• fdrake
    2.5k
    Like what? When my hand is "not tipped by force or circumstance?" Sure.Snakes Alive

    What choices do you make when you're at work?
  • Snakes Alive
    385
    I'm in academia, so – I generally choose how much effort to spend on which projects, whether it's worth being a perfectionist or not, whether I should do something well or if doing it just OK is good enough, when to eat lunch and what to eat, what grades I give students, what positions I apply for in looking for new work, what I decide to research, whether I decide to continue researching something or drop it, what I read, what I write, whether I feel like being friendly to people or not, and so on. I have a lot of latitude in what I do personally, though there are a lot of constraints as well.

    There are a lot of things I'm forced to do, but they're not 100% of my life, or so prominent that I doubt whether I choose anything or whether I have a soul, or anything like that. Where people are in that kind of situation, we should see it as a bad state of affairs, not a metaphysical insight.
  • StreetlightX
    4.1k
    I'd agree that control isn't just people doing what you want. It's the ability to bring about the circumstances in which they would do what you want. Which is precisely why violence is such a marker of a failure of control. It means a failure to bring just those circumstances into play, which can only be compensated for by an outburst of force.

    There's a great scene in Nolan's Dark Knight, where the Batman is giving Joker the beating of his life, only for the Joker to laugh in his face, telling him that "You have nothing, nothing to threaten me with! Nothing to do with all your strength!"; Violence here is impotence, and should be understood exactly on that model. Violence is very much a sign of underlying impotence.

    As for the rest, I dunno, people are generally not very bright, and its nice to remind them of that every once in a while.
  • fdrake
    2.5k
    ↪fdrake I'm in academia, so – I generally choose how much effort to spend on which projects, whether it's worth being a perfectionist or not, whether I should do something well or if doing it just OK is good enough, when to eat lunch and what to eat, what grades I give students, what positions I apply for in looking for new work, what I decide to research, whether I decide to continue researching something or drop it, what I read, what I write, whether I feel like being friendly to people or not, and so on. I have a lot of latitude in what I do personally, though there are a lot of constraints as well.Snakes Alive

    So you don't choose the projects. They're tailored to current research interests of the institution and society at large, and ultimately what you can generate funding for or not.

    You don't choose whether to be a perfectionist or not, you tailor it to the needs of the project and your time constraints and your efficacy in the subject area. EG: it takes me much longer to develop a new math structure or methodology workflow than just to do some stupid data analysis contract work using canonical methods that people just want p-values from.

    You choose from the menu and what's available in the stores for lunch. I had chocolate humus recently, it was nice. Like a mousse.

    Your students' work quality constrains the grades you give them. Their background and circumstances and available effort at the time constrains their performance.

    What positions are available and fit your background - you don't choose that.

    Precisely what you decide to research? The specifics, maybe. See the first point. How you solve a technical or conceptual problem is an exercise of your capacities, and you can learn more, sure.

    Try dropping all your research projects and see if you've still got your job you love.

    What you read - still, what's available, what you have the background to understand, the required effort to learn something new in an adjacent field or a new perspective in your familiar one.

    You're having a terrible day, you won't feel like being friendly to people. Or you might be perverse and feel like being super duper nice because you're having a bad day. I do that.

    Your work life sounds very typical to me. I see about as much freedom in it as mine. I'mma go be free at the coffee machine some more and see if that changes how its grinder works.
  • StreetlightX
    4.1k
    Clausewitz's little quip about war being politics pursued by other means comes to mind. That this 'platitude' is not inverted, speaks to his brightness, I think.

    One wonders too, when looking at a suicide bomber, whether he or she acts from a position of strength.
  • fdrake
    2.5k
    Anyway, the motivating picture in my responses to @Snakes Alive in the thread and its relation to the OP is as follows.

