• Harry Hindu
    2.2k
    insofar as the stakes for thinking politically - for understanding what it is we are even talking about when we talk about and of politics - are pretty high.StreetlightX
    Sure. Politics is a branch of ethics and since there is no objective morality then there is no objective, one-size-fits-all political system.

    In this sense, politics about promoting ones own self-interests. So we dont promote our identity, we promote our self-interests, which could be goals that we share with others that might have different identities. So it is improper usage if terms when you want to call all politics as such as identity politics.

    When you see whites marching with blacks or straights marching with gays they arent promoting an identity. They are promoting the idea of equal treatment under the law.
  • Snakes Alive
    385
    The difference between minorities and majorities isn’t their size. A minority may be bigger than a majority.StreetlightX

    :chin:
  • frank
    3.1k
    Just invite people to understand "majority" as dominant. There's no need to wage war over what It means. It means whatever we decide it means.

    This is like rudimentary politics: don't waste your energy on stupid shit.
  • StreetlightX
    4.1k
    Just invite people to understand "majority" as dominant.frank

    Apparently this is hard for some people.
  • Snakes Alive
    385
    Then why not use that word? The one that means what you're talking about? And not one that means something else?
  • frank
    3.1k
    Apparently this is hard for some people.StreetlightX

    I would think that inviting people to do things would be really easy.
  • Moliere
    1.7k
    Because what happens is basically a confusion of process for product: identities (black, woman, gay, American) are results, products of an articulation arrived at in the course of complex social, historical, and cultural negotiation and development. One of the (necessary) means by which this negotiation takes place is politics, making it one (inescapable) ingredient that goes into the final, baked cake that is identity. Now, politics does alot more than just bake identity-cakes (not all politics, not most politics, aims merely to shape identities), but that it does, is inescapable. In is in this sense that one might say that 'all politics is identity politics': if you engage in politics (or if politics engages you), you end up, whether you like it or not, articulating the contours of identity (among other things).StreetlightX

    Do you believe that a person who ascribes to the belief "All politics is identity politics" thinks of identity politics in this way, or in the other way:

    But this is very different from taking identity as the explicit site of political action, of taking identification itself as a kind of political process: "I am woman, therefore, vote for me"'; "We put rainbow flags on our advertisements, so buy our products". This obscures process for product: this is what it means to engage in 'identity politics', where identities themselves are taken for (stand-in for) the very process which produce them.StreetlightX

    ?


    This confusion of process for product is what confuses so many people about identity politics, which is in many cases just assumed to be 'any kind of politics which has any bearing at all on identity'. Which is completely stupid because it's a confusion that ends up just equating identity politics with politics tout court, and then you end up in the disastrous situation where politics itself is taken for 'the problem' (because 'everyone knows' identity politics = bad boogeyman). This is why anyone who thinks this is just merely a verbal dispute is pretty dumb, insofar as the stakes for thinking politically - for understanding what it is we are even talking about when we talk about and of politics - are pretty high.StreetlightX

    I take it that your target is not a person who ascribes to identity politics, then, but a person who -- perhaps on the periphery of political action -- calls this mistaken move of flipping process for product identity politics. Am I right?

    I don't think that this is merely verbal. Just because there are, in my way of framing the issue, translation rules between different instantiations of power which allow us to reframe historical facts into different frames that does not, at least as far as I'm concerned, imply that these are merely verbal disputes. I think history is important, though I believe we can translate facts into different frames.

    The act of translation, I'd say, does not occur in some realm of thought alone -- but has real consequences too.
  • StreetlightX
    4.1k
    Then why not use that word?Snakes Alive

    Couldn't say. Although I like to imagine that its something to do with watching certain people squirm.
  • Snakes Alive
    385
    Or maybe if you used the right word, what you were saying would be outed as either trivial or false?
  • StreetlightX
    4.1k
    Maybe. But that doesn't seem borne out by the rather, er, unstudied opinions held by many here.
  • Snakes Alive
    385
    "Study" of New Age, pseudohistory, conspiracy theories, etc. won't leave you any smarter, and in fact might do damage to your ability to think. I suspect the same is true of lots of philosophy.
  • Snakes Alive
    385
    So in the case of the "understudied" opinions, at least they have the advantage of not being any dumber than the day they were born. Worth considering before looking down on them.
  • StreetlightX
    4.1k
    Worth considering before looking down on them.Snakes Alive

    Nah they're all fucking idiots.
  • csalisbury
    1.9k
    Nah they're all fucking idiots.StreetlightX

    what a wonder stuff like zuccoti fails. Lets regroup and figure out why the fucking idiots didnt listen to us. Can't they see we see them as equals?
  • StreetlightX
    4.1k
    Do you believe that a person who ascribes to the belief "All politics is identity politics" thinks of identity politics in this way, or in the other way?Moliere

    There's no rule. But that's half the problem: the equivocation and indistinction, intended or not, between the two senses of 'identity politics'. I mean, you can almost describe the pattern in which this plays out: some idiot - say, Jonathan Haidt - rails on about identity politics, and then some well-meaning lefty chimes in with 'but all politics is identity politics!', and then the Haidt gets flustered, and by this point the audience is thoroughly confused, and everyone is worse off.

