Social movements – beyond identity?
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Social movements – beyond identity?

In an interview from the 1980’s French philosopher Michel Foucault expressed his disappointment with the gay movement: Once it won some preliminary battles of recognition, it proved itself to be not revolutionary, but bourgeois. The gay community did not transform society in any substantial way, but only reenacted the basic capitalist bourgeois values - and therefore ‘gay’ as an identitarian proclamation was no longer a subversive act.

Is this the true fate of the post-‘68 social movements, the so-called New Social Movements, who were primarily based on identity? Or is this identitarian struggle still relevant as a subversive act today?

This question haunts some current events.

- Is the struggle for gay churchly marriage a subversive act of revolutionizing the church; or is it another step toward the complete bourgeosification of the gay movement?

- Is the Occupy Wall Street a non-identitarian movement directed against capitalism itself; that is the embodiment of the Badiou-Žižekian dream of a new communism? And if this is the case, is there any chance it will succeed?

- What are the lessons to be learned from the revolts of The Arab Spring?

These are just three examples of some of the events that can be discussed in an overall discussion of:

-  the future of social movements

- the lessons to be learned from popular struggles since 1968

- the revolutionary potential of social movements in present day politics

- the political potentials of ‘identity’ in direct collective actions today


Nicolai Von Eggers Mariegaard, stud. mag.

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Revised 2012.01.15