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No Politics But Class Politics

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e. to make people mistakenly feel that the black beneficiaries of neoliberal capitalism and its black victims form a black community, meaningfully identified in slogans like, for example, Black Lives Matter. It’s also not really discrimination when an employer gives a job to someone whose wealthy family has provided them with a better education than you. In No Politics But Class Politics, a collection of published essays by Reed with frequent collaborator Walter Benn Michaels, the political tension between class and identity is examined through a number of lenses ranging from labor struggles to aesthetic production. The trickle down feminism of the Clinton candidacy was, in many ways, similar to that espoused by Julia Gillard during her prime ministership. S. the black unemployment rate is consistently higher than the white unemployment rate: for example, in 2021, black unemployment was 8.

Every time racial disparity is invoked as the lens through which to see American inequality, the overwhelming role played by the increased inequality in the American class system is made invisible. All of this is irrelevant, of course, if you just want to close the wage gap or correct other disparities in outcome. It doesn’t lend itself to any particular action except more taxonomic argument about what counts as racism. The project of making higher education free (or at least significantly more affordable) would do more to improve the educational opportunities and outcomes for students of color than simply shuffling around the very small number of spaces available at the top of the pyramid. It is based on the individual’s demand for recognition and it takes that individual’s identity as its starting point.While the race as social construction formulation appears to clearly challenge ideas of racial essentialism, it actually accepts them as its starting premise. The nativism voiced by some blue collar Trump supporters is not, in other words, the authentic and unchanging expression of working class experience.

The second thing worth mentioning is the report’s use of the word “disproportionately,” which does a great deal of conceptual work. The echo here of “Negro poverty is different from white poverty” is presumably unintended, but the moral is nonetheless that we should pay attention to the difference, and that the poverty we’re paying attention to (our version of the working class) is too white.Their interest is rather in a more abstract (or, as they perhaps think of it, more fundamental) insistence on the importance of racial disparities for class struggle because, they think, properly understood, the race line, far from being an alternative to a class line is “important as a class line.

The close parallel between fin-de-siècle racist ideologues’ assertions of the primordial and immutable nature of white supremacy and contemporary race reductionists’ can provide perspective helpful for ascertaining what lies behind the impulse to insist, in the face of such overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that nothing has changed for black Americans and, yet more strikingly, Hartman’s dismissal of Emancipation as a “nonevent. Addressing an injustice connected to identity, like a mental illness, is fundamentally different from correcting the injustice of class inequality.The same applies to any of the many other racially inflected, de-democratizing initiatives the right wing has been pushing. There are few scholars, if any, with a more penetrating analysis and critique of contemporary black politics than Adolph Reed Jr. If we do so, we’ll be alienating workers, who don’t care about anything other than checking their pay packet and occasionally glumly swilling some beer.

The book also features four interviews, more like discussions, between Reed, Michaels, Jäger, and Zamora. Reed’s 2013 essay “Marx, Race, and Neoliberalism” mounts a rigorous Marxist analysis of the development of racial ideologies and the work that they do. Joshua Clover and Nikhil Pal Singh imagine that the “occasion” for our book No Politics but Class Politics is “the George Floyd Uprising” in the summer of 2020. The essays skillfully explore how this neoliberal version of social justice has gained hegemony in our major institutions. But it’s equally possible to sympathize with someone’s pain, to recognize and demand solutions to their struggles, and nevertheless support a politics that does very little for them.This insight becomes important when considering the “race and class” rhetoric that is popular among many on the Left. It takes this identity for granted and suppresses the fact that all identities are socially constructed. Neither in their non-response then nor when they assert it again now do they even acknowledge, much less engage with, Reed’s counterclaim. In “Women of Color and the Wage Gap,” for example, a report released in 2021 by liberal policy institute Center for American Progress, the authors examine the “drivers” of the pay gap.

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