You can’t spell “intersectionality” without “sect”

A dissection

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The concept of “intersectionality” is at best equivalent to unthought social complexity. Even then it is misleading, and potentially pernicious. 
At worst it’s just a meaningless pomo shibboleth used to stifle debate, obscure universal dynamics of capitalist society, and encourage methodological eclecticism (under the questionable pretext of a “plurality” of approaches). See the recent “‘Safe’ Spaces” piece I reposted from the CPGB’s Weekly Worker a couple months back to see the kind of spiraling madness to which this nonsense often leads.

It’s the continuation of identity politics by other means, to paraphrase Clausewitz.

Rejecting intersectionality and identity politics does not mean reasserting a crude “class reductionist” model promoting “working-class identity,” however, as Mark Fisher seems to contend in his recent article “Exiting the Vampire Castle” (otherwise a serviceable critique of “identitarian” politics, which are always welcome). After all, this would just be another species of economic determinism, the sort that eventually leads leftists to search for “alien class elements” to root out, explaining ideological deviations by pointing to one’s petit-bourgeois upbringing (for example).

Over the summer I was hoping to co-write something with my friend Jasmine Curcio, a radical feminist and Marxist from Australia, in response to Seymour’s post back in March on “The Point of Intersection.” I’m guessing the title of this entry alludes to the older Marxian concept of “the point of production.” Sadly, Jasmine became busy with university work, and I’ve been bogged down with other projects. James Heartfield’s piece will therefore have to do for now. Luckily his article is quite good. He’s better read in the history of these concepts than most of their proponents, at least. Also, it has the virtue of remaining pretty ad rem, which is more than can be said for most of Heartfield’s critics. George Galloway is one figure I find particularly repulsive, however. I’m not really bothered by Russell Brand, Lily Allen, or Julie Bindel.

Harry Pregerson Interchange, a particularly hellish intersection

Harry Pregerson Interchange, a particularly hellish intersection

Intersectional? Or just sectarian?

James Heartfield
Mute Magazine

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Is self-styled revolutionary Russell Brand really just a “Brocialist”? Is Lily Allen’s feminist pop-video racist? Is lesbian activist Julie Bindel a “Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist” Is Respect MP George Galloway a “rape apologist”? Welcome to the world of “intersectionalism” — or what we used to call sectarianism.

“My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.” This was Flavia Dzodan’s angry challenge to a feminist slogan on a placard on a “slutwalk” march, “woman is the nigger of the world.” Dzodan did not like the “white feminist” laying claim to her the oppression suffered by women of color. “Am I supposed to ignore the violence that ensued in the N* word discussion?’ Dzodan asked: “Am I supposed to overlook its blatant violence in the name of sisterhood?”[1]

Dzodan’s meme “intersectional” was widely taken up amongst radical campaigners and bloggers. Intersectionality seemed to be a way to balance the different claims of oppressed groups. No one would be ignored, or folded into the other. Intersectional feminism would not ignore the special problems faced by black women. Nor would anti-racist campaigners ignore sexism. The watchword of intersectionality was that you should “check your privilege” before making any claims.[2]

For the radical left “intersectionality” seemed to be a way of “achieving effective political unity among the oppressed.”[3] Those leftists were embarrassed by their own tradition, which seemed to them to be too mannish. They felt they had ignored questions of oppression, and would make amends through an intersectional approach. The older texts that saw women’s oppression as a footnote to the class struggle were set aside.[4]

The meaning of Intersectionality raised its head in a bitter dispute at the annual Radical Feminist conference in London. The Radical Feminists insisted on a “women only” space for their discussion. No one argued that it was a bad idea to reflect the divisions in society in your conference (because most on the radical left shared the RadFems belief that men exploit women and have no direct interest in fighting for equality). But the RadFems were attacked for the exclusion of transsexuals. Transsexuals were not women, but men seeking to invade women’s space, said the RadFems. The RadFems were guilty of discrimination, said their intersectional critics. Transsexuals identify as women, and therefore they are women, because gender is a social construct, not a natural one. The RadFems were denounced as Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists, or TERFs. In a moment, all of the moral authority of the Radical Feminists (which was surely resented by those outside the group) disappeared in a twitterstorm of moral disapproval.

