The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Identity, Politics


If you’re someone who thinks that The Thing Called “Identity Politics” (I’ll call it TTCIP for short, because I think the term “identity” has been thoroughly poisoned at this point) is simply a fabrication of intelligence agencies or at minimum only lives and dies at the behest of the neoliberal leviathan, then this post is not for you, because we simply cannot communicate. It’s very likely that nefarious actors do have a vested interest in manipulating leftist divisions (duh!), but if you think what they’re manipulating is all made up, then you dismiss a great deal of what I know are real life experiences and genuine political motivation based on the genuine interests of otherwise very ordinary people. We are very liberal about these things at Chez Ian, so of course you can continue to participate in the comments of this thread, but I suggest that there is no real point in doing so and no one to convince.

So yeah, I’m pursuing this Rogan/Sanders thing yet again, or rather the issue that underlies that controversy, because the discussions on the point took an interesting turn that’s worth exploring. I thought that what would ensue was something quite predictable: “guns and butter” leftists would interpret/subsume TTCIP into class conflict and hold that once we had resolved the class conflict in favour of the working class and an economically egalitarian society, the main instigating factor for other TTCIP-based resentments would disappear. Thus, working to attract a constituency of somewhat socially reactionary working-class voters would be worth it to everyone in the long run, because allowing the left to gain power would give it the leverage to satisfy all demands at once. A candidate like Sanders could safely hold TTCIP positions alongside positions that attract everyone who lives on a precarious paycheque and while appealing separately to each subgroup.

But this is not what happened. Instead, I noticed that many people were not merely hostile to the intra-class division caused by TTCIP, but actually held that the content of all but the largest and most obvious of the claims (hard for most leftists to deny the negative effects of “classic” male chauvinism and sexual harassment, for example) were either inherently objectionable in themselves or were actually stated from a position of acquired power, even implying that they were now merely claims of the managerial class engaging in a form of totalitarian “psychological extortion,” as one commenter phrased it with what seemed a certain amount of unseemly relish. More or less explicit is the suggestion that these TTCIP claims are actually trivialities, and to sacrifice them without hope of later restitution in the pursuit of a class-conflict power coalition is actually a net positive overall.

In the not too distant past, I also used to take for granted the idea that some TTCIP claims were merely the result of neuroticism or privileged frivolity. But I don’t throw out implied claims to justice lightly, so upon deeper investigation and contact with some of the sorts of people making those “frivolous” claim, I realized that actually it was intellectually lazy to dismiss them and assume that they hadn’t thought about the consequences. I came to understand that actually, even for the “sillier-sounding” ones, there were real consequences for actual people, often in surprising and indirect ways. That some of the conflicts represented by the “petty” TTCIP claims actually have a long lineage, that what appears like inordinate power is for them a brief moment to emerge into the light of the sun, and the powerful appearance is merely that the rest of us are not used to having ever been confronted by them. And that, yes, only the ascension of some TTCIP claimants to the upper classes gave them any social capital by which to emerge into daylight, and that is why, to some extent, it looks like it is being driven by powerful people.

Furthermore, while these groups are individually quite small, together they are large enough and overlapping enough with the general population to change, e.g., electoral outcomes.

So when even very progressive politicians, left-wing both economically and socially, decide to try to embrace media figures and voting blocs that are indifferent at best or actively hostile at worst to the claims of TTCIP, it’s not irrational to worry that, in order to hold on to newfound political coalitions, they may attempt to jettison the old, inconvenient, frivolous-seeming ones. That is doubly true when it appears that some part of the online or real-life economic left does not really intend to use the opportunity to reconcile these newfound supporters with the old, now-unpopular TTCIP ones. And that for the Good of Humanity, they intend for people with TTCIP claims to, possibly forever, give up their moment in the sun and accept the consequences to themselves that they always had to do.

Perhaps this is necessary. Perhaps it is even overblown, and we’re all going to sit in the big tent, together. But this debate has shown, at the very least, that it’s not a made-up conflict, except for those of you who think TTCIP claims are only ever fabricated by intelligence agencies.


First, Elect Someone Who Wants to Do the Right Thing (Sanders Edition)


Does Bernie Sanders Know What He’s Doing?



    Identity politics is ultimately special interest politics and special interest politics is anti-democratic.

  2. 450: what that implies is that all minority justice claims are anti-democratic?


    What is minority justice? What does that even mean? Rights are universally applied. When we start developing designer rights that apply specifically to certain micro-minorities, we enable factionalization and fragmentation versus collaboration and solidarity. The message should be all for one and one for all.

    Example. Homophobe racists in Texas target a gay teen and chain him to a pickup and drag him until he’s dead. That’s cold-blooded, torturous murder regardless of whether the teen is gay or not. It deserves the most severe penalty the law administers, not some special law because of who or what the victim was or who or what the perpetrators were.

  4. Willy

    “Identity“ = belief in a tribe which one believes will best sustain their own best survival.

    That’s why Indians are mostly Hindu and Arabs are mostly Moslem. The PTB do everything they can to use identity to persuade you that they’re your new best friend, that they can be trusted, for the actual purpose of using you for their own goals will may run counter to your own best interests.

    The PTB will use “identity” to attack any threats to their own goals which are against your own best interests. That is all that’s happening with the Joe Rogan thing. Idiots and the naive have been manipulated by anti-Sanders PTB to believe their tribe is under some kind of threat.

  5. Willy

    revise “will may” to “which may”

  6. Ché Pasa

    More than one thing can be true at once. Odd, that.

    The notion that “identity politics” has some nefarious connection with the infernal “deep state” and therefore is unworthy of consideration has a basis in reality. Slight though it may be. On the other hand there are many genuine and growing segments of US and other societies who say, accurately, that they and their interests have been left out of the conversation over public policy, rights and justice, and that, in too many cases, they and members o of their group have suffered denial, disparagement, and sometimes death as a consequence.

    Both can be true. Both are true.

    You don’t have to pick a side.

    You don’t have to fight over who’s right.

    Joe Rogan will say what he says and clean up his twitter to be more easily accepted by supposed social justice warriors and interested Bernie supporters, but it hardly matters in the vast, eternal scheme. He is at best a minor influencer with a modest following of contrarians and yay-hoos quite as full of themselves as Rogan is. Cool. This is niche marketing — dare I say it? Identity Politics — to a tee. Fine. It matters little or not at all.

    But the fight is very important to those who rule us or would like to. The more the Lower Orders fight among themselves, the better it is for those on top, and our so-called intelligence apparatus is quite capable of keeping that pot stirred, oh yes. They’ve been doing it for generations.

    And every iteration of the fight begets more. Brilliant!

