Bruce A. Dixon explains intersectionality
There's an excellent series on "intersectionality" in the Black Agenda Report. The invocation of "intersectionality," like Rachel Maddow's crusade against Russia and like the periodic calls to impeach Trump, is more evidence of a supposedly-thriving pseudo-left, in which victory is always depicted as a campaign or two away. On the other hand, the physical realities of politics in the privileged world tightly fit their depiction in Philip Mirowski's Never Let a Serious Crisis Go To Waste, in which neoliberalism is shown to be so dominant in thought and deed that there is no foundation for any competing politics whatsoever. Never mind that neoliberalism is insane; what matters in politics is the power of prior organizational strength, which the movement for a better world has only so far been able to mimic after manifesting any power of its own. One recalls, for instance, Stalin as a super-czar, Peter I on some rather ugly steroids.
At any rate, Dixon's first post, a necessary introduction to the series, is here; the second one is here. I wouldn't be surprised if Dixon decided to continue the series; there's enough to criticize. Here is the essence of Dixon's argument:
In the worlds of politics and nonprofits intersectionality has become a sneaky substitute for the traditional left notion of solidarity developed in the process of ongoing collective struggle against the class enemy. Intersectionality doesn't deny the existence of class struggle, it just rhetorically demotes it to something co-equal with the fights against ableism and ageism and speciesism, against white supremacy, against gender oppression, and a long elastic list of others. What’s sneaky about the substitution of intersectionality for solidarity is that intersectionality allows the unexamined smuggling in of multiple notions which directly undermine the development and the operation of solidarity. Intersectionality means everybody is obligated to put their own special interest, their own oppression first – although they don’t always say that because the contradiction would be too obvious. The applicable terms of art are that everybody gets to “center” their own oppression, and cooperate as “allies” if and when their interests “intersect.”
Here Dixon shows how intersectionality can be just another species of crap within a dystopia of omnipresent crap, a means for allowing everyone with a grudge to consider themselves a "resistance" without there being any actual resisting. Dixon continues:
Intersectionality normalizes the notion that the left is and ought to be a bunch of impotent constituency groups squabbling about privilege and “allyship” as they compete for funding and careers, not the the force working to overthrow the established order and fight for the power to build a new world.
OK, now, lest I get a comments-section full of denunciations of the DailyKos advocates of "intersectionality," of which there were and are many, I'd like everyone reading this post to consider that "intersectionality" is a distraction. While we ought to be dreaming and theorizing about how another world might be possible (the slogan "another world is possible" being a bit of hubris at this point), instead we are told that another world will magically occur if we elect a couple more women or Blacks or disabled people to political posts. Oh and they have to be Democrats, too: sorry, Ben Carson, sorry, Carly Fiorina.
Or maybe we aren't even told that another world will occur. The bizarre contradiction of our era is that, while the global infrastructure is based on fifty-year-old utopian dreams of a universal Disneyland of consumer life, the present-day political reality heads at full speed toward the erection of a traditional society based on image-polishing, the society of Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone but with the political and economic inertia of the ancien regime in prerevolutionary France. In such a society as ours the "Red" and "Blue" states differ not in future orientation but in the mutual excommunication of each others' well-polished images.
At any rate, Bruce A. Dixon continues in Part 2:
Nowadays, and perhaps from the start, as Sharon Smith explains in an indispensable August 2017 Socialist Worker article titled “A Marxist Case for Intersectionality ,” there are two separate, distinct and mutually incompatible intersectionalities. The first, she says is firmly in the camp of the real left, those who oppose and aim to overthrow capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy and empire – not two or three out of four but all four. This tradition, which puts intersectionality in the context of class analysis and class struggle goes back at least to Claudia Jones in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, and the Cohambee River Collective in the 1970s, although neither of these ever heard or uttered the word “intersectional.” The second intersectionality according to Smith, is rooted in post-structuralism which categorically rejects socialism and class analysis, and either downgrades the importance of class struggle at most to something coequal in importance with ageism, ableism and speciesism. With no anchor in class struggle, and emphasizing the oppressed experience of individuals and non-class groups this kind of intersectionalism perpetuates the division of the US left and wannabe left into squabbling constituency groups vying for attention, funding and whose cause is the most righteous. Its emphasis on individual experience and deeds has given rise to atrocities like callout culture.
It needs to be mentioned, here, that the "intersectional" left shrinks quite dramatically to the extent to which its participants adopt "intersectionality." Those who, by virtue of their whiteness or maleness or other expression of privilege, reside outside of the magic boundaries by which the various causes are enclosed, tend to drop out. There is nothing for them in "allyship"; actually, being an "ally" promises nothing to anyone, except maybe if one's boyfriend or girlfriend is part of the cause or something like that. In this way the left mimics Margaret Thatcher's famous 1987 injunction:
...and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first.
Part of the problem, of course, and part of the void in political life into which "intersectionality" has jumped, is that there is no "socialism" to rally around anymore. Social democracy is theorized as "the best we can do," and social democracy is thusly reduced to a couple of crass attempts to buy off the working class so that the government can get back to its "true" task of protecting the profits of the already-wealthy. Thus the utopia of socialism merits a revival, not on the old failed grounds but upon grounds which make sense to the real people of the 21st century. In this regard, the idea of 21st-century socialism didn't quite make it. Oh well -- if at first you don't succeed...