targetting women:

The ideas that grabbed them the most? Talk about the power men exercised over women... There would be a kind of uproar when you would say to them, "We cannot permit men to think themselves superior to women, that they have a right to rule over them".

I could go on and on. So whether I accept your or Mujeres Libres' definition of feminism, it seems clear that however you describe their politics, it was a politics completely attached to their identity and experience as women.

Ed

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Moreover, if you wanted to raise your eyes beyond the shores of Europe, you could also look to La Voz de la Mujer (Woman's Voice), an anarchist feminist newspaper from 19th Century Argentina.

La Voz de la Mujer described itself as “dedicated to the advancement of Communist Anarchism.” Its central theme was that of the multiple nature of women’s oppression. An editorial asserted, “We believe that in present-day society nothing and nobody has a more wretched situation than unfortunate women.” Women, they said, were doubly oppressed - by bourgeois society and by men.

As with Emma Goldman, Louise Michel and Voltairine de Cleyre, it differed from the mainstream feminism by being a working class movement which placed the struggle against patriarchy as part of a wider struggle against economic and social classes and hierarchies.

So is this 'identity politics'? Or is it allowed to be anarchism?

Edited to add:
I still maintain that 'identity politics' is a dumb term, which means whatever the user wants it to mean and I use it here just out of sheer exhaustion and exasperation with having the same discussion for years on end. I would actually prefer we used the term 'intersectional anarchists/communists/whatever' and 'class reductionists' since that seems like a more precise description of what we're talking about.

meerov21

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

1) I think it's rude to force something on women if they reject it. Mujeres Libres rejected feminism because, as they have seen, it very often (though perhaps not always) leads to separatism and aggressive conflict with men. They weren't feminists. If a woman says no, it means no. On the contrary, they considered themselves as a part of a large family of anarchist organizations and advocated fighting alongside men.

2) But you're partly right, there's no point in arguing about words. I do not see great harm in creating women's or ethnic\language branches of the anarchist social revolutionary and class movement, but only if they fight together, if they reject any separatism (like Mujeres Libres), and if they set common goals and follow the ideas of libertarian socialism\communism.

3) However, I have a suspicion that this is not the best solution. I criticize the idea that men and women, Jews and Arabs, Blacks and Whites create specific groups where others are not allowed. And in the most cases, anarchists in revolutionary Russia, Italy, Spain, France in the great days of anarchism did not do so. I do not imagine that I would create separate groups for Jews-anarchists where Russians are not allowed. It would be very offensive and unpleasant.

Khawaga

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

And in the most cases, anarchists in revolutionary Russia, Italy, Spain, France in the great days of anarchism did not do so.

The Mujeres Libres

created networks of women anarchists. Attending meetings with one another,

Rob Ray

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Bakunin is not an idol to me. He was a great rebel (etc) ...

I don't care in the slightest whether he was an idol to you or not. He was a theorist who made some good points and some very stupid ones. Some of his views were abhorrent, and I was pointing out briefly the irony that your anti ID Pol screed picked him out specifically as an ideological source for your imagined pure anarchic tendency, as the fact his anti-semitism would find it much more difficult to fly in today's anarchist circles is a case in point of the improvements we've seen since his day from taking anti-racist and anti-colonial thinking (for example) more seriously.

All that said, if you've disappeared so far up your fundamentals that you've ended up arguing that an all-female organisation dedicated to women's liberation isn't feminist then I don't know what you're even worried about, you can solve your issues just by redefining whatever group you come across.

'Identity Politics' (covering the full spectrum of identities beyond just gender) is a reasonable description of much of the content, form and strategy of capitalist political organisations and should be ruthlessly criticised by libertarian communists.

It's not reasonable, it's muddy as hell, that's the problem. It makes no distinction between liberal glass ceiling politics (eg. put a woman in the White House) and liberatory politics aimed at building a more cohesive and powerful working class (eg. addressing how and why working class women are frequently sidelined from decision-making in struggle, why BME people are often more vulnerable than white people when organising, etc etc). That's part of its nature as a phrase used right across the political spectrum.

Everything you're saying about awareness of class structure, material division and going beyond division is totally uncontroversial, but you can't just wish that we be in one place when we're in another. We aren't "beyond" racial division, gendered oppression etc and difficult as the conversations around those intersecting problems might be, trying to declare "okay everyone shut up and get along now" is less Moses than it is Canute.

