Asad Haiders ‘Mistaken Identity’

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Linkbox med anmeldelser, debat og interviews om amerikanske Asad Haiders bog Mistaken Identity: Race and Class in the Age of Trump + Appendiks med socialistisk kritik af identitespolitik, intersektionalitet og privilegieteori etc. / Debate, interviews and reviews about Asad Haider’s  Mistaken Identity + Appendix with socialist critique of identity politics, intersectionality and privilege theory etc.

Bjarne A. Frandsen,
december 2018.

Asad Haider: Mistaken Identity: Race and Class in the Age of Trump (Verso, 2018, 132 p.)
“Drawing on the words and deeds of black revolutionary theorists, he argues that identity politics is not synonymous with anti-racism, but instead amounts to the neutralization of its movements. It marks a retreat from the crucial passage of identity to solidarity, and from individual recognition to the collective struggle against an oppressive social structure.”

See excerpt from the book (Verso, 14 September 2018).




The Intercept

How identity politics has divided the Left: An interview with Asad Haider by Rashmee Kumar (May 27, 2018). “Asad Haider argues that contemporary identity politics is a ‘neutralization of movements against racial oppression’ rather than a progression of the grassroots struggle against racism.”

Red Pepper

Beyond identity (October 11, 2018). “Aron Keller talks to Asad Haider about race, class and the fight for social justice in Trump’s America.”

State of Nature

Asad Haider: Identity politics and mass self-organisation. Interview by Jon Bailes (Blog, 3 July 2018). “In the following interview I discuss some of the important points he raises.”


Zombie Manifesto. By Asad Haider (Blog, 1 September 2018). “This critique of identity is absolutely and emphatically not a proposal that race should be put second or waved away. It is an insistence on recognizing the material reality of race as a social relation, and forming a more adequate theoretical understanding of it that can be useful for struggles against racism.”

Mistaking Identity politics: A conversation with Asad Haider by Daniel Denvir (Blog, 14 August 2018) + Part 2 (16 August 2018). “Checking your privilege. Invisible knapsacks. Intersectionality. In his new book … Asad Haider questions the terms and concepts that underpin much liberal and left conversation about race and racism.”




Identitetspolitikkens tveæggede sværd. Anmeldelse af Rune Møller Stahl (20. august 2018). “Grundlæggende er Haiders analyse her, at identitetspolitikken, som den praktiseres i dag, ikke kan betragtes som en videreudvikling af tidligere tiders modstandsbevægelser imod racemæssig undertrykkelse, men snarere at de er en neutralisering af disse bevægelsers emancipatoriske ambitioner. ”


Er identitetspolitik en neutralisering af antiracistiske bevægelser? Anmeldelse af Søren Mau (18. august 2018). “Asad Haider forsøger i en ny bog at formulere en strategisk kritik af identitetspolitik, der undgår højrefløjens karikaturer såvel som socialistisk klassereduktionisme. Desværre får han aldrig rigtigt forklaret, hvem han egentlig kritiserer.”

Idédebat: Køn og race er ikke adskilte størrelser. Af Malte Frøslee Ibsen (30. juni 2018). “Da identitetspolitikken blev reduceret til et spørgsmål om diversitet inden for det bestående, blev den ufarlig og tandløs. Hvis ikke den skal splitte venstrefløjen, er det nødvendigt, at venstrefløjen selv insisterer på, at klasse ikke kan skilles fra køn og race – og omvendt.


Mistaken Identity: Race and Class in the Age of Trump. Review by Elaine Graham-Leigh (October 18, 2018). “Mistaken Identity reveals identity politics as the strategy of defeat, but solidarities are built through engagement in existing movements.”

The Guardian

Mistaken Identity – the best criticism of identity politics. Review by Ben Tarnoff (31 May 2018). “This riveting and inspiring study of race and class in the age of Trump argues that an emphasis on identity should lead to one on solidarity.”