    If you wanna talk about the choices people make, you have to think about what choices are available to them. It's very rare that people can choose what choices are instantaneously available to them. You live within a lifestyle, lifestyles live within social circumstances. You can edit your lifestyle through personal choices, and it's a slow process, like learning or conflict or love, but you're not gonna edit your social circumstances through your personal choices. It's at the moment that your choices gain political clout, and you make choices to try for them to gain political clout, that you can begin to feel their chains on you.

    But those chains are also shackling your brothers and sisters, those you share your life with and probably don't even know their names and faces, just that they've got the same fucking problems and deal with the same shit as you in lots of ways. And how do you go about addressing that stuff? Political activity, organisation, theorising. By trying to be part of that rogue object that modifies its surroundings, or that point of light that illuminates the boundaries choices are made within.

    But you gotta take the surroundings as a conceptual given to theorise them and politically act for their transformation; have to know the bubble our choices are made in to burst it for some end. So you wanna do politics? Part of it is negotiating identities, but the sphere of political transformation is as broad as the sphere of human activity; infinite variation within our little tethers of human nature. Politics of distribution and access (even epistemic access/privilege) enmesh with politics of identity as soon as people act together, and we always do.

    The bubbles we make our choices in have a habit of resonating with each other, being formed as emergent corpuscles of whatever is driving our social order. You wanna change our social order? You may as well make a personal choice to pop a cloud with the freedom of your mind. This is like theta healing for society.

    Condemned to be free, yeah, condemned to live as dice cast by an invisible hand.
  • frank
    3.1k
    Politics of distribution and access (even epistemic access/privilege) enmesh with politics of identity as soon as people act together, and we always do.fdrake

    Assuming there is some politics of identity to mesh with? Where roles are established and accepted, there may be no politics of identity, not because there are no identities, but because there's no conflict over it.

    Or are you thinking of identity in a different way?
  • javra
    837
    There's a difference between "I advocate X because I am Y", and "I advocate X because of problems A, B, and C, that affect Ys".StreetlightX

    Sure. But of course. 100% thumbs up. But the tone and overall content of your reply puzzles me. Its as if it was written by a person other than that which wrote this in the OP:

    Now, the civil rights activist's point was quite simple: all politics has an effect on the identity of those involved, therefore, all politics is identity politics. This is, in some sense undeniable. But here's the issue: this doesn't mean that identity politics exhausts what politics can involve. All politics is identity politics, but all politics isn't just identity politics.StreetlightX

    You should notice that in all my posts in this thread I did not sanction that all politics is identity politics – not even to the minimalist degree the OP does. I’ve only addressed the notion that all politics concern (the philosophical notion of) identity. To me this shouldn’t have been a news flash, especially not from the person who wrote the OP.

    Since you seem familiar with anthropology, you’ll be acquainted with the anthropological distinction between organized Politics and “politics with a small ‘p’”. The latter basically translates into human interaction. It can well be argued to be about ability to obtain what’s wanted in the context of interactions between two or more persons. All wants that hold value will hold value to egos – such that the human identity of these is primarily composed of the wants they value and seek to satisfy. Not their nation, skin color, or the girth of their wallet – which, however, is among the more common ways we interpret identity in the context of identity politics. So, hence, all politics pivots around two or more identities that cooperate, conflict, or are neutral in respect to each other – and is thereby fundamentally about identity – but not all politics is what we commonly understand as identity politics.

    Organized Politics is only a more structured version of the same.

    You disagree with this? So far in this thread, you’ve debated with me against positions I’ve never expressed, and do not hold. To go back to my first post, for example, I’ve explicitly stated the two (philosophically pertinent) identities of those who value a checks and balances of power and those who value a winner takes all attitude. Let me know of an “identity politics” which doesn’t have a winner takes all attitude toward those who don't fit into the specified 'identity'.

