False Identity

Yves at Nekkid Capitalism:

Why Liberals Are Lame: McCarthyite Identity Politics as Cover for Bankrupt Policies

The latest desperate strategy of Obama’s spin-meisters highlights the rot at the core of the Democratic party: the heavy handed use of identity politics as a cover for neoliberal policies that betray the very groups the party purports to represent.


The left is obsessed with what ought to be peripheral concerns, namely, political correctness and Puritanical moralizing, because it is actually deeply divided on the things that matter, namely money and the role of the state.


The powerful influence of moneyed interests on the Democratic party has achieved the fondest aims of the right wing extremists of the 1970s: the party of FDR is now lukewarm at best in its support of the New Deal. Most Democrats are embarrassed to be in the same room with union types. They are often afraid to say that government can play a positive role. They were loath to discuss the costs of income inequality until it became so far advanced that it is now well nigh impossible to reverse it. After all, that sort of discussion might sound like class warfare, and God forbid anyone on the mainstream left risk sound like Marx.


So the Democratic party (and remember, our two party system makes the Democrats the home by default for the left) pretends to be a safe haven for all sorts of out groups: women, gays, Hispanics (on their way to being the dominant group but not there yet), blacks, the poor. But this is stands in stark contradiction to its policies of selling out the middle class to banks and big corporate interests, just on a slower and stealthier basis than the right. So its desperate need to maintain its increasingly phony “be nice to the rainbow coalition” branding places a huge premium on appearances. It thus uses identity politics as a cover for policy betrayals. It can motivate various groups on narrow, specific issues, opening the way for the moneyed faction to get what it wants.

It took most people far too long to get that Obama was a phony because the presumption that a black man would be sympathetic to the fate of the downtrodden is a deeply embedded but never voiced prejudice (and this bias is exploited successfully by the right in depicting Obama as a socialist). Other elements of traditional Democratic associations played into the Obama positioning: his Administration is chock full of technocratic Harvard wonks, and the last time an Administration was so dominated by technocrats was under Kennedy, the last Democratic Administration to have a strongly positive (indeed romanticized) image.


These traditional iconic symbols of liberalism – secular urban elitism, blackness, technocratic skill, micro-issue identity based political organizing groups – have been fully subverted in the service of banking interests. Obama is the ultimate, but not the only, piece of evidence that these symbols are now used simply to con the Democratic base out of their support and money. The task of moving forward will require rebuilding the symbolic vocabulary of the defenders of the middle class. It will probably also require a similar intellectual civil war within the left, against people like Melissa Harris-Perry. Those engaged in that effort need to become skilled in dealing with these liberal McCarthyite identity smears.

A week or so back Michael Moore revealed his own progressive racism when he said “I went into the polls voting for the black guy, and what I got was the white guy.” A number of people rightly jumped all over the comment and he tried to play it off as a failed attempt at humor.

Many people on the left stopped short of condemning Moore as a racist and only criticized his use of racist language and imagery. But strip away the language and imagery and what you are left with is still racist.

What Moore was saying is that because Obama is black he assumed Obama would be a) liberal and b) assertive. In other words, he thought Obama would be some kind of reincarnation of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. But Moore is disappointed because Obama turned out to be Bush III.

Moore is not unique. A big chunk of the left is obsessed with identity politics. They judged Obama on the color of his skin and judged anyone who didn’t support him on the color of theirs.

They called us racists because we judged Obama by the content of his character.

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40 Responses to False Identity

  1. Pips says:

    Aaawww … Heidi the crosseyed opossum is dead.

    Leipzig Zoo announced that Heidi was put to sleep Wednesday after keepers had failed to successfully treat her arthritis and other maladies relating to old age, despite weeks of efforts. Heidi was three-and-a-half years old.

    Snifff …

    (Sorry to be ot … again.)

  2. votermom says:

    A big chunk of the left is obsessed with identity politics.

    Why is that? It seems so …DNA is destiny kind of thinking.

  3. DeniseVB says:

    So says Mikey Moore, the blabby-mouthed racist lardass who disses Capitalism while benefitting greatly from it. Unless he’s donating the proceeds of his new book to charity, he can STFU !

    • Mary says:

      Good ole Mikey Moore , who didn’t use union labor on his first 2-3 movies, and who took every single capitalistic tax credit for movie producers he could find.

      Sure hope he supports eliminating his own tax credit that brings his millionaire tax bill down.

  4. Mary says:

    Great post , Myiq. Yves really nails it, and it’s why so many lifetime Dems—or at least those who understand it—are disgusted by Obama and the Bots.