Noah Fence

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Oh boy.

meerov21

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

1.I don't care in the slightest whether he was an idol to you or not. He was a theorist who made some good points and some very stupid ones. Some of his views were abhorrent, and I was pointing out briefly the irony that your anti ID Pol screed picked him out specifically as an ideological source for your imagined pure anarchic tendency, as the fact his anti-semitism would find it much more difficult to fly in today's anarchist circles is a case in point of the improvements we've seen since his day from taking anti-racist and anti-colonial thinking (for example) more seriously.

I have little interest in how anarchist groups that share an identity policy and see almost nothing but racial and gender issues will read Bakunin. I am in favour of completely abandoning these traditions and breaking up with such groups. Moreover, some people here in Eastern Europe and a number of Asian countries look at many things differently. Bakunin's opinion is more valuable to me than the opinion of a number of American anarchists associated with identity politics, because he was able to create large social revolutionary movements, and you do not know how. On the other hand, I see that not all anarchists in Europe and the United States like identity politics and we can be friends with such people.

But let me tell you what you said about anti-Semitism made me smile sadly. I have never met so many anti-Semites as among the American left and even anarchists. I've been under constant anti-Semitic attacks as a "white Jew" among the people you're talking about.

2. All that said, if you've disappeared so far up your fundamentals that you've ended up arguing that an all-female organisation dedicated to women's liberation isn't feminist then I don't know what you're even worried about, you can solve your issues just by redefining whatever group you come across.

I don't know what all-female organisation you're talking about. Mujeres Libres officially rejected feminism. I answered the rest above.
I do not see great harm in creating women's or ethnic\language branches of the anarchist social revolutionary and class movement, but only if they fight together, if they reject any separatism (like Mujeres Libres), and if they set common goals with other men and women and follow the ideas of libertarian communism.
From another side I have a suspicion that this is not the best solution. I criticize the idea that men and women, Jews and Arabs, create specific groups where others are not allowed. And in the most cases, anarchists in revolutionary Russia, Italy, Spain, France in the great days of anarchism did not do so.
Individual people or some individual groups thought different path, but it wasn't mainstream. It is better not to divide the movement by gender or ethnicity

3.. I do not deny that there are problems of family violence or ethnic oppression. However the idea of social class struggle was Central to all social revolutions, from the Commune of Paris to Kronstadt, from Barcelona and Aragon and the bakunist sections of the First international, numbering hundreds of thousands of activists, to Worker's councils of Budapest in 1956 and Worker's councils of Tehran 1979. There were NO other social revolutions.
Therefore, all other issues related to gender or ethnicity should be integrated by the social movement, but they are not the main ones and should not serve the disintegration of the movement.
Whether you like it or not, all the social revolutions we know have been class revolutions, creating Working Councils (or other forms of working self-organization), which were their core. That's all we need to know.
It's not that Bakunin has pure anarchism, and you have a dirty one. The fact is that Bakunin, the anarchists of Bialystok and Barcelona made social revolutions, and you don't and your "anarchism of identities" is useless.

P.S.
The problem is that all social revolutions were class revolution: Under any geography (Russia 1905-1907 and 1917-1921, France 1871, Italy 1920, Spain 1933-1939, Hungary 1919 and 1956, Iran 1979) and in all era. Even in the Middle ages, revolutionary movements, sects, which in one way or another advocated communal power and equality, were class movements and fought for the poor against the rich (Pavlikian, Anabaptists and others) and that was the core of social movements. Of course, the issues of equality of peoples and equality of women and men were also there. This is important, but these things have been integrated and subordinated to broader class and communal goals.

meerov21

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Okay, I want to ask you something else. Suppose those you call right-wingers should be stripped of their right to speak. I'm not going to defend the right wing, but I have another question.

Let me ask you, who has the right to speak?

...for example, in campuses? Can I give you some examples?

