I’m generally very critical of what I kind of see as the market fetishization of the individual and of individualization. Peter called me out the other night, though, on my tendency to also validate the importance of individual identity. In many ways it’s very important to my picture of social justice and of movement building. I’m kind of in serious conflict about this now.

On the one hand, I think the fact that the market has co-opted our radical individuality into an advertising tool is very screwed up. I am nervous about the way we are sold individualization — whether it be in the form of the newest gadgets for your mobile phone that are highly customizable, or in the form of being sold privileges — like gay marriage. (I’m mostly here talking about the simple fact that the marriage question diverts attention away from segments of society — and who fall under the queer umbrella — who are so far underserved that marriage isn’t even on the radar. I’m also concerned about the argument for gay marriage that says that gay people are affluent and therefore will spend a lot of money on their weddings if they can get married. Blargh!)

The fact of the matter is, being an individual in this sense has been taken from us. It’s now being used to sell us stuff and thereby keep us complacent.

On the other hand, I detect a problem with abandoning this kind of attention to individual identity. I don’t think that it’s necessary to completely ridding ourselves of these ideas — maybe of the rhetoric. After all, I am continually frustrated by the impossibility of addressing historical injustice if we don’t consider identity. Further, how do we have a conversation about power if we don’t think about the lived experiences of individual people?

So, ultimately: is there a balance between the acknowledgment of individual identity and lived experience and the ability to flout the control structures of late capitalism?

This might not actually make any sense. I welcome your input on the matter. I think this is a pretty big problem!

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