The “New Left” and the Limits of Identity Politics-Revisited

identity-politicsToday is the two-year mark of this blog site. The very first post was entitled “The ‘New Left’ and the Limits of Identity Politics.” I thought it fitting to revisit that topic on its anniversary, especially in light of the recent US presidential elections, which I argued in a recent post may represent the decline of liberal identity politics in the US.

When I was a young student, protesting economic globalization/empire and global politico-economic power, our views and actions were considered that of a fringe anti-establishment minority. Today, the new liberal “left” activism, with its obsession with personal feelings and personal identity and its almost non-existent broader politico-economic analysis, seems oddly to represent a pro-establishment “majority.” I use the word majority in parentheses here because, while the mainstream media would have us believe otherwise, the majority of people are probably sick to death of liberal identity politics and stifling political correctness.

While identity issues such as gender and race are important, without a larger politico-economic analysis and fabric to hold it all together, identity politics and special interest issues can quickly break down into diversionary and even trivial issues. Over the past decade, many young, middle class and or economically privileged liberals took on, or appropriated, the label ‘left wing’ to describe their feelings over a host of increasingly inconsequential personal issues. Oddly, the previously radical mantra of “fight the power”—which used to mean literally fighting the system—morphed into fighting the social stigma of various personal issues. Basically, the contemporary liberal identity politics ‘left’ reflects a moment away from the political to a focus on the personal (personal identity, personal feelings, feelings of personal offence, etc)

While it’s okay to believe that “the personal is political,” in the contemporary liberal left/identity politics world, the personal has become the only thing that is political! But what about the political—meaning the process and practice of political power—or the geopolitical or the politico-economic, aren’t these things also political? Aren’t they much more political? To a contemporary social justice warrior, maybe not.

When I was a student dissident, the issues we were protesting (on and off campus) were things like imperial wars abroad, Big Business and corporate greed, the institutions of economic globalization (such as the WTO, IMF and World Bank), etc. But even within that movement—i.e., the anti-globalization movement—individuals with an explicitly anti-Empire stance and or analysis were a minority. Many anti-globalization groups and individuals were concerned with single issues or identity issues—such as race, gender, sexuality, and the environment. But this tended to occur within the context of a broader analysis of militarized global capitalism/Empire and how it creates and or exacerbates issues such as race, gender and environmental injustice. In other words, while earlier dissidents may have dealt with single-issues or identity politics, they still named a global system of power.

Many of today’s young dissidents—including many of those that support Hilary Clinton simply because she is a woman—don’t really seem to be aware that there is such a thing as a militarized, global system of politico-economic power. Otherwise, they would not be have backed one of its premier members, Hilary Clinton!

While it remains to be seen whether or not Donald Trump will live up to some of the anti-establishment hype surrounding him, [1] one thing that may come out of his victory (a.k.a Hilary Clinton’s defeat) is a movement away from identity politics. The fact that Trump claimed to be for things such as scaling back economic globalization—and the unemployment it creates—and US interventions abroad, and the fact that many in the US voted for him, suggests that these are the issues on people’s minds. It also suggests that the public imagination is moving away from stifling political correctness and the divide- and-conquer trap of identity politics[2] and towards the more universal issues of economics and the despair wrought by economic globalization/Empire.

 

 

 

 

 

Notes

[1] While Donald Trump is no doubt part of the elite by virtue of his immense wealth and corporate power, as I point out in another article the elite are not a monolith and there may be factions within the global elite that wish to take the global establishment in a different direction. Whether that direction is good or bad or worse, remains to be seen. Trump’s place in it also remains to be seen.

[2] While identity politics is presented as being an agenda for equality, in practice it represents the movement away from politics and political capitulation. In focusing solely on difference, identity politics pits people against one another, placing us into individual camps (men vs. women, blacks vs. whites, heterosexual vs. homosexual, etc) that can be manipulated, exploited and/or co-opted by elites. While this may or may not be the intention, it is the outcome; and what results is a movement away from unity–realizing that we share much in common (especially economic despair and class issues) regardless of our differences–in the name of so-called equality.