    (Note: Love BA, love ramen, love umami, don’t wish I was in New York for any reason. Quote Andy: “If you don’t love it here, get the fuck out! You’re just taking up space!” Well, yes. And this bothers him why?)

  7. Herman


    It is understandable that some people who subscribe to identity politics might be skeptical of some political actors, but that is just life in the world of pluralism. You could argue that “guns and butter” leftists should be wary of the many identitarian political actors who only seem to care about their identity issues but not about class issues. At the end of the day people have to engage in coalition building and not everyone will get everything that they want barring some kind of total victory which doesn’t seem likely given our current political situation.

    But I think the identitarian left needs to understand that many poor and working-class Americans are tired of their class-based issues being put on the back burner while other interest groups win victories, often with the support of the very elites that are crushing them. The truth is that modern capitalism has done a great job absorbing and utilizing identity politics to strengthen itself. This is not a conspiracy, it is just the reality of how modern capitalism has developed, at least in the West.

    The left often talks about Western capitalism as if it were the 1920s. If anything, racism, sexism, homophobia and other reactionary social views impede modern capitalism. For example, if you are going to utilize the talent of women and minorities in your workplace it is better to prevent racism and sexism from running rampant. That is why diversity professionals are increasingly in demand.

    I am not denying the existence of non-class based forms of discrimination, nor am I trying to dismiss the work of identity-based campaigns in helping to rectify many of the real injustices various identity groups face. But the truth is that identity politics without class politics is not sufficient to resolve many of the glaring injustices in the system.

    For example, what do we make of the economic problems faced by some men, and in particular, some white men? Do we ignore their lived experience and call them manbabies and tell them that their concerns are bogus because they have unearned privilege? Who is more privileged, Obama’s daughters or the sons of an unemployed white coal miner in West Virginia? I have never seen an answer to this question from the identitarian left that wasn’t pure obfuscation.

  8. scruff

    Identity politics is ultimately special interest politics and special interest politics is anti-democratic


    what that implies is that all minority justice claims are anti-democratic?

    It’s difficult not to see that change of terminology as a motte-and-bailey defense. Even looking past the form of the argument, it’s difficult not to see that difference in how and Mandos cast the issues as being the actual reason that “we simply cannot communicate”.

    I think this would be easier to talk to you about, Mandos, if you actually were familiar with Joe Rogan’s work, because a portion of his podcasts focus precisely on how individuals experience Identity Politics in the real world, rather than in abstracted descriptions of identity politics in society. Because you don’t know what these conversations have consisted of, I don’t think you are taking the thing you say you say actually happened (not the incorporation of IP into class politics but the rejection of IP) as seriously as it deserves.

    Class politics is essentially an intellectual elite framing right now, trying desperately to copy its worldview into the growing populist sentiment that Bernie is channeling. Identity politics – or the thing you call TTCIP and it’s not clear whether your conception of it is the same as the conception of it that you’re against – is also an intellectual elite framing trying desperately to copy its worldview into every individual political entity not already entirely opposed to it.

    Of these surging impulses, I assess Class Politics to be the left-wing phenomenon, and Identity Politics to be the right-wing phenomenon, and when I cast IP as right-wing, I mean that it seems to posit that social rules should apply differently to different classes of people based on identities that don’t even reflect differences in social activity.

    It would be nice if your essay addressed any of this, but your paragraph beginning “In the not too distant past…” can basically be paraphrased as “I used to think that, but I realized that was wrong and now I think this” without any actual explanation of why you were wrong before and are right now. To speak personally, I’ve had the opposite journey. I used to take IP claims very seriously and didn’t question their legitimacy, but because I “don’t throw out implied claims to justice lightly”, I thought about them more deeply and came to view them as implicitly or explicitly unjust abuses of power. This is the second structural flaw in your essay; there’s nothing in it that addresses opposed ideas as having any potential validity at all, perhaps because of the first structural flaw – that you might have an entirely difference conception of Identity Politics than the people you’re talking to – has prevented you from recognizing the validity of those who don’t hold the view you currently hold.

    In brief, this is a terrible essay which begins with an attack on the weakest version of your opposition (intelligence agency psy-ops), makes reference to a label without clarifying whether your use of the label applies to how other people use the label, and claims a more accurate insight without demonstrating that your insight is any more accurate. How is anyone even supposed to understand this essay? It’s a page full of empty claims!

  9. russell1200

    Identity politics as a deep state conspiracy? Did I read that right?

    The sense I got (about the complaints) of current style of what is called identity politics is that a lot of folks, who don’t seem to be particularly disadvantaged, seemed to have jumped on the band wagon in using it to create either a victimhood for themselves, or to beat up some competing group with labels of “something-ism” with ever stricter purity tests.

    Elizabeth Warren seems to be setting herself up in the former category, with some folks now complaining about the wealthy actresses in the Me-Too movement. In the second category, the the right has had the “something-ism” description thrown at them so often, that they don’t even care about the label anymore. The Rogan complaints, against someone who at least agrees with the left on one important issue, are also in this second category.

    The Rogan issue just seems to me to be a case of the purity test finger pointing being pushed to the front. Rogan doesn’t even have a platform he is pushing, he just said he who he was probably going to vote for. In the big tent that is national politics, that should be a good thing.

  10. neolibkilla

    It\’s pretty fucking clear that the establishment use identity politics to avoid economic equality. Only a dipshit would miss that, which is exactly what I expect of Mandos. You haven\’t written a single post with any original thinking. In fact, your posts are always crawling with logical fallacy after logical fallacy. You\’re a fucking moron Mandos.

  11. Willy

    “The people that oppose gay marriage are either dumb or secretly worried that cocks are delicious.”
    — Joe Rogan

  12. StewartM

    “Identity Politics”. Let me simplify it for you by way of example.

    The typical Dem ‘identitarian’ is a director making $300,000 a year who tells his/her workforce “just be lucky you have a friggin’ job” to complaint that they’re getting less than cost of living raises, or no raises at all, while their benefit packages are being slashed, who then goes home to bury their heads in a pillow and cry themselves to sleep because they were passed over for that $750,000 a year vice president opening, and that this was due to latent prejudice against “them” (whoever ‘them’ may be) and that life is just horribly, unbearably, unfair. That about sums it all up.

    Or as Thomas Frank puts it, it’s about ‘glass ceilings’ for the privileged in those groups, and a willingness to see the ‘floors’, upon which the vast majority of people in those groups live, pulled out from under them. It’s why for a identitarian issue like reproductive rights, these have been rolled backwards across much of the US, as these pretty much impact the lives of ordinary women. Rich women can always go get abortions, now can’t they?