    BTW, in reference to statements such as:

    It's all too often the case that those who complain about identity politics do so in order to disqualify any politics of race, gender or class, to which is usually opposed some mythical "good of all", or the "community" or "nation" or some such.StreetlightX

    How on earth do you equate nation to community. Like sex and love, its swell when they co-occur, but they’re two different things.
  • StreetlightX
    4.1k
    You disagree with this? So far in this thread, you’ve debated with me against positions I’ve never expressed, and do not hold.javra

    Quick reply, will say more later - Apologies about my tone. It's not directed at you. I'm kinda using your posts to develop lines of thought, and some of what I say are implicit responses to others and other positions in this thread, with your comments as a foil. I haven't been trying to debate things you've said, though I can see how it's easily come off that way. Will try and keep myself more even in future replies.
  • javra
    837
    Cool. No worries.
  • NOS4A2
    621


    Alot of people are under that impression. But the logic is exactly the same, and it's simply arbitrary to think identity stops at biology.

    This is one of the reasons I explicitly tried to outline some other models of politics in the OP. People simply don't really have a very good grasp of what politics can involve other than claims underwritten by identity, and even those who say things like 'avoid identity politics at all costs' list nothing but identity politics as an alternative!

    I think it’s arbitrary to say that all politics is identity politics. Sure I can agree that identity can be expanded to include all types of groups, but identity politics was always contrasted against the ideological or party politics the polity usually organized around.
  • StreetlightX
    4.1k
    I think it’s arbitrary to say that all politics is identity politicsNOS4A2

    In the very general sense invoked at the beginning of the OP, and not in the narrower sense the rest of the OP specifies.

    As for a distinction between identity politics and party politics, that seems very much like apples and oranges. A political party can indulge in many different kind of political strategy, of which identity politics is one. 'Party politics' doesn't so much designate a kind of politics so much as a political agent or actor, which can act in a myriad of ways. Hence why I offered participatory and distributive models as genuine alternatives to identity politics in the narrow sense.
  • fdrake
    2.5k
    Assuming there is some politics of identity to mesh with? Where roles are established and accepted, there may be no politics of identity, not because there are no identities, but because there's no conflict over it.frank

    There are identities that are differentially effected by political circumstances in any society there's... society... in; which is all of them. Whether organising along these lines (through common problems or community identity signifiers) is effective, or how it works, really depends on the circumstances doesn't it? So does how they're effected.

    Used to be the gays couldn't marry, were pathologised, hanged, discriminated against in the workplace... I mean, if you don't see that as different treatment for different people due to identity I haven't got a clue how to make you drink the kool aid here.

    Yazidis and Isis was another identity politics example. You know, racially motivated genocide is definitely identity politics.

    Does this really need explaining?
  • frank
    3.1k
    There are identities that are differentially effected by political circumstances in any society there's... society... in; which is all of them.fdrake

    So you've changed the usual meaning of "identity politics."

    No, I don't need an explanation for that.
  • fdrake
    2.5k
    So you've changed the usual meaning of "identity politics."frank

    What do you think the usual meaning is?
  • frank
    3.1k
    A tendency for people of a particular religion, race, social background, etc., to form exclusive political alliances, moving away from traditional broad-based party politics.

    -- Oxford Dictionary
  • removedmembershiprc
    113
    My problem with "identity politics," is that, as you already highlighted in your OP, it reduces all conception of an individual or group to their identity. There are obviously more components of a person that we would not properly call "identity," although someone arguing against that might say everything is identity. The perfect example of this is to look at racial identity relative to economic location. Many in left spheres try to claim the racial identity is preeminent (or the gender or lack of gender), and that the class element is subordinate to the racial.

    This argument fails. Suppose you have a white CEO, and a white gas station attendant. Are you going to argue that they both benefit from "white privilege" and should, as you highlighted, be restricted from access to the goods of distributive politics? Of course not. Change my example to a black CEO and black gas station attendant. Now factor in that the CEOs parents were Harvard professors, and the gas station attendant was raised by a single mother who dropped out of high school.

    Reducing the analysis to race (which is usually what is focused on by identitarians) discounts at least the economic or class distinction, and so the analysis is grossly wanting.