1. Leninists (or Stalinists, Maoists, Trotskyites)?

2. Proponents of conservative Islam and\or militant organizations of the Islamists like Hamas, Hezbollah?

3. Critics of abortion and\or conservative Christian organizations?

4. Hillary's Supporters for global corporations and neo-liberalism?

5. Zionists?

Noah Fence

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It’s kind of funny how the right wing anti SJWs, who perpetually rant against identity politics, do so without any awareness of how almost everything they say is based on identity - they hate on various identities such black people, Muslims, trans people, women etc, and of course whine on about their victim status as white men. Then there’s the complaints about free speech while they go to great lengths to block the free speech of the left and the funniest of all, accusations of ‘triggered!’ and ‘snowflake’ whilst being incredibly sensitive to anything that even slightly opposes their world view, such as the YouTube channel that made over a hundred videos complaining about the pro woman agenda of a single Marvel movie. If that’s not the behaviour of a triggered snowflake, then I can’t imagine what is! The irony is just astonishing!!!
Now I’m not saying that’s what’s happening on this thread, that would definitely be going too far, but is there perhaps a little whiff of it? I’d say so.
What is so difficult about seeing the difference between the cringey, cancel culture, authoritarian nightmare of extreme liberal idpol, and recognising the particular modes of oppression that certain members of the working class are subject to based on their identity and reacting appropriately to those modes of oppression in a specific rather than general way?

Ed

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Look, meerov, I thank you for turning up and making the whole discussion even more pointless than we ever could have imagined, but at the very least, if you're going to start a discussion around free speech absolutism, please start a new thread. Any discussion of free speech absolutism on this thread will be deleted.

Noah Fence

What is so difficult about seeing the difference between the cringey, cancel culture, authoritarian nightmare of extreme liberal idpol, and recognising the particular modes of oppression that certain members of the working class are subject to based on their identity and reacting appropriately to those modes of oppression in a specific rather than general way?

Indeed, Noah, it would seem to be exactly that bloody obvious. Alas, here we are...

meerov21

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Look, meerov, I thank you for turning up and making the whole discussion even more pointless than we ever could have imagined, but at the very least, if you're going to start a discussion around free speech absolutism, please start a new thread. Any discussion of free speech absolutism on this thread will be deleted.

Ahahah)) What a charm. But Didn't this in thread people discuss freedom of speech too?

Ed

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noah, I just unpublished your post as it was off-topic. As I said in my previous post, if you want to discuss free speech absolutism start a new thread.

Edited to add: just saw your edit about cross-posting. No problem!

meerov21

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I made new thread "free speech" here http://libcom.org/forums/general/freedom-speech-23052019

But I don't know how to put the Noah comment there , and whether I should do it.

Spikymike

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Rob Ray, Well we would have a job on our hands trying to get libcommers to 'shut up and get along' especially if the discussion was related to any sort of 'identity politics' (658 posts on this one and not the first whilst much else gets ignored) and I haven't and wouldn't try to do that. I have consistently posted critical comments on this issue including recommending various longer positive texts that have appeared on libcom around gender issues, but will continue to 'chip away' at some of the other mostly anarchist assumptions about the relationship of 'oppressions' and 'class' within capitalist society and the need to clearly distinguish communism from both liberal/left and right wing capitalist politics. I am not meerov21 or the Woke anarchists so maybe try to avoid treating all critical comments the same.

ajjohnstone

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

“The national inquiry’s findings support characterising these acts, including violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people, as genocide.”

2SLGBTQQIA people?

two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual

Not a activist/journalist description but an official Canadian government report definition.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/31/canada-missing-indigenous-women-cultural-genocide-government-report

radicalgraffiti

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

ajjohnstone

“The national inquiry’s findings support characterising these acts, including violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people, as genocide.”

2SLGBTQQIA people?

two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual

Not a activist/journalist description but an official Canadian government report definition.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/31/canada-missing-indigenous-women-cultural-genocide-government-report

what is your point?

ajjohnstone

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Identity politics in creating an absurd alphabet soup. You try incorporating 2SLGBTQQIA into a conversation that won't be met with a glazed stare back at you.

Maybe I let my Marxist class definitions lapse but sometimes I think of people as just that, people.

I thrive on their individuality and diversity but at the end of it all, they are all people.

And I find it rather pointless and divisive to build a league table of which of us is the most or least oppressed as a group.

I recall Proudhon:

TO BE GOVERNED...
"... is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harrassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed, and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality!"

