Pandaemonium

IDENTITY POLITICS: THE INTERVIEW

Last year, I gave an interview to the philosopher Stine Jensen, for a series she was making for the Dutch TV company Human on the politics of identity called Dus Ik Volg (‘So I Follow’). The programme in which I appear is broadcast this Sunday, and here’s a video of the whole of my interview uncut (including the coughing fit…).

2 comments

  1. Beverley Callaghan

    Thank you, Kenan, for sharing this interview. I found it very interesting. I do have a question, which also relates to your recent article ‘Racism is a problem, white people are not.’ You said in your interview that identity politics do not seek to change or overhaul social structures in which racism is embedded. You also said in your article that focusing on concepts such as white privilege distracts from the more important task of getting rid of such structures. However, having looked recently at some of the aims of the BLM movement in the UK, there is reference to getting rid of imperialism and capitalism, abolishing the police and the patriarchy etc – which sounds as though they do want to do something more radical. Do you think BLM is serious about this? Or is its aims largely symbolic (e.g. overthrowing imperialism is just about getting rid of statues, references to the empire, ‘decolonising the curriculum’ etc.)? To me it sounds like someone has been recycling text from Socialist Worker online and a ‘Dummies Guide’ to identity politics, but I’d appreciate your view on this.

    • Yes, there is a lot of rhetoric. But in practical terms, it means very little. The movements and the organizations that can bring about real social transformation barely exist. And you’re right, it’s one reason that most of the struggles today are over symbolic rather than material issues. There is no easy answer, but I think the starting point is not to kid ourselves as to where we are, and pretend that we’re on our way to overthrowing capitalism and imperialism and patriarchy.

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