Episode

8/15 The Elite Hijacking Of Identity Politics & w/ Olufemi O. Taiwo

August 15, 2022

Sam and Emma host Olufemi O. Taiwo, professor of philosophy at Georgetown University, to discuss his recent book Elite Capture: How the Powerful Took Over Identity Politics (And Everything Else). First, Sam touches on the successful passage of “Build Back– a bit” in the House, effective abortion bans in Idaho and Louisiana, Arizona’s attempts to finish Trump’s wall, and Brittany Griner’s appeal in Russia, before discussing Donald Trump’s magical declassification fingers and why that actually doesn’t matter when it comes to the espionage act. Then, he is joined by Professor Olufemi Taiwo as they first define what identity politics is, birthed from the work of the Combahee River Collective as a way to do politics starting from an understanding of one’s own place in the social world, before walking through the various critiques of IdPol across the spectrum, from the far right’s investment in the status quo and the center’s focus on [difference]-blind perspectives to a class reductionist’s particularism when it comes to social hierarchies. After parsing through how these critiques have developed across the spectrum, Professor Taiwo dives into his concept of “Deference Politics,” the understanding of how identity politics discourse in a capitalist society is then appropriated by and filtered through the ideologies of the elites at the top of various social hierarchies (be they production, military, or media) and thus slowly become a defining stance of the industry through deference to capital power. Next, Professor Taiwo walks through his critique of identity politics, exploring why a class reductionist understanding of how capitalism operates can still be aligned with understanding the systems (racism, transphobia, etc.) that capitalism props up, and why the latter element can often be necessary to inspire solidarity around the former’s movement. After a discussion on “targeted universalism” as a way to unify these two elements, Sam and Professor Taiwo wrap up the interview with a conversation on the breathtaking achievement of the US elites in shaping the “cancel culture” debate.

And in the Fun Half: Sam dives into the Right Wing’s excuses constantly collapsing in on themselves, as Kash Patel cries about Donald Trump’s declassification magic, Tulsi Gabbard asks why the FBI and IRS, now that they’ve gone after the elite (Donald Trump) who says they won’t punish those who don’t have any power… which of course never has happened before, and Rudi Giuliani ponders the dangers of criticizing bad people. Dr. Oz complains about the price of crudités under Joe Biden, Marjorie Taylor Greene rants about appliances and the Green New Deal, and Richard from California suggests some conversations on demographic changes. Kowalski expresses his disappointment with the USDA, Bro Flamingo discusses the state of the GOP as defined by voters, and Stephen from North Carolina discusses teaching at a Charter School. Plus, your calls and IMs!

Check out Olufemi’s book here: https://www.haymarketbooks.org/books/1867-elite-capture

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