Beyond the Binary of Race and Class

A Marxist Humanist Perspective

Peter Hudis
The emergence of a new generation of antiracist activists and theorists seeking to advance an anticapitalist agenda creates a new vantage point of reexamining how racism relates to the logic of capital. This essay explores sources in the work of Marx, twentieth century Marxists, and Frantz Fanon that can provide direction for overcoming the binary of class and race.

Defining My Own Oppression

Neoliberalism and the Demands of Victimhood
Chi Chi Shi


Identity politics has come to the fore as the dominant battleground of contemporary Left politics. However, what is meant by ‘identity politics’ is often poorly defined and politically contentious. I contend that the meanings and uses of identity politics have shifted from the New Social Movement era, which has led to a theoretical confusion as to how we understand identity-based organising. On the one hand, the concept of ‘identity politics’ has been tarred with the brush of essentialism, particularism and cultural determinism.[1] This can be seen as an acknowledgement of the failures of identity-politics movements to be attentive of intragroup difference, thereby unwittingly reproducing structures of dominance within the movements themselves. On the other hand, identity as ‘experience’ has become a commonly-accepted litmus test for political legitimacy in activist circles; it is a commonly accepted claim on the Left that the oppressed have a better understanding of reality because it is grounded in their identities, in their experience of oppression. Paradoxically, the simultaneous prevalence of these two seemingly-opposed claims has resulted in a confused terrain, where ‘identity politics’ is derided even as the central political importance of identity is affirmed.

One moment which demonstrates the contradictions and tensions in the present terrain of identity politics is the confrontation between Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists and Hilary Clinton during Clinton’s Democratic presidential-candidacy campaign. The incident in New Hampshire led to a conversation between the two BLM activists and Clinton. The activists challenge Clinton over her role in mass-incarceration policies and the War on Drugs, wishing to hold her responsible for the damage inflicted on Black communities. Daunasia Yancey, one of the activists, describes their purpose as seeking ‘a personal reflection on her responsibility for being part of the cause of this problem’.[2] The moment was caught on camera and quickly disseminated widely online. The questions asked by the BLM activists, as well as the framing of the entire incident, showcase many of the tensions that I wish to explore. Consider, in particular, the following statements:

Question: ‘what in your heart has changed that’s going to change the direction of this country… How do you actually feel that’s different than you did before?’ [emphasis added].

Question: ‘…you don’t tell black people what we need to know. And we won’t tell you all what you need to do.’