"Just as one spoils the stomach by overfeeding and thereby impairs the whole body, so can one overload and choke the mind by giving it too much nourishment. For the more one reads the fewer are the traces left of what one has read; the mind is like a tablet that has been written over and over. Hence it is impossible to reflect; and it is only by reflection that one can assimilate what one has read. If one reads straight ahead without pondering over it later, what has been read does not take root, but is for the most part lost."
The basic demands of identity politics assumed an atmosphere of plenty. In the seventies and eighties, that plenty had existed and women and non-whites were able to battle over how the collective pie would be divided: would white men learn to share, or would they keep hogging it? In the representational politics of the New Economy nineties, however, women as well as men, and whites as well as people of color, were now fighting their battles over a single, shrinking piece of pie – and consistently failing to ask what was happening to the rest of it. For us, as students, to address the problems at the roots of “classism” we would have to face up to core issues of wealth distribution – and unlike sexism, racism or homophobia, that was not what we used to call “an awareness problem.
So class fell off the agenda, along with all serious economic – let alone corporate – analysis…
As we look back it seems like willful blindness. The abandonment of the radical economic foundations of the women’s and civil rights movements by the conflation of causes that came to be called political correctness successfully trained a generation of activists in the politics of image, not action. And if the space invaders marched into our schools and our communities unchallenged, it was at least partly because the political models in vogue at the time of the invasion left many of us ill-equipped to deal with issues that were more about ownership than representation. We were busy analyzing the pictures being projected on the wall to notice that the wall itself had been sold."