Rethinking Marx’s Concept Of Class: Does The Emergence Of The So Called Identity Politics Indicating The “Fall” Of Class Politics?

1700 words - 7 pages

It is doubtless that Marx’s concept of Class was very remarkable particularly at the 19th century era, when the implication of The Age of Reason (Aufklarung) in Europe had contributed significant supports of changes in the development of sciences and the historical of thought at that time. Nevertheless, Marx progressive thought that was manifested in the concept of class has been questioned for decades since its capacity is considered ‘limited’ and somehow ‘irrelevant’ if it is applied to the contemporary social phenomena in the late 20th and the beginning of 21st century. Therefore, class as the unit of analysis is viewed to be no longer applicable and comprehensive to answer the complex ...view middle of the document...

His material conception of history based on the (law of) Dialectical Materialism lead him to his scientific prediction of the dialectics of social change that in the end, the society in capitalistic social formation will be divided into two distinctive classes i.e., the bourgeoisie and the proletariat (Marx, Communist Manifesto, 1848).
The crucial standpoint according to Marx of course, will refer to class as unit of analysis in tracing the source of resistance. The answer is crystal clear, the proletariat class—that had been exploited and marginalized by the capitalism. In fact, the growing of advanced capitalism and globalisation suggest new direction of thinking in seeing the matter of oppression, exploitation, and subordination. The current configuration of class relations, in fact, is not merely about those two classes. The complexity of class relations seems to grow more and more differentiated, stratified, and complicated in the future.
Furthermore, the class stratification is not economic based any longer but more to cultural-political based. For example, the collective solidarities and resistances among the gay and lesbian, the feminists, the minor ethnic (racial) groups, indigenous people, the ecologists, and also the religious minorities. From these people are the recent social movements rooted. It seems that the world today is facing what Michael Tomasky and Todd Gitlin explained as “a cul-de-sac of ethnic particularism, race consciousness, sexual politics, and radical feminism” since the value of universalism and radical humanism proposed by Marx has been “hijacked by a multicultural left wedded to the so called identity politics” (Tomasky, Left for Dead: The Life, Death, and Possible Resurrection of Progressive Politics in America and Gitlin, Twilight of Our Common Dreams: Why America is Wracked by Culture Wars).
But then what is actually “Identity Politics”? Kelley explained that "Identity politics" refers to a politics in which individuals construct their cultural and political identities through engaging in struggles or associations that advance the interests of the groups with which they identify (Kelley, Identity Politics and Class Struggle, 1997). Identity in postmodernist tradition is seen as a construct shaped in a discursive context. The concept of identity politics is under the light of anti-essentialism that later widely acknowledged among the “subalterns”. The postcolonial studies used this term to “those social groups—migrants, shantytown dwellers, displaced tribes, refuges, untouchable castes, the homeless—that either do not posses, or are prevented from possessing class consciousness…”(Glossary of Postcolonial Reader: 509). Similar explanation proposed by Young that subaltern is a name for subordinate individuals and groups who do not possess a general ‘class consciousness’. Moreover, Chatterjee highlights that they are both subordinate by ‘accepting’ the immediate reality of power relations, which dominate and...

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