As is the way with these arguments over who is more righteously oppressed it all got very bitter very quickly, like a Dutch auction. The “intersectional” feminists got the Camden Irish Centre to withdraw its venue for the conference in 2012. When journalists Suzanne Moore and Julie Burchill wrote strident attacks on transsexual demands to be treated as women they were attacked. There was even a protest organized outside the newspaper’s office — and astonishingly the Guardian Media Group agreed to rewrite history by removing the article from their website. The struggle for intersectionality continued with the demand that journalist and Justice for Women founder Julie Bindel be refused a platform at a Manchester University Debating Union event of pornography, because she too was a “TERF” (Bindel withdrew after death threats).[5]

One radical feminist, Emma Brandt, complained in turn that “liberal feminists ‘weaponize’ trans women against radicals” — meaning that transsexuals were being used by less resolute feminists to undermine the radical feminists’ authority, which was an interesting counter, but a bridge too far along the intersectionality road.[6]

Far from being a formula for political unity, the demands of intersectionality look like a minefield of political correctness. Every protest must first check its privilege. Every statement is held up to the impossible test of balancing every claim. Not unity, but Balkanisation is the outcome. Intersectionality looks more like a formula for sectarianism than joint action. The champions of intersectionality are never happier than when they are taking down someone who is trying to make a radical case, just not radical enough. As Sigmund Freud told Sándor Ferenczi, “there is no revolutionary who is not knocked out of the field by a more radical one.”[7]

That was the climate when comedian and Hollywood Star Russell Brand lent his name to a call for revolution — a revolution against profit and the rape of the planet and for the free movement of labour, which one might have thought would be appealing to the modern radical. Instead Brand’s catapulting of those concerns into the mainstream provoked a hand-wringing “Discourse on Brocialism” from the New Statesman’s Laurie Penny and blogger Richard Seymour. Brand was “playing the court jester, and speaking limited truth to overwhelming power’ but only because his “wealth and fame…allow him to say such things.” Brand’s flippant aside that he had taken the job of guest editor because he was asked by a beautiful woman was ‘the exercise of a “privilege” of patriarchy’.[8]

It was also the minefield that Lily Allen stumbled into when she filmed the video for her song Hard Out Here — “a satirical video that deals with objectification of women within modern pop culture.”[9] This time it was the Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore (now well versed in the zero-sum game of intersectionality) who laid charges of racial objectification against Allen’s feminist video. Years ago Prime Minister John Major promised that his government would be free of sleaze, a claim to probity that only encouraged the press to dig deeper for evidence of impropriety — which they did. Today it is a law of politics that those who claim the moral high ground are the ones who will fall the hardest, John Major’s law.

Anti-humanists

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The Marxist-humanist Peter Hudis recently explained to me that intersectionality cannot work because it only sees common cause coming from the outside, or after the event, as an aggregation of complaints. It is, he says, formalistic. He has a point. Intersectionality seems to argue a common cause but it is only an opportunistic one. Women, blacks, trade unionists, immigrants, and Muslims are invited to make common cause against the oppressor.

The intersectionalists are pretty skeptical about unifying themes. Socialism? Brocialism! Brotherhood? Oppression! Behind these snap judgments is a philosophy, the philosophy of anti-humanism. Sex-historian and philosopher Michel Foucault is the best known proponent of this anti-humanism, taught at all leading universities, though the diligent student can turn to Jacques Lacan or Louis Althusser.

The main claim of the anti-humanist philosophy is a rejection of the assertion of a common human essence. All such claims to the anti-humanists are false and ideological supports to oppression. Claiming, for example, that men and women, or white and black are fundamentally the same, in this argument, is to hide the oppression of the one by the other under the appearance of equality. It is true of course that there are many examples of false universals, like David Cameron saying “we are all in this together,”  or Gordon Brown saying “British jobs for British workers.”

On the other hand the claim of an essential human equality has been a resource for progressive movements since the English Revolution of 1640 [I might add the Dutch Revolt of 1572]. Brotherhood might sound insensitive today, but it has been the guiding light of workers’ struggles for two centuries. To be really radical, said Karl Marx is to get to the root, and the root is man. Not so for today’s anti-humanists, though. Human liberation is a myth, and the common struggle only a lash-up of those preceding struggles. As we can see, though, that kind of opportunistic intersectionality quickly degenerates into finger-pointing and name calling.

Haven’t we been here before?