  5. HELENK says:

    Saudi King revokes sentence of female driver She had been sentenced to 10 lashes for daring to drive.
    He had just announced a policy giving Saudi women the right to vote and to run for office
    A small step but a good one for women in the ME


  6. myiq2xu says:

    Want to know how long this shit has been going on? This is from the Wiki page on the 1968 Democratic primaries:

    The second faction, which rallied behind Senator Eugene McCarthy, was composed of college students, intellectuals, and upper-middle-class whites who had been the early activists against the war in Vietnam; they perceived themselves as the future of the Democratic Party.

  7. Three Wickets says:

    This is intriguing. China subsidizing more American ventures.

    Many in the U.S. have an interest in getting clean-tech ventures off the ground. Among them are the government, capital markets, industry, and science labs. But China seems ready to do more on every front to make such projects happen, and to do it right now—without red tape or concern about economic turmoil.

    Leading-edge battery maker Boston Power appears to have come to that conclusion. The company is set to move to China, where the (Chinese) government is helping to cut the firm a $125-million deal that no one else is likely to match. The deal could leave the company poised to be a part of what could be a mushrooming market there in electric vehicles. “This is really the next chapter for us,” says Christina Lampe-Onnerud, who founded Boston Power in 2005.

    • Mary says:

      As I understand, China requires any company wanting to do business there to turn over any patent information those companies have on new technology—-thus, easily gaining access to entrepeneurial ideas.

      GE has done this, with solar techology, etc, to build factories there. China has all of its information, allowing it to monopolize most of the manufacturing.

      YOUR tax dollars bailed out GE, and China got the benefit.

      • ralphb says:

        Not in all cases. We have some software, and a bit of hardware, business in China and have not given up proprietary information. At least that’s the story and it’s probably true since maintenance and no new development is done there.

        One of the things that hacks me off is our own government does nothing about China subsidizing American companies in China. That should be against some trade regulations but we do nothing.

        • Monster from the Id says:

          Under the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court of Ill Repute, is there anything to stop Chinese corporations and their partner, the Chinese government, from making campaign contributions to pols of both corporate parties?

      • Three Wickets says:

        Was thinking that too. Have asked editor that question re this particular company. Will post if he answers.

      • Maybe we should be offering them better subsidies than China offers.

  8. DandyTiger says:

    Great post. That is why I’m no longer a member of the Democratic party. I discovered to my utter dismay in 2007/2008 that many of them were racists. They patronized AA’s and they supported Obama because of the color of his skin. I made a lot of assumptions about “progressives”, turns out I was very wrong. And to my great surprise, many really, really hate both working class people and women. Who knew.

    It’s all about policies and having debates over them, all sides, pros and cons. If you’re not hearing a reasonable discussion from proponents of either side, then their only purpose is tribal propaganda at best. Fuck ’em.

  9. WMCB says:

    Excellent pot, myiq. I was wondering if you were going to highlight the Yves piece, and am glad you did.

    I especially liked this description of what the Dem party is doing:

    So its desperate need to maintain its increasingly phony “be nice to the rainbow coalition” branding places a huge premium on appearances. It thus uses identity politics as a cover for policy betrayals. It can motivate various groups on narrow, specific issues, opening the way for the moneyed faction to get what it wants.

    I’ve always had some reservations about what I saw as the Left’s overuse of and over reliance on identity politics. But I didn’t, as a Democrat, see it as necessarily a negative thing – it’s a part of coalition building, and was always at its heart well-intentioned, even if sometimes overdone.

    But what I’ve seen out of the Dems in the last 4 years is not just overuse and over reliance. It’s a deliberate, cynical, calculated use of identity politics to bludgeon, deceive, and separate. To take up the mantle of ostensibly fighting for groups they have done nothing for, solely as a means to their own continuing power.

    And it disgusts me. Deeply.

  10. yttik says:

    It’s kind of ironic, I was never a part of the Republican party because I couldn’t stand their heavy handed moralizing. Today I am not a part of the Dem party because I can’t stand their heavy handed moralizing. Republicans used to look down their noses at people and call them “commies” and “welfare queens.” Dems now look down their noses and call people “teabaggers” and “racist.”

    I don’t like identity politics.

  11. Rocky Hussein Squirrel says:


    For white liberals, these charges of racism offer a different sort of exemption. The lives of most affluent liberal politicians, pundits, and opinion-makers differ little from those of their well-off conservative counterparts — the good job in the N.Y.–D.C. corridor; the appropriate pre–Ivy League prep schools, right internships, and good starting jobs for their kids; and little contact with blacks, Mexican-Americans, or members of the underclass in either their suburbs or their kids’ schools. Yet liberals feel terrible about their own exclusivity and the abyss between what is professed and what is lived, an angst over their voluntary segregation that is ameliorated by loudly and cheaply alleging that someone else is racist.

    • ralphb says:

      How can he say that? Those people have gardeners, drivers, maids. Does he think they clean up after themselves? How gauche.

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