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Thursday, March 7, 2019

Social Justice Bard and The Curious Case of the Anti Identity Politics

Image result for identity politics importantJust a little reminder from your local Social Justice Bard about the narrative that you hear around you every day like muzak in a shopping mall. A narrative that (much like the ability to see Kilimanjaro "rising" from the Serengeti despite 313 kilometers and the curvature of the earth) can be plucked out and examined––which we social justice bards love to do.

We love plucking and examining narratives.

Snarking about identity politics is a popular pastime. It's not just limited to Trump and bigotry cultists either. The moderate left loves to hate identity politics too. Remember what moderate white Democrats said after Clinton got torpedoed by James Comey, endured a sustained campaign of misogyny, was targeted by corporate media something like three times more than the guy with mafia ties who wouldn't release his financial reports, WAS THE TARGET OF RUSSIAN PSYOPS TO GET TRUMP ELECTED, and still won the popular vote by 2.7 million votes.

I remember. It was: "We would have won if not for your fucking identity politics!"

The problem here is that demanding identity politics be stripped from any discourse IS identity politics. It just involves a little misdirection and some inveigling language. It's just like most shitty things done by folks with privilege: it is surrounded by a cultural invisibility cloak, fueled by hypocrisy, and fully charged with a double-standard field. The minute you stop and critically unpack it, it's as easy to parse as that Kilimanjaro thing. Everything any group of any kind has the temerity to mention particularly affects them or affects them in a particular way is considered "identity politics." The anti-identity politicos refuse to acknowledge for starters that everything is political and that fighting for a status quo is itself a political act. But more so they refuse to acknowledge an even bigger glaring fallacy in this labeling.

Consider this, what do you get as you strip away those "identity politics"? Strip away racial politics. Sexuality politics. Gender politics. Ability/access politics. Neurodivergent/disability politics. Who is it whose concerns remain?

The answer isn't "no one." It also isn't "normal" people. Or "regular" people. Or "everyday Americans." There IS an answer, but it isn't "default humans." When every marker of "identity" is removed, there is a group left over that now gets to talk about what it wants to without so much as considering the issues of anyone else.

The answer is ABLE-BODIED NEUROTYPICAL CISHET WHITE DUDES. They consider themselves default humans, and much like kind of grooving along to Toto without really considering why the fuck dogs have some oxymoronic desire like "solitary company," these assumptions are rarely questioned. Cishet able white men are the identity that gets 100% of their concerns addressed when all other "identities" are stripped away. They consider THEIR identity politics to be an absence of all identity politics because they consider themselves to be default humans.

Of course, class politics might be addressed in this vacuum (assuming an actual good faith concern with class politics and not a sophist "what's wrong with the world today"), but of course, not as they intersect with any other identities. You get lots of "we're all just humans" in ways that BREATHTAKINGLY ignore other forms of oppression. These conversations sidestep the way capitalism so predictably relies on other identity markers to "justify" its treatment of a perpetual underclass––the one it needs in order to form its inexhaustible supply of exploitable labor. Not in a way that recognizes how different forms of oppression often dovetail and magnify each other. Military politics. Global climate change. The prison industrial complex. All of these things affect different groups in different ways but stripping out the "identity politics" centers the concerns of white men.

Besides, suggesting that nothing matters as much as economic inequality and that economic equality would suddenly solve all problems is strangely a position held mostly by people at the top of social hierarchies––particularly white men. Only they can see that it's all about class and nothing else matters.....for some reason.

It's like fucking Scooby Doo. Pull the mask off, and it's an white dude making everything about him every time. In an act of sheer irony, they will even make HOW identity politics hurt them IN PARTICULAR into their own brand of specific identity politics concerns. ("White men are the most hated.....")

They've just made everything about them with a little sociolinguistic magic trick that makes it sound like they're doing exactly the opposite, like they have mankind's best interests at heart when they ignore any group that has any other identity.

You can't see Kilimanjaro from the Serengeti. Dogs don't want solitary company. And shrieking "no identity politics" is just a way to make sure that the identity politics stay focused on one particular identity.


  1. If you strip identity politics you wind up with class politics. that's why the neoliberals love identity politics, it let's them pretend the black single mother working the checkout counter at the dollar store has more in common with Kylie Jenner than the unemployed white guy trying to buy off brand mac and cheese in front of her.

  2. I agree with this. Except interesting that you heard people blame Clinton's loss on "We would have won if not for your fucking identity politics!" I heard people blaming Bernie for splitting the vote, BECAUSE he didn't focus enough on identity politics. Or was that your point?