With the sub-title “Three essays on identity, oppression, and social war,” Lines in Sand is a collection by Peter Gelderloos that looks critically at identity politics and anti-oppression politics. All of them are very thought provoking and well worth reading. These aren’t knee-jerk criticisms, but rather are thoughtful explorations of the problematic aspects of identity and anti-oppression politics and practice.
Lines in Sand
“An anti-oppression practice posits a list of different forms of oppression at work in society on a macro and micro level, that reproduce themselves through socialization at the micro level and through continuing political and economic restructuration carried out by elite institutions at the macro level. This practice has cultivated a number of strengths in the anarchists who passed through it — an awareness of one’s socialization, a sensitivity to situations and group power dynamics, the challenging of traditional identities, an abandonment of the monolithic politics of the now extinct revolutionary Left, which could not fathom forms of oppression that were not primarily economic. But anti-oppression politics, though not homogenous, has a number of common weaknesses built into it thanks to the academic culture out of which it largely grew; the guilt, blame, and victimization that run especially intense in the Anglo-Saxon colonial society of the US; and the leftism and reformism of many formulators of this practice with whom anti-oppression anarchists uncritically allied themselves. I think the practice has blocked off its own path to revolution, and needs to be junked. A few key parts can be salvaged. The rest should be left to the desert.”