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Last year Shulamith Firestone was found dead in her apartment after a history of mental illness. It was a sad end to one of the more original feminist thinkers of her day. Firestone’s Dialectic of Sex (1970) was an angry inversion of Marx’s theory of class struggle that saw the conflict of the sexes as the driving force of human history. Along with Valerie Solanas, author of the S.C.U.M. Manifesto (Society for Cutting Up Men, 1967), Firestone pushed feminism in a radical, and separatist direction. In England feminists Rosie Boycott and Marsha Rowe set up the magazine Spare Rib which, though not as radical as Firestone’s Redstockings collective, was a challenging and inventive answer to the male chauvinist culture of the day.

In time, though, Spare Rib’s editorial collective began to argue.  Some thought that feminists should be lesbians and have nothing to do with men. A debilitating game of who is more oppressed followed. Lesbian separatist Linda Bellos recalled the arguments: “If you’re going to talk about the sisterhood being all-powerful, what version are you talking about?” Bellos questioned whether “[w]hat unites us is being women. But we bring to being women our class, race, religion…”[10]

The divisions amongst the feminists grew. Some hoped that Socialist Feminism would overcome the differences, but it just turned out to be another split. Among the Socialist Feminists Hilary Wainwright, Sheila Rowbotham, and Beatrix Campbell wrote a manifesto called Beyond the Fragments, which anticipated much of the intersectionality argument. Wainwright thought that it was wrong to merge the movements. “There are good reasons for each movement controlling its own autonomy…women, blacks, gays, youth and national minorities have interests which may sometimes be antagonistic to each other both now and probably in a socialist society.”[11]

Where Beyond the Fragments led, though, was not to the promised grassroots movement, but jobs with the Greater London Council as the radical and feminist left retreated from the streets into the committee rooms. The GLC’s struggle against racism and sexism was largely conducted through the agency of disciplinary procedures against its workers and tenants. Feminists in the labour party were more successful in their criticisms of unions than of employers. Beyond the Fragments contributor Bea Campbell played a key role in the demonization of the working class family as a site of abuse. Others, like Labour Minister Ann Clwyd found feminist cause to demonise Muslims in West Yorkshire, and then in 2003, in Iraq.

A depressed left

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Today’s radicals have adopted the framework of intersectionality to negotiate the divisions among them. These divisions, they think, are not political, but biological; not differences over strategy or analysis, but the differences between people on the basis of their colour, sex, sexual orientation and assignation. Richard Seymour says intersectionality is ‘the only strategy that will work’. The background to this thinking is the same belief that the interests of women, workers, gays, and transsexuals are fundamentally opposed. Indeed the only sense in which they are allied is in opposition to the external enemy, variously “neo-liberalism,” or “this Tory government.” The intersectional left has a gloomy, doom-laden view of the present. This is the “worst recession since the 1930s.” Austerity measures are hurting everyone, but especially women and minorities. All of this unhappiness is supposed to make the case for an elusive unity.

It is an approach that fails to see the positive things that unite people. Over the last century the social condition of women in the developed world has improved markedly. Women who were pointedly excluded from political power, denied civil and property rights, and excluded from the world of work are today enfranchised, property owners and half a greatly expanded workforce. Far from being at odds, surveys of social attitudes find that in their values men and women are becoming more alike, more liberal and self-assured. At the same time legislation on lesbian and gay rights has moved towards effective equality.

Attitudes on race have changed markedly in Britain over the last fifty years. In 1986 around half of those asked disapproved of mix marriages, but in 2011 that number had dropped to just 15 per cent.[12] Immigration to Britain over the last twenty years has been high and just over seven million of the population was born abroad, and yet racial tensions are much lower than they were in the 1970s and 1980s.

There is an irony that the radical left is preoccupied with the differences between groups in society, while those same groups in society are much less so. The one dimension along which inequality has clearly increased is not along ethnic or sex lines, but in terms of income distribution, with a super-wealthy elite separating itself off from the mass. Socio-economically the great mass of people are much more united and integrated than they have ever been. Social change and modern technology have created the foundations for a worldwide human culture. The one place that unity and equality are more elusive than ever is on the political plane.

Political discourse has failed over recent times to unite people. Retreating from the lives of the greater mass of people, political ideologies and groupings can only relate to wider groups by playing upon differences and accentuating them. The intersectional left only reflect that failing in a more accentuated form. Intersectionalism is the morbid symptom of a movement in decline, not a strategy for its renewal.

