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 “As the [capitalist] system universalizes and becomes more and more
intersectional, we need intersectional resistance,” Derber said. “At the
end of the 1960s, when I was getting my own political education, the
universalizing dimensions of the left, which was growing in the ’60s, fell
apart. The women began to feel their issues were not being addressed. They
were treated badly by white males, student leaders. Blacks, Panthers, began
to feel the whites could not speak for race issues. They developed separate
organizations. The upshot was the left lost its universalizing character.
It no longer dealt with the intersection of all these issues within the
context of a militarized, capitalist, hegemonic American empire. It treated
politics as siloed group identity problems. Women had glass ceilings. Same
with blacks. Same with gays.”

I think this is a really weirdly written section. All of those problems
were actual problems with the Left. They weren't "feelings". The implicit
assumption that North is making (and that Hedges is leaving unchallenged)
is that identity politics somehow crawled out of the manipulations of the
ruling class alone, as though they aren't reactions to the identity
politics of the dominant ethnic/gender/racial/whatever groups. That is, it
wasn't that black groups embraced black identity politics, it was that
white groups -- including parts of the white left -- implicitly embraced
white identity politics (even while pretending that that wasn't what they
were doing). So this was the (bad) reaction.

"The upshot was the left lost its universalizing character."

Perhaps if this universalizing character had been a bit more
universalizing, then there wouldn't have been such a reaction to mourn
over? It's worth noting that the Panthers in particular had no apparent
incentive to simply adopt racial identity politics. Many of their members
had close relations with white people, including romantic ones. They had
also been systematically thrown out of other black middle class
organizations and groups. Their leadership had grown out of the
disillusionment with the Farrakhan/early Malcolm X line of thinking about
black-owned businesses, etc. If Hedges and others are arguing that the
Panthers adopted identity politics comparable to the "Stay Woke" lunatics
that compete with each other for Facebook likes, then they should explain
what exactly they mean by that and perhaps give greater depth to the
underlying process rather than just chalking it up to "capitalism".

Amith R. Gupta



On Tue, Feb 6, 2018 at 8:14 AM, Louis Proyect via Marxism <
marxism@lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:

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> Chris Hedges joins the anti-identity politics bandwagon.
>
> https://www.truthdig.com/articles/bankruptcy-american-left/
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