What Will the Media Do Now that “Worse than Hitler” Trump is President?

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This post is not about Donald Trump, it’s about the mainstream media (MSM). Had the media done the same thing to Hilary Clinton–or any other candidate–and had Clinton won, I would be asking the same question: What will the media do now?

Trump is president. And one of the many burning questions is: What will the media do? Oh to have been a fly on the wall in many a media press room right after his victory was declared. Some in the twitter-verse have hilariously joked that prominent CNN news anchors must currently be on suicide watch. But in all seriousness, what will the media do, now that the man they loved to hate is president? It will be interesting to see how it unfolds.

For months we watched and listened as the establishment media carried out a full on witch hunt and hate campaign against Trump: Trump will start WWIII, Trump is worse than Hitler, etc.[1]. That Trump is a big, bad, uber-evil dude was the official mantra and it was literally everywhere. The hype was so prevalent and so pervasive that I heard it repeated by everyone, from my local bank tellers and grocery store clerks to my nine-year-old nephew. Everyone. And when I asked them why they thought that was the case, few gave rational or intelligible answers; just media sound bites. The nine-year-old gets a pass.

While I watched the spectacle and mass hysteria play out, I kept thinking that it was very strange. I mean here is a man that was once a media darling—have we forgotten that Trump hosted the reality show The Apprentice and has been interviewed by every show from Howard Stern to The View—suddenly being treated like public enemy number one. At first I thought it was all for ratings. Trump is a controversial guy that says outrageous things (even before the campaign) and highlighting this makes for good ratings. But this was way more than shock and controversy for the sake of ratings. Something much bigger and far deeper was at play here. When you compare a person to Hitler that is pretty deep stuff; it’s full on character annihilation.

Why they did this is a topic for another post. But the Trump victory begs the question: Will the mainstream media do a 180 degree turn and be supportive of Trump now that he is the “leader of the free world”? If they do, does this prove just how subservient (to power) the various media are? Or does it simply mean they are fickle opportunists?  Or both? And if they don’t change their tune on Trump, if the MSM continue to deride him after he is president, then will it make us wonder who or what is really running the show? For who or what could be even more powerful than a billionaire that is also the president of the United States?

Some might argue that if the mainstream media continues its anti-Trump posturing, then it is proof that the MSM have integrity and principles, and that this, in turn, suggests that the media is autonomous. Sure, maybe. But if that’s true, where was this media integrity and autonomy when they “turned on him, ” en masse,  in the first place? Lets not forget that in the public portrayal, Trump went from a totally okay, controversial-yet-funny and acceptable dude to…HITLER, almost over night.

And it was uni-vocal; all the mainstream media outlets were on board with the Trump is evil mantra.

So again, now that he is president, what will the media do?

Just some food for thought…

Notes

[1] To be fair, there were not a lot of news outlets that compared him to Hitler outright (though I did find a few! ), but the fact that this was even implied (i.e., he is gong to start WWIII, etc) is still too drastic and quite irresponsible.

[2] So far, major media outlets like CNN and the New York Times are sticking to their negative Trump stance.

It’s the Economy, Stupid: Will Trump Be the End of Economic Globalization?

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NOTE:  I recommend reading my latest article  in conjunction with this

It is not an over statement to say that US-led neoliberal economic/corporate globalization—which ushered in the privatization and downsizing of vast public and labour sectors, the off shoring of jobs to cheaper labour markets abroad, and mass unemployment and underemployment worldwide, especially in the west—has practically destroyed the world, including the United States. It is also not an overstatement to say that the reigning in or reversal of economic globalization, if such a thing is even possible, would greatly benefit the ever-increasing poor, unemployed and underemployed peoples of the world.

What is Economic Globalization?

