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Adolph Reed on identity politics

In a follow-up to his Harper's piece, Adolph Reed goes on Bill Moyers:

The Surrender of America’s Liberals
ADOLPH REED: ... I mean here's an illustration of the limits of it. President Obama in the speech he gave a couple weeks ago, the ballyhooed speech where he mentioned the word "inequality" a couple times.

He leaves the podium in effect and goes straight to try to, you know, strong arm his own party to support fast track for Trans Pacific Partnership.

So, I mean, what we've got is, like, a bipartisan neoliberalism, right, that's at the center of gravity of the American government. And to be clear, what I mean by neoliberalism is that, it's two things.

It's a free market, utopian ideology. And it's a concrete program for intensified upward redistribution. And when the two objectives conflict, I mean, guess which one gets put -- on the shelf? But both parties are fundamentally committed to this. And at this point, and I think we've seen this much more clearly since the 2008 election, the principal difference between Democrats and Republicans is the choice between a neoliberal party that is progressive on multicultural and diversity issues, and a neoliberal party that's reactionary and horrible on those same issues.

But where the vast majority of Americans live our lives and feel our anxieties about present and future and insecurity is not about the multicultural issues over which there's so there's so much fight. In the very realm of the neoliberal economic issues to which both parties are, in fact, committed.

BILL MOYERS: So, I hear you saying, Adolph, that while social and cultural factors are important to us, economic issues are the fundamental existential questions. And that the neo-liberal parties, both of them, devoted to promoting the interests of multinational companies and capitalism don't care what you think about cultural and social issues, as long as they control the process by which nothing interferes with markets.

ADOLPH REED: I think that's quite succinct. ... Because the way politics has evolved since the 1980s is that what we get now is the symbolic victory for the single person instead of, right, you know, the redistributive agenda.

And fact of the matter is, that, right, if you take the simple numerical standard, since the majority of black America is working-class like, you know, the majority of the country. And since black Americans are disproportionately part of the working class, then a redistributive program that secures and advances the interest of working-class people will disproportionately benefit black people.

There aren't any planks on identity politics in the 12 Point Platform for exactly this reason. Nice to see Reed on there, and on fire.

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Rangoon78's picture
Submitted by Rangoon78 on

I was looking forward to reading reed's Harper's piece. I went to the library to read it. I was disappointed to find Reed succumbing to the narrative that "Obama is just another (Bill) Clinton, no more no less."

Of course I was disappointed with the rightward progress of Clinton, but there was still a certainty that he was a Democrat.