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The online edition of 'PAATOM' Magazine founded by MN Vijayan -

In the Context of diffusion of imperialist machinery into the Indian Communist movements PAATOM raises indignant resistance against the hell of ideology and praxis vitiated by the pseudo Marxist goons of imperium.

'PAATOM' is a resistance from the deepest of the racial sanctity of humanity nursed by the leftist political ethos. "PAATOM" is the voice of honest determination, that means to uncover the treacherous objects concealed beneath the mystery of hegemonic jargon.

We offer a laborious contribution to the truly humanist interventions that would enlarge the circumference and depth of emotional and intellectual perceptions.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Terrains of Identity Politics: Some Thoughts

Identity in the times of latent capitalism...

Identity politics spells out various meanings. This convenience is used by different movements. It communicates something surreal yet ubiquitous in a society. It is used as a wrapper for many movements from its inception. Some treat it as a counter current for class politics; where as some others use it against nationalist politics. There are some others who consider it as a prelude to the class politics. Beneath this polymorphic composition and ambiguity there lay vexed questions on the terrains of identity politics.

In the works of Michael Keith and Steven Pile [Politics and Spaces of identity], modernist identity politics have created a sort of essential-ism that rests on the exclusivity of certain norms. They allege that this sort of exclusivity and selectivity of modernist identity politics have made it very divisive. This was not congenial for working toward a multiple, pluralized yet still radical conceptualization of agency and identity.

We can see an array of works on the national identity discourses. It may tempt us to think that identity politics have superseded the national polity. Simon Bekker defines Identity politics as the search of reconciliation between nation building and demands by different citizens for recognition of communal identity. He goes on to say that identity politics has emerged as a primary challenge in many nation states. He accuses the national tendencies to achieve homogeneity as the primary reason for the unrest and ethnic conflicts. This conveniently ignores the external interventions that stir ethnic unrest.

Moreover, homogeneity is an apparent ideology resting on the ethos of cultural nationalism. In that sense, the attempt for a cultural homogeneity itself is an identity politics. Rashtriya Swyayamsevak Sangh (RSS) which preaches a ‘Hindutva India’ is one instant example for this. They are the ones who raise voice for uniform civil code and hegemony of Hindutva ideology.

Thus any attempt to unify the nation based on culture or religion or language devoid of considerations of productive forces and the social relations will become identity politics in reality. Stanford Encyclopedia highlights that identity politics strive to achieve a political freedom for a specific constituency of marginalized people. But this fails to explain the causes of marginalization. The awareness that only a particular constituency of people is marginalized is because of identity politics. It confines the perspective to specific identity ignoring the totality in exploitation.

In a market economy, if someone says that only tribes are marginalized, it is a cruelty to slum dwellers and the millions in the unorganized sector. The process of marginalization acts as a time warp for all those who labor Only those outside the dominant mode of production will be in a perpetual state of marginalization. Detaching tribes from the dominant mode of production by way of identity politics will only worsen their plight.

The case of Narmada Bacho Andolan (NBA) is a grim example of identity politics. The apolitical struggle of environmental politics detached the struggling people from the political process and its dynamics. Their voices became unheard in the political ecosystem. What the identity politics has achieved in NBA is creating a perpetual apolitical site. This generates a question: who creates marginalization, NBA or National government?

Capitalism has evolved to become sustainable in ecology of unequal modes of production. It no longer standardizes the economy. As capitalism now thrives on the expanding market economy rather than nation states, it stimulates multiplicity of choices. It is in this focal point where the pluralism of identity politics and the market’s desire for multiple choices converge.

The question of identity rests on the epidemiological currents initiated by modernism. The essence of modernism lies in the characteristic methods of a discipline to criticize itself, not in order to subvert it, but to enrich it more firmly in its area of competence [Modernist Painting, Clement Greenberg]. Thus it inherits a tendency to criticize itself. As self-criticism is the organic element of Marxism, it is easy to draw parallel lines between Modernism and Marxism. The awareness of identity is a dialectical process between objective knowledge and subjective experience. Identity is a subjective knowledge of objective experience as well. It is rooted in both of them. Thus identity is the dialectical product of objectivity and subjectivity. Identity of identity is nothing but the labor process and life process. Hence identity is both reflexive and self critical in nature. With the progress of either objective knowledge or subjective experience identity undergoes transformation in form and content. This means that identity of a child born to a religious family undergoes change if he studies in a national institution and it changes further if goes on to work in a multi-national corporate organization.

Thus if class is the dynamic product of self in labour, identity is the transient process by which self changes. It is this volatility of identity that becomes the instrument of imperialism. It captures one by its fractured identity and tempts to organize based on it. Fractured identity and identity crisis can be rooted in both crisis in knowledge and crisis in experience. It implies a crisis in the criticism itself. It is this fractured identity or identity crisis that is being targeted by the architects of identity politics. These formations of identity groups are not self made always. Imperialism purchases the identity formations through various funding agencies. And using the power of money, imperialism exercises hegemony over the identity groups. And using this funded economy, identity groups will be integrated to the imperial market economy. Collectively, these preys can be named as social capital. -- Gokul Alex