Prior to WWII and the US’ full ascent to global economic super power, the United States had what is known as a protectionist or isolationist economy, meaning it did not trade much with other nations and production and manufacturing was done mainly in house. Following its victory in the Second World War, the US was in a position of power as much of Europe lay in ruins and in  need of “aid.” The US seized the opportunity (some say it actually created this opportunity, but that is a topic for another article).  The US was able to economically enslave parts of Europe with its Marshall Plan. [1] Part of the conditions for Marshall Plan “aid” was the opening up of European markets to the US and economic restructuring and integration in a manner that favoured the US capitalist model and US banks and corporations.  With this, economic globalization began. With time the US was able to become a full-fledged Empire by (often forcibly) spreading its version of capitalism around the world. This made the US Empire unique in that is was largely economic in nature—what is know as capitalist imperialism. But capitalist imperialism is a highly political and militarized process, and the threat of military force and endless imperial war and invasion has always gone hand-in-hand with US economic empire.

Through economic globalization and its global monetary institutions and banks (i.e., IMF, WTO, World Bank, etc), the US was able to economically high jack the rest of the world while presenting itself—as it always does—as a global saviour. Globalization was presented as the ultimate and obvious remedy for what supposedly ails the world. The vision offered from leading advocates and beneficiaries of this “new world order,” were unfailingly positive, even utopian: “Globalization will be a panacea for all our ills.” [2] Corporate globalization was portrayed as the road to paradise, the inevitable unraveling of history and, indeed, the end of history–the final solution and last good idea. Continue reading

Is The Trump Win the End of Identity Politics?

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Whatever one may think of Donald Trump, if his presidential win, and the post-election liberal democratic freak out, tells us anything– it is that the flawed liberal (not to be mistaken with radical) agenda of identity politics and rabid political correctness may be coming to an end.

Once upon a time, I considered myself left wing. For me, this meant a criticism and resistance to Empire. My femaleness, brownness, “immigrant-ness,” “Muslim-ness,” etc., did not factor into the equation. In other words, my political views were not guided by personal characteristics like race and gender. I was and continue to be acutely aware that, despite certain differences, what the vast majority of people share in common is that the current militarized global economic Empire is screwing us all.[1]

And, once upon a time, the radical left held similar views and points of criticism. But as the radical anti-Empire left morphed into the mainstream liberal “left,” identity politics, political correctness, and the protection of personal feelings came to replace big picture politico-economic analysis and opposition.

Nowhere is this more evident than among western mainstream liberal feminists, whose contemporary “political analysis” seems to stop at slut marching. To these identity politics obsessed individuals, not voting for Hillary Clinton makes you “anti-women.” And now they are literally freaking out over her defeat. All over the Internet, young liberal feminists are threatening to move to Canada in the wake of the US election. Please do not come to Canada, ladies, we don’t need any more clueless people.

In what world does Hillary’s vagina acquit her of her war mongering, criminal behaviour? If anyone was likely to start World War III it was Hillary Clinton. Hillary is a neocon, war machine military industrial complex, and global empire accomplice of the highest order. By comparison, Donald Trump’s stance on foreign war and the military industrial complex has been seemingly critical. How does that make him more likely to start WWIII? It is not rational to think that. And it is not rational to support a candidate simply because they are a woman. This reflects one of the many follies of identity politics, it excuses the crimes of people like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama–which includes the slaughter of innocent women and people of colour abroad–based on their gender or race. [2]

Anyone who genuinely believes that Hillary Clinton was going to be a positive force in the world—despite her war mongering track record—simply because she is female (a powerful and powerfully connected female member of the elite, but hey, still a woman) needs a reality check.

I will continue this discussion, and will explore the hopeful eventual demise of liberal identity politics (i.e., the “fake left” or the establishment left) in future articles.

Notes

[1] The problem with identity politics is that, while it claims to be about equality, it’s emphasis on difference serves to divide people (men vs women, blacks vs. whites) and distract us from the larger issues and problems that unite us, regardless of our differences. Identity politics–while it may have started with good intentions–allows elites to divide and rule, while also distracting us from issues to do with class and economics.

