Mistaken Identity: Mass Movements and Racial Ideology (Paperback)

Mistaken Identity: Mass Movements and Racial Ideology By Asad Haider Cover Image
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A 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.”

About the Author

Asad Haider is a founding Editor of Viewpoint Magazine, an investigative journal of contemporary politics. He is the author of Mistaken Identity and a co-editor for The Black Radical Tradition (forthcoming). His writing can be found in The Baffler, n+1, The Point, Salon, and elsewhere.

Praise For…

“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 Feel Free: Essays

“A bold, fresh, and radical critique of so-called identity politics, this book deserves a wide reading. Asad Haider proclaims another universality is possible, and it’s probably not what you think.”
—Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination
“Asad Haider renews the critique of identity politics for the contemporary Left. This is a fresh and timely book, thoughtful and provocative.”
–Judith Butler, author of Gender Trouble and Frames of War
“A devastating and constructive critique of what is commonly understood as ‘identity politics,’ while still maintaining the centrality race, racism and racist oppression in capitalism.”
–Bill Fletcher, Jr., coauthor of Solidarity Divided and former president of TransAfrica Forum

“Pithy, smart and readable, Mistaken Identity is a wonderful book for our time. Notwithstanding his critique of identity, there is a compelling authenticity to Haider’s voice, making him someone one wants to think with about shaping a left vision today.”
–Wendy Brown, author of States of Injury and Undoing the Demos

“Reviving what has become a deeply unfashionable anti-racist standpoint, Asad Haider indicts the complicity of ‘identity politics’ from the left. This spiky little book shows how opposition might be salvaged from an ocean of pessimism and despair.”
–Paul Gilroy, author of The Black Atlantic and There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack
“[Haider] constructs a comprehensive and critical dissection of identity politics in his hard-hitting debut … This book is an important contribution to discourses on American politics, race, and social movements.”
Publishers Weekly

“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 Tarnoff, Guardian

“Essential reading for anyone interested in bringing socialist ideas into movements against racism today.”
Socialist Worker

“Asad Haider has written a brief and informed survey and critique of the inherent flaws in identity politics. It convinces the reader through a measured calm, not polemics, and that's a refreshing change in these troubled times.”
—Christian John Stephens, PopMatters

“For a slim book, Haider’s argument is expansive and philosophically challenging. Although he never overwhelms the reader with unexplained jargon, the range of work he engages with is impressive, including that of Althusser, Judith Butler, Wendy Brown, Paul Gilroy, Stuart Hall, and more. Moving through this material with skill and acumen, Haider sets out to undercut the material and philosophical foundations of identity politics (and the idea of identity itself).”
—Michael Mirer,Public Books

Mistaken Identity is a refreshing and timely answer to the rupturing status quo that flows within the popular movements of our day. Haider’s critique of liberal identity politics cuts through the fog that has been raised by opportunists who seek to divide popular movements. His insurgent universality could become a potentially useful way of thinking through the identity politics that seek to divide rather than reconstitute our movements into a larger program with demands for a better world for all of us.”
—Brant Roberts, Marx & Philosophy Review of Books

“Short and readable, the book provides an intellectual genealogy of anti-racism and of the myriad ways in which contemporary anti-racist politics go awry.”
—Aidan J. Beatty, Logos

“Lucid, compact, and fiercely polemical, Asad Haider’s book Mistaken Identity identifies a desperate need for greater political solidarities and broader coalitions at a time when left political movements are governed largely by the logic of ‘staying in your lane,’ which poses a significant barrier to mass organizing in the United States.”
—Field Street Collective, Commune

Product Details
ISBN: 9781786637376
ISBN-10: 1786637375
Publisher: Verso
Publication Date: May 15th, 2018
Pages: 144
Language: English