Friday, November 20, 2015

Sady Doyle is the conssumate liberal intersectionalist

Sady has devolved into such self-parody at this point that it would be redundant to criticize her - but this articulation of intersectionalism is such a paradigm example of its liberal co-option that it deserves a little attention.

We need intersectionalism because the interests of various oppressed groups do not always necessarily coincide. That is precisely why it is argued that we cannot (for example) pursue an exclusively class-based agenda on the assumption that what is good for the proletariat is also good for women, racial minorities, and so on. If that were true, intersectional analysis would be entirely redundant, and we could all exclusively pursue our favored identitarian agenda with zero attention to anyone else, fully confident that we're all advancing the progressive cause.

Because interests do not necessarily coincide, we have to bargain. That is the fundamental demand of intersectionalism. When we are weighing the interests of a rich white woman against a poor black man (for instance), we have to take all of their privileges and oppression into account and recognize that no one identity category is some kind of trump card.

Sady gets this completely backwards because she wants Clinton's identity as a woman to be a trump card. When she writes that "no one gets bargained off," that is what she means: a symbolic win for Clinton would be good for women, and we cannot bargain that away for any amount of political progress. When she writes that "any socialist agenda...must incorporate...female leadership to win," what she means is that any socialist agenda that denies any woman leadership must lose.

This ironically is just the sort of myopic, grossly simplified politics that Sanders was accused of earlier this year when PUMAs, in the name of intersectionalism, railed against 19th century economic materialism. If a socialist insisted that no self-identified "socialist" may ever be opposed for the sake of feminism, everyone would instantly recognize this as the shallow and reactionary position that it is. Fortunately, everyone recognizes the gross self-interested vapidity of Sady's politics as well, but this is mostly because she's less subtle and artful about it than most of her liberal peers.