I don't wish to make it any easier for them to define who I am by categorizing and ticking myself into their little boxes any more than I am forced to.

Juan Conatz

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I don't understand getting worked up about things like that. Government report acronyms? Really? That's what gets your blood boiling?

Fleur

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Canadian government reports are a little wordy and that's before they are translated into French, Mohawk, Cree, Inuktitut etc. Lots of words, lots of acronyms, nothing which would have come out of anyone's actual mouth, activist or otherwise.

Otoh, over 4000 missing/murdered Indigenous women. That's a lot of dead women, before you even get into the racism, the police corruption etc. This is a massive story. Tbh I didn't really notice the acronym, it wasn't the stand out story in this article. The 4000+ MMIW is what people should really be angry about.

Some people prefer to define themselves, to identify themselves in one way or another or many ways. What's the problem with that?

ajjohnstone

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

What did 2SLGBTQQIA translate into Cree in the report? Is it reader-friendly for them?

And I do not intend to minimize the pain and tragedy exacerbated by the purposeful silence that has occurred over the years.

I was addressing the language which diminishes the humanity of real people. (I even think MMIW is questionable)

I'm well aware of the persecution of native peoples in Canada which also has a history of forced removal of indigenous children described as cultural genocide by another government report.

Re- my comment on league tables, I once wrote an article on indigenous suicides, and singling out one community from another would not have been helpful in comprehending the scale or the common cause of the problem. I'm not advocating we ignore particular features or specific concerns and neglect certain urgencies and priorities that has to be taken.

https://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/2010s/2015/no-1330-june-2015/material-world-indigenous-suicides/

Fleur

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It certainly diminishes the humanity of real people to tell them that they can't refer to themselves in any way they prefer to refer to themselves.

This was literally breaking news this evening. Seems bizarre to me that such a huge story about 4000+dead women would be a jumping off point to gripe about identity politics. Seems a bit petty. Incidentally, all the other chatter I've seen online about it tonight has been about the actual substance of the leaked parts of the report.

Noah Fence

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Even if your concern about the intricacy of the acronym is legitimate(and I’m not saying it is, though I agree it’s a bit of a mouthful), what the fuck has that got to do with this conversation? Once again, it’s conflating solidarity amongst comrades with the activities of authorities/liberals/whoever separate entities from those involved in class struggle.
It’s really indicative of desperation when the argument is reduced to ‘look, they’re using stupid acronyms, so identity politics is completely exploded, ner ner ner ner ner!’

Jim

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

What's the gender balance like in the SPGB?

Auld-bod

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Do not wish to derail the thread, though wish to add that the Canada story is not really new, on 9 April 2015 - the BBC World Service: Assignment: Canada’s Red River Murders.

Fleur on April 10 2015, reported CBC radio coverage.

Unsurprisingly the numbers have climbed since 2015.

ajjohnstone

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

"It certainly diminishes the humanity of real people to tell them that they can't refer to themselves in any way they prefer to refer to themselves."

I wonder just who did come up with this 10 letter acronym

I did do a quick google without any success but noted that in this press release, it is only the Commissioners that use the acronym. The community spokespersons simply referred to women and girls.

http://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/News-Release-Congrats-for-Community-Gathering-Funding-Assistance_ENG.pdf

The only self-description I saw was by medical professionals
https://www.change.org/p/support-the-creation-of-a-2slgbtqia-and-fertility-focused-midwifery-practice-in-the-gta

Regards Jim's jibe, I think all groups associated with Libcom would acknowledge a great disparity in gender diversity within them.

Jim

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

So it's mainly middle-aged white men then. Has the SPGB ever discussed why that's the case?

Fleur

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The story is not really new, Auld Bod but the leaking of the report was. AJ must have posted that up almost as soon as the Guardian went to press with it. And it's been an issue for way longer than 2015.

Honestly, who gives a toss who came up with the acronym? It seems a petty point to make. If you read government reports they are full of acronyms. It's not the substance of the thing. However, there are protocols in addressing First Nations and probably one or more of the many First Nations people who were involved in this inquiry probably had input.

Serge Forward

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The response of ajjohnstone to the Guardian article is poor, considering it talks about a horrific atrocity. His point about exponentially increasing identity acronyms would be fair enough if he hadn't ignored the substance of that article.

