Paul Norton has alerted me to a new book by Michael Thompson, published by rightwng outlet Labor’s Forgotten People: The Triumph of Identity Politics It appears to be a rehash of Thompson’s Labor Without Class which I reviewed back in 2000 (reprinted over the fold).
One point mentioned in the review was a positive blurb from Martin Ferguson, who was clearly well on the path to his current position as a rightwing mining company hack, but still managed to pass himself off as a Labor stalwart for another decade or more.
The blurb of Forgotten People states that “this title is sure to cause a stir within the Labor Party membership”, and I’ll confine my remarks to the title. The idea that the left had an excessive focus on identity politics was popular, and not entirely baseless, back around 2000. But it’s been obvious for years that it’s the right that is dominated by identity politics.
More precisely, it’s what might be called “default identity politics”, the idea that “real Australians/Americans/Englishment” are white (more specifically Anglo-Celt) heterosexual Christians, working in private sector jobs, and living in rural and regional areas. The policies of the right don’t actually help people like this (their benefits are directed to high-income earners and wealthy retirees), but attracts their vote by reassuring of them of their superiority over urban “elites”
Labor without Class was wrong in all important respects, but at least it was up with the times. Thompson’s latest is an absurdity in the era of Trump, Johnson and Morrison.Read More »