James Heartfield
17 November 2013

 Notes

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[1]
 Flavia Dzodan, “My Feminism Will Be Intersectional or It Will Be Bullshit,” 10 October 2011.
[2] Peggy McIntosh first framed the idea in “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” 1989.
[3] Richard Seymour, “The Point of Intersection.” 17 March 2013.
[4] Tony Cliff, Class Struggle and Women’s Oppression, 1984; Lindsey German, Sex, Class, and Socialism, 1998.
[5] Jess Denham, “Death Threats Force Feminist Campaigner Out of University Debate,” The Independent. 2 September 2013.
[6] Emma Brandt, “Liberal Feminism Isn’t Your Ally Either,” 25 May 2013.
[7] December 1931, The Correspondence of Sigmund Freud and Sándor Ferenczi: 1920-1933, Harvard University Press, 1993, p 422.
[8] Laurie Penny and Richard Seymour, “Discourse on Brocialism,” New Statesman 2 November 2013.
[9] Jess Denham, “Lily Allen defends music video…” Independent, 14 November 2013.
[10] Katy Guest, “Whatever happened to feminism’s extreme sects?”, Independent, 12 February 2006.
[11] Hilary Wainwright, Sheila Rowbotham, and Beatrix Campbell, Beyond the Fragments, Merlin, 1979, p 5-6.
[12] Binita Mehta, “The Melting Pot Generation: How Britain Became More Relaxed on Race,” British Future, 11 December 2012.

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Postscript

On some responses to the article

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“You’re an ignorant fuck” and “moronic” (mmmdot) “Sit the fuck down” (JN) “this is bullshit” (Chris) — sadly these are some of the foul-mouthed replies to this piece in the comments section when it was first posted on the Mute site (below).

These respondents thought that there should be no discussion. It was ‘not a ‘debatable’ topic for ‘disagreement.'” (Trudy), while mmmdot offered “you clearly have no fucking business speaking,” and that I should “shut the fuck up and sit the fuck down.” In the spirit of political re-education Chris advised, “allow room for others to help you figure out where you went wrong,” while ana australiana thought “it’s disappointing that this was published.”

These reactions are characteristic of a small-group outlook that is unused to being challenged and prefers instead to restrict talk amongst its own adherents thereby reinforcing its internal value system, however bizarre its conclusions sound outside the group.

For the most part such criticism as the article did receive was criticising the article I did not write. “You are so painfully ignorant on the topic you espouse to know about,” posted Trudy, adding “I know you have done zero research on what intersectionality actually is.” But of course the article was not a history of the term intersectionality, it was an essay on the intersectionality, in particular the way that it had played out in recent debates. There is nothing to stop Trudy, or anyone else writing a history of intersectionality. But taking this piece to task for not being that piece is not any kind of criticism at all.

Most of the replies were ad hominem attacks — that is attacks not on the points argued, but on the author. So JN said “sit the fuck down white man.” Now, in most argument outside of this group the color of the person making the argument is not supposed to be important, but plainly it was here. In this small-group mentality the race of the speaker most certainly is an issue. Most of the posters hold the view that thought is not universal, but embedded, not true for all, but specifically attached to races and groups.

Plainly it was offensive to this group that its ideas should even be addressed from outside the group. According to Trudy, the issue was “most certainly not about Whites who appropriate Black culture, dominate discourse on experiences that they do not have,” and even to write about it was “an appropriation of Black women’s Black feminist/womanist politics.”

In the view that ideas are embedded, ad hominem attacks that are thought of as poor logic elsewhere become legitimated.

Chris thought that Trudy’s was a “critique that comes directly from her experience” and that “as someone who lives it and is targeted on a daily basis, her perspective is more valuable than yours.” Outside of this intellectual framework, arguments and concepts are not better or worse according to the speaker, but according to the argument. But here it is assumed that these ideas are closed to someone who has “no frame of reference (personal or otherwise) to address this topic” (mmmdot). The philosopher Wittgenstein thought that there could be no private languages, not anticipating the development of intersectionalism.

This group of posters were clearly unhappy that their inner realm had been disturbed, and easily offended. Trudy thought that comment on interesectionality was “offensive to anyone who knows even 1% of what this is about.” But not being a sanctioned officiate of the group comment was “unprofessional, offensive, and oppressive.” The very idea that anyone outside the group would pay an interest in these thoughts was seen as a personal attack “meant to offend and to troll.”

Not just offensive, in fact, arguments that failed to reinforce the group’s thinking were experienced as injuries, even life threatening. “What you think of as ‘just words’ are life and death,” thought Trudy. Chris found that “your perspective is damaging.” He went further saying that disagreement with the core ideas of the group would ‘”acrifice their values, commitments, and even PHYSICAL SAFETY.”

