Identity Politics: the impasse, the debate, the thread.

Discussion in 'theory, philosophy & history' started by danny la rouge, Sep 20, 2017.

  1. redsquirrel

    redsquirrel This Machine Kills Progressives

    Of course there is a class analysis. It is necessary for capital to exploit labour, and (in general) to attack wages and conditions. By dividing labour, by playing sections of the working class against each other, by using sexism, racism (see SpineyNorman's post earlier in the thread) etc it can sustain/increase that exploitation. At the same time the effects of the gains made by capital at the expense of labour are going to be most felt on those sections of labour that are already the weakest, sections where women and ethnic minorities are over-represented.

    As for Carrie Gracie the idea that it's wrong to criticise the obscene levels of pay she and others at the BBC receive is nonsense, in fact Gracie herself mentioned that point.
    Nor is it wrong to criticise how the issue of the pay gaps often becomes about the unequal pay of the extremely well paid, about how women directors of FTSE100 (or BBC higher ups) are "underpaid", rather than the inequity at the other end of the scale that effects millions of women. And from this you have the suggestion, either implicit or explicit, that by paying women in these jobs equally obscene sums to their male counterparts the benefits will naturally just "trickle down".
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2018
    Plumdaff, S☼I, Gramsci and 8 others like this.
  2. Athos

    Athos Well-Known Member

    Also, it stimulates (by reducing the opportunity cost to women/families of) the unpaid maintenance and reproduction of labour and market essential to capital.
  3. redsquirrel

    redsquirrel This Machine Kills Progressives

    Very true.
  4. chilango

    chilango *shrugs*

    The biggest and most universal structural “pay gap” is - of course - around class.
    NoXion, mather, mojo pixy and 4 others like this.
  5. friendofdorothy

    friendofdorothy it is so much worse than Thatcherism now

    Is it? I'm not so sure, have you got any facts/figures/links to prove this? of people on min wage or less than the amount recommended by the living wage foundation how does that break down by gender? Seems to me most of the low paid jobs I see are done by women. Thats before you include the unpaid jobs of caring and child rearing.
    Ralph Llama likes this.
  6. friendofdorothy

    friendofdorothy it is so much worse than Thatcherism now

    I see men everyday happy to collude in that division I don't know how else to read Emanyton's post ecept in that light.

    I'm not defending high levels of pay that wasn't my point.
  7. chilango

    chilango *shrugs*

    Of course it is. Workers earn less than managers who earn less than bosses. Always.

    !00% (or near enough to be statistically irrelevant) of people on min wage will be working class. Equally !00% (or near enough to be statistically irrelevant) of people on wages like Carrie Grace's won't be working class.

    Of course within that you'll get additional inequalities based upon gender, upon race, upon age etc.

    But that doesn't alter the basic (and obvious) point.
    NoXion, mather, mojo pixy and 6 others like this.
  8. BigTom

    BigTom Well-Known Member

    yep, eg: UK bosses make more in two and a half days than workers earn all year
    Ave. FTSE 100 CEO earns in 3 days more than the average UK worker does in a year (£28k, and that average wage is quite high as it's mean, not median. Dunno what the median is at the moment, couple of years ago was aruond £21k in Birmingham, when the UK mean average was £26k)
    mojo pixy likes this.
  9. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    As we are both London based I see where you are coming from. Care work for elderly, working with young children ( my immigrant partner), cleaning offices, nannies for the well off middle class are all predominantly jobs done by women. Often immigrant from other EU countries and South America ( from what I have seen).

    So in London domestic work and care work , poorly paid, by mainly female workforce who are often immigrants is the norm.

    Also I agree there is an issue of unpaid labour that reproduces the workforce for Capitalism. Mainly done by women.

    From my reading of Marx he concentrated on the ( male) growing industrial proletariat based in factories. Doesn't devalue his work but does mean it's not be whole story.
  10. Ralph Llama


    Shurley it would be between the highest paid upper class man and the unpaid working class mother? Both sex and class basically.
  11. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    On identity politics. I m in Brixton. I do notice a generational change. My friend who helps out in his brother shop , a postie , whose parents came from Carribbean is in his 50s. When we chat about the state of the country I notice he puts race and class together. Some of my younger Afro Carribbean acquaintances are into "White Supremacy" as a way to analyse how society works along with self help pulling oneself up by ones bootstraps. A way of thinking about that fits in with Thatcherism. That is identity politics. Class is dismissed as a category. It's all about colour. Class is not the issue as it's , in theory , something one can "overcome" if one tries hard enough.

    So there is a difference between different generations in afro Carribbean community. That reminds me of what Kenin Malik says in article posted up by bimble
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2018
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  12. friendofdorothy

    friendofdorothy it is so much worse than Thatcherism now

    Thank you I appreciate your support.

