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My analysis of modern social movements demonstrates that, contrary to its detractors, intersectionality is a very real phenomenon. It is not, as some critics suggest, an analytical framework with little specificity or real connection to the observable world. It is not, as recently claimed, a propaganda tool conjured up by political elites and ivy-league egg-heads to misdirect the public from more ‘important’ class issues that Americans face. Quite the contrary, individuals experience oppression in a variety of ways, as related to class, gender, and race identities, and at the intersections of those identities. This point has been consistently neglected by vulgar materialists who focus on economics and class issues at the expense of recognizing other dimensions of individuals’ lived experiences and identities.

What the American ‘left’ needs is a commitment to pragmatic, workable alliances that unite activists to combat racial, gender, and class oppressions. Without these alliances, there’s little chance for building a progressive, mass-based party that can commit to long-term democratic transformation. In her important book, From #Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation, African American studies scholar Keenga-Yamahtta Taylor calls for just such an alliance between Black/Brown Lives Matter and the living wage movement, so that progressives can unite across different identity groups. And yes, class is an identity, just as much as race or gender, contrary to the claims of those who lament “identity politics” and who adhere to economism. Taylor’s call for building left-identity alliances displays the kind of vision that’s often lacking on the ‘left.’

The push for activism that’s committed to broad-based movement building isn’t impossible. It’s been done in the past. The civil rights movement prioritized fighting racial oppression, bigotry, and segregation, while targeting poverty as a societal disease. In response to these pressures, the Johnston administration prioritized racial and economic justice via the War on Poverty and the push for civil rights legislation and desegregation. While the idea of intersectionality was not recognized in mainstream political discourse until relatively recently, the 1960s-era protests demonstrate that activists and government can prioritize multiple dimensions of oppression simultaneously. We need a broad-based left movement today, and the potential for such a coalition becomes more feasible considering mass public anger over institutionalized sexism, racism, and classism. Mass anger is the foundation upon which a progressive movement must be built.

full: https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/02/05/the-limits-of-metoo-sectionalism-economism-and-identity-politics-on-the-left/
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