    I take it that your target is not a person who ascribes to identity politics, then, but a person who -- perhaps on the periphery of political action -- calls this mistaken move of flipping process for product identity politics. Am I right?Moliere

    Well, a bit of both. The confusion itself is dangerous, insofar as it makes people politically incapacitated. But, so too is there alot of danger in identity politics itself, which is reactionary in a literal sense: identity politics becomes a primary mode of political engagement when other avenues of such engagement dry up - deprived of any meaningful ability to engage in the process of creating or participating in the creation of identity (shaping the power relations which give rise to them - Deleuze's 'minority becomings'), one falls back upon shoring-up and entrenching already established identity labels.

    This is something I quoted from Patchen Markell earlier in the thread: "In the face of ... resiliently undemocratic distribution(s) of political power, I suspect, we increasingly seek solace in an interpretation of the principle of democratic legitimacy that focuses on recognition rather than action: cultivating identification with the state may help to secure at least de facto democratic legitimation by enabling us to recognize these remote and alien institutions as ours (and vice versa)—while still doing little to render them more accountable to us. In other words, the experience of identification comes to supplant the experience of action as the ground of whatever sense of connection many people now have with the states that claim them."

    So in some sense identity politics is a 'weapon of the weak': I don't necessarily mean this in a disparaging sense - when you're out of options, you make do with what you have. But it's important that it's understood that it's a weapon of the weak, to understand its specificity and the tactical danger of it's employment. Wendy Brown makes a similar point, although she puts it in terms of 'postmodernity':

    "In the absence of orienting instruments, to avert 'existential bewilderment" inhabitants of postmodernity - substituting (poorly) for more comprehensive political analysis - resort to fierce assertions of "identities" in order to know/invent who, where, and what they are. Drawing upon the historically eclipsed meaning of disrupted and fragmented narratives of ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality, region, continent, or nation, identity politics permits a sense of situation - and often a sense of filiation or community - without requiring profound comprehension of the world in which one is situated ... Identity politics permits positioning without temporal or spatial mapping. ... In this respect, identity politics, with its fierce assertion and production of subjects, appears less as a radical political response to postmodernity than a symptom of its ruptures and disorienting effects". (States of Injury)

    If the thread has so far focused more on 'what' identity politics is over the nature of it's effects, that's mostly because there's been confusion over the former, even though the latter is important and interesting too.
  • creativesoul
    6k
    If the thread has so far focued more on 'what' identity politics is over the nature of it's effects, that's mostly because there's been confusion over the former, even though the latter is important and interesting too.StreetlightX

    I would think that a proper report covers both.
  • Moliere
    1.7k
    There's no rule. But that's half the problem: the equivocation and indistinction, intended or not, between the two senses of 'identity politics'. I mean, you can almost describe the pattern in which this plays out: some idiot - say, Jonathan Haidt - rails on about identity politics, and then some well-meaning lefty chimes in with 'but all politics is identity politics!', and then the Haidt gets flustered, and by this point the audience is thoroughly confused, and everyone is worse off.StreetlightX

    I think I'd offer another alternative reading, here. I'd say that the intent behind calling all politics as identity politics is to call into question those sorts of politics which are claiming to be identity-neutral. So it's not a well-meaning sort of intent, but rather a challenge to the notion that identity can be escaped when dealing with politics -- as is often claimed. But generally this sort of politics does have some identity that it privileges: to use Deleuze's terms you've introduced, there is a majority which does not need to express its identity, and so can appear formal, but which is everywhere always expressed, and so it is not a strict formality.

    So calls to go back to our constitutional democracy, for instance, are seen as white and male, as are calls to focus on the real problem, that of overthrowing the bourgeoisie.

    So if we are to move beyond identity politics I think the target has to be this challenge -- can we demonstrate that in this move that we aren't just re-establishing an invisible, unspoken identity at the center of our new political language?

    Well, a bit of both. The confusion itself is dangerous, insofar as it makes people politically incapacitated. But, so too is there alot of danger in identity politics itself, which is reactionary in a literal sense: identity politics becomes a primary mode of political engagement when other avenues of such engagement dry up - deprived of any meaningful ability to engage in the process of creating or participating in the creation of identity (shaping the power relations which give rise to them - Deleuze's 'minority becomings'), one falls back upon shoring-up and entrenching already established identity labels.StreetlightX

    But does it actually politically incapacitate, or is it just this facile sort of appeal to identity politics that is politically incapacitating?