  13. Mark Gisleson

    I minored in Identity Politics in the mid-’80s at the University of Iowa. They called it African-American World Studies. I was going to minor in Womens Studies but the head of the program was quite famous for not wanting men in her classes and feminist friends talked me out of trying to sign up for her classes even though I had just gotten done working on the gubernatorial campaign of the first woman to ever run for governor in Iowa.

    Aside from learning how to read, it was the most important stuff I ever learned in a classroom (more important than math). I was an older student so when I say I learned things that ‘blew my mind’ I’m saying that as someone who’d blown their mind ’60s style.

    After college I ended up writing resumes for 5k clients in the ’90s/early 2000s, giving me a chance to work with an incredibly diverse cross-section of Americans, immigrants and refugees.

    Before all this I was a union activist/factory worker, and I grew up on a farm.

    Identity studies were incredibly useful to me as I had grown up and worked in a monocultural part of Iowa (not just white but almost exclusively Scandinavian/German and mostly Lutheran). So much so I developed a following among immigrants and refugees who referred friends and family to me as “that white guy who’s actually heard of [name of their country, usually Eritrea, Tigrea, Somalia, Liberia, Myanamar, or Laos].

    I have also, as I said, worked on political campaigns [in this century for Klobuchar’s Senate primary opponent and in 2016 I worked Paul Ryan’s CD in Wisconsin].

    Identity studies should be mandatory for anyone who works in politics or wishes to grow the vote. I am a much better American for having studied slavery systems in the Americas, the mid-Atlantic slave trade, the Reconstruction/Jim Crow, Pan-Africanism, the Harlem Renaissance, Ralph Ellison, and Malcolm X.

    HOWEVER, campaign politics is not real life and you win by bringing people together, not by dividing them into smaller groups which is almost the exact opposite of trying to win.

    The role of Identity in election cycles should be to educate in the off years, and in each election cycle to work with other groups to identify commonalities and mutual goals and then to work together for the candidates who have the best chance of achieving those goals.

    In an election year, everyone needs to work with and cooperate with everyone else. What I saw in Wisconsin in 2016 was weaponized Identity theory used by Clinton supporters to quash pockets of Bernie support in Wisconsin AFTER Bernie had won the primary but before the DNC. Clintonists suppressed efforts outside of Milwaukee and I have plenty of personal stories in that regard.

    I do not blame ID for that. I blame the Clinton forces for cynically weaponizing ID and using it to punish dissidents, much as they abused Jim Clyburn and John Lewis into attacking allies during the primary process. An even stronger case can be made for the abuse of feminist theory by the Clinton campaign.

    Not trying to start a fight, just talking realpolitik. What you study in the classroom makes you a better person, but it doesn’t translate into campaign politics. And you can learn while working on a campaign from your coworkers and other volunteers who are different from you, but when you knock on doors, stick to the script you’re given.

    Educate in the off-years, persuade in election years.

  14. Dan

    “I minored in Identity Politics in the mid-’80s at the University of Iowa. They called it African-American World Studies”

    I don’t think learning about black history or women’s issues is the same as learning identity politics. You may become involved with identity politics depending on how you choose to interpret and utilize the information you learned and how you incorporate it (or not) into the larger whole. The more myopic you are about this, the more you will be confined to an idpol view of the world.

  15. BlizzardOfOzzz

    Take the classic case of insanity: a guy declares to the world he’s the King of England. In the old benighted times — for the sake of argument let’s call those times “all of human history until yesterday” — such a man would be put in an asylum and psychologists would try to cure him of his delusion. In our modern, enlightened age, we would not dream of oppressing the poor chap like that. You may think he’s not the King of England, but who’s to say your truth should be “reified” over his truth, bigot? So we must grant and respect his private truth.

    But is it enough that we merely humor him, give him a fake title and indulge him with some salutations. Oh, no. He’s the King, so you must do what he says. He has the right to a court, and to conduct foreign policy. Those are the King’s rights, aren’t they; he really is the King, isn’t he? So we have to grant them, and also to the guy across town who also has declared he’s the King of England. Now, you might counter that it can’t possibly work to have multiple sovereigns. I respond: you wouldn’t *deny a humyn xir identity*, would you?

    “This man is a woman” — straight from Orwell, almost. In 1984 O’Brian said that 2+2-5, and why? Because The Party says so. The why in our case is only slightly different — because The Party says you must believe that insane person over there, who says so. And it is right to do so, because people throughout history who thought 2+2=5 have been marginalized, disenfranchised, attacked — oppressed! It’s called liberal democracy, bigots.


    StewartM, spot on. Case in point. According to IP, if your identity is black, then rape is a mistake versus a crime. You get a bank of rapes as a form of reparations I suppose the logic goes. If you’re white, you should get life in prison. How about we treat rape the same regardless of identity and for what it is — a heinous act for which the penalty is more often than not way too lenient. Identity has NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.

  17. Every time I read a post about identity politics, it’s always, “Some people say…” and, “Trust me, I know what I’m talking about.” I don’t spend a lot of time on social media, so I don’t know.

    I want everyone to get justice, whether the cause of injustice is class or race, sex, religion, etc.

    I don’t want “justice” to consist only of Black people, women, etc. being proportionally represented in the capitalist ruling class.

    How difficult is that? Very difficult, apparently.

    Well, we’ll all die by 2100, so there’s that.

  18. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    “Who is more privileged, Obama’s daughters or the sons of an unemployed white coal miner in West Virginia?”

    I’m guessing (only guessing, of course) that Herman is a cis-gendered, heterosexual, white, male, native-born American citizen, as I am.

    If Herman or I get pulled over by a cop while driving, the worst thing that will probably happen to either of us is a traffic fine, and maybe higher car insurance premiums. That sucks, but we’ll go home alive and well.

    If the same thing happens to a native-born cis-het black male American citizen, he stands a significant change of ending up dead because a panicky cop decided he was dangerous, due to generations of cultural conditioning with the myth that all black men are semi-invincible natural-born killers, and/or because the cop was hopped up on steroids and/or meth–and it won’t matter if this hypothetical black man’s income is ten times that of Herman and me put together.

    So who is more privileged? I rather think that depends on which particular privileges are being discussed.

  19. Ten Bears

    After you drain, strain and cold rinse the noodles pour them into a wok with butter and salt, stir-fry in steamed veggies, cheese, some chorizo (veggie) and bay shrimp, a little sweet siriachi sauce, some verde, voila! Gourmet wax noodles!

    I think you might have a following, Man (chuckling maniacally).

  20. Hugh

    I agree with most of the comments.

