Identity politics

political position based on the interests and perspectives of social groups with which people identify

Identity politics describes a political approach wherein people of a particular religion, race, social background, class or other identifying factor form exclusive socio-political alliances.

Quotes edit

  • Far too often movements revert to a position in which membership and joint political work are based on a necessarily similar history of oppression—but this is too much like identity politics. Instead, I am suggesting here that the process of movement building be rooted not in our shared history or identity but in our shared marginal relationship to dominant power that normalizes, legitimizes, and privileges.
    • Cathy J. Cohen, "Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?" Black Queer Studies: A Critical Anthology (Duke University Press: 2005), p. 43
  • The contemporary Left claims not to exist. Whereas the Right sees left-wing threats everywhere, those on the Left eschew any use of the term "we," emphasizing issue politics, identity politics, and their own fragmentation into a multitude of singularities.
    • Jodi Dean, The Communist Horizon (2012), p. 53
  • Bill Clinton and his two treasury secretary enablers, Robert Rubin and Larry Summers, instituted a system of unregulated capitalism that has resulted in financial anarchy. This anarchic form of capitalism, where everything, including human beings and the natural world, is a commodity to exploit until exhaustion or collapse, is justified by identity politics. It is sold as “enlightened liberalism” as opposed to the old pro-union class politics that saw the Democrats heed the voices of the working class. Financial anarchy and short-term plunder have destroyed long-term financial and political stability. It has also pushed the human species, along with most other species, closer and closer towards extinction.
  • The liberal class has retreated into boutique activism where issues of class, capitalism and militarism are jettisoned for “cancel culture,” multiculturalism and identity politics.
  • Identity politics of all kinds do contain an inherent potential not only for victim-competition but for splintering movements into 1000 groups whose members at last feel sufficiently the same: comfy but not a powerful resource.
    • Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz To Be a Radical Jew in the Late 20th Century in The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Women's Anthology (1986)
  • anti-Semitism has sometimes masqueraded as a disdain for identity politics.
    • Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz To Be a Radical Jew in the Late 20th Century in The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Women's Anthology (1986)
  • Seizing upon anything but class, U.S. leftists today have developed an array of identity groups centering around ethnic, gender, cultural, and life-style issues. These groups treat their respective grievances as something apart from class struggle, and have almost nothing to say about the increasingly harsh politico-economic class injustices perpetrated against us all.
    • Michael Parenti, Blackshirts and Reds: Rational Fascism & the Overthrow of Communism (1997), p. 151
  • I mentioned at the outset that I dislike the term "identity politics." This is because the phrase seems to suggest that our identities (rather than the marginalization we face) is the most salient feature of our activism. Indeed, this is probably why those who oppose IP-umbrella activism seem so fond of calling it “identity politics” in the first place. [...] In contrast, within IP circles, the term is often reserved for a specific brand of single-issue activism that completely precludes perspectives from those who do not share the identity in question.
  • I think the crucial point here is that we’ve got to be able to have a politics of solidarity. What I mean by that is that all the talk about identity, racial identity, gender identity, sexual orientation identity, is crucial, it is indispensable, but in the end, it must be connected to a moral integrity and deep political solidarity that hones in on a financialized form of predatory capitalism. A capitalism that is killing the planet, poor people, working people here and abroad.
  • Though self-definition is the necessary starting point for any liberation movement, it can take us only so far. The most obvious drawback of identity politics is its logic of fragmentation into ever smaller and more particularist groups: the fracturing of the radical feminist movement along class and gay-straight lines (the racial divide having kept most black women out of the movement to begin with) is the sobering paradigm. What's at stake here, however, is not only the pragmatic question (crucial as it is) of how to avoid being divided and conquered, but our understanding of what it means to be a principled radical...Almost from the beginning, second wave feminism was a study in the limits of the identity politics it did so much to promote.
    • Ellen Willis Introduction to No More Nice Girls: Countercultural Essays (1992)

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