    I think that identity politics can be a primary mode of political engagement regardless of what other avenues are available -- because recognition is an important part of doing politics. If one is not recognized for what they are then they won't be treated as they feel they should be treated -- not that recognition necessarily implies appropriate treatment, but it's a part of the process. Hence why you had Marxists interested in raising class consciousness. Coming to be recognized, and even more fundamentally, coming to recognize yourself as a certain sort of identity is a part of the political process. Else, you'll be making bourgeois appeals for why you are worth more money when that language is saturated in standards that are more or less rigged against someone in your position as a proletarian.

    This is more than a off-hand recognition that identity must always be a part of our political lives. Building a proletarian class who knew its historic mission was a part of the political program before what we tend to call identity politics today was a "thing".

    So I guess I'd lay the challenge out as two-fold: One, we have to address the person who is speaking about the ubiquity of identity and demonstrate how this new approach is unlike political tendencies which claim, on its surface, to be non-identitarian while silently privileging a certain identity. And, two, we have to look at what identity politics actually has to offer such that people are mobilized by it, rather than writing it off as a mere conceptual mistake -- there is something to it that is talking to people, and its talking to people, at least on its face, because they feel their identities are objects of political persecution or privilege, depending on which side you fall upon.

    How do you move beyond identity politics when its an object that speaks to people? When it's been used to mobilize even supposedly identity-neutral programs?

    If the thread has so far focused more on 'what' identity politics is over the nature of it's effects, that's mostly because there's been confusion over the former, even though the latter is important and interesting too.StreetlightX

    It's all good. I agree the latter is interesting too.
  • frank
    3.1k
    Obviously he doesn't mean just cheese-makers, but rather dairy producers of all kinds.
  • Harry Hindu
    2.2k
    Apparently this is hard for some people.StreetlightX
    Because youve complicated a simple issue.

    Like I said people with different identities come together to support a single idea that they share. When a straight person marched with a gay person does that make the straight person gay? Or does that make them both different identities supporting one idea of being treated equally?

    Does your identity define your ideas or do your ideas define your identity? I can see how we can share ideas but I don't see how we can share identities. It seems to be identities are individualistic and unique and something that we can't share, so it is ideas that we do share and is what brings different identities together.

    The substance of politics is ideas, not identities.
  • StreetlightX
    4.1k
    I think that identity politics can be a primary mode of political engagement regardless of what other avenues are available -- because recognition is an important part of doing politics.Moliere

    Two things I guess: first, that identity politics is a 'subclass' of the politics of recognition, and does not exhaust it. One can be recognized for one's achievements and contributions, or else one can be recognized for one's "humanity", regardless of one's specific identity. In fact, you'll often find liberals - those who advocate for the universality and equality of rights - as being among the first to denounce identity politics, precisely insofar as the the recognition demanded by identity politics is not universal but particular. This is why those who say that 'identity politics is about equal rights' couldn't be more wrong, and just plain stupid: equality swamps identity, it de-particularizes and liquifies it. Nothing unites a liberal front quite like identity politics: From Mark Lilla to Martha Nussbaum, Christopher Hitchens to Stephen Fry, you'll find each inveighing against the apparent horror that is identity politics at each and every turn.

    So yeah, the first point is not to confuse the politics of recognition with identity politics. The former casts its net far wider, and in a manner that can be diametrically opposed to identity politics. That being said, precisely because the politics of recognition can be understood to be a more generic (in the sense of species-genera) form of identity politics, it too shares in some of its more unsavoury elements. In particular, the same blindness to the participatory dimension of politics, generally taking for granted the agency of recognition ('what' or 'who' does the recognizing - usually the state), without making it a site of political contestation in itself (consider some of the responses in Frank's recent thread on democracy: almost all the commenters there take the state (and law) as the only site of democratic agency. As of this post, the word 'power' hasn't been mentioned even once. It is a catastrophic failure of civic education and understanding. Reading it is an excercise in shame).

    So I want to both 'defend' recognition as encompassing far more than identity politics even as I still reckon recognition is itself a limited paradigm of politics. That said, your point is well taken: recognition is indispensable. Recognition provides points of orientation, like little stable flags in shifting sands, and which serve to help make sense of the social relations we compose us. But everything turns on how we use recognition: whether we cluster around those points of recognition (identitarian or otherwise) because we're too scared or too incapacitated to do anything else (recognition becomes the end of politics, both as goal and as termination), or if we use those points as starting blocks, places from which to create and alter the relations of power which determine which flags of recognition are planted where. The point is not to abolish recognition - as if that would possible or even desirable - but to put it to use in a different way.

    Without going too much into it, what's at stake in all of this is nothing less than the exercise of political freedom, one that cannot be guaranteed or fixed in advance by any agency of recognition, liberal or otherwise.
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