[2] I should also point out that Trump managed to galvanize a type of white identity politics around issues of employment and illegal immigration. Here, class issues (i.e., unemployment, loss of jobs) were interpreted  as “white issues.” So identity politics is not something that only manifests on the liberal left.

Donald Trump Wins US Presidency: A Blow to the Global Establishment…or Its Latest Iteration?

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In this article I’m breaking a personal vow. It is a vow that I never made publicly but kept internally for a decade or more, probably since around 9/11. Anyone who has followed my writing over the years may have noticed that I rarely comment on American politics. While I have written widely on US foreign policy, I almost never write or talk about US internal or domestic politics.

I have long understood the US administration(s)—with the exception of JFK’s brief tenure—to be a puppet show that is two-parts smoke screen, one-part entertainment and one-part distraction from the neo-con, war mongering, globalist deep state that actually calls the shots. This is so true for me that when other people talk about US politics with deep seriousness—i.e., as if political candidates, parties, democracy, a free press, etc., actually matter or exist in the US—I almost automatically tune out. While all politics is theatre to a certain extent, the US is exceptional in this regard. And the notion that there is much that is real, authentic or autonomous in US government and politics is so foreign to me that I cannot connect to it, or respond to it, with much seriousness.

With all that said, today I break my silence, in order to comment briefly on the 2016 US presidential election in the aftermath of Trump’s victory. At the beginning of this presidential campaign, I thought Donald Trump’s candidacy might be a publicity stunt; like a bombastic prime time reality show. But I was aware that the hard-core neocon, war mongering Hilary Clinton was the real danger, in terms of foreign policy and international politics. Her policies and past crimes are completely in-line with the current US-imperial agenda of endless war and military might, and this makes her far far more dangerous than Trump. It also made her far more likely to win the election, I presumed. Continue reading

The Structural Appeal of the EUT: Connectivity and the Electric Universe

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This is the second article in my series on the appeal of the electric universe theory (EUT) to non-scientists, like myself. I want to note that what I mean by “non-scientist” is someone who is interested in subjects related to the sciences but does not have formal scientific training and is not particularly comfortable with mathematics and scientific jargon. This is how I approach the EUT and what follows are my personal interpretations and observations. My approach to the electric universe reflects my own background and interests as a researcher in the Humanities, a sociopolitical critic, a discourse analyst, and a performance poet. My approach may not reflect that of others but could open certain doors and pathways for further exploration and discussion of the electric universe theory for some.

In a piece I first wrote on the subject, I state that, for me, the “non-scientific” appeal of the EUT can be broken down into the three categories: historical, structural, and discursive. I explored the historical category in my previous post. In today’s post I explore the structural (or systemic) category at greater length.

The structural/systemic component of the EUT comprises a vast area of research within the scientific realm, in that it deals with cosmology and astrophysics, among other things. At the same time, what it posits about the nature and structure of the universe opens up avenues of interest and investigation for both scientists and non-scientists alike. So what exactly does the electric universe theory say about the structure of the universe and why should it be of interest to someone such as myself? Continue reading

From “Mere Folklore” to Cosmology: The Historical Appeal of the Electric Universe

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Ancient etchings that resemble a modern plasma formation are found all over the globe

 

 

This is a long-overdue follow up on my last post. Last month I wrote a piece on the appeal of the electric universe theory (EUT) to non-scientists, such as myself. I broke it down into three categories—historical, structural/systemic, and discursive/discourse—and planned to revisit each category individually later on. In today’s post I will discuss the historical appeal of the EUT in greater detail.

