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German Idealism: The Struggle Against Subjectiv...


German Idealism: The Struggle Against Subjectiv...

The National Liberation Movement was a mass movement which took the form of struggles against imperialism and frequently merged with the workers movement internationally and was closely connected with Socialism. The National Liberation Movement was a major impetus for the Civil Rights Movement beginning in the U.S., which borrowed much of its rhetoric and inspiration from the National Liberation struggles of Black people in Africa and elsewhere.

Thus, the social movements of the post-war period which emphasised the common interests of masses of people in opposition to an external enemy, began to pass over to politics which emphasised difference, and by the compounding of multiple difference, identity, and the enemy became more and more indefinable: although everyone seemed to belong to one oppressed minority or another (you might be an educated white American, but if you were gay, female or disabled for example, then you could engage in a struggle against the special oppression you were suffering in that respect). All such struggles against the multiplicity of oppressions were and remain of course progressive, but the overall effect is also de-mobilising.

Having its origin in the individualism inherent in bourgeois social relations, Identity Politics began to develop within these movements, transforming collective struggles against state and institutional forms of oppression into struggles of recognition for Blacks, Women, Gays, young people, and so on. From the standpoint of Identity Politics, Socialism is just another strand of Identity Politics, namely the struggle of the working class, but for Identity Politics, identity is self-identity, so Socialism is reduced to the struggle for recognition of those who define themselves as workers, and commonly as straight, white, male, blue collar workers. From this standpoint Socialism appears simply as the assertion of the privileging of one group over others.

Oppression, which is also part of capitalist class society, penetrates deeply into our lives and includes the degradation of women to sex objects and their submission to domestic violence. There is very real pressure to move within society as heterosexual men or women. Violence and discrimination against gays and transgender people are rampant, despite numerous liberal campaigns for LGBT rights. The struggle of a transgender person who chooses to undergo hormone therapy or a sex change lasts years and in many cases cannot be afforded. Discrimination in housing, in the workplace and even when simply moving in public spaces, continue to exist.

Many queer activists are aware of these tendencies and are clearly against the co-opting of their resistance by the ruling system. However, Queer Theory does not offer the ideas necessary to fight this usurpation by the ruling class; on the contrary it is part of the ruling ideology that individualises and camouflages exploitation and oppression, while dividing the united struggle against the system, precisely because united struggle is alien to Queer Theory.

It is only natural that many people, in particular young people, question established norms in society such as sexuality and gender roles. This has always been the case and as Marxists we defend the rights of all people to express themselves and identify however they want to. But the problem arises here when the personal experience of individuals is theorised, raised to the level of a philosophical principle and generalised for the whole of society and nature. The Queer theorists tell us that being queer or non-binary is progressive and even revolutionary, as opposed to being binary (i.e. man or woman, which the vast majority of humanity is), which is deemed reactionary. Here, however, it is Queer Theory that shows its reactionary side. For all its radical talk against oppression, it opposes a united class struggle and promotes atomisation of individuals on the basis of sexual and personal preferences, dividing the working class into ever smaller entities. Meanwhile, the whole rotten exploitative and oppressive edifice of capitalism remains in place.

Two years later, when Trotsky was already engaged in the struggle against the growth of the bureaucracy in the Soviet Union, he brilliantly explained the relationship between the scientific appraisal of objective reality and subjective will in the work of Lenin: 59ce067264


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