Book discussion: No Politics but Class Politics

  • 12/05/2023
    19:00 - 21:00
No Politics but Class Politics (2023, Columbia University Press) by Walter Benn Michaels and Adolph Reed, Jr. Edited and ith a foreword by Anton Jäger & Daniel Zamora in conversation with Eleonora Roldán Mendívil.

Denouncing racism and celebrating diversity have become central to progressive politics. For many on the left, social justice seems to consist of an equitable distribution of wealth, power and esteem among racial groups. But as Adolph Reed Jr. and Walter Benn Michaels argue, the emphasis on discrimination is misplaced. Not only does the focus on the gap between white and black leave the gap between rich and poor untouched, it actually works to legitimate it. Reed and Michaels make the case for a genuinely egalitarian politics: a politics which aspires not to the establishment of a demographically representative elite but to economic justice for everyone.

Walter Benn Michaels is a thinker, literary theorist, and author whose areas of research include American literature, critical theory, identity politics, and visual arts. Known for challenging the “prevailing trends of postmodernist theory,” Michaels has produced works connecting postmodernism, neoliberal capitalism and socioeconomic inequality. Three of his best-known books are Our America: Nativism, Modernism and Pluralism (1995) and The Shape of the Signifier: 1967 to the End of History (2004) and The Trouble with Diversity (2006).His books have been translated into German, among other languages.

Adolph Leonard Reed Jr. is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in studies of issues of racism and U.S. politics. He has taught at Yale, Northwestern, and the New School for Social Research, and he has written extensively on racial and economic inequality. He is a contributing editor to The New Republic, and has been a frequent contributor to The Progressive, the Nation, and other left-wing publications. He is a founding member of the U.S. Labor Party.

Eleonora Roldán Mendívil is a political scientist and educator. She has taught at several universities in Germany and Austria on intersectionality, racism and colonial history. Currently, she is a PhD candidate at the University of Kassel (Germany). Her research interests include Marxism, (anti-)racism, gender relations and historical education. Together with Bafta Sarbo she has published the anthology Die Diversität der Ausbeutung. Zur Kritik des herrschenden Antirassismus (The Diversity of Exploitation. A Critique of prevalent anti-racism) in 2022, now in its 3rd edition.

The event will be held in spoken English. The space is accessible via wheelchair and on foot and by bike. Please arrive early to secure a seat.