Identity politics and more-market economics

Adolph Leonard Reed Jr. is an American Marxist professor emeritus of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in studies of issues of racism and U.S. politics. He has been a trenchant critic of anti-democratic and identitarian trends on the left. He notes in the interview below, for instance, that Black Lives Matter has received close to two billion US dollars of corporate funding. And rising all the time. For him, class is not about identity and is the fundamental. You could have a super-rich layer that was in proportion to ethnic groups in the society with the vast majority of people still exploited and oppressed, although the liberals might be happy.

Adolph Reed also points out that identitarian organising is not rooted in serious mass organisations. Rather, tiny numbers of people start up something which they totally control and ‘present’ through the corporate media, shape, decide all the policies, control the funding, etc. And he points to how it is all completely compatible with more-market economics and actually helped along by the market.

2 comments

  1. The interview with Adolph Reed is very good. He makes a bunch of excellent points in relation to Black Lives Matter that few are prepared to make. Having been around a long time, he has seen it all before – and also he has seen better before.

    I found it particularly odd when the NZ and West Indian cricket teams ‘took the knee’ at their first T20 match this season, which I watched on TV. Like, seriously? When were NZ cricketers some kind of bastion of radical anti-racism? I don’t recall NZ cricketers fronting up massively, for instance, during the long struggle to isolate apartheid South Africa.

    How is it that BLM claims to be really radical and yet is so embraced by a bunch of corporate America – and gets a couple of billion dollars off the very capitalists who have benefited from racism?

    But it’s like racism itself has become reified. Despite a bit of empty anti-capitalist verbiage, there is now a large new, young left that has got little clue about what capitalism is, what anti-capitalism is, the material roots of various forms of oppression. Rather, there are a lot of performances going on, all completely compatible with capitalism. And a large chunk of the left has jumped on board. (And the capitalists seem to pay well for the entertainment!)

    When we come out of this period of faux-leftism and faux-anticapitalism, I don’t think there will be much standing of the current performative left. Defending revolutionary anti-capitalism, materialism and some actual depth in political theory and activity is essential to holding together what part of the left can be held together and laying the groundwork for the new left that we actually need – a scientific, materialist, humanist, liberatory, revolutionary left.

    Phil F

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