For most of the 20th century left-of-center politics was defined by class struggle between the rich and the poor. Now the left has been completely subsumed by identity politics, the struggles for historically disadvantaged demographic groups for equality. Unfortunately the class struggle (which largely drove the oppression of women and minorities) has been all but forgotten by mainstream liberal politicians and political parties.
One year after Donald Trump took office and the Women’s March supposedly marked the rise of a new anti-Trump Resistance, it is crystal clear that the Resistance amounts to nothing more than a campaign to elect more Democrats to high office. The only trouble is, Democrats never push for liberal, much less progressive or left, politics once they get into power. The Democratic Party is where the American Left goes to die…and Trump hasn’t changed that.
Transgender people often report having felt trapped in a different body gender than their actual identity. There was a “trans racial” NAACP official who identified as African-American though she had no black ancestry. Can transclassism be next in the battle for self identity and the right to live as we feel inside?
Hillary Clinton seems poised to become the first woman to be the presidential nominee of a major American political party. It’s supposed to be a major symbolic moment, at least in terms of identity politics. But it feels hollow, largely because of something most commentators hesitate to say in public: if she hadn’t married Bill Clinton, she wouldn’t be where she is now. Why can’t a nation of 319 million people find a woman president who didn’t marry her way into the job? Because the system still won’t allow it.
Originally published at Skewed News:
If women ruled the world, we’ve been told for years, it would be a more peaceful planet.
Now that there’s a real possibility of a first woman president, it is no longer impossible to imagine ladies in charge. Thanks to a new Pentagon rule change, however, there is now less danger of a women-led Earth disintegrating into a devastating peace.
In a powerful statement in favor of gender equality, military officials in charge of the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, who are conducting massive drone assassination programs in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia, engaged in the bombing campaign against Syria, and who are providing most of the weapons and munitions used in the world’s wars have announced that women soldiers will be permitted to join the carnage as full-fledged combat partners to their male counterparts.
You’ve come a long way, G.I. baby.
Under new Pentagon policy, women soldiers and sailors will no longer have to stand by and watch as their male colleagues drop bombs on Muslim villages and wedding parties. They will be able to join in the fun. Similarly, when male soldiers and sailors rob, rape and go on killing sprees, female combat troops won’t have to cool their high heels at some boring forward operating base, expected to bake cookies. When there’s slaughtering to be done, lady soldiers will be invited to join in.
Some logistical questions remain unanswered. When raping local children in nations under U.S. occupation, will female soldiers be issued with rape tools, or will they have to improvise with “hillbilly” sodomizers? On the other hand, women soldiers — who are believed to have greater appreciation for art than men — may prove helpful in the looting of museums and marketing of archeological artifacts.
“It was a powerfully symbolic and sound policy move. While there will be logistical challenges as the Pentagon continues to break down barriers for women, doing so will make the military stronger and will narrow America’s gender equality gap,” editorialized The New York Times, which has endorsed most of the United States’ decisions to start the aforementioned military conflicts.
“They’ll be allowed to drive tanks, fire mortars and lead infantry soldiers into combat,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said. “They’ll be able to serve as Army rangers and green berets, Navy SEALS, Marine Corps infantry.”
Secretary Carter said the world’s most violent and aggressive military forces will be able to become even more violent and aggressive now that 50% of the population is pitching in. “Our military will be better able to harness the skills and perspectives that talented women have to offer.”
This is a period of greater openness for the U.S. armed forces, which are responsible for provoking most of the world to hate America. In July, the Pentagon decided to allow trans people to serve as soldiers. In August, a 28-year-old army sergeant became the first openly trans soldier. A symbol of trans pride, he has been on more than 400 combat missions in the illegal, undeclared wars against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Both wars are viewed by most Americans as mistakes.
Political and military leaders of all genders agree that when it comes to invading and occupying and oppressing, greater gender participation means greater efficiency, particularly in an era when so few people agree with U.S. foreign policy in general or particular invasions. “I think it’s fair to say that women are a little more collaborative in their approach overall, and a little less driven to conflict as opposed to driven to working out problems,” said Janet Napolitano, former Secretary of Homeland Security. Whether you’re shooting a laser-guided missile at a hospital in Afghanistan or shoving things up prisoners’ asses in a U.S. military gulag, it’s important for everybody to be on the same page about, say, what things and how far up.
At Abu Ghraib military prison in Iraq, for example, women and men played a joint role in the interrogation, torture and murder of Iraqi prisoners. This led to a higher level of depravity than might not have been possible had the job been left exclusively to those blessed with male privilege.
“If they’re qualified to do those positions, they should be able to anything that a man can do in the military,” said a female soldier with 10 years experience in the military. She noted that bombing, shooting, torturing and sending people to concentration camps can be a bonding experience for the entire family. “My husband is security forces as well, so my children see both of us going to work as cops and my son, he’s almost four, thinks it’s awesome.”