Quite how a blog post on Mute’s community site threatened anyone’s physical safety seems hard to envisage — until you take into account the existential insecurity of this belief system. Words, challenges, counter-opinions, that are welcomed in the wider world, to this group are life-threatening assaults on their very existence.

The point of the original post was that the ideas of intersectionality were close to sectarianism. Sadly the responses of those who rejected a critical engagement with the idea confirmed that view.

25 thoughts on “You can’t spell “intersectionality” without “sect”

  1. If there is one thing ruining the appeal of the radical left to common people, it must be the bigotry of the identity politics so beloved by its activists. That, and political correctness (ie the willingness to sweep inconvenient realities under the carpet and persecute those who bring them up). It’s nice to see it being criticized. Maybe we can look forward to the day the last hate-feminist is hanged with the guts of the last apologist for anti-white racism and islamic fundamentalism :-)

    • If these are the kinds of commenters who respond well to your works, perhaps you need to reevaluate some things. When the KKK are cheering you on, it’s time to be concerned.

      • Not really. Plenty of commenters post here who have views radically divergent from my own. Dekkers hates modernist architecture, which you can probably tell just by perusing this blog is one of my favorite movements in the history of building. Besides, are Dekkers’ comments any more ridiculous than this one:

        I am also talking about movement and dances that have been bastardized by fucking kkkolonizers. I am talking about twerking too! I am talking about how the beautiful artistic creation and re-creation of traditional African movement has been stolen and is now bastardize by nasty ass white people that think they can “twerk” and act all “ratchet” and “ghetto” after they sniff some shit and get drunk. Like STOP that shit, yall look nasty and I know you don’t give a fuck about respect but you are fucking disrespecting the people that can really twerk. You are also disrespecting all the ancestors that dance with them while they pop that booty. There is a reason why twerking exists. Besides the fact that is an amazing artistic expression, twerking and the many dances that include moving the hips and pelvic area are extremely healthy. They help regulate yer pooping, they provide self-uterine massage, they provide stronger tummy muscles which help people get stronger cores and better posture and less back pain, they help alleviate moonstrual pain, anyway the benefits are endless. What I am trying to say is that kkkolonization has also impacted traditional medicine and thus our health as colorful people. These fools are using the Coca leaf to make us all sick and crazy. They also using the capitalist system to own traditional medicines and attempt to charge $800 for some whack ass ayahuasca session. Like WTF, yall need to chill and disappear from the face of the earth.

        Sadly, I’m not making this shit up. While I often find Dekkers’ opinions to be glib, populist, and reactionary, he’s never once remarked that someone should “disappear from the face of the earth” (at least not here). Also, to reject identity politics and intersectionality by no means requires that one deny the reality of racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.

    • That’s the problem I have always had with the way I see it invoked: There is a wide gap between what it allegedly means and the way it’s invoked as leverage to shut down discussions or claim authority.

  2. Heartfield well read? Then he should have realised that Beatrix Campbell had nothing to do with the writing of Beyond The Fragments. The third author was Lyn Segal.

  3. “These divisions, they think, are not political, but biological”
    Really? I know that biological determinists exist, both left and right, but I’ve yet to meet anyone who talks about intersectionality make that argument. The point is not that having a different body divides you from people, but to acknowledge that society treats people with different bodies differently. It is a reaction to, and acknowledgment of, existing (socially imposed) differences, not something that creates them.

    The main reason intersectionality is important, really, is the existence of frustrating essays like these, and the all-too-prevalent thought behind them. It gets really, really tiresome for lefties who also belong to various repressed groups in society to have to justify their/our existence and concerns to our own supposed comrades, as well as to the wider world.

    • wrote the following as a reply to someone who sent me a link to this article. reposting here to replicate the crticism within it.

