Book Excerpt! Universality and Identity Politics (introduction)


Against the many theories conflating universality with positive content and violent oppression, Universality and Identity Politics illustrates how movements beyond the particular are indispensable for solidarity. Ceaseless catastrophes now rain down; McGowan boldly underwrites new political imaginings of equality and freedom.

~Anna Kornbluh, author of The Order of Forms: Realism, Formalism, and Social Space

We’re ending this week’s feature on Universality and Identity Politics, by Todd McGowan with an excerpt to the book’s introduction. The great political ideas and movements of the modern world were founded on a promise of universal emancipation. But in recent decades, much of the Left has grown suspicious of such aspirations. Critics see the invocation of universality as a form of domination or a way of speaking for others, and have come to favor a politics of particularism—often derided as “identity politics.” Others, both centrists and conservatives, associate universalism with twentieth-century totalitarianism and hold that it is bound to lead to catastrophe.Through a wide range of examples in contemporary politics, film, and history, Universality and Identity Politics offers an antidote to the impasses of identity and an inspiring vision of twenty-first-century collective struggle.

Remember to enter this week’s drawing for a chance to win a copy of the book!

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