    So the way we cash this out is to point out that all politics might be identity politics, but what does one mean by identity, and how complete of a picture does this supposed identity give us about a particular group or individual. Furthermore, if you are taking a particular group, and there is a high degree of variation within the group, how useful is it to refer to this as one particular identity?

    Identitarianism as it is currently practiced suffers from reductionistic thinking. It is not entirely useless, but must be tempered in order to generate coherent representations of human beings.
  • Judaka
    395

    I think you're right Frank, OP and fdrake are misunderstanding the choice to interpret politics through the lens of the different groups involved and actual identity politics where the politics were motivated by the identity of the groups involved. Unsurprising when you know anything about either of them.
  • frank
    3.1k
    Confusion is easy enough to navigate around. :)
  • frank
    3.1k
    "All politics is identity politics" works as a kind of slogan. It's not supposed to make sense on the face of it. It's supposed to provoke some thought.

    If it doesn't succeed in creating some new realization about identity and politics, it just falls flat. It's just bullshit that does the opposite of its intention: it creates confusion.

    A thought that might proceed from the slogan is: how is society suffering from identity strife? Do politicians, in their work to be elected and govern, help or make it worse? Is there such a thing as a false identity problem that's used as a political vehicle? When and if that happens, how are identity groups affected?

    Does the slogan mean anything to you? Or not?
  • Judaka
    395

    "All politics is identity politics" is not a statement of fact, it's an interpretation and I make negative assumptions about why it exists. Mostly that it's used as a counterargument to criticism against identity politics. As if it's redundant to say identity politics is a problem because "all politics is identity politics". OP doesn't give a name for the person who said this or the context so maybe I'm wrong.

    Honestly, the criticism of identity politics has a lot to do with the groups that are being selected for political controversy. Race, gender, sexual orientation, a list of things you've neither chosen for yourself and something that everyone has. If you believe in group histories, if you think in terms of groups rather than individuals - then it's necessary to right the wrongs of the past. These identities can't be ignored, it's immoral to ignore them.

    So, I see no problem with factory workers caring about how factory workers are treated or people of a city asking for a better deal for their city but the leftist narrative of caring for disadvantaged groups or the alt-right narrative of caring about racial and cultural hegemony, can't be considered necessary. I'd rather people are politically motivated by their beliefs on what works best or by their conscience.
  • frank
    3.1k
    "All politics is identity politics" is not a statement of fact, it's an interpretation and I make negative assumptions about why it exists. Mostly that it's used as a counterargument to criticism against identity politics. As if it's redundant to say identity politics is a problem because "all politics is identity politics". OP doesn't give a name for the person who said this or the context so maybe I'm wrong.Judaka

    An argument against identity politics is that engaging in it is a way to diminish your power. Democracy favors unity. An issue that creates unity has power. By choosing fragmentation (which leftists seem to love to do for some reason), they show that they don't really care about their agendas. It's just the grand-standing and venom spewing that's really important.

    Saying that all politics is identity politics is not the answer to this particular criticism.

    I'd rather people are politically motivated by their beliefs on what works best or by their conscience.Judaka

    I agree. The concept of civil rights is a pretty amazing innovation, though. We haven't worked out all the kinks yet.
  • Moliere
    1.7k
    Then I'd like to posit that what I understand of @unenlightened and yourself are not so much at odds with one another, at least at first blush.

    If violence is impotency, and power is getting others to do, and there's a distinction between coercive power and other sorts of power -- then that gets along quite well with the notion that coercive power leaches upon societal action; something that can be broadly understood as mutual activity, where we agree to something or work together.

    No?
  • StreetlightX
    4.1k
    Coercive power leaches upon societal action; something that can be broadly understood as mutual activity, where we agree to something or work together.Moliere

    I think it'd be a mistake to equate societal action with mutual activity, upon which coercive power parasitically impinges. As though there were 'two levels', a pure good and happy one where everyone gets along, and a corruption from above which changes the character of this purity. Instead, coercive power ought to be understood as just another form of societal action: a species of a larger genera, and not two genera set off against each other.