    I have said this before, we are each of us two people. There is the social us, the us in society, and a private us, the us of our private life. Our social us takes precedence over our private us because society not only allows us to exist, it creates the space for our private lives. As with the saying in Jesus, there is no East or West, in this public social space, a citizen is a citizen is a citizen. Doesn’t matter if you are a this or a that. If one citizen is mistreated or discriminated against, we should see this as an offense against us all. This is the meaning of solidarity. It is what we have lost. None of this denies identity, but how you choose to identify yourself belongs to your private life, not your public one.

  21. nihil obstet

    I don’t understand Mandos’ writing well enough to address it. Or I should probably say, what I take from it is rather incoherent and ends up throwing charges of simple-mindedness or hostility around at those who don’t think exactly as he does about what constitutes a just and fair policy position. So I’ll just give my experience of the Joe Rogan/Bernie Sanders issue.

    Back when social media were just getting wide-spread, I had not given up on the Democratic Party to the extent I have now. I was a local precinct chair. Lots of Democratic Party activists sent me (and all other precinct officers) a friend request on Facebook, and I accepted them all. Over the years, most have fallen away, but there are still some whose postings pop up on my timeline every now and then. That’s my personal experience with what I see as swift-boating computer strategies against Sanders.

    In 2016, the good Democratic Party members pushed two charges against Sanders. One was encapsulated in the “Bernie Bros” label that they reveled in. Sanders’ record on civil rights and women’s issues has been sterling for fifty years. Given Clinton’s arguably opportunistic stances on the same, this was a potential problem for her campaign, so they attacked Sanders with indirection and innuendo to portray Clinton as the moral choice. The other charge was that Sanders represented a doomed idealism, but that’s not relevant here.

    Now in 2020, I’ve noticed that the swift-boat charge this year may be against his trustworthiness, since that’s being reported as his strongest draw among voters. The Democratic Party activists have started trying it out, on things like “He attacks rich people, but he’s a millionaire” and “he says he’s for peace, but he voted for the AUMF”. However, they’re still going at the “Bernie Bros.” They loved the Joe Rogan endorsement. “How,” they ask, “can anyone still support someone who accepts racists and misogynists in their camp? This goes to show you, he’s a racist and he’s against women.”

    That swift boating message is what I’m getting out of these posts on Rogan and the response to commenters.

  22. gnokgnoh

    L. Hamelin. I’ve found exactly five, specific, but not actually real, examples in this thread in an effort to counter Mandos’ thesis: 1) a Dem identitarian director making $300K, 2) someone declaring himself to be King of England, 3) homophobe racists killing a gay teen, 4) a black man getting off for rape, and 5) a comparison between Obama’s daughters and an out-of-work white male.

    Huh? TTCIP sure is screwing us up, big time…in folks’ fevered imaginations. Come on y’all, you can do better. The Clintonist examples from M. Gisleson…perhaps?!

  23. LOL ~ gnok wins the Internet for the day!

    Identity, like race, is a social construct, it don’t mean a thing. The bend of your nose, kink of your hair, color of your skin don’t do anything to prevent you from making babies. Of course, if your identity, your ethnicity, your “race” is predicated upon at some point in the deep dark recesses of antiquity your remote ancestress mated with giants or those who fell from the sky you are the one that’s left yourself open to the suggestion you may not be entirely human. Your genetic memories of a time when dark, swarthy invaders from the south assimilated your ancestresses doesn’t make you “superior”. Me’tis, mixed blood, is superior, pasty white inbreds, not so much.

    If we don’t stop bickering over whose imaginary dog has the bigger dick, we’re not gonna’ make it. End of the road, way of the dinosaur, I Love Lucy our galactic gravestone.

  24. Geof

    I reserved judgment about identity politics through years of post-graduate study in social science. I even drew on some excellent feminist scholarship. I have personally spoken to people who have been ill-treated because of their identity. I figured the craziness I saw online was probably unrepresentative.

    Then started witnessing and hearing about things in the circles around me. Things like: A scholar doing groundbreaking work to help a marginalized group who is not permitted to continue is work because he is not a member of that group. An elementary school teacher who tells her class that males are the problem. A teacher who forces her students to write an essays against what she claims is cultural appropriation – they are not permitted to argue the other side. A friend who is socially excluded as a sexist white man because he dares to suggest that wealthy women are privileged. A strident social justice advocate who rejects universal health care because she thinks that people should have to work for it.

    These aren’t stories from, or even in, the Internet or the media (which is why I’m being deliberately vague). Though I was not the target in any instance, these are everyday life in my city and among my social circles. They tell me that the craziness I see online is not exceptional. Above all, I worry about the bigotry my young son is already experiencing.

    All politics – heck, all communication – is about identity. When people support a politician or party it’s almost always because they establish some sense of shared identity. That is not what we are talking about here. Nor is acknowledgement that racism, sexism etc. are real problems. The identity politics that dominates doesn’t have to be the way it is. It doesn’t have emphasize a particular understanding of privilege (one originally developed by slave owners to deliberately exclude class privilege). It doesn’t have to celebrate pigeon-holing people into identity categories. It doesn’t have to reject incovenient truths on the basis that recognizing them would give comfort to the “enemy.” It doesn’t have to tear people down to raise others up. But it does all of these things: because it is basically an owned subsidiary of professional managerial elites.

    I also think that ascribed identity is inherently oppressive. Marginalized identity groups have suffered from being pigeon-holed: privilege (as current identity politics would have it) is freedom from some pigeon-holing. Doubling-down on an oppressed identity is understandable, but it’s a terrible idea. The solution is freedom from identity, not reinforcement of it. That turns people into instruments – ends, not means, as Theodor Adorno, of the Frankfurt School, apparently understood:

    It was the necessity of standing up to and resist identifying with the aggressor that impelled Adorno to engage in a critique of identity thinking, a form of thinking that has its roots in the capitalist exchange principle. This way of thinking subordinates the non-identical or difference to sameness in the same way that concrete labors must be reduced to abstract, quantifiable and measurable abstract labor objectified in commodities in order to be rendered equivalent and therefore exchangeable within the market. . . . the Student Movement was complicit with what Adorno elsewhere calls ‘‘identity-thinking’’ that manifested in the very ‘‘technocratization of the university that [the movement] claims it to want to prevent’’ . . . In other words, in line with prevailing anti-intellectual tendencies in society as a whole, the students sought to reduce reflection as a means to an end—this end being revolution.

    The identity politics I see is myopic, consistently projecting its own failings onto others. And I think it will backfire (with Trump, whose margin of victory was so narrow it has a thousand causes, it already has). The mainly white, educated people who practice it will not be the targets of that reaction: the marginalized people they speak for and claim to care about will.

