Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Protest demands can’t focus just on police

The discussion between Saager and Max Alvarez on the relationship between class and the uprising is interesting, along with their discussion of ruling class co-optation efforts.

I have long argued that the modern left’s primary emphasis on race, gender, gay, etc. identity politics outside the context of any kind of class or economic analysis, or any kind of critique of the state or imperialism, simply has the effect of promoting tribal warfare. The police state has normally been treated as a peripheral issue that is really only a problem when racial disparities are involved.

The current insurrection is an improvement over the usual norm, because it focuses on the police state as a primary target, although in a way that still emphasizes the race angle, which may be understandable given the disparities involved, but which still creates an opening for co-option by the system by marginalizing or obscuring the class issues. “If only police were less racist…” is no solution at all. Even when you take the racial dimension out of the picture, the police state remains pervasive, as does the system of class oppression behind the police state. And then there is the Empire…

The modern, Western left, particularly in its American form, has typically emphasized cultural and identity-related issues first, general economics and ecology second, class third, state repression fourth, and imperialism last. I have long argued for a complete reversal of these priorities. Anti-imperialism first, which serious anti-racists should agree with because most of the people killed by the American empire are not white. Anti-state repression second, because this is an issue that is not only the most serious domestic problem and one that transcends ordinary boundaries of race, class, gender, etc, but also disproportionately impacts disadvantaged or marginal population groups. The class issues third because, once again, the economic and ecological difficulties are rooted in systems of class domination, with disadvantaged populations likewise bearing the brunt of class oppression. The rolling back of state, class, or imperial oppression has the effect of creating space for greater levels of autonomy and self-determination in the cultural realm.



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