    Inequality on gender lines is alive and well. In the low paid care home were I used to work 90% of the workforce was female. 80%ish of the workforce were immigrants. I was furious when I discovered a man doing traditionally male unskilled role was paid more than the cleaners/laundry/receptists who were all on or barely above minimum wage, regardless of how long they had worked there, but was told point blank this wasn't an issue under the equal pay act, and as most of my co-workers weren't union members even my union said there was nothing I could do.

    What can be done about it? I don't find the sniping I read on here very helpful, where is the solidarity? Divide and rule seems to be working very well as far as I can see, even here on urban.
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  13. andysays

    andysays Defiantly non-premium member

    It might be interesting to know what this 'traditionally male unskilled role' was, also whether the man you're talking about was in a union.
    As for what is to be done, one thing might be to encourage your fellow workers, most of whom you say weren't in a union, to join one and fight collectively for better pay.
    mojo pixy and BigTom like this.
  14. friendofdorothy

    friendofdorothy it is so much worse than Thatcherism now

    I don't want to give any identifying details on an open forum but pm me if you are interested.

    Re unions I didn't personally have the energy / knowledge / background / support / any idea how to encourage others to join a union (I don't know anything about the union and hadn't met any other union members). Whenever I did mention unions in conversation it was a big conversation killer/ automatic 'no' / 'I don't understand'/ 'I can't afford it' from most of my old co workers. There is a level of fear about losing their job or being identified as a trouble maker. This is why employers can get away with paying min wage in the first place. I understand why my co-workers didn't want to create a fuss - especially the women, the ones with dependants, who had poor english skills, working extra shifts just to survive, these people had no time or energy to fight. Those who did have time or energy, studied and got new jobs.

    Even if we were all unionised and united, this wasn't a profit making organisation. It was in the care sector where there are rising costs and lower fees from local govt and lots of home and services are going broke and closing. Perhaps it would be better for all union member to lobby govt to raise social care budgets - or to significately raise the national min wage? Or do unions only care for their own members? I don't see how gender inequality in levels of pay is a problem solely for underpaid women to solve. For example what are you / other men / union members doing about it?

    It took me 2 years of searching but thank fuck I found a new and better paid job (above london living wage, hoorah!). I don't approve of the high levels of pay in the BBC but I'm glad a woman with some media clout has finally put this back on the public agenda.
  15. krtek a houby

    krtek a houby how's it going to end?

    Just to say; there are thousands of workers in the BBC (union members and otherwise) who do not earn big wages. I'm talking about drivers, canteen staff, librarians, IT, those who aren't management, deliveries staff and so on. The disparity between them and the "talent" and upper echelons is massive.
    MochaSoul and friendofdorothy like this.
  16. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Warning: posts may cause vasovagal presyncope

    It seems to me that you've spent the last few posts under the impression there are people here denying that there's gender inequality or gender oppression. I don't think anyone here is.

    For me there is no equivalence between Dagenham and Carrie Gracie. When ultra-high paid BBC presenters get a level footing with each other, I don't think the Nike store cleaners should rejoice that finally rich people are no longer oppressed. It is not going to trickle down to cleaners and other low paid women.

    For me, gender oppression is a corollary of class oppression; it is in the interests of capital that men and women should be at odds. Devaluing women's work is a function of devaluing the role still attributed to women in the home. Capital does not want to pay for reproductive labour. That's why jobs women are over-represented in (cleaning, care-giving etc) are low-paid: capitalism wants them to be seen as low-value. This used to be a mainstream feminist perspective.

    Draper/Lipow: Marxist Women vs. Bourgeois Feminism (1976)

    I am a woman and a human: a Marxist feminist critique of intersectionality theory - Eve Mitchell
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  17. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Warning: posts may cause vasovagal presyncope

    It would be useful to the discussion if you could give an example or two of what you see as sniping and lack of solidarity that is happening on this thread (or Urban in general).
  18. butchersapron

    butchersapron blood on the walls

    What's been put on the public agenda is that a privately schooled oxbridge universitied daughter of (imperial) privilege is now a stand in, a cipher, for all women. And if you disagree that this should be the case then you're anti-women and anti-equality - when it should actually be an open door for asking just what equality means.
  19. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Warning: posts may cause vasovagal presyncope

    Succinctly put. Indeed.
  20. friendofdorothy

    friendofdorothy it is so much worse than Thatcherism now

    My posts were in reply to this bit of carping:
    As I said:

    Yes. I don't want to defend 'identity politics' (which is still not a phrase I've heard outside in real life), but do you think that feminist perspective was reached by a group of men?
    Yes difference in pay between me and any BBC journalist is massive, but to be quite honest right now I'm more upset about the difference in pay between low paid men and women in my last job. For you it can be a 'corollary of class oppression' for me it was about a £1 less an hour on my wages. I was fucking furious about that.
  21. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Warning: posts may cause vasovagal presyncope

    And rightly so. But with whom?
  22. friendofdorothy

    friendofdorothy it is so much worse than Thatcherism now

    No she was raising an issue of illegal pay inequality. That applies to women on £7.50 and hour as well. Its already illegal and has been since 1972 and it still fucking exists. No ciphers.
    krtek a houby likes this.
  23. friendofdorothy

    friendofdorothy it is so much worse than Thatcherism now

    with my previous employers / management /HR. I tried hard not to be furious with the individual man involved even though he was very annoying.

    I ultimately expressed myself by seeking a new job. Not an option for everyone.
  24. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Warning: posts may cause vasovagal presyncope

    Exactly. And that's precisely the point.
    chilango likes this.
  25. andysays

    andysays Defiantly non-premium member

    I'm interested in having a useful and open discussion, but if you're not willing to give even the most basic info about the situation you're describing, that's not easy to achieve.
    I've attempted to answer your question about what you/the women you worked with might do. I can understand you as an individual not having the time and energy to put into attempting a collective solution and turning instead to an individual one which benefits you, but it seems a bit rich to then ask what I and other men are doing about it.
    Women's equal pay certainly isn't just women's responsibility to fight for, but neither is it just men's. You can't justifiably criticise men for (supposedly) failing to fight for something you've effectively admitted you've given up fighting for yourself.
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  26. butchersapron

    butchersapron blood on the walls

    What she was doing and what it has become and how it has been used may well be two different things. The well off elite applauding her and applying it to their own relatively less well off situation is different from say how it relates to min wage care worker who sees it and shrugs because all this means to them is an intra-elite dispute with no real life impact beyond how those elites package themselves.
  27. butchersapron

    butchersapron blood on the walls

    Let's ask multi-millionaire actors - themselves disproportionately from elite backgrounds what they think about elite level inequality. Oh it's a very bad thing, it's shocking in this day and age, i'm all for equality. But not actual equality.
  28. friendofdorothy

    friendofdorothy it is so much worse than Thatcherism now

    I think we are having a useful and open discussion, no need to get too personal. I've probably given too much info already as this is a public forum as I said if you are interested more identifing info p m me. Let me make a similar more general point should road sweepers be paid more than cleaners? should maintence workers be paid more that admin workers? To my employers HR I quoted the case of council 'dinner ladies' winning cases that depended on women doing trad womens jobs and men being paid more for similar skill level but trad mens jobs eg Dinner ladies awarded pounds 1m over council's unfair pay cut Dinner ladies win equal pay row My union advised that I question how my employers evaluate different rates of pay for various roles - which I've done.

    Was my suggestion really a bit rich?
    I thought my idea was a far more effective way of tackling low pay for everyone, especially women for example. After all you were telling me and the underpaid women what we could do I thought I'd turn it around, what everyone else could do. It is literally an appeal to all of you to raise it in your unions or write to your MPs etc.

    I can't? And for the record I haven't given up the fight for equal pay in general or higher wages for all - I'm doing the things I urge you all to do.

    If we are on the same side and solidarity of the workers is a good thing, why are we arguing?
  29. redsquirrel

    redsquirrel This Machine Kills Progressives

    But that doesn't contradict BAs point. Look at how this whole story on the BBC pay for those paid over £150,000 has been reported, it's not about the pay gap but about the unequal pay of the, very, highly paid.

    For a start the very fact that only the pay for the high paid was published tells us much. Then there's the way that a lot of the reporting on the story is not talking about the pay gaps, those based on gender and on class, but instead about equal pay. And then you have the proposed method, whether implicit or explicit, of talking this inequality - raise the pay of these very well off women to the same levels of men and the results will magically trickle down. And of course it is raises that are being suggested, not that equality is brought about by pay cuts to the wealthy.
    mather likes this.
  30. friendofdorothy

    friendofdorothy it is so much worse than Thatcherism now

    I think I can disagree with Mr Apron about being told what my view is and that it's 'anti-women and anti-equality'.

    It was you brought up the idea of 'trickle down'. Revolting tory phrase that, I've never used it and I can't imagine how you ever thought I was implying it. Posters here seem to be reading all sorts into my posts. I suggest you re read them. I'm beginning to feel like you are all trying to have a different discussion than the one I'm trying to have.

    In my post #1499 I pointed to the huge inequality in pay here and pay of the poorest worldwide. I quoted other figures about the pay gap at the lower end of the pay scale, but no posters have addressed this yet.

    bimble likes this.

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