  25. gnokgnoh

    Hugh, you have it exactly backwards. Your identity is how everyone views you, not who you think you are. It is a social construct, not a private thing.

    In the UAE, the public and private lives are kept separate. Public identity and status are based entirely on appearance and garb. What you do behind the walls of your home/compound is your business, and social engagement in that zone is strictly managed. This allows behaviors that are not accepted in public, or even by the law, to happen in private. This does not always result in the happy outcomes you predict.

  26. Eric Anderson

    An anecdote.
    I live in one of the poorer counties in the nation and am a lawyer who handles both civil and criminal cases. I witness, on nearly a daily basis, people who feel that they have been wronged by another seek justice through criminal means by taking their grievances to the local prosecutor. Invariably, the prosecutor tells them their grievance is “civil” in nature and that he won’t be pressing charges. Invariably, these individuals knock on my door to get “civil” justice. When they are done telling me their story I quote them a retainer — at which point their jaws drop and they start trying to negotiate.

    It’s at that point in their lives that they really absorb the lesson that justice in this country is something only the rich can afford. They realize you PAY for justice in the good ol’ USA.

    My retainer does not care if you fall into one idpol category or another. It cares about whether I can feed my family and pay my bills. We enforce our rights with money. Full stop.

  27. Hugh

    gnokgnoh, wrong. A societal presence is not about what you wear. It is about your rights and duties you have to everyone else. And a private space is allowed. But it is not an absolute. Where society has an important concern, as with the treatment of children, the private space cedes.

    And who would want to use the UAE as a positive example of anything?

  28. Hugh

    BTW Sanders as a Representative voted for the September 14, 2001 AUMF which was used to authorize the US intervention in Afghanistan and came to authorize the Global War on Terror.

    He voted against the October 10, 2002 AUMF against Iraq.

  29. gnokgnoh

    Hugh, I completely agree with you, and I’m totally wrong. Criminey. I am talking about identity as societal presence, but not advocating for the UAE as the model. They very much remind me of 19th century England. Rights and duties as citizens are very much a part of their vernacular.

    To argue my point, though, that identity is a social construct, the best example that comes to mind is the Sikh man that is perceived as an Indian or an Arab. Regardless of who he knows he is, identity in the social sphere is highly simplistic and often a function of perception. He is then beaten by someone who is angry about 911 and wants to find an Arab to beat. It’s the same type of perception that then tries to find Sanders guilty by association, because he embraces Rogan’s endorsement. No clothing or headdress is involved, but the same type of signals are at play. Ain’t very nuanced.

    Wielding identity works in both directions. We have broken down many of the classic, easy, comfortable associations of social identity (caste, class, race, gender), in part because the out or “lesser” members of each of those groupings are getting downright uppity about those labels and how they’re being treated as a result. This is a good thing, but it makes it harder to mobilize. We seem to need rules and labels about our identities.

    The long posting by Geof highlights examples of people exploiting identity turmoil in wrongful ways. These are not good examples of what I mean by uppity. They’re just plain ol’ examples of people using their own version of labeling to increase their power or hurt others.

  30. Unfortunately, writing two posts in one week ate most of my “online time”, it turns out, but I’ll try to give brief responses tomorrow. Obviously, I don’t agree with most of the comments, but I *do* think that Scruff is right to point out that we may not all be talking about the same thing, or if we are, we see it in different ways and haven’t made the differences explicit. And actually, once again, I underestimated the depth of the difference.

    On another note, of all the commenters here, Ten Bears really gets me, and gnokgnoh best gets what I am trying to say.

  31. Anonymous

    Anything contrary to our beloved oligarchy is racist and Russian.

  32. bruce wilder

    The unrelenting abstraction Mandos used in this essay makes it nearly impossible — as he says — to learn anything from discussion. What exactly is The Thing Called “Identity Politics”?? I see no answer at all in the OP and mostly vague references to anecdotal “examples” in the comments.

    How am I to offer a judgment on a TTCIP “claim to justice” — whether I think it “trivial” or worthy of sacrifice for a greater good, if that is what I am asked to consider (is it?) — if I am not offered some particular case or pleading?

    Mandos makes his assertions in language so abstract as to be unassailable.

    some of the conflicts represented by the “petty” TTCIP claims actually have a long lineage, that what appears like inordinate power is for them a brief moment to emerge into the light of the sun, and the powerful appearance is merely that the rest of us are not used to having ever been confronted by them. And that, yes, only the ascension of some TTCIP claimants to the upper classes gave them any social capital by which to emerge into daylight, and that is why, to some extent, it looks like it is being driven

    Good grief. Gossip would be better than this wispy rubbish.

    If we are going to tackle this topic, I think it only be done productively by focusing on examples. Let Mandos make his best case from his best examples. Or simply tear some very prominent examples from the headlines. The only example we have so far is the reaction on Twitter to Josh Rogan and Mandos rather archly admits he isn’t acquainted with the podcaster. Neither am I. Nor am I particularly well-acquainted with what has been the range or their of complaints on Twitter.

    I would like to get down to cases that could be examined openly. I referred to several cases in a comment under the ethics of not supporting Sanders.

    There are many other examples of identity politics in action out there. The NYT 1619 project. The Warren campaign’s gambit against Sanders in the CNN debate. Randy Gervais at the Golden Globes and “the controversy” over whether women directors were snubbed in this year’s film awards. (Talk about trivia — it is fun!)

    Mandos has grudgingly conceded that “claims to justice” may in particular instances be false or ill-framed. Particular instances may be the enemy of his argument generally.

  33. Eric Anderson

    Mandos, getting something is one thing. Doing something about it is another. I get, sympathize with, and fight like hell for the rights of the marginalized in this country. It’s what progressives do. What the idpol folks don’t seem to get is that we’re their best shot. That’s the doing part. But the reason the differences aren’t being laid aside is because the noisy idpols give no craps about the poor. The quiet idpols? Yeah, poor — and with Bernie.

    Their class trumps their true identity loyalty.

    We DO it together. Lay the difference down for a bit for crying out loud.

  34. Herman

    @Ivory Bill Woodpecker,

    Your point about the police treatment of African-Americans is actually a good one, as is your point about the different types of privilege. But that is part of what I was trying to say. I am not denying that some identity groups have legitimate complaints about the system. It is just that identity issues cannot replace class politics. However, that is what has happened on the mainstream left.

    There is mounting evidence that poor and working-class Americans, including many whites, are being destroyed by the current system. The statistics on deaths of despair are clear. It is up to the identitarian left to decide if they will reject Sanders because he is reaching out to these disaffected people on the theory that some of them have conservative social views. If the identitarian left decides to back a neoliberal Democrat over Bernie don’t be surprised if Trump wins again with the help of these same disaffected people.

