Let’s take another example. We keep hearing about identity politics a lot. But today’s identity politics is deeply neoliberal in nature. It changed dramatically as the neoliberalism conquered our minds, and we still talk about it like it’s the same kind of identity politics that existed in the 1970s and was actually a wonderful and powerful thing.
Neoliberalism destroyed people’s capacity to get together and advance a collective agenda on behalf of their group because it eroded the very concept of a group. Inclusivity erases the boundaries of groups. And we all know that there is nothing liquid capital hates more than boundaries.
Take the Civil Rights movement. It achieved its greatest victories when it was about addressing centuries of a very specific brand of horrific violence against a very specific group, African Americans. But once it became about an undefinable group of “people of color” that includes somebody like Elizabeth Warren, it can’t achieve anything.
Or take gay rights. Again, when it was about gay people fighting against very specific kinds of oppression visited upon specifically gay people, this was a powerful movement. Once it turned into LGBTQIA+ABCDEFG and so on into infinity, it was diluted as being about everybody who is vaguely uncomfortable with vaguely defined gender roles. Gay people are still horribly oppressed in many places around the world. But we don’t even hear about it any more because it’s all about isolated individuals who have the cultural and economic capital to yelp more loudly about their solitary discomforts.
Then, let’s take women’s rights. Once you can’t define, or in some circles even use, the word women, there are no women’s rights. There is only the right of already very powerful (in comparative terms) women to articulate their individual grievances.
Who gains from all this inclusivity? A black boy in East St Louis? A lesbian in Magadan? An indigenous woman in Chiapas? Obviously, not. Their historic and legitimate grievances are co-opted by those who are already winning in the neoliberal competition. Collective vindication turned into neoliberal competition, and we haven’t even realized that it was happening.