Mistaken Identity

Mistaken Identity:Mass Movements and Racial Ideology

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  • Paperback (2018)

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An updated new edition that issues powerful challenge to the way we understand the politics of race and the history of anti-racist struggle

Whether class or race is the more important factor in modern politics is a question right at the heart of recent history’s most contentious debates. Among groups who should readily find common ground, there is little agreement. To escape this deadlock, Asad Haider turns to the rich legacies of the black freedom struggle. Drawing on 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. It marks a retreat from the crucial passage of identity to solidarity, and from individual recognition to the collective struggle against an oppressive social structure. Weaving together autobiographical reflection, historical analysis, theoretical exegesis, and protest reportage, Mistaken Identity is a passionate call for a new practice of politics beyond colorblind chauvinism and “the ideology of race.”

Reviews

  • Asad Haider offers a clarifying and frank assessment of the left's evacuation of class from our identity debates, as well as a powerful defense of political solidarity across hierarchies of race. Drawing on the radical legacy of anti-racist movements—from the Black Panthers to the Combahee River Collective—Mistaken Identity puts forward a powerful vision of collection action, that should offer hope and inspiration to a new generation of activists.

    Zadie Smith, author of White Teeth and Feel Free
  • Riveting. Haider moves deftly over difficult terrain. His prose is precise and propulsive. His Marxism is not a mausoleum but a living, breathing thing. And he writes as both a militant and a theorist, one who believes that theory is integral to political struggle and that theoretical rigour has political stakes. The American left has shown signs of life recently, but it has no shortage of enemies. Defeating them will require, among other things, ideas. Haider’s book contributes several. We will need more.

    Ben TarnoffGuardian
  • Essential reading for anyone interested in bringing socialist ideas into movements against racism today.

    Socialist Worker