[Marxism] Beyond Neoliberal Identity Politics

Gary MacLennan gary.maclennan1 at gmail.com
Wed May 24 17:25:48 MDT 2017


I wrote an article for Monthly Review long years ago on Political
Correctness.  In all (im)modesty it remains the best thing I have read on
the subject.

The point I made was that in all societies there is always restraints on
language use i.e. political correctness. Of course the restrictions desired
by the marginal are marked or labelled, while the restrictions desired by
the powerful are unmarked and labeled normal. they do not even have a name.

Exactly the same with identity politics.  We are all thrown into an
identity when we are born. The question is do we reproduce it or transform
it.  transformation requires a movement and that disturbs dominant
identities - think 2, 4,. 6. 8; Gay is just as good as Straight.

Now the question of a neoliberal identity is an interesting one.
Foucault's lectures at La College de France (much quoted by Richard
Seymour) contain the outline of a neoliberal identity.  That is the classic
identity of the possessive individual that MacPherson wrote about.  So that
is the neoliberal identity proper.  neoliberalism seeks to create the
neoliberal subject or identity.

I would distinguish that process from those compensatory identities that
neoliberals offer.  Marriage equality, abstract rights etc  Under the reign
of scarcity, which is the principal motif of neoliberalism, compensatory
identities cause misrecognition and envy.  They divide us and of course
that is all to the benefit of the powerful.

For me the ideal program would not be to deny the reality of identity
politics, but firstly to attack the neoliberal identity and transform the
compensatory identities by eliminating scarcity.



On Thu, May 25, 2017 at 3:59 AM, Jeff via Marxism <
marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:

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> On 2017-05-24 18:02, Glenn Kissack via Marxism wrote:
>> http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/24/beyond-neoliberal-ide
>> ntity-politics/
> This is a disgusting attack on what is absolutely a straw man.
> Ever since I have heard the term thrown around, I've been looking for what
> "identity politics" means in practice. Surely an ideology that is so talked
> about must have some actual proponents that will lay it out for us!
> But no. I am finally realizing that "identity politics" is a label similar
> to "political correctness." The latter expression has long been used to
> decry progressive norms in relation to use of bigoted terms and their
> underlying ideas. It was always denounced by the bigoted right wing as a
> form of thought control supposedly being imposed by the left, yet never
> would they bother (nor could they!) point to an actual ideology called
> "political correctness." The charge was vacuous and only revealed the guilt
> of those making the charge.
> Now I see that "identity politics" has become a new label of exactly the
> same sort. This is clear from the above article attacking it. It makes a
> few dozen claims in which the position attributed to "identity politics" is
> indirectly quoted. You'd think that if there were any substance to these
> supposed quotations then the author might try quoting some actual people
> with those views. But no, those views are presented as those of "NIP", the
> term coined by the author to mean "neoliberal identity politics" as if it
> were real. So it's an attack on no one and on nothing in the real world.
> But by attacking it, one achieves the same filthy result as the incessant
> attacks on "political correctness" of yesteryear.
> - Jeff
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