Notes from New Sodom
... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Saturday, November 26, 2016
On Identity Politics
If you're a Leftist even thinking in terms of "identity politics" you need to ask yourself: Would you lump all activism on homelessness, drug and alcohol related causes, mental health related issues, battered womens' shelters, LGBT youth kicked out of the family home, squatter culture, Roma and traveller issues, refugee housing, and suchlike as "indigency politics"? Would you then emblematise that by the most strident & callow moralism of the bourgeois post-adolescent dilettantes any Leftist cause attracts? Would you neglect the bulk of activism trying to tackle physical issues--like food & shelter--to characterise this "indigency politics" by everyday moralism like pulling someone up for scorn of "gypsies" or "freeloaders" or "junkies"? Would you then problematise the mode of activism so conjured as alienating those unaffected by such issues, blaming their reactionary entrenchment & outlashing on this "indigency politics" activism? Would you argue that for a Leftist party or movement to be successful it must eschew this "indigency politics"? Would you say that in order to achieve the goals of socialism, we must abandon this jejune politics so obsessed with the destitute?
If you would not, then you must ask yourself why? Is it not because an "indigency politics" so conjured would be transparently just a rhetorical gambit to isolate out all activisms on a specific but loosely defined front and delegitimise them? Is it not because the reactionary entrenchment and outlashing against "indigency politics" would be transparently just a counterattack on socialism for challenging the Rightist's "I'm all right, Jack" anti-socialism? Is it not because you can't be a socialist who advocates not challenging such anti-socialism--who's socialism for, after all, if not people destitute in exactly this sort of way? Is it not because the strident & callow moralism that jumps on stigmatising terms would be being centred & problematised as The Problem of "indigency politics" precisely because the opposition to all activisms on that front is rooted, in no small part, in the stigma, the prejudice justifying refusal of empathy? Is it not because the term itself would be transparently an exploitation of that prejudice, tapping into the belief that the destitute are unworthy to focus attention on defences of them that can be argued unjust--born of selfishness, activists from the abject groups having a chip on their shoulder, expressing unwarranted entitlement, seeking special treatment, being shrill and uppity and over-sensitive and unrealistic? Is it not because the very purpose of conjuring this spectre of "indigency politics" would be to undermine socialism as a whole by scapegoating those abject groups as the cause of its defeats, its failures to persuade the Rightists of its principles?
For a Leftist to buy into that scapegoating by accepting the rhetorical gambit in the notion of "indigency politics" would be to turn against a core principle of socialism: that the destitute must not be just left to fend for themselves. Is this any less true of "identity politics"? I don't believe it is. I don't believe that socialism can really be called socialism without having at its core a principle that the subaltern must not be just left to fend for themselves. It is not merely a liberal principle of tolerance by which lynching or gaybashing or domestic abuse are rejected as bigotry enacted. It is a socialist principle that the community protect those disempowered by unjust power structures, surely. Hence the "social". A socialism taking recourse to a 19th century focus on economic class, abandoning the 20th century development into anti-fascism, is not full socialism. If you're a Leftist thinking that "identity politics" is The Problem, ready to compromise on your anti-fascism in that respect, you may not be doing so due to your own bias re those abject groups affected, but you're buying into the Rightist rhetoric born of their bias. And to do so can only render your socialism unfit to purpose.