    The idea is that 'societal action' can be anything - coercive, encouraging, formalist, pedagogic, transactional, whatever. It's necessary to understand it warts and all. There is no 'essence' of society: there are certain predominant constraints which it needs to negotiate - resource scarcity, shelter, knowledge sharing, division of labour, geographic considerations, etc, but how this stuff happens is anybody's game. The idea that society is, at base, a bunch of happy people working together is no more viable than the obverse idea that society, at base, is a bunch of beasts all vying to kill each other. They're both idealizations, ahistorical and false to the facts.
  • Moliere
    1.7k
    Let's try stripping out the moral language then and speak more descriptively.

    Rather than "leach" let us say "parasite" -- and what is a parasite? An organism who benefits from another organism. The host has surplus energy and the parasite re purposes said surplus energy into their own reproductive line -- rather than the reproductive line of the host.

    Now is "parasite" quite right to say, if we are stripping the moral language? Perhaps we could say that it is a kind of symbiosis. We have certain qualms about allowing tapeworms to continue living in ourselves, but in a descriptive sense the tapeworm is a symbiote to the human. The human, and other animals as well, are host to its lifecycle.

    In this way, perhaps, we could imagine that violence is a symbiote to (What is the genera? Perhaps not social action or mutual activity. But then is the amorphous power the genera? Or what?)



    Because it seems to me that there's something here. There's the rhizomatic power, and there's the notion that violence does require something from us that's more basic than the political act of violence. It needn't be an essence.
  • Snakes Alive
    385
    So you don't choose the projects. They're tailored to current research interests of the institution and society at large, and ultimately what you can generate funding for or not.fdrake

    I actually work in a field not quite so dependent on grant funding, which is part of why I went into it.

    The rest of the post is just a reiteration of some such fallacy as, "Your choices are not infinite or unlimited – ergo, you have no choice."
  • Snakes Alive
    385
    As for the rest, I dunno, people are generally not very bright, and its nice to remind them of that every once in a while.StreetlightX

    I hope this vapid inversion of platitude is not the best philosophy has to offer!
  • Snakes Alive
    385
    Let me try.

    Ahem.

    We often think that people who live in dangerous neighborhoods are fearful for their safety. But anyone who's not a moron knows that it is precisely those who live in the safest neighborhoods of all that are fearful! For in order to be fearful, there must be some insecurity over one might possibly lose. But those in dangerous neighborhoods take the reality of their danger for granted -- hence, since they will at some point be robbed or mugged, their apprehension takes on the character of awaiting an accomplished fact, and so they cannot be fearful for their safety, since as we know fear is directed only towards that which is (projected as) non-actual. Only the one who does not take their assault as an accomplished fact can feel such fear -- but such a person must be in, or take themselves to be in, relative safety, since this is precisely the locus of treating the assault as non-actual.

    Am I a philosopher yet?
  • Snakes Alive
    385
    It is often thought that hungry people are the ones who want food. How stupid this is! For it is actually those who are full that want food, and in fact a hungry person cannot want food. For to be hungry is to recognize within one's body that food is required, and so to impel the hungry person towards food, independent of any free-floating 'desire.' The freedom to have such desires appears only when one is freed from this material impulse, hence only in the one whose body does not impel them towards food, hence only in the full. The hungry are acting towards food already – the question of whether they desire food therefore simply doesn't arise for them.
  • Snakes Alive
    385
    I have heard it said that being able to lift a lot of weight makes one strong. But in fact, only one unable to lift weight can be strong. For strength is the overcoming of an obstacle, in this case by physical force. But for the strong one, there is no obstacle to overcome, for the ingrained ability to lift it makes it no obstacle at all. Therefore, it is not possible that an increase in muscle mass should make one stronger. Rather, we must recognize that the less muscle one has, and so the less ability one has to move things, the stronger one becomes in principle.
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