Irish Marxist Review

The pitfalls of identity politics. Review by Marnie Holborow (Vol.7, No.22, 2018, p.72-74). “Haider’s book is a great read and provides useful insights into the debates within the rising wave of socialism in the US today.” Scroll down.


The identity mistake. Review by Melissa Naschek (August 28, 2018). “… while Mistaken Identity is able to demonstrate how the ideology and rhetoric of ‘identity’ has been used as a weapon against the working class, it falls short of making a plausible case that it could ever be a boon to socialist politics.”


Mistaken Identity. Review by Aidan J. Beatty (Vol.17, No.2, Fall 2018). “Short and readable, the book provides an intellectual genealogy of anti-racism and of the myriad ways in which contemporary anti-racist politics go awry.”

Marx & Philosophy Review of Book

Mistaken Identity. Review by Brant Roberts (12 August 2018). “Few of today’s popular theoretical concepts are free from Haider’s critique, as intersectionality, Afropessimism, white privilege and class reductionism are treated with equal analysis.”


Not only the difference between identities but the differences within them. Review by Samir Gandesha (OpenDemocracy, 19 November 2018). “Mistaken Identity … is a remarkably well argued, theoretically sophisticated critique of identity politics.”

Socialist Party

Mistaken Identity. Review by Laura Fitzgerald (November 7, 2018). “Haider’s central thesis is that identity politics fails to recognise the historical roots of racial division … From this it limits its anti-racism to seeking recognition and inclusion on an individual basis and ends up reinforcing the structures that serve to perpetuate that very racism.”

Socialist Review

Mistaken Identity. Review by Esme Choonara (Issue 438, September 2018). “… a thoughtful and thought-provoking book about race, class and the limitations of identity-based politics.”

Charting a path in the identity politics debate (May 18, 2018). “Fainan Lakha reviews a book by Asad Haider that makes a contribution toward helping activists in movements opposing oppression grapple with important debates.”

Weekly Worker

Mistaken versions of Maoism. Review by Mike MacNair (Issue 1209, June 28, 2018). “Haider’s book thus represents a young man’s effort to get in contact with the lost radicalism of the 1970s, against what has become of identity politics. He makes the attempt by working through a wide range of books and articles between then and now.”


Socialist critique/discussion of identity politics, intersectionality, privilege theory etc.

Afkoblet fra virkeligheden: Kønsideologi er baseret på fejlbehæftet videnskab. Af Amanda MacLean (Magasinet Arbejderen, nr.3, september 2019, s.12-19). “Venstrefløjen må holde op med at lade som om, at biologisk køn hverken eksisterer eller har en betydning.” In English: Decoupled from reality (Weekly Worker, Issue 1247, April 18, 2919). With debate: Letters (Issue 1248, April 25) + Against biological determinism, by Finlay Scott Gilmour (Issue 1249, May 2) + Sex is not psyche, by Amanda MacLean (Issue 1250, May 9).

Tre måder, vi taler forbi hinanden i ‘krænkelsesdebatterne’ (, 21. august 2019). Bogomtale: “Må man sige neger? Når vi diskuterer den slags, ender vi ofte i en skyttegravskrig, hvor de krænkelsesparate og deres modpart misforstår hinanden – og det er en skam.” Fra Silas L. Marker og Vincent F. Hendricks: Os og Dem: Identitetspolitiske akser, ideer og afsporede debatter (Gyldendal, 2019, 215 s.).

Race, class and identity. By Yuri Prasad (Socialist Review, Issue 447, June 2019). ” It’s only right that we should want to determine how the world sees us, but it’s wrong to think struggles over identity automatically benefit those facing oppression.”

The history of white identity. By Kenan Malik (Pandaemonium, March 16, 2019). “White identity is the original identity of identity politics, and reveals the reactionary roots of the politics of identity. To challenge inequality and injustice, to defend working class interests, requires us to challenge also the politics of identity, however it expresses itself.”

Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective. By Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (Monthly Review, Vol.70, No.8, January 2019). “The Combahee River Collective Statement is believed to be the first text where the term ‘identity politics’ is used. Since 1977, that term has been used, abused, and reconfigured into something foreign to its creators.” See also Notes from the Editors (Ibid.) + A Black Feminist Statement by The Combahee River Collective (1976) (Ibid.).

Identity Politics (Historical Materialism, Vol.26, No.2, 2018). “This special issue responds to ongoing debates around what has been termed ‘identity politics’. We aim to intervene in what are make-or-break questions for the Left today.” See also review by Mike Macnair: Intersectionality is a dead end (Weekly Worker, issue 1206, 7 June 2018).

Are identity politics the answer? (pdf). By Sean Carroll (Irish Marxist Review, Vol.6, No.18, 2017, p.23-32). “For the purpose of this article I will start by looking at the historical background to the politics of identity which was prevalent on the left in the 1980s and 1990s and then discuss intersectionality and privilege theory which are much more popular today.”

Marxism vs. Intersectionality. By Jessica Cassell (In Defence of Marxism, 13 July 2017). “Intersectionality, despite the best intentions of many of its proponents, cannot adequately explain the origins of the varying forms of oppression, and therefore the solutions.”

Unite and fight? Marxism and identity politics. By Sherry Wolf (International Socialist Review, Issue 98, Fall 2015, p.119-131). “At its core, this is a talk about whether solidarity across gender, race, ethnic, and other lines is both possible and desirable. If those who advocate the politics of identity are right, then the prospects for unity are at best slim, and unity is neither likely nor desirable.”

What’s wrong with privilege theory? By Esme Choonara and Yuri Prasad (International Socialism, Issue 142, Spring 2014, p.83-110). “This article takes a critical look at some of the theories of privilege and concepts of intersectionality (the interaction of multiple oppressions) that increasingly dominate battles for liberation.”

Is there a white skin privilege? (, January 14, 2014). “The idea that all whites are privileged at the expense of Blacks is popular on the left – but Bill Mullen makes the case that Marxism offers a better understanding of racism.” With What else to read: “Socialist Worker readers debated the analysis of white skin privilege and how to organize the anti-racist struggle in a series of contributions.” Scroll down.

Readings on postmodernism and identity (pdf). Compiled by Ulli Diemer (, 2009, 116 p.). “A selection of critical articles on post-modernism, identity politics, and related topics.” With articles, among others, by Noam Chomsky, Loren Goldner, Irfan Habib, Kenan Malik and Ellen Meiksins Wood.

The politics of identity. By Sharon Smith (International Socialist Review, Issue 57, January-February 2008). “The bulk of this article is a critique of the theory behind what is known in academic and left circles as ‘identity politics’—the idea that only those experiencing a particular form of oppression can either define it or fight against it—counterposing to it a Marxist analysis.”

Identity politics and the Left. By Eric Hobsbawm (New Left Review, Issue 217, May-June 1996, p.38-47; online at Amiel Melburn Trust Internet Archive). “Since the 1970s there has been a tendency – an increasing tendency – to see the Left essentially as a coalition of minority groups and interests: of race, gender, sexual or other cultural preferences and lifestyles …”

Mistaken identity – or can identity politics liberate the oppressed? By Sharon Smith (International Socialism, Issue 62, Spring 1994, p.3-50). “In this article I aim to show i) how the ideas of ‘autonomy’ gained a following on the left commensurate with the decline of the level of class struggle …; ii) what is wrong with the theoretical basis of identity politics; and iii) why the politics of identity is not an effective strategy for fighting against oppression …”

The ‘politically correct’ controversy. By John Molyneux (International Socialism, Issue 61, Winter 1993, p.43-74). “He damns the hyprocrisy of the right but shows that socialists should not be uncritical supporters of what is done in the name of political correctness.”


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