One of the criticisms of the new social movement is that it focused more on the social aspects of the lives of those discriminated and completely ignored and neglected the economic aspect. This led to the increase in the gap between the rich and the poor with those discriminated and under the social movement umbrella ending up facing poverty (Rorty, 1998). The white people who were condemned by the movement ended up rich and with a huge margin. The other criticism is that the identity politics was simply all about politics and which was being advocated for and practiced by young people. Their attempts at universality of their ideologies were therefore met with resistance as they lacked experience and any other substantial material stand other than just politics (Gitlin, 1993). This meant that once the political aspect of the movement was eliminated, then the movement did not have a survival stand.
According to Young, (1997), the only way to address the criticisms that come with identity politics as well as the new social movement is to leave aside the differences and work together and in unity as the initial civil rights movement advocated for. Setting aside the differences of gender, race and sexuality among others that have driven the wedge in society will be the only way people can attain the recognition and justice they deserve. It will also ensure that those in the marginalized groups are not left behind when it comes to matters of wealth and bridging the differences in wealth gap among the rich white people and the rest of the marginalized minority groups. The civil rights movement of the past was geared towards unity and understanding but not separating people as the new social movement has been doing.
Occupy Wall Street did not address both criticisms addressed in the first question above. It only addressed one successfully and which was about the issue of wealth inequality in the nation. The wage and wealth inequality is what was the main agenda and driving force of the mass protestation and movement that saw the recognition and support of many people and organization including President Obama. It led to a few employees in the major firms and organization experiencing a wage increase. It however failed to address the issue of politics in social movement that saw many lose focus on the main goal due to politics. This movement was all politics and hence could not address a critique that it was following keenly on its footsteps. The involvement of political leaders with no promise to enforce changes is evidence enough of the politics in the movement.
The fact that occupy Wall Street addressed the problems that have increased as well as fueled the wealth gap is proof that it addressed the criticism without abandoning their identity politics. This movement brought into the limelight the fact that the minority were the ones that were being faced with this poverty and inequality wealth gap. Occupy our Homes for example is one of the evidence that Occupy Wall Street did not abandon the lessons learnt from identity politics. It highlighted the fact that banks and financial institutions that are owned by the rich 1% mismanaged and gambled with the little money of the marginalized people and lost it in the financial crisis. This further led to them losing the little they had acquired and this is what the occupy Wall Street was advocating against. It wanted justice and equality for such people which is what identity politics is all about.
The new racial justice movement was meant to restore the racial justice and put to an end the discrimination that led to the law enforcement officers curtailing legislations that affected the minority races. They wanted to protect the immigrants of other races and restore their equality in the system. It wanted to ensure that the minority races had a right to not be discriminated on any matters. They did this not with politics but ideologies and actions which was a way to address the criticism in the question above on politics. Without using the movement as a source of politics, this new racial justice movement has been achieving a lot to bring about policies that end the oppressive legislatures as well as out better ones in place that address the inequalities experienced by the minority races in this nation, something that has been long overdue.
The lessons gained in identity politics is that people have to keep on fighting the inequality battles in the US by using various channels. They have to ensure that they will not rest until all the various forms of inequality and discrimination against the minority groups as well as those marginalized end. This is an issue that the new racial justice movement has been ensuring. They are fighting to restore the honor and equality of all the races. They are however doing this without abandoning the lessons above despite using a much more diplomatic and sure method of advocacy that has guaranteed to better results in the future. The fact that politics is not being used by this movement is an indication that they are still following the identity politics while addressing the criticisms of the past.
Both occupy wall street and the new racial justice movement has been fighting to address the criticism of the new social movement that are geared towards the focus on social issues and neglect of wealth and economic matters. Occupy wall street has been on the forefront in fighting wealth inequality distribution even though using politics but following the same trend of identity politics with a focus on the marginalized groups. The same has been the case with the new racial justice movement but whose focus is more on race matters and not wealth. It has already been established above that this racial movement has been following the identity politics to the letter and not even suing politics in the movement as is the case with the occupy wall street movement as is discussed above.
- Gitlin, T. (1993). The Rise of Identity Movement. Dissent, 172-177.
- Rorty, R. (1998). Achieving our Country. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
- Young, I. (1997). The complexities of coalition. Dissent, 64-69.