Asad Haider’s Mistaken Identity: Race and Class in the Age of Trump is an interesting narrative that delves into the conception and ideological histories and processes of identity politics. The book focuses on the aspects of race as a part of identity. These liberal leanings that are thrown about on the left but are consistently a part of the mainstream discord. The term identity politics is ever evolving in its meaning because everyone is consistently projecting a particular meaning in advocacy of, or against the subject.
The term identity politics doesn’t have a concrete definition. It is a term that gets caught in political struggles and ideological battles; you can’t define it without reification but you cannot reify something that is generally dynamic. It is hypothesized that most radical politics emerge as a result of placing personal experience as the foundation of discourse, and rooting self-identity within the analysis. According to the liberal ideology it is theorized that the systems of oppression are all interlocking; between the categories of race, sex and social class.
Haider states that contemporary identity politics are a neutralization of movements against racial oppression. But in its current ideological form, Haider believes that identity politics have become an individualist method that are based on the demand for recognition. These individualist method takes identity as it’s starting point and fully undermines the concept of collective organization – the original intent of identity politics. Haider’s proposes the ideological trap that identity politics reinforces the norms that they were originally set out to criticize.
Haider believes that in order to overcome the traps of identity politics that must learn to reject identity as the foundation for thinking about the subject. If we cannot remove personal identity from identity politics then we will continue to undermine the collective organizations. “The framework of identity reduces politics to who you are as an individual and gaining recognition as an individual, rather than your membership in a collectivity and the collective struggle against an oppressive social structure ” (p.24).
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