Mistaken Identity: Race and Class in the Age of Trump


The phenomenon of "identity politics" represents one of the primary impasses of the contemporary left. The recent experience of the Democratic primaries and the re-emergence of social movements from Occupy to Black Lives Matter has generated a new context for identity politics to become an active force, and new ground to relitigate the frustrating debates between the partisans of "race" and "class" ad infinitum.

In Mistaken Identity, Asad Haider reaches for a different approach - one rooted in the rich legacies of the black freedom struggle. Drawing from the words and deeds of black revolutionary theorists, he argues that identity politics is not synonymous with anti-racism, but instead amounts to the neutralization of its movements, a retreat from the crucial passage from identity to solidarity, and from individual recognition to collective struggle against an oppressive social structure.

Mistaken Identity is an urgent call for alternative visions, languages, and practices against the white identity politics of right-wing populism. Responding with a contrary, pluralist identity politics has proven successful. The idea of universal emancipation now seems old-fashioned and outmoded. But if we are attentive to the lines of struggle which lie outside the boundaries of the state, we will see that it has been placed on the agenda once again.