One of the biggest appeals of the EUT is that it unabashedly looks to the past to give us answers about our relationship to the cosmos as well as the scientific possibilities for the future. The EUT draws on people like Immanuel Velikovsky whose work, while it did not directly deal with the eclectic universe, was historically among the few to introduce the unconventional notion that there are electromagnetic forces in the solar system that counteract, or even supersede, gravity. According to Velikovsky the earth has suffered natural catastrophes on a global scale, both before and during humankind’s recorded history. Velikovsky held that the causes of these natural catastrophes were close encounters between the Earth and other bodies within the solar system such as the present day planets Saturn, Jupiter, Venus, and Mars, these bodies having moved upon different orbits within human memory. To explain the fact that these changes to the configuration of the solar system seem to violate established laws of physics, Velikovsky posited a role for electromagnetic forces in counteracting gravity and orbital mechanics. [1] Continue reading

Why the Electric Universe Matters to Non-Scientists: Part Two

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This is part two of my follow up article on the 2016 Electric Universe Conference. In the previous post I gave my general impression of the conference and began to discuss the possible appeal of the electric universe theory (EUT) to non-scientists. This post is a continuation of that discussion. Before I proceed, I want to stress that I am not a scientist and am not qualified to speak about the EUT scientifically. As a scholar in the social sciences and humanities, I’m interested in the philosophical and socio-historical implications of the electric universe theory. My perspective deals with the broader, non-technical appeal of the EUT, as I understand it.

In the previous post I state that the non-scientific appeal of the EUT can be broken down into the three categories: historical, structural/systemic, and discursive. These are categories that anyone can access as analytical tools by which to explore the electric universe as a truer explanation for the cosmos. I describe each of these categories briefly in the subsequent paragraphs and will follow up with a separate post for each category in the coming weeks. Continue reading

Follow Up on the Electric Universe Conference: Why the Electric Universe Matters to Non-Scientists

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This post is a long overdue follow-up on the Electric Universe conference I attended and presented at in Arizona in mid June. For a brief summary of what the electric universe theory (EUT) is about, see the previous electric universe post and or visit the Thunderbolts Projects website. This post is split into two parts. The first part gives my general feedback on the 2016 Electric Universe conference. The second part explores why the EUT matters to non-scientists, such as myself. As this is a long discussion, it will be presented over two separate posts.

Part I. EU 2016

When I was first invited to present EU-inspired spoken word poetry at the conference I had no idea what to expect. My first thought was that I might be out of my element because I do not have a background in science. One of the organizers, Jean Hafner, kindly assured me that the EUT is interdisciplinary and attracts people from all walks of life, and that is exactly what I found. While the EUT deals largely with cosmological science, I met people from all walks of life, from mechanical and electrical engineers and physicists to filmmakers, writers and people in the healing arts. As promised, the conference was “an interdisciplinary adventure.” Continue reading

Turkey Coup’s Social Fallout: Secular Population in Danger?

Women's Rights TurkeyAs a “secular Muslim” (I use that term loosely, as more of a cultural description because I do not practice organized religion) I am rather perplexed by the social fallout of the failed military coup in Turkey. While it remains to be proven, Erdogan has officially blamed the coup attempt on the US-backed, self-exiled hard-line Islamist Fethullah Gulen. Gulen is a former political ally of Erdogan and is just as radical—if not more so—an Islamist as Erdogan and his AKP party. If Gulen (with help from the US) was indeed behind the coup attempt, then it is a case of Islamist vs. Islamist and not secular factions within the state trying to take the country back from Erdogan and the Islamists (as many initially thought).

Even though it may be a case of Islamists vs. other Islamists, it appears that the social fallout will be felt most among the secular, moderate and or non-religious people of Turkey. These are the reports I am reading in some media outlets and receiving from Turkish friends in Istanbul and Ankara, most of them artists, writers and intellectuals. While the secular demographic are not “to blame” for the coup, the failed coup has emboldened the local Islamists against them in frightening ways. As Patrick Cockburn reports, one female journalist and photographer felt scared to walk through Taksim Sqaure—Istanbul’s tourism and cultural hub—recently because of her non-religious attire: “I was so scared because all the women there looked at me as if I was a demon. The men said that ‘if you go on dressing like that you deserve to die’. Most people there were carrying red Turkish flags, but there were some black flags with Arabic writing on them like you see in Daesh (Isis) videos” [1] [2]. Continue reading