  35. bruce wilder

    In the five years since Mike Brown Jr was murdered and the streets of Ferguson, Missouri erupted, police across the United States have killed more than four thousand people, a quarter of them African American. Five years later, do Black Lives Matter?
    — Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor writing for Jacobin

    It is a narrative choice to ascribe police violence to racial hostility by the police. It makes for a good story. Sometimes, it makes for effective political protest.

    If Taylor’s statistics are accurate, it leaves three-quarters of deaths by police violence unaccounted for, unexamined, unprotested.

    Maybe there are other narrative choices that would pick up another slice of two. Maybe the disabled are victims “disproportionately” of police violence. The mentally ill. The poor, the unhoused.

    Ivory Bill makes sure to assert a counterfactual to assure us that race trumps class in cases of police violence. Might even be true in some instances. In relation to the Mandos thesis, what is TTCIP “claim to justice” in such instances?

  36. Ten Bears

    Actually, First Americans – specifically First American women – are the demographic most likely to be gunned down by cops, but who’s counting, right?. Who gives a shit? They’re just natives.

    Palestinians …

  37. Ché Pasa

    If Taylor’s statistics are accurate, it leaves three-quarters of deaths by police violence unaccounted for, unexamined, unprotested.

    This is just wrong, perniciously so, and indicates an ignorance of and disinterest in the ongoing campaigns to control/reduce police violence in general and police violence against black people in particular.

    I suppose when your primary source of information is rightist media — which typically displays disinterest in and remarkable ignorance of the issue of police violence, except to the extent that Black Lives Matter can be denounced as some sort of DNC/DeepState money-making fraudulent hoo-hah — then you’re ultimately going to believe that onlyblack deaths at the hands of police “matter” (and not even they do because it’s all a made up fraud) and that only black deaths at the hands of police are studied, protested and commented on. Not so. Not even close.

    Actually, there is considerable evidence of militarized police culture that regards black men in particular but all marginalized minorities as intrinsic existential threats to the safety of police officers — who see their highest duty as force protection and their highest accomplishment as killing the perceived or declared Bad Guy.

    Google Killology.

    The sad thing is that despite years of activism and protest and some cosmetic changes in police departments — including body cameras, anti-racist policies and training, and so forth — statistics on police violence and deaths at the hands of police don’t change much year to year. Every year that counts have been kept (based on news reports, since the government still has no comprehensive statistics) about the same number of people are killed by police (1000 +/-) and the same proportion are black/brown/marginalized (1/3rd +/-) and the same proportion are no real threat at all (about 1/3rd).

    All the protest brings attention to the problem but hasn’t yet resulted in the kind of paradigm shift in violent police culture that’s needed. And it is fairly obvious that class interest together with class-based racism is the reason why.

    “Who do you serve? Who do you protect?” is often chanted in anti-police violence protests. The answer is obvious, no?

    This is not narrative, this is what’s going on in the ever-mysterious Outer World, beyond the media takes and soundbites, denunciations and calumnies.

    I’m continually amazed at what an absolute hold propaganda has on so many people’s thinking and beliefs and how so few can see beyond the propaganda.

  38. gnokgnoh

    Hmm, sorry about the tag URL’ing the rest of the post.

  39. gnokgnoh

    Che, +100.

  40. Mallam

    In addition to what gnokgnoh has said, and a bit of a counter to Che Pasa: things are getting better on this front beyond cosmetic differences. All around the US, particularly in cities where most people actually live, District Attorneys are running and winning on platforms against mass incarceration. Yes the laws need to be changed, but the DA’s themselves have very wide latitude in what crimes to pursue and what charges to bring. This wouldn’t have happened without “identity politics” and Black Lives Matter. Cash bail is being eliminated. Drug possession charges (especially marijuana) aren’t being pursued. Safe injection sites are being implemented. The cops themselves still aren’t on the program and they’re resisting these changes, but the culture of “give em life imprisonment!” is shifting to the waste bin.


    So let me ask, are the arrests illegitimate and baseless? If they’re not baseless and illegitimate, what do you believe the answer is to this statistical imbalance? What’s the reason for the statistical imbalance in who’s arrested? The implication seems to be that black male teens are profiled and targeted by police. Is it being suggested that the answer is to look the other way when black male teens break the law because to arrest them would result in an unseemly statistical imbalance in arrests?

    I’m reminded of a younger black comedian’s stand up act I watched in the past year or two where he was talking about the urge/impulse to steal a watch. He now has lots of money because he has become popular but he still felt the impulse to steal the watch. In fact, if I recollect, he and his friend did steal the watch and he’s processing this comedically for the audience. What this comedian is describing is a culture of criminality where you don’t think twice about stealing a watch or stealing anything really. He was formed in a culture of criminality where theft is just one of those crimes and no doubt violence is another to include rape. He managed to escape the physical location but escaping the culture of criminal behavior proves to be more difficult.

    What’s to be done about that? It’s an important discussion we must have because it’s a large part of the problem.

    Everyone who hasn’t, you need to watch The Wire. All seasons. It’s an education. It takes everyone to task. EVERYONE. So much so, Hollywood was reluctant to bankroll this brutally honest series. David Simon got it done by the hardest.


    Case in point. My son’s friend (he’s 17) was at a local mall a week prior. He and his friend parked their car (a used car he bought from working a job for $5,000) in the parking garage and exited it. Shortly thereafter, two black male teens held them up at gunpoint. For twenty dollars. This sociopathic scumbag was willing to murder someone for twenty dollars. This is not an infrequent occurrence at this mall.

    For the sake of statistical imbalances, should my son’s friend and his friend just grin and bear it as a form of reparations? Like rape, do black males get a bank of armed robberies we call mistakes before we arrest them or hold it against them?

    What’s your answer to this dilemma? Throw more money at inner city school education? Watch The Wire. It doesn’t work. The problem is much more intricate and complex than just throwing money at it or making everything free. You can make everything free and the violence and theft will continue and may even get worse if the root of the matter isn’t addressed.

  43. “Instead, I noticed that many people were not merely hostile to the intra-class division caused by TTCIP, but actually held that the content of all but the largest and most obvious of the claims (hard for most leftists to deny the negative effects of “classic” male chauvinism and sexual harassment, for example) were either inherently objectionable in themselves or were actually stated from a position of acquired power, even implying that they were now merely claims of the managerial class engaging in a form of totalitarian “psychological extortion”, as one commenter phrased it with what seemed a certain amount of unseemly relish.”

