One of the largest obstacles to revolution in the First World is identity politics. This phenomena seeks to build a political line along one’s identity. This is all well and good for liberalism; but for Marxism, this simply will not do. We support the immortal science revolution that lives in a constant state of flux as the world and material conditions around us changes. Our ideology cannot be based upon identity. It must be based upon a correct scientific understanding of the material conditions we live in. This is the only way for us to proceed if we are to unravel the contradictions that make up capitalist society.
As First Worldism has dropped the science of revolution, it has picked up the banner of identity politics. The primary reason for this is the failure of Marxists in the advanced industrialized nations to reach the working class. This has always been the case. The last time this group of proletarians came close to having a real revolution via scientific class consciousness, was pre-Nazi Germany. Unfortunately, history gave us a very different reality. Today we have Marxists who are light years away from even having a mainstream influence. First World workers have emphatically rejected Marxist class struggle.
Their material conditions have them see no need for revolution. They’re not looking for a whole new society; they’re looking for one with more benefits. Why should a worker risk their life in a revolution when they’re only asking for a higher wage and universal healthcare? They wouldn’t, it’s not necessary to do so. The radical message and politics of Marxism cannot penetrate where the suffering is not great. Their interests don’t even lie with revolution.
So why identity politics? Because there is literally nowhere else to go in the First World. The working class has rejected Marxism entirely. They much prefer the “socialism” of Bernie Sanders. Class politics rejects Marxism, so Marxism must go where somewhere else. In this case, identity politics, which has been largely excluded from the mainstream. Communists have collected up these various groups with great success. Success in collecting them, not accomplishing anything. All these groups remain divided because their struggle is only about their particular identity: Black liberation, transgender identity, feminism, etc.
Being about these identities and not the science of revolution, and leads one astray into areas of politics where revolution has no chance of forming. It presents a method of struggle that liberates no one in the end. They do not deal with the very core of the system itself that perpetuates these oppressions.
In fact, it sometimes outright defends that very system in an effort to protect a particular group. Here we find a prime example of it from the blog Feminist Current. An article by Susan Cox attempts to deflect criticism of the reactionary culture under capitalism on feminist grounds.
“The Kardashians — for years they’ve provided North America and beyond with an outlet for our seething hatred of women. The mantra we hear over and over again is that the Kardashians are women who are “famous for nothing” except “making a sex tape.”
“Kim Kardashian is the quintessential female celebrity sacrifice. She is the woman who we sexually degrade, but need not feel bad about it, because she is (supposedly) intellectually worthless — incapable of having a complex inner life. She deserves to be derided and mocked because she is asking for it — she is an “attention seeker,” a “fame whore.” She is viewed as a worthless human being, devoid of talent or attributes worthy of respect, only famous because she made a sex tape.
“Although the Kardashian women are certainly financially rewarded through their media empire, they’re not rewarded with esteem. Instead, they’re a national joke – a target that’s been declared fair game. In 2011, singer Michael Bublé joked onstage that he was bringing out Kim Kardashian. Met with confused silence from the audience, he clarified, “Nah, just fucking with you! That bitch isn’t coming on my stage,” to much applause. Cher shared her Kardashian hate in a series of tweets: “Is it true Kardashian did Porno! I’m so Fkn outa it!” “I don’t watch reality! Never saw a Kardashian but these bitches should be Drop kicked down a freeway! Not kidding!””
The Kardashian family is a perfect example of the mindless self-indulgent decadence of capitalist culture. They do perpetuate the very worst that materialism has to offer. Billions live under oppression so that they may maintain their exorbitant wealth. They are a poisonous influence that perpetuates alienation, promotion of identity expressed via luxury commodities, an entire existence perpetuated by personal gain. They actively participate in the sexualisation of women as objects, and perpetuate the worst stereotypes of women.
It’s right to criticize their behaviour and the culture they perpetuate. Cox takes the stance that these women are not to be criticized for their contribution to sexism. She takes particular exception to criticisms of the Kardashians with regards to their sex tapes.
“Feminists wouldn’t insult women who work in porn by calling them idiotic, attention-seeking bimbos… Why? Well, aside from being unnecessarily cruel and decontextualized (who knows what personal grooming/coercion the particular woman underwent), it’s a totally unproductive analysis. It doesn’t contribute to a critique of the industry nor does it confront power where it lies.”
The difference between porn stars and the Kardasians is astronomical. The porn industry is oppressive to women, the Kardasians are oppressing women. They’re actively engaging in the act of oppression, as well as being tremendous beneficiaries of it – to the tune of at least ten million dollars collectively. Cox’s words here attempt to portray them as victims of sexism, when they are most certainly the problem.
This is where identity politics becomes a problem. In the genuine desire to defend women from the very real phenomena of misogyny; Cox ends up defending the perpetrators themselves. Thus, defending the very system which causes the problem. Their actions defend the imperialist empire, defending them is to defend the empire itself.
“While I agree that disliking individual women doesn’t always constitute misogyny (there are perfectly valid reasons one might dislike a woman — they can be terrible human beings just like anyone else), the Kardashians are not just individuals. They are public figures who hold a prominent place in popular culture. Even if they are totally garbage people, it doesn’t mean hating them is not related to misogyny.”
By no means am I suggesting that misogyny doesn’t exist. It certainly does. I’m certain that some of the hate thrown at them is related to misogyny. But, hating them for the terrible and the repressive, reactionary culture they perpetuate for their own benefit is a good reason to hate them. Cox’s words here are tantamount to saying you can’t criticise them, because misogynists do. The placement of identity over correct emancipatory politics places this shield upon the very system.
It is wrong to hate them for being women. It is right to hate the Kardashians for what they represent, and what harmful culture they perpetuate.