No, “Identity Politics” Didn’t Elect Trump, por Kevin Carson (Center for a Stateless Society):
In all the damage assessments and recriminations following the presidential election, one theme I’ve seen way too much of is blaming Trump’s victory on “political correctness.” One person blamed the Left for “demonizing white men” for the past eight years instead of focusing on economic and class issues. Another clutched his pearls about what a dumb strategic move it was to dismiss most of Trump’s supporters as “deplorables.” And at Reason, human dumpster fire Robby Soave — whose shtik seems to be retyping old Reed Irvine and Dinesh D’Souza screeds with his name on them — literally lays the blame for Trump at the feet of campus speech codes, trigger warnings and safe spaces. (No, if anything defeated Clinton it was stay-at-home Democratic voters disgusted by a Democratic Party that embraced way too many of the same neoliberal — not genuinely libertarian — economic policies favored by Reason.)
But the cultural Right’s sense of grievance is utter nonsense. For people who complain so much about the “politics of victimhood,” they play the victim card better than anybody else.
Long ago, as a child, I can remember hearing old folks complain that “this country’s been going to pot ever since all these people started screaming about their ‘rights.'” And that’s still the attitude of those who talk about “taking our country back.”
Whatever they think of marginalized people demanding their rights, they sure aren’t modest about the rights they claim for themselves. They think they have the right to decide what languages people speak, what religious garb they wear, who they marry, and what bathrooms they go to. And when they talk about PC as an assault on their freedom, what they’re referring to is their freedom to prohibit other people from doing things they disapprove of. You can’t even say “Happy Holidays” to them without them whining about a “War on Christmas.” For all their mockery of “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings,” they’re the most emotionally fragile and easily offended people in existence. (...)
On top of all this, treating the concerns of marginalized people as secondary for the sake of anti-fascist unity is really stupid from a purely strategic point of view. The fight for basic human rights for justice by people of color, women, LGBT people and immigrants isn’t a ruling class strategy to divide the producing classes. Rosa Parks didn’t refuse to give up her seat, the people at Stonewall didn’t decide to stand up and fight, because they’d been paid by elites to do so. But racism, sexism and homophobia themselves really are ruling class weapons to divide us against each other. It isn’t marginalized people fighting for their dignity, their very existence, who are being “divisive” and playing into the hands of the capitalist ruling class. The divisive ones, the dupes of the ruling class, are the people who would vote for a fascist just out of spite for having to coexist with people they disapprove of. (...)
Abandoning marginalized people is also strategically stupid because it was marginalized people themselves, alienated by Clinton’s neoliberalism, who were some of the most likely voters to stay home and vote third party. A lot of ardent Clinton supporters liked to frame the left-wing opposition to HRC as “privileged white males.” But the people doing this framing were themselves disproportionately the upper-middle-class white professional types who are the demographic core of establishment liberalism. To the extent that they adhered to any kind of racial or gender politics, it was the outmoded 1970s model of one-dimensional “identity politics” that focused exclusively on putting women and People of Color into the existing power structures, and ignoring class issues, rather than dismantling the power structures themselves.
Who’s Afraid of Identity Politics?, por Jonathan Dean (LSE Blogs):
Amidst the recriminations and collective shock in the face of Trump’s victory (and the myriad other reverses suffered by progressives in 2016), a consensus is emerging: the weakness of the left is attributable to its embrace of “identity politics”. Rather than focussing on the interests and priorities of the majority, the story goes, the left has for too long embraced a simplistic and sectional politics in which the interests of racial and sexual minorities have taken centre stage, at the expense popularity and electability. (...)
But what, precisely, is this “identity politics” that inspires such animosity? At a basic level, “identity politics” refers to any politics that seeks to represent and/or advance the claims of a particular social group. But in the narratives outlined above, it has a more specific meaning: in left circles, “identity politics” is, as Nancy Fraser pointed out back in 1998, used largely as a derogatory term for feminism, anti-racism and anti-heterosexism. The implication was – and very often still is – that gender, race and sexuality are identity-based in the sense that they are seen as flimsy, superficial and, to use Judith Butler’s memorable phrase, ‘merely cultural’. This, of course, is to be contrasted with its constitutive outside, class. Class relations, in the eyes of the identity politics critic, exhibit a depth, profundity and materiality that ‘mere identity’ lacks. Furthermore, the alleged universalism of class is contrasted with the narrow, sectional concerns characteristic of so-called identity politics.
But what, precisely, is wrong with this framing of the problem? For one, the implied distinction between “identity” (read: narrow, shallow, self-interested) and “class” politics (read: broad, deep, universal, authentic) misconstrues the character of these different strands of progressive politics, in at least three ways. First, all forms of politics arguably involve some kind of appeal to an identity, insofar as, to use the language of political theorist Michael Saward, they entail claims to speak for a politically salient constituency (and thus an “identity” of sorts). This applies as much to “class” as any other dimension of power and identity. Indeed, as Gurminder Bhambra has argued in a recent piece for The Sociological Review, these appeals to “class” are quintessential identity politics: they appeal to an identity category – the (presumed white) working class – whose interests have been shamefully neglected by elitist, out of touch leftists and liberals. The question is not, therefore, universalism or identitarianism, but whether or not we acknowledge the “identitarian” character of our political claims. Something akin to this is eloquently described by James Clifford in a 1999 essay entitled ‘Taking Identity Politics Seriously’, where he argues that ‘opposition to the special claims of racial or ethnic minorities often masks another, unmarked ‘identity politics’, an actively sustained historical positioning and possessive investment in Whiteness’. (...)
hird, a frankly bewildering inference made by Kinnock, Žižek et al is that the left in its various guises has spent its time of late doggedly pursuing the interests of women, sexual minorities and racial minorities. The reality, however, is that left-wing movements and political parties in the UK and US have an at best patchy track records on race, gender and sexuality, as recent scholarship by the likes of Janet Conway, Julia Downes, Lara Coleman and Abigail Bakan make clear. All the way from the moderate liberal left to the radical Marxist left, race, gender and sexuality continue to be cast as minority concerns at best, and “bourgeois distractions” at worst, while sexism and misogyny (including, but not limited to, the sexual abuse of women comrades) remain depressingly prevalent across a variety of left spaces. (...)
Let us, therefore, not be under any illusions about how these dismissals of “identity politics” function: they are, in effect, a kind of dog whistle to those on the left who might, for instance, agree that black lives matter, but ultimately believe that when push comes to shove it is the (white male) working class that matters more. As others have pointed out, this is tantamount to being called upon to sacrifice a range of constituencies – women, racial minorities, queers, immigrants (and at times perhaps also trans people, non-binary and gender non-conforming folk, sex workers) – on the altar of political expediency. Putting aside any doubts as to whether this would actually work in terms of galvanising electoral support, this is clearly a morally bankrupt form of politics.