If you doubt that the politics of identity have triumphed over the debate over ideas, read today’s New York Times story about how “Carly Fiorina Both Repels and Enthralls Liberal Feminists.”
Identity politics is the marketing of and resulting support of candidates based upon their historically underprivileged status. Never mind what I believe or claim I’ll do if I win. Vote for me, gay males, because I am one of you! Vote for me, black women, because it’s time for a black woman!
Also: vote for me, black men, because I’m black (and also a woman).
Or: vote for me, white liberals, because I’ll heal the rifts of sexism and/or racism.
Barack Obama is the patron saint of modern identity politics. Though not black in a typical American sense, which indicates slave ancestry, Obama swept to victory twice, and enjoyed remarkable deference from the media, because he was black enough to serve as a symbol of racial reconciliation. Identity politics is how he convinced most Democrats to vote for him and do so enthusiastically — this despite a conservative voting record and politics that would have been at home in any of several Republican administrations. Obama’s ideas — expanding NSA surveillance of American civilians, drone assassinations of thousands of innocent people, reducing Libya and Syria to failed states — are anathema to those who voted for him, but he was (sort of) black, so they did anyway.
This campaign season, it’s the women’s turn.
Hillary Clinton’s conservative politics and ideas and performance are overlooked by the vast majority of her liberal supporters because she’s a woman, and there needs to be a woman president, and if she falls short of victory, who is the next woman capable of pulling it off?
As the Times notes, feminists — most of whom are, by definition, politically liberal or progressive — are confused by the disconnect between Carly Fiorina’s projection of strong, competent womanness, and her retrograde right-wing politics. “Can you love a campaign but hate a candidate’s politics?” the paper quotes self-described feminist writer Robin Marty, writing for Consmopolitan‘s website. I dunno, Robin — can you be a feminist and still write for a rag that makes millions by reselling the same tired list of cheap orgasm tricks? Can I admire Adolf Hitler’s design sense while mourning the fact that no one managed to assassinate him?
In the crucible of the 1970s, identity politics had its place. Where would feminism have been without the identifier of Ms. Magazine? Trans people, the latest to step out of the shadows of historical marginalization and oppression, have gotten where they are today via an identity politics that, first things first, made it OK to be proud of who and what you are.
But that was then and this is now. Now identity politics is all identity, no politics, all image, no substance.
Erin Gloria Ryan of Jezebel’s quotes illustrate the bankruptcy of identity politics. “Carly Fiorina is an ice-cold shade queen debate princess and I’m in love with and terrified of her,” she tweeted. Would a resident of Waziristan write: “Barack Obama is an ice-cold drone killer and I’m in love with his suits but not so much into being droned?” No. He would not. Because a resident of Waziristan is connected to his class interests. Because he is scared of, and disgusted by, Obama’s drones, he cannot appreciate the way the president cuts a fine figure in a suit.
It’s of course ridiculous when you think about it, but it really does come down to aesthetics for Ryan: Fiorina, she says, is “contrary to the conservative female narrative, the way she looks, the way she presents herself, the no-nonsense businesswoman thing.” For this generation of image feminists, Fiorina is seductive because cuts a fine figure in a high-end corporate outfit and refuses to absorb Donald Trump’s cheap shots at her looks. Too bad she wants to tell pregnant teenagers tough beans, they have to have the baby — and that she brazenly lied about a purported Planned Parenthood “harvest the brain” video.
Marty compares “liberal” feminist interest in Fiorina to eating at McDonald’s: “You know, inherently, it’s not something you should be eating. But when there’s nothing else around, it’s what you go and take.”
That’s so wrong in so many ways.
In the 2016 presidential race, there is another woman running. I think Hillary’s politics are repugnant. There is no way I’d vote for her. But if you roll lesser-evil style, she’s obviously better from a progressive viewpoint than Carly — like going to Wendy’s instead of Mickey D’s.
But lesser evilism, that bastard cousin of identity politics, is the first express stop on the road to ideological ruin. Bernie Sanders — old and white and male — is 50 times the feminist that Hillary Clinton will ever be. I know because I’ve read his platform, which would do a lot more than Hillary, and a zillion times more than Carly Fiorina, to help women.
And that’s leaving out the world where feminism should inhabit: the perfect ideal of total gender equality. We’re not going to get to equality under this variety of capitalism, or any other kind of capitalism. How can an identity politics that distracts real live feminists with the likes of a corporate monster like Carly Fiorina start to destroy and replace the entire system?
(Ted Rall, syndicated writer and the cartoonist for ANewDomain.net, is the author of the new book “Snowden,” the biography of the NSA whistleblower. Want to support independent journalism? You can subscribe to Ted Rall at Beacon.)
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