Wednesday, April 26, 2017

CONTINUING DISCUSSION OF RACISM, CLASS AND THE MOVEMENT

Home Forums Organizing for Social Change CONTINUING DISCUSSION OF RACISM, CLASS AND THE MOVEMENT

This topic contains 28 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Frank Blankenship 3 months, 2 weeks ago.

Viewing 14 posts - 16 through 29 (of 29 total)
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  • #86325

    oldhead
    Participant

    OK — hope there are no action shots cuz it’s going to be playing in the background. (I presume this is about race & class, not the cat.) 🙂

    #87335

    humanbeing
    Participant

    Hate to wake this space (forums) from their slumber, but this article is worth a read.

    Economic Issues and “Identity” Issues

    #87454

    oldhead
    Participant

    Goddamn it, my response disappeared, I’ll try again tomorrow. 🙁

    #87500

    oldhead
    Participant

    OK here’s my summarized response to the best of my recollection.

    The guy who wrote this seems to equate anti-racism with identity politics, which I think is racist itself to a degree; racism is an intrinsic part of capitalism, as are sexism, homophobia and other forms of prejudice based on sexual or gender identity, lifestyle, religion, etc. To me, “identity politics” doesn’t refer to recognizing the existence and significance of all these. It DOES mean contending that, unless one has the direct experience of one or more of these forms of oppression, he/she/they is/are by definition unable to have an understanding or cogent analysis of the role such oppression plays within the larger fabric of capitalism, or to intelligently or discuss effective ways to fight and defeat it. THIS was the biggest flaw in the so-called “anti-racism” article i.m.o.

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 2 weeks ago by  oldhead.
    • This reply was modified 3 months, 2 weeks ago by  oldhead.
    #87550

    Frank Blankenship
    Participant

    I actually found myself in agreement with this article to a certain extent. You are not talking anti-racism so much as you are talking about the black power movement. Feminism may be anti-sexism, but it cannot be reduced to such, and it would be a mistake to see both as merely a matter of class struggle. Where does the LGBT community fit into your class struggle? What am I saying? I’m saying that when you talk of a mad movement or a psychiatric survivor movement, you’re actually talking about identity politics. In whatever movements we participate there is a certain amount of elitism that needs to be fought if we’re not out to resemble our enemies. I see that we are all embroiled in power struggles of one sort or another involving elitism and authoritarianism, however, I don’t think there is anything to be gained by reducing it all to class struggle. When you are talking about the usurpation of privilege by one group from another, what you haven’t gotten rid of is privilege, and privilege is still as much a problem in Marxist countries as it is in countries where policies are not guided by Marxist theory.

    #87561

    humanbeing
    Participant

    when you talk of a mad movement or a psychiatric survivor movement, you’re actually talking about identity politics

    That is one of the reasons I can’t get enthused about it. Too many other overpowering issues to address i.e. climate change…oppression takes many forms. Capitalism to blame or are humans just too flawed to endure and our time has come (taking much else with us)?

    #87587

    oldhead
    Participant

    I disagree with both the above about “identity politics” but don’t have the energy today to really get into it. I know Richard L. would probably do better than I at delineating some of this. However I don’t see a situation in our movement where people are told they cannot understand or be part of the fight against psychiatric oppression unless they have experienced it directly. THAT’S what I would define as “identity politics” or “playing the mental patient card.” Anti-psychiatry, like antiracism/sexism/homophobia, defines a specific form of oppression which is part of the larger capitalist macrocosm. The system needs to be fought at this level of specificity, as well as with an overview of the corporate state or capitalism as the “mother of all oppression” in the present day.

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 2 weeks ago by  oldhead.
    • This reply was modified 3 months, 2 weeks ago by  oldhead.
    • This reply was modified 3 months, 2 weeks ago by  oldhead.
    #87609

    Frank Blankenship
    Participant

    My point is that I don’t think it is fair to ignore those “other things”. Sure, the struggle is against capital, however there is so much more involved in that struggle that one shouldn’t become myopic. I see working class identity as an identity matter, too. I think there is this identity thing, on the one hand, and the elitism which infects almost every struggle, and is intimately tied up with classism, on the other. They are connected in the sense that a revolution that doesn’t give women some measure of freedom and control over their own lives is not a thoroughgoing revolution. If they are not given positions of power, then the revolution has failed them in particular. Ditto every other oppressed group. When revolution is simply the exchange of one privileged class of rulers for another, privilege wins. Privilege that is in large measure part and parcel of the overall problem.

    As I see it, psychiatry is pseudo-science, and anti-psychiatry is opposition to pseudo-science. The utopia of the pseudo-sciences, of the bureaucratic functionaries, Walden Two, presents you with the predicament pretty well. There is not much eutopia, to use Bonnie Burstow’s spelling, to it. This utopia of theirs’ is a dystopia for us.

    #87614

    uprising
    Participant

    A hodge-podge of reactions:

    I see working class identity as an identity matter, too.

    Class (in the Marxian sense) is determined by one’s relationship to the means of production. It is not an identity issue. Class-consciousness is awareness of that relationship and understanding of what it entails.

    The “Mad Pride” and “Psych Survivor” movements are identity politics. The anti-psychiatry movement is not. Membership in the former are based on mad or survivor status (or perhaps also “ally” status) . Membership in the latter is based on one’s political agenda regarding psychiatry.

    I think that if we are tempted to blame humanity as a whole and not capitalism for the state of the world, it might be useful to remember that the working class has always had to be coerced and propagandized into fulfilling its role in the system. It might also be useful to think about how many people actually make the decisions that are destroying the planet, and what class those people belong to, and what their geographical distribution looks like.

    #87616

    humanbeing
    Participant

    Interesting, uprising. Thanks – never really occurred to me before.

    #87621

    uprising
    Participant

    Thanks for resurrecting this thread, humanbeing. I think it is important to talk about this term, “identity politics,” and the various definitions it can have, and how those relate to class politics. I need to re-read the article that you shared to make sure that i understood it all.

    #87634

    oldhead
    Participant

    The “Mad Pride” and “Psych Survivor” movements are identity politics.

    I think I have a slightly different take. I differentiate between identity politics and political separatism, which I have always supported when different groups have chosen it as a means of self-determination. But I think “separatist” groupings can operate within the larger context if they have a political analysis which allows this. To me an “identity politics” approach would tend to consider its own issues to be preeminent, posed against the larger struggle in an either-or way, and at best to see the larger struggle as a collection of random unrelated smaller struggles. But I’m just “probing” here, not trying to be definitive, as it’s a term I had no familiarity with prior to the past few years.

    I don’t know much about Mad Pride, but I see the psych survivor movement — once it materializes as more than a concept — not at all as identity politics in this sense, but more as the “survivor caucus” of the AP movement as a whole. I also believe it should be the leading edge of the AP movement and have the power to override, when necessary, decisions made by others in the name of the movement.

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 2 weeks ago by  oldhead.
    #87696

    Frank Blankenship
    Participant

    Class itself may not be a matter of identity politics. Class consciousness most certainly is a matter of identity politics. I wouldn’t think for ten seconds the bourgeoisie didn’t know who is who. High society, Who’s Who, after all, is their invention. If Rich Bosses can make people, who matter, so to speak, so, too, can workers, and others, in their respective struggles.

    I also see anti-psychiatry as an identity issue when so many, endorsing wittingly or unwittingly the “mental illness” industry, see anti-psychiatry as a label, a negative, and to apply it to them, in their eyes, would be to insult them. They, in other words, would not identify as anti-psychiatry, unlike those others, such as myself, who would. I’m opposed to psychiatry in all it’s manifestations. I don’t have any reason to hide my stance in that regard.

    There have been in the past many articles about the personal being political. What could be more personal than identity? Also, what doesn’t pertain to politics? Identity, fashion? I see a relationship there anyway that I don’t think can be ignored. Certainly, elitism and authoritarianism are things we need to combat. I’d say there is a classist element to that.

    Were we in the world defined by the industrial revolution of the 19th century, that would be one thing, but they say we are now in another era, and it is the developing world that is providing cheap labor for the developed world, and it’s service industries, one of which is psychiatry. Multi-national corporations exploiting the labor of the developing world for the benefit of the developed world at the expense of the developing world. You can get a gist there of the problem.

    #87714

    Frank Blankenship
    Participant

    To clarify, realistically, I would think you could go too far in either direction, and so both are needed, that is, the impersonal as well as the personal. There are gains to be made at the collective level, and gains to be made at the personal level. When gains are made at the personal level, it serves as an advance for the collective, too.

    The identity in identity politics is an I word, like individual. If there is something to be said for pure self-sacrifice, there are things to be said against it as well. I don’t think we can completely dis self-interest, and be at all realistic. The dangers of over playing self-sacrifice become apparent when dealing with a personality cult. The personality cult is about one identity, and everybody else is expected to sacrifice themselves for that one person. You may be important, but I, in other words, is important, too.

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