    Dude: I don’t think 70 word sentences are helpful to the “intra-TTCIP stragglers”. If you think their plight needs more attention, say so…but

  44. gnokgnoh

    450, serious and violent crime has dropped dramatically in the U.S. over the last decade. This is especially true in most big cities, where most minority populations live. Everyone has an anecdote that runs counter to the larger trends or supports their perceptions. Everyone.

    You’re both trying to define the problem (blacks commit more crime so they get arrested more) and implying solutions (fix blacks) without having a clue about what’s really going on. Blacks do not commit more crime, proportionally, except for murder, for which statistically they do. I’m talking about aggravated assault, robbery, rape, all other major violent crimes. The number of murders gets headlines, but is a tiny proportion of all violent crimes. Spend some time inside FBI UCR data.

    As important, consistent with what Mallam wrote, the reasons for the decrease in crime do not include incarceration. They do include the following factors: aging population, reduced lead in gasoline, access to abortions, decreased alcohol consumption, employment, among other less significant factors.

    Good grief.

  45. Dan

    “The problem is much more intricate and complex than just throwing money at it or making everything free. You can make everything free and the violence and theft will continue and may even get worse if the root of the matter isn’t addressed.”

    This is so absurd it’s hard to know where to begin. Who in their right mind can say with a straight face that having free healthcare for all and good-paying jobs for all with a strong “safety net” (a term I don’t personally care for) won’t dramatically reduce the fear and subsequent hatreds said fear induces? It’s the overwhelming, completely unnatural feeling of constant anxiety that the current arrangement of society produces in people that causes these things. This is basic. It’s “much more intricate and complex than that” only if someone chooses to make it so.

    Will leveling the proverbial “playing field” (ah, life is a competitive game) solve all social ills? Of course not. But it’s the obvious starting point. Focusing on the myriad symptoms themselves first and foremost without taking into account the overall condition of the patient is a recipe for disaster. The cold may go away for a while, but the immune system is still in its death throes.

  46. Stirling S Newberry

    Destination unknown
    presence landscape objects admire
    Virginia Woolf possessions indelibly
    What are words for?
    cottage clapboard pilgrims atmosphere
    meditative decorated current Berg
    Collection editions postcards manuscripts sanctum
    encased exquisite unwrapping stitched sagacious Singe
    erotic aromatic equotation seductive black comet.
    Tolkien bequeathed Sackville-Baggins essence.
    possibilities consciousness hell.

  47. Tom

    gnokgnoh I read through the report. It is far more nuanced than what you say it is. It found no evidence Abortion had any effect.

    Also Alcohol consumption is increasing as admitted in the study, but so far no real link is actually proven here. Correlation is not causation.

    In fact this study is utterly useless as no actual conclusions can be drawn from the data, something they state over and over again. It doesn’t even look at increased medication of children for ADHD, etc, or the easy access kids have to pharmaceuticals.

    In short, no one can show why crime has gone down, assuming all crime is of course reported and White Collar Crime with its secondary affects, such as Amazon’s policies causing deaths through accidents, is properly reported. Which I doubt it is.

    The reality is, there is no true silver bullet here.


    You’re both trying to define the problem (blacks commit more crime so they get arrested more) and implying solutions (fix blacks) without having a clue about what’s really going on.

    Not true. I never said blacks commit more crimes. Blacks in poor urban areas, ghettoes in otherwords, commit more crimes. That is very different. That ghetto culture doesn’t just stay in the ghetto. It seeps out. This crime and criminal culture affects blacks who aren’t criminal every bit as much if not more than any other demographic. Women, black women, are especially affected by ghetto culture and that’s reflected in the glorified crap that is Rap that some call music.

    The irony about my son’s friend getting held up at gunpoint is he’s an avid Rap fan. I have argued with my son about this ad nauseum. Rap music is emblematic of ghetto culture. It is ghetto culture. Unless you live that culture, you can’t grok it and you certainly shouldn’t embrace it because it’s a nihilistic culture. A destructive culture. A culture that should not be and certainly should not be celebrated and lauded in pop culture entertainment.


    450, serious and violent crime has dropped dramatically in the U.S. over the last decade. This is especially true in most big cities, where most minority populations live.

    I guess we owe Milton Friedman an apology and a gracious thank you on top of that. He was right. A rising tide lifts all boats, apparently. A bit of a lag effect from when supply side was first implemented, but an effect nonetheless.

    I’m happy to learn that there’s nothing to see here so we can move along.


    Enlightening article here about the drop in crime in the last couple of decades. Immigration into the ghettoizing areas had an eviscerating effect on ghetto culture. No wonder Trump wants to crack down on immigrants.

    Let’s talk first about immigration. The neighborhoods where violence was most severe in the Seventies, Eighties, and Nineties were places where poverty was concentrated. They were deeply segregated by race. Many of these neighborhoods saw an influx of new residents, mostly from immigration. The dominant pattern of change was to shift from a majority African-American population to a more ethnically diverse population with new immigrant groups moving into segregated, very poor neighborhoods. These shifts played a role in revitalizing city neighborhoods and reducing violence.

    I also find in my research that the drop in violence helped bring about new shifts in population, particularly in high-poverty neighborhoods. But this is not the typical story about gentrification and the displacement of the poor. This is certainly a problem in some cities, but what has been much more common is that as a neighborhood becomes safer, it attracts new higher-income residents, with no evidence of poor residents moving out. I think that’s one of the most important consequences of the crime drop and one that is often overlooked. The crime decline led to a reduction of concentrated poverty.

  51. Bramlet Abercrombie

    Ivory Bill,

    Do you think Daniel Shaver was privileged when the police murdered him? He was white.

  52. bruce wilder

    gnokgnoh: Blacks do not commit more crime, proportionally, except for murder, for which statistically they do. I’m talking about aggravated assault, robbery, rape, all other major violent crimes.

    Blacks do commit more gun violence, which entails higher rates of homicide as well as assault with serious injury as well as charges for weapons possession. They also commit much more robbery and black-on-white robbery is a common scenario. (Robbery is a crime where the victim can often report the race of the perp, even in the absence of arrest and victim stats basically confirm the disproportionate participation of blacks in robbery crimes.) Non-aggravated assault is a different story. Blacks are more likely than whites to be arrested for most crimes, but accounted in 2016 for most arrests for robbery and murder, which is wildly disproportionate to their roughly 14-15% of the population; notable exceptions to disproportionate arrest rates involve drug possession and public intoxication.

    I am personally skeptical of the value of statistics to social science. They are easy to belabor and do not prove anyone’s dramatic narrative. Educational statistics are concerning though. Performance by race on standardized tests used to measure “school performance” across the country and among advanced countries consistently indicate that African-Americans, on average, lag considerably behind other broad racial classifications.

