On Mike Moore's new book
jannistang at yahoo.com
Mon Feb 25 18:45:47 MST 2002
> >Bob Anderson:
> >East Liverpool, Ohio has a large toxic waste
> incinerator sitting next to a school because it is a
poor Appalachian community, for instance. Look at the
waste dumped in West Virginia's rivers from chemical
and coal plants and you see poor whites. To attack
the problem as one of racism leaves no way to unite
the many other communities facing the same problem.
Take a look at any white supremacist web site and you
will see the language of identity politics
quite slickly and handily. The Marxist Internet
Archive has a good entry in its glossary of terms.
Thus, the social movements of the post-war
period which emphasised the common interests of
masses of people in opposition to an external enemy,
began to pass over to politics which emphasised
difference, and by the compounding of multiple
difference, identity, and the enemy became more and
more indefinable: although everyone seemed to belong
to one oppressed minority or another (you might be an
educated white American, but if you were gay, female
disabled for example, then you could engage in a
struggle against the special oppression you were
suffering in that respect. All such struggles aagainst
the multiplicity of oppressions were and remain of
course progressive, but the overall effect is also
Having its origin in the individualism inherent in
bourgeois social relations, Identity Politics began
develop within these movements, transforming
collective struggles against state and institutional
forms of oppression into struggles of recognition for
Blacks, Women, Gays, young people, and so on. From the
standpoint of Identity Politics, Socialism is just
another strand of Identity Politics, namely the
struggle of the working class, but for Identity
Politics, identity is self-identity, so Socialism is
reduced to the struggle for recognition of those who
define themselves as workers, and commonly as
straight, white, male, blue collar workers. From this
standpoint Socialism appears simply as the assertion
of the privileging of one group over others.
The development of identity politics had its origins
in the development of the labour process in the U.S.
in particular and the developed capitalist countries
generally, which made the super-exploitation of
sections of the working class untenable, and increased
the potential for the socialisation of women's labour
and other relations which was incompatible with
traditional forms of oppression. The growth of
professional sections of the working class and
"knowledge industries", on top of the successes of a
series of social movements, created both the
opportunity and means for the promotion of sectional
interests in lieu of class interests.
The -Anti-Capitalist Movement- of the beginning of
millennium marks the opening of a new political
terrain, alliance politics, in which various groups
and movements seek alliances to resolve social
problems, but unlike the movements which had preceded
the period of Identity Politics, identify segments of
Civil Society as the site of struggle rather than
engaging in a struggle for State Power.
If you're from the Appalachians, you probably know
that people who know their Bible are quite capable of
refuting the "environmental racism" line with
proof-texts such as:
"Truly, the earth is the Lord's and all that
dwell therein - Psalm 24:1."
The least of creatures are not outside his domain,
whether it be caterpillars or worms (Joel 2:25)
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the
leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and
the young lion .... for the earth shall be full of the
knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
And the mainstream Protestants who tend to look to
traditional authorities may be familiar with:
Martin Luther once said: "It is not only heaven that
is pure with its stars where Christ reigns in his
work, but earth too is clean with its trees and its
grass where we are at home with all that is ours."
And those familiar with the history of American culure
will be able to quote from such people as the American
Transcendentalists (Emerson, Thoreau and Walt
Whitman), and the founders of the Audobon Society.
Almost every mainstream documentary on preservationism
touches on this kind of history.
To charge that anti-environmentalism is an inherently
Euro-centric value is just plain wrong.
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