Marxism, Intersectionality, and Therapy
David I. Backer
Intersectionality and marxism are not on great terms, supposedly. While some thinkers and activists recognize the need for intersectional insights in research and organizing, others maintain more negative attitudes and analyses towards such insights. The negative attitudes and analyses combine a new resent with the old tension between feminist and poststructuralist critiques of Marxist theory and the latter, sometimes named "identity politics" or "identarian politics." While intersectionalists claim that race, class, and gender (and other categories and discourses) compound, mingle, and mix in unique ways during particular events and experiences, Marxists allege that class trumps all with respect to oppression. The intersectionalists call for specific and particularized redress of compounded oppressions which sometimes do not include class or, in other cases, are lost when class is the sole focus (or any single category of oppression by itself). The Marxists, on the other hand, call for changing the relations of production, focusing on class. Racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, and other oppressions will be ameliorated, or at least the conditions for their amelioration can only begin, after that shift in exploitative, alienating, and degrading relations of capitalist production. The debate leaves two conflicting camps on the Left. One with a particularized sensitivity to the complex layers of oppression, and the other with a fervent clarity regarding the link in the chain of domination which, if broken, will release the people from their bonds.
Safe States, Inside-Outside, and Other Liberal Illusions
Another liberal illusion is the inside-outside strategy toward the Democratic Party. The logic of an inside-outside approach leads increasingly inside in the party. To be accepted inside one must disavow outside options. Bernie Sanders conceded to this logic from the start of his campaign when he said would support the Democratic nominee and not run as an independent. If Sanders had not made that pledge, he would not have been allowed on to Democratic ballots or debate stages. Soon after he pledged his Democratic loyalty, Sanders was signing fundraising letters on behalf of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Before long Sanders will be campaigning for Clinton. When I wrote a critique of this idea in the Summer 1989 issue of New Politics, I was addressing the left wing of Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition, which proposed an inside-outside strategy of supporting progressives inside the Democratic Party and running progressive independents against corporate Democrats. By the time the next iteration of the inside-outside strategy was promulgated by the Progressive Democrats of America, which grew out of the Kucinich campaign in 2004, outside was now reduced to lobbying the Democrats for progressive reforms. Running independent progressives against corporate Democrats was not part of the outside strategy anymore. The inside-outside proponents from the Rainbow Coalition believed their strategy would heighten the contradictions between progressive and corporate Democrats, leading to a split...
On African Americans and Feminists Casting Their Votes for Hillary Clinton
During the 1990s, the Clintons made a concerted effort to prove that they were just as tough on crime as Republicans, and in doing so, supported policy changes that drastically increased the rates of incarceration for people of color and the poor. Such attitudes and policies also contributed to the militarization of the police. These issues have been the focus of protest groups such as Black Lives Matters, which was started by three Black, queer feminists. And although mainstream (white, middle class) feminists like to make the claim that Hillary Clinton champions women's rights and feminist's issues, history shows that has actually not been the case. At best, her record has been a mixed bag. For instance, while she advocated for the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, she was unwilling to openly discuss and address the state-sanctioned violence that disproportionately affects women of color and their children. In fact, when Black Lives Matter activists showed up at a Clinton campaign event, they were ignored by the candidate and heckled by a mostly White crowd. Clinton handled their presence notably different than Sanders. Where Sanders stepped back and allowed the activists to speak and openly share their grievances, Clinton waited for the protestors to be removed and then stated that it was time to "get back to the important issues" - because, apparently, the lives of Black people and other people of color are not that important. Environmental degradation is certainly an important social and public health issue, and those who face the most dire consequences of this degradation are the poor, people of color, and children - all of whom are more likely to live in areas having high toxicity, pollution, and in close...
Americans Don't Miss Manufacturing - They Miss Unions
U.S. manufacturing jobs, I argued a few weeks ago, are never coming back. But that doesn't stop politicians from talking about them. Donald Trump scored his knockout blow in Indiana in part by railing against the decision by Carrier, a local air-conditioning manufacturer, to shift production to Mexico. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have sparred throughout their race over who would best protect manufacturing jobs. And the man they are all trying to replace, President Obama, pledged during his reelection campaign to create a million manufacturing jobs during his second term; he's still about 700,000 jobs short of that goal. Candidates talk about manufacturing because of what it represents in the popular imagination: a source of stable, well-paying jobs, especially for people without a college degree. But that image is rooted more in nostalgia than in reality. Manufacturing no longer plays its former role in the economy, and not only because there are far fewer factory jobs than in the past. The jobs being created today often pay less than those of the past - sometimes far less. A new report this week from the Labor Center at the University of California, Berkeley, found that a third of production workers - non-managers working on factory floors and in related occupations - earn so little that their families receive some form of public assistance such as food stamps or the Earned Income Tax Credit. Many of those workers are temps, who account for a growing share of factory employment. The median wage for a manufacturing production worker, according to separate data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was $16.14 an hour in 2015, below the $17.40 an hour for all workers.