      noooooo no no no no nooooo terrible, awful!
      ive been following this guy for a while on tumblr, seen a randomised selection of posts. he’s a total clickfarmer i reckon. like, usually he’s just typing out/reformatting reference info and minimal analysis on leftist artifacts- USSR porn and that. a “populist” in the old tongue, trying to work his way into the glossies. provision of reference material is a noble pursuit in itself but USE IT BETTER DUDE,
      he’s got some serious problems when he puts his analysis on display- trying to sidestep casually into critical theory lol like yh bro you’ve read some books but that article is an illusion-heavy version of the same distorted dismissals.
      it’s a problem inherent in the tradition that’s often pointed out isn’t it- extra sophisticated dismissals from insiders who think since they’re an authority on sophis. trivia and have mastered the tone they can speak with legitimate authority on any critical point. and he gets all reactionary when people say sit down white boy instead of wondering why what he’s said isn’t useful enough to avoid such a response!
      i am inclined to go through that and pull apart his fragile logic at every point- in his mind he’s probably presenting an objective summary of the debate, but let’s be frank for most of the article he’s just dressing up work he’s undertaken against the people’s interests as a labour-sacrifice for the good of the people because its easier for him to intricately justify his preordained dismissive viewpoint than to apply himself critically to the issue at hand.
      “anti-humanist”!!!! R U KIDDING M8 GET OUT and then he’s all “humanism is the *brotherhood* of *man*”! i would cut him, personally, because u know he’s done that deliberately to be provocative on the “it’s only words” knob-pedestal.
      the principle of intersection isn’t in place to make interests magically divide and compete as if they weren’t already forced in competition by entrenchment of privilege and a focus on sectarian-gains in leftist circles!, that’s a reactionary dialectical emergence of the concept, to be sure it is emergent, here most of all, but the whole point of emphasizing the theory of intersection is to ensure solidarity is adhered to::: to hold to account the groups that proclaim solidarity whilst they work against their own theoretical humanist interests by ignoring the requirements of solidarity for the sake of their sectarian gain!
      ~~~when the principle of intersectionality interferes with the day-to-day display of solidarity by its own emergence, it does so in the name of good praxis for christ’s sake! sure that’s plays out messily- of course it would, but it isn’t the same sort of issue as “should all feminists be lesbians” was by any means, and an article genuinely just examining the way the word “intersectionality” has functioned across the board would be written very differently to how his article actually was written- which was with dissonant false-logic dismissals of the word’s utility- and would make some effort to acknowledge the difficulty/near-impossibility of the task of neutral analysis! i mean in truth what the fuck else can the broad left do when its old guard is so entrenched, discriminatory and comfortably ineffective, but to attack it and renew the principles of solidarity even if doing so smashes the illusion of it already being present and so functions as bad PR for leftist groups.
      yet he says it’s not a renewal! if those being held to account by the grassroots backlash would respond by holding themselves to account–then the action of the “buzzword” (named here as it has been when pilloried) would have played out quite differently and ground would have been gained for all.

      it’s stupendously patronising of him to authoritatively suggest that a reinforcement of the ideal in question is not infact an effort towards a renewal of solidarity- he’s basing his entire argument on the idea that the people using the word don’t understand/aren’t utilising the principle of unity?!! because white cis male authority is being loudly questioned on the left?!?! no automated self-defence mechanism clouding ur judgement there huh buddy???
      reading his other articles he linked to, about identity politics, too.
      his main argument has completely conflated “intersectionality” with “identity politics” because they are linked by association. that is utterly, utterly irrational, and in mashing the two together he’s totally skimmed over the v. important “it’s a question of praxis” point which would, no doubt, have led him to the following article, which is itself fundamentally grounded in a simple “the whole point is solidarity in practise” refutation of his entire “new sectarianism” argument, an argument for which he’s spent at least three articles badly framing a lot of practical history with ZERO REFLEXIVE SELF-CRITICISM—— http://miamiautonomyandsolidarity.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/the-problem-with-privilege/
      god forbid he would have sought out the counterpoint.

      • I didn’t write this article; it’s by James Heartfield, and was originally published over at Mute. Even then, I’ve told James that I disagree with his framing of the humanist/anti-humanist dichotomy, which strikes me as an extremely unhelpful and peculiarly French leftover of debates within Marxism from half a century ago.

        Anyway, there are some other posts on this blog that I’ve written on identity politics and whatnot, intersectionality etc., though you’ve probably seen them. Thanks for posting in any case, and I’ll let James know so he can respond.

  4. “In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness… In studying such transformations it is always necessary to distinguish between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, artistic or philosophic — in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out.”

    “Most of the posters hold the view that thought is not universal, but embedded, not true for all, but specifically attached to races and groups.”

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  6. I think you understood a very important question. Identity is something we need to protect ourselves as part of groups who need important guaranties. But we need to let identities go away as soon we are able to. We are much more complex than identities insist on close us.
    I understand perfectly the sectarism hidden after any kind if identity policing. It doen’t mean the causes are not real. Each identity cause really needs visibility, but we can not hold it as if it could be life itself.
    Sorry for my english…

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