Verizon: union win

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Thu Aug 24 10:41:01 PDT 2000

Doug Henwood wrote:

> Yeah, except that perceptions of class are a kind of identity. Why is
> "I am a worker," or even "I am a member of the working class," all
> that different from "I am a woman" or "I am black"?

The proposition "I am a worker" or "I am a black" can each carry quite different contents. Both can be *merely* (and thereby correctly) a way of generally relating oneself to ones positions in the social dynamic. But they can also both carry (what I think is mostly a modern superstition, generated by the material and cultural impacts of individualism -- alienation, if you will) "Being a worker (black) is what makes me me." And even that might be harmless if rather pointless -- but when it feeds into a systematic politics (related, I think, to radical democracy) of building coalitions out of this kind of sense of personal identity -- then it is both empty *and* reactionary. Blacks need to recognize they are blacks because of the importance of the oppression and exploitation of blacks in the United States and the necessity (if we are to change anything) of incorporating anti-racism into all forms of political activity (and the necessity of militant black action to impose that necessity on white militants). Why pull in the pure distraction of "identity." That is what I call holy ghost superstion, whether the identity is "worker" or "black" or "woman." Those identifications relate to specific social relations. That is important. Identity taken as an end in itself is superstition. I think one needs the jargon here: It is pure bourgeois ideology, and therefore contributes to the defense of racis, sexism, and every other destructive ism. It is moreover counter-revolutionary as well as being in fact a barrier even to minimal reforms. Concern with identity is simply a shuck.

Who am I. Carrol Cox, at this moment occupying specific time-space coordinates. That's all that is necessary.


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