ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Identity and Class

A recent debate within the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI(M)) in Kerala has opened the debate on identity and class politics within communist practice. The CPI(M) has reiterated the ideological basis of the party in class struggle and rejected the demand for discussing identity politics. State secretary of the party, Pinarayi Vijayan, pointed to the role of class struggle in eliminating social evils such as untouchability and ushering in social development in Kerala.

This official position of the CPI(M) is in tune with the original Marxist position, which considers that the development of “other” identities will weaken class solidarity and intensify “false class consciousness”. Identity politics will not allow a “class-initself” to develop class consciousness and become a “class-for-itself”. A dalit bourgeois may get support of the dalit proletariat in exploiting the entire working class under him. Similarly, a woman entrepreneur can divide the working class on the basis of gender. Thus identitybased politics can be used as a strategic tool by the capitalists for the illusory and partial “incorporation” of a section of the working class into the bourgeois d omain, thereby weakening and ultimately exploiting the entire working class.

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