Thursday, February 18, 2010

[ZESTCaste] Identity politics sparks off ideological debate

Identity politics sparks off ideological debate

M P Prashanth

First Published : 18 Feb 2010 05:38:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 18 Feb
2010 07:42:13 AM IST

KOZHIKODE: Giving a rude jolt to the proponents of Identity Politics
like K E N Kunhahammed, CPM state secretariat member M V Govindan has
come out with a hard-hitting article in the Wednesday's issue of
Deshabhimani daily that is likely to kick up a hot discussion within
the party on the controversial topic.

In the article, Govindan brands the concept of Identity Politics as
the 'new political weapon in the hands of the imperialists' who are
bent on disintegrating class struggle.

K E N's 'Irakalude Manifesto' and Dr P K Pokker's 'Identity Politics'
had initiated a live discussion on the topic among the Left-leaning
people in the state. An impression was created that K E N had the
indirect blessings of CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan. K E N and
Pokker had argued that identities like gender, caste and religion were
equally, if not more, important as class in the Indian context.

But Govindan says Identity Politics has its origin in 'finance
capital.' "Those who ideologically supported imperialism also
wholeheartedly embraced Identity Politics.

Thinkers like Samuel Huntington welcomed Identity Politics saying it
was a new social movement." "The bourgeoisie is interested in dividing
and making people fight against each other. Therefore, they use
Identity Politics as a weapon to counter the working class movement,"
says Govindan in the article.

When contacted, Govindan said what he wrote was the party line. "I am
not bothered about what others say. You cannot say there is a Muslim
working class, a Christian working class or a Dalit working class.

That means you are disintegrating the working class. The CPM will
discuss the issue in detail in the coming days," he said.

K E N, however, told Express that E M S himself had understood the
importance of Identity Politics. "He had said that Brahmins are the
exploiters and the Sudras the exploited in the Indian context. In the
Vijayawada congress of the CPM, B T Ranadive had spoken about the
caste and religious identity of the working class." A Dalit woman
worker experiences three levels of exploitation: as a Dalit, as a
woman and as a member of the working class. Each of these needs to be
addressed separately, he said. Considering class as the only category
would lead to class reductionism, he had said.


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