Jim, you seem to be suggesting political ideas are worthless if the identity of those who hold them is not 2SLGBTQQIA and that sounds a bit silly. The ideas of the SPGB are not bad because they may have a gender imbalance in their membership but because... their politics are a bit crap.

Jim

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm trying to work out why SPGB posters seem to have an issue with 'identity politics'. Is it because they're all old white men or are they just worried about losing votes to the Women's Equality Party?

I'm not suggesting the value of any political ideas can be found in the identities of those who hold them and that lengthy acronym is obviously daft (which will be why it's not in common usage).

Noah Fence

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

are they just worried about losing votes to the Women's Equality Party?

Ouch! Ok, that’s pretty funny, but a bit harsh, eh?

ajjohnstone

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

"So it's mainly middle-aged white men then. Has the SPGB ever discussed why that's the case?"

Care to explain why every other organized group on Libcom faces the exact same issue, Jim. The problem is shared by all and the SPGB is not unique. (middle-aged is actually flattering - I myself would have said elderly)

We have at least endeavoured to debate the problem at our last conference but it has not been fully resolved, imho. The issue is not being ignored even if the outcome is not one that suits yourself.

Nor should he conflate my post with any that another SPGB may have contributed. SPGBers despite what some say are not clones. We are not the Borg.

Comments that I some how hold no anger about the persecution of the First Nations in Canada are misdirected. I already mentioned an article by myself on indigenous suicides,

https://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/2010s/2015/no-1330-june-2015/material-world-indigenous-suicides/

And have blogged on SOYMB about the abduction of First Nations children by the Canadian State from their communities.

My concern is that by applying such elaborate acronyms takes away their very humanity and that they are being labelled by the State, rather than thought of as real individuals. Very much opposite to the criticisms I face here of being uncaring.

And, of course, I rely on the media for information, not being on the ground with direct access to sources.

The fact that I did not highlight the tragic circumstances was that I saw no need to preach to the converted and took it for granted that we all deplored what is happening. I drew attention to one aspect that I thought was related to the topic of the thread title...Auld-bod tells me I was wrong and I was off-tangent.

Auld-bod

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

ajjohnstone #676

‘I drew attention to one aspect that I thought was related to the topic of the thread title...Auld-bod tells me I was wrong and I was off-tangent.’

My last post was not directed at you. It was simply informative.

The subject of identity politics is a minefield, as everyone I know has multiple ‘identities’. I think it unlikely there is such a thing as a ‘core’ identity. This explains why people with ‘good politics’ can also have sexist/racist ideas. We try and rationalise our views, though who can really enter their own field of vision? Can we really predict the trajectory of our actions and beliefs? Not always. Let me give examples from an excellent post:

https://libcom.org/history/racists-reds-revolt-clyde-1919

Manny Shinwell organising sailors on the Clyde uses racist arguments against black and Chinese crews working on British ships. The post ably explains the context in which these events took place. Now did Shinwell, a son of Jewish immigrants, only in retrospect recognise the folly of the tactics he used? It would seem so.

Examples of ‘socialist internationalism’ are cited: Arthur MacManus, John Maclean and (by implication) James Connolly.
Later Connolly died an Irish martyr in 1916; Maclean died as famous for his Scottish Republicanism as his Marxism; MacManus died in 1927, having been an active member of the BCP and the Comintern. He remained relatively true to his internationalism (he was at the founding conference of the League Against Imperialism).

Can you support internationalism and be a republican and/or anti-imperialist? Appears to me, the life we live draws out our responses, and our core beliefs are often more plastic than we care to admit.

Noah Fence

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Appears to me, the life we live draws out our responses, and our core beliefs are often more plastic than we care to admit.

Probably the most thought provoking sentence on this thread.

Edit: I retract that statement. Thought provoking though it undoubtedly is, having just read through the entire thread, there are a number of other comments that gets the mind churning over - indeed, the fucking bullshit that some people are subject to just because of a particular aspect of their identity really is mind blowing.
The winner though, the thing that really has the mind boggling, is the omission in the OP of any examples of idpol going for the throat of anarchism, and the subsequent continued omission of same when the poster was pressed on the matter.

