a hand grabbing the dot of the 'i' in 'elite' as if to take it away

Elite Capture: How The Powerful Took Over Identity Politics (And Everything Else)

by Olúfémi O. Táiwò Author

In this timely and insightful work of political analysis, author Olúfémi O. Táiwò breaks down the ways in which elite interests - from establishment politicians, to mainstream media outlets, and even to institutions like the C.I.A. - have hijacked the radical critiques of racial capitalism and patriarchy presented by identity politics in order to serve their own interests and disarm the activists who would wield that critique against those interests. Tracing the origins of the phrase 'identity politics' to its progenitors in the Black feminist Combahee River Collective, Táiwò shows how the Collective originally intended identity politics to be a means of building solidarity across difference and of conceptualizing the multi-faceted and compounding ways in which oppression operates. As Black lesbians, the Combahee River Collective sought to promote solidarity between activists fighting for racial justice as well as those fighting for gender equity, gay rights, class consciousness, and more. Identity politics, properly understood, was about creating ever broader coalitions to take on racial capitalism and patriarchy. Instead, it has all too often been deployed by the elites who stand to lose the most at the hands of such a coalition as a means of dividing and turning identity groups against each other, destroying solidarity and stripping the original concepts of its liberatory potential. In Elite Capture, Táiwò makes a vital intervention in the discourse around identity, seeking to revive the Combahee River Collective's original notion of radical solidarity and organize activists in their disparate pursuits of justice around a common axis that recognizes the intertwined nature of oppression. An urgently needed book in this politically fraught era.