Walter Benn Michaels has recently been partying like it’s 1988 and engaging in a critique of identity politics. Lenin has already done a good job dismantling Michaels’s simplistic view of race, but what’s so frustrating about Michaels is that the economically-focused politics he prescribes is as deeply embedded in neoliberalism as the politics of diversity he rejects. Michaels criticizes a certain employment of “diversity” to promote an image of equality that does not challenge the fundamentals of economic inequality. This is true, although hardly new, and Michaels’s presentation is particularly simplistic. What he fails to realize, moreover, is that the sort of economic equality he champions is just as neoliberal.
Michaels puts forward a common but quite false presentation of neoliberalism as being unconcerned by economic inequality. Read more↴