An Altersation between Just Protester and Rockstar Leandra Ghoulish about Identity Politics, that escalated into… Identity Politics (with some light at the end of the tunnel)
The Just Protester (TJP): First of all I have to say, I really love Angelus Novus, I think you’re so awesome, totally. I’m not gonna get all groupie on you, I promise. But! Appetite for Clarity is a masterpiece! Isadora also. All your albums, really!
Rockstar Leandra Ghoulish (R-LG): Thanks!
TJP: As Though is also great, it’s a great album.
R-LG: Yeah it is. but I guess you’re more into protest albums, that’s not really the vibe in As Though. I mean it’s less apparent.
TJP: well yeah, first time I heard the Angelus was about 2012, it was “Red Polyester” from Isadora. When you sang “don’t wear it, wave it!” I was sold. It was back when I started my first blog with some friends, we wrote about feminism too there, mostly from a social point of view, and we had Isadora playing on repeat for days.
R-LG: that’s cool, though I don’t like titling Isadora a feminist album. It clearly is, but there’s more to it.
TJP: for sure, there’s always more to it. Not just in music and the arts, I mean. Like when we titled our blog ‘feminist’, along with ‘radical’ and ‘socialist’, we started getting these reactions that we can’t call ourselves a feminist blog, coz we were four guys and only one girl. That’s how it turned out, I mean we just happened to be four guys and one girl with similar opinions and a similar drive to write about society and politics and stuff. But people got pissed. So we wrote some stuff about gender from a male’s point of view, and then people said we can’t call ourselves radical when we write from a privileged point of view, and that we’re too binary all together.
R-LG: that sounds like a major headache.
TJP: For sure, so that’s when we started writing against identity politics and everyone just instantly hated us. At least they agreed on something.
R-LG: I hope you didn’t take it too bad.
TJP: I totally did for a while, yeah, coz I kept trying to explain myself and examine myself, like am I allowed to write about certain things that I don’t know from my own personal experience? So that’s when I started reading a lot, but reading a lot and writing about it is also privileged, you know? And then I started noticing that – is this boring you? Oh fuck I’m talking too much.
R-LG: it’s really alright!
TJP: wow, yeah… how’s your ankle? I saw you falling off the stage in Chicago, it was scary.
R-LG: Yup. it’s not the first time, or the last, I guess. It’s fine. So what did you start noticing?
TJP: Oh yeah, I started noticing that I can write about poverty – and I’m not poor. And about the global south and stuff – and I’m a first worlder. And when I write about these things no one gets offended and there are no rants about my privileges and how do I even dare writing about it.
R-LG: of course, coz these specific populations aren’t reading your blogs.
TJP: well yeah, but not just that. It’s coz these sectors don’t use these specifics characteristics as identities. Being poor isn’t an identity in the political discourse. There are no social classes in identity politics. Coz then class warfare will become apparent. Coz then a truly political discourse will emerge –
R-LG: I’m not sure about that. You can hear the word ‘rich’ being used as a curse word in some places.
TJP: yeah, but whoever says it like that probably wouldn’t define his or herself as poor. And I mean poor as an identity, you know what I mean? What I’m trying to say is that the identity politics discourse is in itself privileged. You have to hold a valid identity in order to enter it. And there aren’t endless options to choose from. I mean its borders are very clear.
R-LG: so we’re all like puppets choosing our costumes.
TJP: Exactly! Wow you’re a poet, totally! So anyway, that’s when I finally said: fuck it.
R-LG: yeah I see what you mean now. It’s clear that this very limited discourse is only benefiting those in power, while splitting everyone else into groups who never discuss power itself. So people are just throwing mud at each other and nothing really changes.
TJP: wow, yeah, totally. I mean you don’t hear about the 1% anymore, coz the 99% are too busy fighting about misused words on twitter.
R-LG: So you closed your blog?
TJP: fuck yeah. and fuck everyone.
R-LG: but didn’t you think about using identity politics to do the opposite of what it does now? To try to find the common?
TJP: ah –
R-LG: if I think about the Angelus crowd, you know, they come in all shapes and colors, but they’re defiantly all part of the 99%. We have no 1%ers there.
TJP: But your crowd is not really all shapes and colors, you know?
R-LG: what do you mean?
TJP: I mean it’s not. It’s – I think you said so yourself somewhere – it’s totally mid-class hipsters, mostly white –
R-LG: I never said that!
TJP: people like myself actually, or the people who read my blog. And I think my blog, to be honest, reached a more diverse crowd than yours, coz people who hated it also shared it and talked about it. Coz I guess the music you love is also part of your identity, and it’s like –
R-LG: you really have it all wrong about our crowd –
TJP: I’ve been to your concert, I saw it –
R-LG: well so have I!
TJP: wow, alright, why are you getting upset?
R-LG: I’m not, I’m just saying we have a really cool, diverse crowd.
TJP: Well I guess you have a lot to lose, I mean, more than I do with my blogs.
R-LG: What does that mean?
TJP: That you can’t say everything you want, you know?
R-LG: that’s bullshit, I say what I want. I was trying to say that when you play songs against the 1%, all sorts of people listen and relate.
TJP: But what if you sing or say something about a specific group in the discourse that pisses you off?
R-LG: why would I sing against anyone in the 99%?
TJP: ah –
R-LG: I mean I did talk about the San-Francisco hi-tech bullshiters who think they’re cool and special with their 2 point something children and shiny cars, but that’s coz I guess I think they kinda serve the 1% in a way. But why would I enter this debate if I think it’s pointless? That’s what I meant when I said you can work through identity politics by pointing a finger at those who really benefit from it. And even trying to identify myself through who my crowd is – that’s also part of this discourse in a way, you know?
TJP: I guess –
R-LG: and even saying that you’re totally opposed to identity politics and mocking people who engage in it, that’s also a way to identify yourself, and in a way, it’s also a way of participating in this discourse. It’s going against people you have common interests with, instead of trying to see the similarity.
TJP: wow, you’re so smart, seriously.
R-LG: thanks, but I’m just following your line of thought. So I’m sure it sucks writing a blog and investing so much energy in it, and having people just focusing on what they disagree with, but you know, you have to keep going. Not to please them, but to be heard, to do what you do. And to believe I guess that you’re not doing it for nothing.
TJP: totally. Yeah. it’s like making an album people don’t get, right? that shouldn’t make you stop making music! You’re so right! you know, I’m gonna reconsider it, seriously.
TJP: do you wanna write an entry to my blog? You don’t have to answer right away –
R-LG: No, I’ll pass –
TJP: Just think about it, you know Robbie Clair? From Rizla Manifesto? He wrote for our blog once.
R-LG: oh yeah, he’s great…
TJP: and by the way Stella Dragon are fucking awesome. Like, if you see them, tell them! They’re fucking awesome!
R-LG: yeah, great. Anyway, I’m glad you decided to keep going.
TJP: I’m glad I talked to you! “Don’t wear it, wave it!”