MISTAKEN IDENTITY by Asad Haider

This is one of the best anti-capitalist books out.

Haider argues against identity politics (i.e. white issues, black issues, Muslim issues, LGBTQ issues, etc.) and instead for socialism and anti-capitalism. One important point is that anyone from any political identity can be a capitalist power. It doesn’t matter whether they’re a man woman black white etc. You can be wealthy. It’s possible. Something else that was about money not race–slavery. Anyone could have a slave. There was slavery before there was racism (technically).

One big flaw with identity politics, especially for racial categories which is the focus of the book, is that race is completely made up. It’s fake. It was constructed to justify Western & American slavery, which was about profit. They willfully enslaved people from many different ethnicities across Europe and Africa and Asia.

It was only when their slaves started teaming up that they had to change the rules. They bribed those who would become white with social prosperity, just as long as you kick the other guys down with us. Doesn’t mean you’d be wealthy. Nah, you’ll still have to work your way out of debt. You’ll still be one crisis away from poverty. You’ll still work for scraps. It’s just a little more scraps than everyone else and with that comes the allusion of power, of social status. You’re “free.”

They also made some exceptions for people of other newly formed races. They were let in a little bit too, and people often accept joining the next class up just because they’re happy to get picked. So when you ask for inclusion/diversity/faces that are woman and/or black, etc. just for the sake of it, you are only asking that your oppressor look like you or that it may even be you. That’s compliance. Exceptionalism makes people abandon class concerns because you also have to kick other guys down to stay there.

And before you think well I wouldn’t do that! we already do that every day for free. We do all the work racism requires. It keeps us busy (as Toni Morrison once said) while the real guys, the capitalists, get away. These kinds of identity politics also become an easy scape-route for wealthy people to seem noble when they care about, say, “black issues.” Well, if you cared about black issues, you’d care about people issues which involve surviving capitalism by making money because our worth is measured by the means we produce.

It’s important to notice that all of our divisions exist in order to keep us compliant with capitalism. When we only care about our group or our subgroup(s), then we are living on their terms. Haiden pushes towards politics that are social not personal. Support other people in situations different from you because every single person is as different from you as the next. And yet the same. Like all these markers of identity hold us back from each other and, thus, from ourselves.

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