Intersectionality and Identity Politics–Do They Pay? (Mouffe 5-Video)

Mouffe’s book The Return of the Political puts forward a view of the self and of society that is fractured into many and shifting identities, and she argues that we can find common ground as citizens, not only in an agreement over the rules of the game of democracy, but also in our various experiences of subordination. Mouffe hopes that this possibility will lead to left coalitions that allow citizens in a radical pluralistic democracy to make progress for all (more real liberty and equality). But does this view of the self and of shifting identity groupings actually work at a practical level. Is the focus on even shifting identities as opposed to economic class concerns always a rightward move that has the potential to inspire more conflict rather than cooperation? I evaluate Mouffe’s teaching on intersectionality in light of contemporary Marx-inspired (but not dictated) thinkers like Zizek and Wark. Might we be better off concentrating on all the new ways in which people experience subordination and degradation at the economic level (and the common threat of environmental destruction–a point I hope to bring into upcoming videos)?

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