Spikymike

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

So looking back to my earlier posts #641 and #659 thought I'd get another plug in for these helpful 'back to basics' texts:
https://www.gegen-kapital-und-nation.org/proud-be-so-what and
https://www.gegen-kapital-und-nation.org/en/some-remarks-on-homophobia-and-homosexuality

link

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

“Liberté, Égalité, Proprieté for all?

Any group campaigning for equal rights is demanding nothing else than the recognition of its members as full citizens of the nation and as equal competitors. Bourgeois society with its promises of equality before the law and general competition seems more than happy to oblige. But even if all legitimisations for their oppression were to be removed or at least considerably mitigated, their identities would retain the potential for the same violence with which they were originally inscribed. Even when it does not manifest itself in outright hatred, terror, or destruction, the stigma of difference itself remains unchanged. It can be (re)produced at will and directed once more against its bearers. For all these reasons, adapting to the demands of bourgeois society is hardly ever an efficient means of emancipation.”

Thought I would just highlight this conclusion of one of the texts that spikeymike listed. It’s a perspective not commonly expressed here on libcom as I know but at least it aims to present a political argument based on an analysis of reality. Few of the proponents of identity politics on here do that, far too many posts rely on simply dismissal if not outright abuse and bullying. Even bourgeois anti-bullying campaigns in schools do more to stop bullying than what is achieved here.

Yes I understand we all want to see a society that is equal and where this is equality and respect for all individuals whatever they are and whatever they do. However, the current social compaigns by the ruling class that are generally labelled political correctness are clearly a product of the assimilation of radical political approaches of the 60s and 70s towards feminism, anti-racism and libertarianism. Many libcomers fail to take an analytical approach to these developments and their politics remain completely at an emotive level

Spikymike

1 year 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Maybe written from a bit 'outside looking in' - but still a pretty well balanced article from the spgb that attempts to address the relationship between 'class politics' and 'identity politics' if only at the level of 'ideas' rather than any detailed analysis of the material underpinning of each (which I have criticised elsewhere). Suspect it won't please all spgbers let alone some here.
https://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/2010s/2019/no-1381-september-2019/no-outsiders-class-inclusivity/
Edit: And I see that the socialist standard has another go at addressing some of the related issues here:
https://worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/2020s/2021/no-1403-july-2021/a-gender-item/

Serge Forward

3 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Thanks for that Mike. Yes, some hits and misses but definitely worth a read.

freedomabolition

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I don't think what people describe as "identity politics" is actually a real phenomenon, I think it is a misinterpretation of a different political phenomenon which doesn't define identities, but rather identifies social groups that have been defined by social and economic segregation.
Groups like African Americans in the United States have an economic and social situation that is in fact different and less well off than other groups like European Americans. The same goes for women. These groups have historically been discriminated against and now must contend with social and economic structures that transcend state power, which still have the power to discriminate against these groups, and still have cultures which normalize discrimination of these groups, in such subtle ways that they are not even thought of as being discriminatory by those who have not take the time and initiative to analyze the situation.
The fact that some of the affected groups are still struggling with a physical legacy of economic inequality, like for instance collectively controlling less capital within their networks allow them as much social mobility as groups which benefited from the history of discrimination, means that members of these groups should be given advantages through political systems to counteract the disadvantages that they face against members of the groups who benefited from the history of discrimination.
The history of discrimination is real, and to ignore the fact that social groups were created with advantages and disadvantages as a result of this history is an ignorant, irresponsible, and dangerous distortion of the truth.

link

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I am not very sure of the point that freedom/abolition is making about identity. As you say there are social and economic groups within capitalism that are oppressed and discrimination against but these groups have some features of a common identity so I see little difference in talking about identity politics or group identities.

My problem with this view of groups is that whilst there are common features there are also features which tend to differentiate ideas within those groups and as conflict emerges then this differentiation is exacerbated. In other words a common fighting platform is a problem and in fact individuals within these groups tends to hold individual position and objectives for their situation.

When you write that the groups now must contend with social and economic structures that transcend state power, I think you are misunderstanding the state The state we have now is a product of capitalist and exists to manage those social and economic structures that exist so again it is unclear what you are getting at here.

Finally, I would agree that 'to ignore the fact that social groups were created with advantages and disadvantages’ is wrong. These things do indeed need to be recognised and understand so that a new society can be built but the important question is who can get rid of capitalism and the capitalism ruling class worldwide. If you read the earlier contributions you can see that my argument is that only the working class can do this.

Women, Black people, Asians, Australian Aborigines and any nation you care to mention are made up of working class, middle class and ruling class individuals whatever generalisations about relative wealth are possible. This fact will inevitably generate conflict within campaigns for equality and this ultimately means that such group campaigns are inevitably reformist campaigns demanding small changes and improvements to capitalism ie not revolution, not the elimination of capitalism.

So if your perspective is to improve capitalism , then fine, but if you wish to get rid of capitalism then supporting such narrow group or identity based campaigns is what is irresponsible and dangerous.

Lucky Black Cat

2 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Just watched this video. It argues that intersectionality and Marxism are compatible, addresses misconceptions about both, and criticizes liberal identity politics while defending the importance of intersectionality.

In other words, it addresses many of the grievances and points that people have raised on this thread.

The video is quite academic and dense in its language, and I found much of it difficult to understand, but it shouldn't be a problem for libcom gang, since 90% of you seem very comfortable with this style of communication.

I had some disagreements with some of the video's less central points, but agree with its main message that intersectionality and revolutionary class politics are compatible.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5DOazFWY4g

Craftwork

2 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

https://libcom.org/library/autonomy-advanced-identity-struggles-humanaesfera

Spikymike

1 year 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

And it would seem useful to include this text (as critically reviewed) on the discussion list here for future reference:
https://libcom.org/library/races-working-class-usa-mouvement-communistekolektivn-proti-kapit-lu-letter-48

link

1 year 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/aug/16/uk-academic-sues-university-losing-role-critical-race-theory-row-leeds-beckett

This is a very sad article that demonstrates many negative effects of identity politics

darren p

1 year 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

"identity struggles (of women, black people, gays, consumers, ethnic groups, young people and even militant groups ...) intend to exist outside the sphere of production.

This seems to be ignoring a lot of things.

To consider everything as production was really the great insight of Marx

Does Marx really consider everything as production?

Khawaga

1 year 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Does Marx really consider everything as production?

No.

link

1 year 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

double post

link

1 year 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Darren P, not sure what Khawaga wants to say but he has not explained very much.

Here are 2 quotes from Karl Marx:

'The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness. '

'Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.'

The first makes it clear the production is at the root of how a society works and therefore the political and social systems that appear with that mode of production. He also said that the ruling class ideology dominates in any given society, so the main ideas that feature in capitalism are those that maintain capitalism and keep it working, eg workfor wages, money, greed, nationalism, parliamentarism, reformism are all normal and good!

The 2nd show that people (and indeed the political and social institutions) have an impact on how history turns out, but they come into being in the framework set by what history previously created. In other words, say in the roman empire, slavery was normal as was gladitorial games to the death, democracy was for the ruling class, developing of production based on electrical or computer. In engineering was not possible. In capitalism, growth and profit motives are normal, as is throwing people out of jobs, individualism, wars of destruction, and so forth

adri

1 year 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

There’s actually a pretty helpful section on historical materialism in Tucker’s Marx-Engels reader. I don’t think M&E ever argued anything as simplistic as "production being everything" in determining history, to the exclusion of all other factors. For example Engels wrote to Joseph Bloch:

Engels

According to the materialist conception of history, the ultimately determining element in history is the production and reproduction of real life. More than this neither Marx nor I have ever asserted. Hence if somebody twists this into saying that the economic element is the only determining one, he transforms that proposition into a meaningless, abstract, senseless phrase.

Engels

Marx and I are ourselves partly to blame for the fact that the younger people sometimes lay more stress on the economic side than is due to it. We had to emphasise the main principle vis-a-vis our adversaries, who denied it, and we had not always the time, the place or the opportunity to allow the other elements in the interaction to come into their rights.

darren p

1 year 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

link

Darren P, not sure what Khawaga wants to say but he has not explained very much.

Sorry, it was a rhetorical / Socratic question rather than wanting people to explain things.

"Everything is production" is too much of a one-sided oversimplification, to the point of being wrong.

Khawaga

1 year 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Darren P understood what I meant. Reducing everything to production is simply a loss of analytical clarity.