Thought I might go over some of the points raised yesterday in the discussion on partial struggles.
In terms of the points I made I think I tried to go through too many ideas in one go so I'll try and be clearer here.
With regard to my point about 'whiteness' I think I was misunderstood a little bit; the idea of inequalities within the class is nothing new. Marx spoke about the way 'foreign' labour was used to undermine solidarity and drive down wages and conditions. The point I was getting at was that 'race' is an important aspect of this.
The whole notion of a white 'identity/community' has always been a version of this divide and rule. My point was that the way this effects workers on a psychological level needs to be analysed. It is ultimately no different to any other 'privilege' (the notion of privilege is a dangerous illusion for the class but also has real effects and a certain reality for and on the class). This point links also to the idea of the the 'intergration' of the class in bourgeois society/legalism. The idea of identifying with our masters is one important aspect of this tendency and in order to overcome this we need to study and discuss it with a depth that goes beyond bourgeois notions.
My wider point was that the obsession with 'identity' is not only an expression of decomposition/individualism taken to its logical extreme but needs to be understood in terms of the relationship between 'matter' and ideology more generally.
Identity itself can be seen as inherently conservative as it tends to solidify, naturalise and mystify social relations but this is only part of the story. Humanity cannot live without identity and we as Marxists have to have a dialectical approach to this question. The proletarian 'identity' is not like other identities:
Firstly in the positive sense that it represents a solution to all partial struggles and in the sense that proletarian identity is one of overcoming its limited sense of self because the real proletarian identity is an identity that aims at its own destruction/overcoming. But the proletarian identity also poses difficulties due to its 'negative' character. It is an identity of lack, of the loss of community and in a deep sense of the lack of real identity/alienation inherent in capitalist relations. This is part of why such meaningless and arbitrary identities such as black or white can have such a hold on people and why the search for identity is so fervant in capitalist society (particularly in its most 'developed' forms i.e the West in the era of decomposition)..
Another idea I wanted to get across but don't think I did properly was that there is a question to answer regarding the motivational power of identity/ideology/myth. As Marxists we see that ideology is often a cloak for material factors but it is equally true that people throughout history have tended to NEED this cloak and I don't think this can be entirely explained by the need to obscure class relations. It seems to go deeper than this. Material factors alone do not consciously motivate people without such 'myths'. Why this tends to be the case is an important question in understanding the current state of class struggle and consciousness but also 'human nature' itself.