Identity Politics: Diversion from the Growing Economic Crisis?

concept of rich and poor in a person

By Ghada Chehade

Despite the reality of ever-increasing economic despair – including, and perhaps especially, for minorities – no one is willing to talk about class and economic issues. This is especially true among the so-called new left, which is more concerned with identity issues than class and politico-economic analysis. But lacking a larger analysis of the politico-economic system, identity politics is little more than a diversion and distraction from the larger issues that plague us all; and a convenient tool for the global establishment.


“It’s the Economy, Stupid”

We live in a world that often appears to be upside down; a world that has its priorities all mixed up. While we slip deeper into what can easily be described as the greatest economic depression of our time, no one on the “new left” (a.k.a. the liberal left) seems willing to talk about the bleak realities of ever-increasing economic despair. Instead, what we see and hear in the media, including the “left media,” in government, and across university campuses is an emphasis on special interest issues and personal identity. Rather than address the larger issues that plague the majority of people (including minorities) – i.e., the pitfalls of economic globalisation, unemployment and underemployment, mounting debt, the increased cost of living, economic austerity, imperial wars, etc. – we are distracted by the spectacle of identity politics and stifled by a liberal political correctness that imposes “tolerance” in a manner that actually limits freedom of thought and expression while serving the global establishment.

While identity politics claims to be concerned with helping minorities, it refuses to address economic issues, such as poverty and growing unemployment, which often disproportionately impact certain minority groups.1 One of the reasons that identity politics does not deal with class and economic issues is that it is rooted in postmodern theory, for which the explicit rejection of the centrality of class is somewhat of an obsession.2 Indeed, many proponents of identity politics are openly hostile towards classical or traditional left politics – which dealt largely with class, Empire, and economic issues – and its “failure” to address culture and identity. However, the traditional left has never denied the importance of racial, gender and ethnic division within classes. What it has emphasised, though, is the wider system which generates these differences and the need to join class forces to eliminate these inequalities at every point.3

Focusing on identity rather than class and economics negates the reality that many individuals are struggling financially at present;4 both within and across racial, gender and ethnic divisions. This is due in no small measure to the U.S.-led agenda of economic globalisation. As I explain elsewhere:

“Globalisation…exploits and relies upon global inequality and disparity. Globalisation exploits the developing world’s “comparative advantage” of cheap labour and lax regulations, and allows western companies to maintain the illusion of being domestic while benefitting from operating in countries where they pay far less for everything –  especially labour – and stand to gain immensely as a result.”

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About the Author

Ghada Chehade is an independent socio-political analyst, writer and performance poet. Her doctoral research won the Award for Best Dissertation from the Canadian Association for the Study of Discourse and Writing (CASDW). She is a contributor on Her emerging areas of interest deal with alternative scientific theories. She blogs at



1. Berthoud, R. (2002). “Poverty and prosperity among Britain’s ethnic minorities.” Benefits, Volume 10, Number 1, 1 February 2002, pp. 3-8(6)

2. Best, S. & D. Kellner. “Postmodern Politics and the Battle For the Future” [11/07/04]

3. Petras, J. (1997/1998). “A Marxist Critique of Post-Marxists” Links no 9.

4. Smith, D. (2011). “Rich Nations, Poor People: The Cause For Rising Poverty In The Western World.”

5. Chehade, G. (March 2017). “Economic Globalization: Global Integration or Exploitation of Global Disparity?” The Global Analyst, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp. 22-25

6. I use the terms identity politics and identity liberalism interchangeably

7. This is a practice referred to as humanitarian imperialism. See Bricmont, J. (2006). Humanitarian imperialism: Using human rights to sell war. New York, NY: Monthly Review Press.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.