Class First

Posted: 02/02/2018 by zandtao in Democracy, ONE planet, Struggle
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Bruce Dixon has written a second part to the piece on intersectionality, I wrote a blog about the first part here (reference to part 1 quoted within).

This part was primarily concerned with criticism within his own community, and that is a debate I will not enter as it is not my debate and I don’t have knowledge of it. But he quotes Sharon Smith on two intersectionalities “there are two separate, distinct and mutually incompatible intersectionalities. The first, she says is firmly in the camp of the real left, those who oppose and aim to overthrow capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy and empire – not two or three out of four but all four. This tradition, which puts intersectionality in the context of class analysis and class struggle goes back at least to Claudia Jones in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, and the Cohambee River Collective in the 1970s, although neither of these ever heard or uttered the word “intersectional.” The second intersectionality according to Smith, is rooted in post-structuralism which categorically rejects socialism and class analysis, and either downgrades the importance of class struggle at most to something coequal in importance with ageism, ableism and speciesism. With no anchor in class struggle, and emphasizing the oppressed experience of individuals and non-class groups this kind of intersectionalism acts to perpetuate the division of the US left and wannabe left into squabbling constituency groups vying for attention, funding and acknowledgement of whose cause is the most righteous. With neither the means nor the inclination to contend for power, this intersectionalist emphasis on individual experience and deeds has given rise to atrocities like callout culture.” As an aside I was interested in reading that Claudia Jones founded the West Indian Gazette, and started the Notting Hill Carnival, I would like to think this was just something I had forgotten but maybe not.

These two intersectionalities closely parallel the dichotomy of the UK left at present. I interpret these two as class socialists (real left) and liberals, all of whom have been conveniently labelled by the right into “The Left” – without sufficient outrage by the real left in my view. It is this I wanted to note. Whilst this article is primarily concerned with answering internal criticisms, it still contains the clarity denoted by these two intersectionalities acting as divisive forces in the class struggle. “Unfortunately this second version of intersectionality is nearly hegemonic among self defined radicals and even liberals in the academy. Since it’s vigorously promoted by sectors of corporate media and the funders of the nonprofit industrial complex, it’s likely to remain so for the forseeable future.” That is liberalism to me.

Whilst it is not my argument, this “Similarly afro-pessimism only surfaced after enough black faces got comfy spots in the academy.” did make me laugh.

As usual it is worth reading Black Agenda Report.

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