Thursday, March 24, 2011

Against Identity Politics

"By the time I went up to Cambridge I had actually experienced--and led--an ideological movement of the kind most of my contemporaries only ever encountered in theory. I know what it meant to be a 'believer'--but I also knew what sort of price one pays for such intensity of identification and unquestioning allegiance. Before even turning twenty I had become, been, and ceased to be a Zionist, a Marxist, and a communitarian settler: no mean achievement for a south London teenager.

Unlike most of my Cambridge contemporaries, I was thus immune to the enthusiasms and seductions of the New Left, much less its radical spin-offs: Maoism, gauchisme, tiers-mondisme, etc. For the same reasons I was decidedly uninspired by student-centered dogmas of anticapitalist transformation, much less the siren calls of femino-Marxism or sexual politics in general. I was--and remain--suspicious of identity politics in all forms, Jewish above all. Labour Zionism made me, perhaps a trifle prematurely, a universalist social democrat..."

Tony Judt, writing in The Memory Chalet

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