FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Curse and Failure of Identity Politics

by

I think we’ve all had enough of the bullshit: identity politics has been a curse to leftist movements in the U.S. for far too long. How could anyone argue otherwise?

During the Obama years, leftists were chastised for their critiques, with many, including myself, being accused of racism. Racism, really? I’ve spent the last ten years of my life dedicated to progressive social movements, yet I’m a racist because I think that Barack Obama is an imperialist scumbag? Piss off…

Today, the same is happening in the context of Hillary Clinton’s run for U.S. President. Any and all critiques of Hillary are deemed “sexist” by HRC’s bootlickers.

On a recent DemocracyNow! program, Clinton lackey Bertha Lewis (former CEO of ACORN and currently of the Black Institute and Working Families Party of New York) had some profoundly ignorant and misinformed things to say. Of course, none of this is surprising, nor is it really out of the ordinary, but it is disheartening and troublesome.

The best part of the interview was Bertha’s statement that, “If you want to see a revolution, then elect a female president!” Indeed, Bertha may be right: under Thatcher, the U.K. underwent quite a revolution, although not the type of revolution leftists would like to see.

However, the Curse of Identity Politics isn’t relegated to the electoral sphere: I’ve been told by activists that the U.S. can’t pull out of Afghanistan because women will be treated worse. I’ve been that women serving in the U.S. Military Machine is a progressive accomplishment. And I’ve been told that because black and brown people overwhelmingly support Democrats, I too should support the “lesser of two evils.”

When I sat on the board of directors of an national antiwar organization, we talked about meeting ethnic, racial and gender quotas as much as we talked about ending wars and militarism. In fact, during one strategy retreat in Chicago, we started out each day by exploring what pronouns each of us would prefer to use. Yes, this is what modern activism, for some, has turned into.

At the same time, people are learning valuable lessons, particularly young folks, about the world of progressive politics – its failures, inadequacies and so on.

Fortunately, young voters (84% of women under the age of 30) in Iowa overwhelmingly supported Sanders over Clinton. In my thinking, this trend will continue. The Age of Identity Politics is coming to an end. The wrath of middle-aged, middle-class white women is quickly losing steam. Young women are tired of hearing about the first female U.S. President – they’re interested in policies that will actually help the vast majority of females in the U.S., not bourgeois feminism aimed at the dwindling white middle-class.

The real question is: how long are we going to play the identitarian game? In 2020, will we have to go through the same song and dance with a centrist Latino or LGBTQ candidate? I sure hope not.

In the end, Iraqi and Afghan children don’t care whether it’s a man or a woman who drone strikes their family and friends. They just care that someone is trying to kill them.

Domestically, the same is true: most Americans don’t care whether it’s a white woman or a black man who’s trying to pass the worst trade deal (Trans Pacific Partnership) in history – they simply know they’re getting screwed by powerful elites.

I would argue that the more the identitarians try and play their identitarian games, the more they will lose support and standing in progressive communities. Already, young black activists with Black Lives Matter and various other community organizations are challenging the dominant liberal narrative that having people of color in powerful positions will automatically result in better conditions for people of color.

As a result, my black activist friends are not interested in replacing a white police chief with a black police chief. And my female friends are not interested in replacing patriarchy with patriarchy-light. Hence the reason young activists aren’t engaging in the same absurd ideological games as their elders. Here, we should be excited.

In many ways, the identitarians have already lost the ideological battle. After all, Latinos are being deported in record numbers, African Americans are worse off today than they were prior to Obama taking office, and women are facing unprecedented attacks from religious conservatives. All of this after forty years of identity politics. Obviously, focusing on what Chris Hedges calls “boutique political issues” hasn’t resulted in better living conditions for people of color or women. Yet, the public is more educated about these issues than ever before.

