Identity Politics Gets Hoisted by Its Own Petard

Meghan Murphy has once again taken on liberal feminism and the identity issue in an excellent Feminist Current blog post: “#WeAreTheLeft: The day identity politics killed identity politics”

Murphy critiques a long wordy Open Letter addressed to the Left and posted on Twitter and She successfully untangles liberal identities from the material conditions that beset the oppressed. We find the Open Letter writers’ assertion that “all politics are identity politics” outright wrong. If someone is poor, black, or female, their oppression is not related to how they identify, it’s what they are. Identifying as rich, white or male, does not change that reality.

Murphy also points out, “The authors were subjected to attacks of their own making, accused of the very thing many of them have built a platform on: nonsensical accusations that turn critique into ‘phobia’ and analysis into ‘hate’ and ‘exclusion.’” Radical feminists are all too familiar with this tactic.

We are surprised to see some of the names on the list of signers of the Open Letter. Although we agree with some of their criticisms of what we consider the Left (having often been critical of the Left ourselves), the Open Letter is befuddled and a bit hard to follow. “Left” disappears into “progressive,” for instance. Left and progressive are often not the same thing. Furthermore, we question the Open Letter writers’ claim that “We are the Left,” as did a number of Twitter commenters. The Left is at minimum anti-capitalist, while many who consider themselves progressives are content in the pro-capitalist Democratic Party. 


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