    Statistics of these kinds are not deeply informative. They indicate some very serious social problems exist, correlated with race — something we presumably should be aware of independently of whatever surveys show.

    Politics, as we know, consists of contested narratives propagandized out in pursuit of or opposition to various policy responses.

    What does the politics of “Identity politics” on or of the left want to say and want to do about race and crime or race and educational achievement? Besides counter the reprehensible narratives of the right. Seriously, what are the claims to justice?

    What “Identity politics” does in res

  53. DMC

    “Identity Politics” is the pejorative term for the politicization of claims to justice for broad categories of traditionally oppressed people(women, non-Caucasians, etc.). While the claims may be just, the proposed solutions tend toward the specific rather than the broad based, “how can we exclude the most people” rather than”if we just raise the floor for EVERYBODY, then we don’t have to have a bunch of different programs to morph into bureaucracies!”.

  54. bruce wilder

    The experience of a young African American is not the same as the experience of a young Caucasian.

    Perhaps. The ideologies of identity politics on the left seem built not so much on those actual differences as on teaching (in a decidedly formal academic sense) the young African-American 1.) to imagine that the young Caucasian’s life experience is some “privileged” and exceptional counterfactual of his own, and 2.) that his “own experience” properly incorporates an abstracted history of grievance derived from the experience of others, siloed from intersectional categorical relations: some from African-American experience, some from gender, some from . . .

  55. bruce wilder

    @Che Pasa

    I agree police culture and training are terribly deficient. Bramlet Abercrombie’s example of Daniel Shaver’s murder ought to be considered. Something goes terribly wrong in these situations.

    I agree that race is likely “provocative” in many cases, a trigger for panic or anger or whatever causes police to lose control and situational awareness, individually or in groups. Militaristic training and culture may be part of the setup.

    It deserves additional thoughtfulness, because our politics has not been making things better as far as I can tell.


    Mandos, since you won’t answer concerning what exactly is minority justice, I’ll answer my own question instead. For an example of what minority justice is, watch the Senate impeachment trial where senators representing a severe deranged psychopathic minority defend and beguiling president who also represents the same severe deranged psychopathic minority.


    DMC, exactly.


    Another enlightening article. BLM is directly responsible for the recent reversal of the downward trend in violent crime witnessed the past decade. You have to feel for these poor single black women trying to do the right thing and raise their children to be critical and objective thinkers and moral members of society. BLM, with its celebration of ghetto music, seeks to eviscerate what little protection these women have from the thugs who would rob them and rape them and murder them and recruit their children to do the same. Michael Brown, for example, was a thug and a thief. How anyone could have defended him beggars belief just as it beggars belief that Trump and his Republican cohorts are in bed with the communist Putin. There is video footage of Brown, just moments before his altercation with Wilson, stealing cigars from a convenience store and physically shoving the manager out of the way when the manager tried to prevent him from leaving the store with the stolen merchandise. Shortly thereafter, the thug Brown and his friend were walking home and walking in the middle of the street to the point cars could not pass. This is clearly thug behavior. Wilson happens to run across Brown and his bro and he stops to tell them to get out of the middle of the road and get on the curb so they don’t impede traffic. Brown mouths off and approaches Wilson’s squad car. They exchange words and Brown reaches in Wilson’s cruiser and goes for his gun. The evidence supports this and you are lying if you argue otherwise. The Michael Brown case was always the wrong case to use as an example of poor policing. Wilson did everything right per his training. A thug who violently manhandles a convenience store manager after stealing merchandise and then reaches into a cop’s cruiser and goes for the cop’s gun is a danger to the community and cannot be dismissed or given a pass. If the thug does not voluntarily submit, he must be detained by the cop. Wilson could not let a violent person who clearly has no boundaries loose within the community after breaking the law in a violent manner.

    Also, take note, whereas violent crime overall may have declined in the past decade, rapes haven’t and in fact rapes have increased. Nice. But that’s par for the course. Women always get screwed and this latest activation related to blacks and LGBT is no different. Women still are getting the short end of the stick, or, I should say, poor women or women without means.

    “The uptick in homicide was more likely associated with a crisis in police legitimacy: People, especially in disadvantaged minority communities, drawing even further back from the police,” Rosenfeld told The Marshall Project. “There is an avalanche of research right now in criminology pointing in that direction, that declining legitimacy is associated with increases in crime.” Predatory violence might increase, for example, because offenders believe victims and witnesses will not contact the police to report incidents.

    Violent crime did not decrease across the board in 2018, however, and one category is in the midst of a slow but persistent six-year upward swing: rape. For the 2013 statistics the FBI changed its outdated parameters of rape—then defined as the forcible “carnal knowledge of a female”—to a more modern definition structured around consent, rather than force. Ever since, the rate has been on a steady surge, up more than 18 percent in that period.

  59. 450: it’s not that I won’t explain it, it’s just that I bit more off more than I can chew in terms of time. 🙁

  60. nihil obstet

    On race, class, and crime, here’s a short summary of the research for those interested.

    mass incarceration in the United States is primarily a system of locking up lower class men—one which ends up disproportionately imprisoning black men, since they are far more likely to be lower class than white men. Racial disparities remain among certain incarceration outcomes. . . .but it is nevertheless class that is the predominant factor.

    Understanding this reality is important for policymakers interested in rolling back the American carceral state. While racial discrimination and bias are clearly present in various aspects of the criminal justice system, eliminating that bias will not effectively reduce the racial disparities of mass incarceration. This is because these disparities are primarily driven by our racialized class system. Therefore, the most effective criminal justice reform may be an egalitarian economic program aimed at flattening the material differences between the classes.

  61. Dan

    I am personally skeptical of the value of statistics to social science.

    Bruce, if there were a closely knit group that constituted about .2 percent of the world population but held within its ranks close to 15% of the world’s billionaires and a portion of worldwide wealth grossly out-of-whack in comparison to its numbers, would that be a statistic worth investigating, given our collective disgust with wealth disparity in general?

  62. ella

    There are few things on the internet more depressing than reading a bunch of white guys discussing “what’s wrong with the blacks” all the while disparaging identity politics. Y’all have no idea how to practice what you preach.


    Explain what “blacks” means, ella. Does “blacks” refer to the Ethiopian immigrants who work at the farmer’s market where we shop? Does “blacks” refer to the Haitians driving taxis in southern Florida? To liberals who hew to identity politics, “blacks” refers to anyone with “black” skin, and sorry, but that’s as racist as racist gets. It’s biological racism at its finest, or I should say worst. It’s Calvin Candie racism.

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