So, what gives? A complete lack of power and organization. Without question, the Left has virtually no power and is utterly lacking the infrastructure and institutions that would be necessary to rectify the problem. Instead of talking about the brutal realities of power, leftists often talk about “shifting narratives” and “changing dominant discourses.”

Indeed, the more the Left focuses on the most prescient issues of our time – ecology, militarism and economics – the more likely people will be to gravitate toward leftist political organizations and movements.

Right now, identity politics is all the rage. But those days are coming to an end.

As the seas continue to rise and the rich continue to plunder, people will seek truly radical alternatives, not liberal rubbish.

Vincent Emanuele writes for teleSUR English and lives in Michigan City, Indiana. He can be reached at vincent.emanuele333@gmail.com

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Obama Said Hillary will Continue His Legacy and Indeed She Will!
Jeffrey St. Clair
She Stoops to Conquer: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Rob Urie
Long Live the Queen of Chaos
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Evolution of Capitalism, Escalation of Imperialism
Vijay Prashad
The Iraq War: a Story of Deceit
stclair
It Wasn’t Just the Baton Rouge Police Who Killed Alton Sterling
Brian Cloughley
Could Trump be Good for Peace?
Patrick Timmons
Racism, Freedom of Expression and the Prohibition of Guns at Universities in Texas
Gary Leupp
The Coming Crisis in U.S.-Turkey Relations
Pepe Escobar
Is War Inevitable in the South China Sea?
Margot Kidder
My Fellow Americans: We Are Fools
Norman Pollack
Clinton Incorruptible: An Ideological Contrivance
Robert Fantina
The Time for Third Parties is Now!
Andrew Tillett-Saks
Labor’s Political Stockholm Syndrome: Why Unions Must Stop Supporting Democrats Like Clinton
Andre Vltchek
Like Trump, Hitler Also Liked His “Small People”
Serge Halimi
Provoking Russia
Andrew Stewart
Countering The Nader Baiter Mythology
Ron Jacobs
Something Besides Politics for Summer’s End
David Swanson
It’s Not the Economy, Stupid
Erwan Castel
A Faith that Lifts Barricades: The Ukraine Government Bows and the Ultra-Nationalists are Furious
Steve Horn
Did Industry Ties Lead Democratic Party Platform Committee to Nix Fracking Ban?
Robert Fisk
How to Understand the Beheading of a French Priest
Colin Todhunter
Sugar-Coated Lies: How The Food Lobby Destroys Health In The EU
Franklin Lamb
“Don’t Cry For Us Syria … The Truth is We Shall Never Leave You!”
Frederick B. Hudson
Well Fed, Bill?
Harvey Wasserman
NY Times Pushes Nukes While Claiming Renewables Fail to Fight Climate Change
Uri Avnery
The Orange Man: Trump and the Middle East
Marjorie Cohn
The Content of Trump’s Character
Missy Comley Beattie
Pick Your Poison
Joseph Grosso
Serving The Grid: Urban Planning in New York
John Repp
Real Cooperation with Nations Is the Best Survival Tactic
Binoy Kampmark
The Scourge of Youth Detention: The Northern Territory, Torture, and Australia’s Detention Disease
Kim Nicolini
Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It
Cesar Chelala
Gang Violence Rages Across Central America
Tom H. Hastings
Africa/America
Robert Koehler
Slavery, War and Presidential Politics
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
Jeffrey St. Clair
Night of the Hollow Men: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Renee Parsons
Blame It on the Russians
Herbert Dyer, Jr.
Is it the Cops or the Cameras? Putting Police Brutality in Historical Context
Russell Mokhiber
Dems Dropping the N Word: When in Trouble, Blame Ralph
Howard Lisnoff
The Elephant in the Living Room
Pepe Escobar
The Real Secret of the South China Sea
Ramzy Baroud
Farewell to Yarmouk: A Palestinian Refugee’s Journey from Izmir to Greece
John Laforge
Wild Turkey with H-Bombs: Failed Coup Raise Calls for Denuclearization
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail