against 'entrenched identities'

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at
Wed Jun 24 19:51:22 PDT 1998

Justin wrote:
>I think taht what is called for is a dialectical approach, as it were. We
>have to respect both the paerticularity of particular oppressed groups and
>the need for universality, for making a new identity that stresses the
>commonality of those oppressed by the interlocking oppressions of
>bourgeious society.
>Contrary to what you say, I have never met, in real life, anyone on the
>left who believes that the struggles of women, Blacks, gays, etc. are
>seconday, mere diversions from the main class struggle, things that can be
>put off until "after the revolution." I don't even believe anyone on this
>list believes anything of the sort.

Obviously what is severely lacking is the dialectical approach you mention, and my post was meant to encourage this line. Thinking about questions of race, gender, sexuality, disability, etc. and fighting for equality are necessary and in fact unavoidable moments that we must go through to achieve universality. The current lack of dialectical thinking, for instance, has been clearly demonstrated in a number of posts in response to the BRC and any other subjects that are not perceived as 'universal' (such as abortion), on this very list we are both posting. I have yet to see many posts (other than Carrol's) that say anthing other than denunciations of 'identity politics' on this list regarding race, gender, sexuality, etc. and their intersections with class. Nothing constructive, theoretically and practically, has been said about the interlocking oppressions and how to fight them.

BTW, I don't think that questions of race, gender, sexuality, disability, etc. must take the form of 'identity politics' though they can, for better or worse (it all depends on the context). In my view, one of the major reasons why race, gender, etc. become matters of 'identity politics' is that such questions and struggles have _not_ been effectively addressed, with tangible results, _within_ the labor movement and the left. If they had been, there would have been a much less need to have women's organizations, black organizations, etc.

Chuck wrote:
>AS a matter of practicality, I imagine a world of sameness would be boring and
>blah. Also, it seems to me that sameness of this kind is logically impossible.
>People will always be different, whether in hair color, personality, voice
>or some such difference. Or do you advocate a eugenics program to make
>the same?

It is rather intriguing that the same post by me was interpreted by Justin as 'a defense of identity politics' and by Chuck as an argument for 'a world of sameness' and eradication of differences. One can't argue for both at the same time, and in fact I have made neither argument.

In response to Chuck, my argument is this: if we ever successfully achieve communism and eradicate racism, sexism, heterosexism, etc., I think that there will be more of recognition of differences--differences _not_ reduced to the means of organizing social relations hierarchically. Heterosexuality, masculinity, whiteness, etc. (and identities subordinated to them) _as we have known them_, that is, oppressive social relations and relational identities created within them, shall disappear, if the conditions I wrote of get created and maintained. The disappearance of oppressive social relations doesn't spell the end of difference; in fact, it will mean its opposite: the beginning of difference _as_ difference, the beginning of true history.


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