CultureCat: Cornel West argued that we need identity politics, that they, to many people in the world, are “a matter of life and death.”
Well, no. I don’t think so. In fact …
Alex Blaze: The biggest red flag when it comes to the utility of the identity politics paradigm should be how little we’re invited to identify along the lines of class. It’s understandable – the times in history when people identified as a class didn’t turn out all that well for rich people. It turns out there are a whole lot more poor people than there are of everyone else, and they have the least to lose if the system of distributing rights and privileges and resources completely changed. On the other hand, though, the fact that it seems inherent in this system that we should not identify with our position on the money totem pole shows how it sets people up for easy co-option by keeping them from knowing exactly where they and others stand when it comes to the most basic measure of power and quality of life.
[Fernand] Braudel provides us with a lovely bit of unconventional wisdom: capitalism is inherently anti-market. Any sensible capitalist avoids a proper functioning market because that is not where the biggest profits are to be made. Put the other way round, markets are bad for capital accumulation because they do not allow enough of it. If capitalism does not equal market what does it equate with? For Braudel the answer is simple: monopolies, that is where the big profits are to be made. [...]
I have called this argument Braudel’s provocation and by now you will have seen why: instead of monopoly being ‘a spreading rot in the fabric of competitive capitalism’ (Shepherd 1970, 14) as is commonly supposed, it is itself capitalism. Rather than monopoly indicating an imperfect market, the market is a sign of failed monopoly. [...] In fact once we begin to focus on monopolies, not as special exceptions to the market, but as the normal operation of capitalism then much old and new work in geography and the social sciences in general take on a new perspective.
“For millions of youth in the inner cities, even taking into account the chances that you get killed at a young age or go to jail for a long time, crime is a rational choice — the best choice they can make under this system. What fucking kind of system have you got then?”
The United States, like every capitalist society, is composed of masters and slaves. The problem is that many of the slaves think they are part of the master class because they partake of the privileges of the white skin. The abolitionists’ aim is not racial harmony but the abolition of the white race, as part of the mobilization of our side for class war. There are many poor whites in the U.S. In fact, the majority of the poor are white. Whiteness does not exempt them from exploitation, it reconciles them to it. It holds down more whites than blacks, because it makes them feel part of a system that exploits and degrades them. For those people, whiteness does not bring freedom and dignity. It is a substitute for freedom and dignity. It is for those who have nothing else. Its abolition is in the interests of all those who want to be free, “whites” no less than others.