Sharon Smith – The Politics of Identity

Link to an article by Sharon Smith:

“The Politics of Identity”


Bonus links: “The Rising American Student Movement Is Part of a Battle for the Soul of Higher Education” and “What’s Wrong With Identity Politics (and Intersectionality Theory)? A Response to Mark Fisher’s “Exiting the Vampire Castle” (And Its Critics)” and “Identity Politics vs Class Politics” and “Identity Politics Can Only Get Us So Far” and “Set Theory of the Left” and “To Be or Not To Be Woke: The Follies of Political Correctness” and “Capitalism and Race Redux” (“Identity politics is an argument for social reconciliation without a redistribution of power.”) and “Too Much of Not Enough: An Interview with Alenka Zupančič” and The Trouble With Diversity Review and Réflexions sur la question juive [The Anti-Semite and The Jew] and “Critiques of Gender and Racial Identity Theories”

Bonus quotes:

“If we pay close attention to contemporary debates within the frame of cultural identity politics we see that the quest for recognition almost universally means recognition from the very hegemonically powerful positions they rightly argue oppress them. In many cases, a short circuit occurs in which the recognition of the marginalized by the hegemonically powerful not only becomes more important than addressing the injustice as such, but indeed replaces structurally tackling that injustice as such. Victims of severe systematic violence and injustice are bribed into persuading the powerful to recognize their existence, to demand the hegemonic discourse speak of them in a particular way, or else, more often in sexual political struggles, to maintain a reverential attitude toward their experiences of injustice. What’s wrong with this? Nothing; unless this politics replaces a politics of actually changing the structural conditions which led to these injustices as such. Recognition of identity and individual experience is offered as a fetishistic disavowal in a maneuver to permanently forestall the possibility of a political act.


“Political Correctness is far from being too radical – it is rather precisely the mechanism today to avoid the radical change which is necessary.


PCs function is predicated on the necessity that there be always an ‘other’, not here the marginalized individual whose rights are to be protected, but the ‘uneducated’ offender. The offender must be civilized, brought into the discourse and assigned their hierarchal place within it or else be ostracized. In this way the discourse thrives and propagates. The only way to ‘beat’ it, is to join it. It tolerates no outside except for the structurally necessary place of the not-yet educated, the under-educated, or that of the un-educatable offender.


“the primary result of identity politics today . . . is in order to maintain a privatization of political affect, which ultimately amounts to a neutralization of politics as such.”

Christopher William Wolter, “Against the Neoliberal Blackmail: Identity Fetishism and the Privatization of Affect”

“This is yet another case of what Robert Pfaller called ‘interpassivity’: I delegate the passive experience of a hurt sensitivity onto a naive other, thereby enacting the other’s infantilization. That is why we should ask ourselves if political correctness is really something that belongs to the Left—is it not a strategy of defense against radical Leftist demands, a way to neutralize antagonisms instead of openly confronting them? Many of the oppressed feel clearly how the PC strategy often just adds insult to injury: while oppression remains, they—the oppressed—now even have to be grateful for the way liberals try to protect them.”

Slavoj Žižek, Incontinence of the Void (pp. 157-158)


“yes, we should carry our burden and accept the suffering that goes with it. But, a danger lurks here, that of a subtly reversal: don’t fall in love — that’s my position — with your suffering. Never presume that your suffering is in itself proof of your authenticity. A renunciation of pleasure can easily turn in pleasure of renunciation itself. For example, an example not from neo-conservatives. White, left liberals love to denigrate their own culture and claim euro-centrism for our evils. But, it is instantly clear how this self-denigration brings a profit of its own. Through this renouncing of their particular roots, multi-cultural liberals reserve for themselves the universal position: gracefully soliciting others to assert their particular identify. White, multi-culturalist liberals embody the lie of identity politics.”

Slavoj Žižek, opening statement – April 19, 2019 Žižek v. Peterson Debate.