[...] In a context theorized as post-political and postdemocratic, the personal—what the individual experiences, feels, and risks—has turned into the privileged site of political engagement. Given neoliberalism’s subjection of public and political practices and institutions to market demands this is not surprising. But what the left has claimed as a victory is the symptom of its defeat: the erosion of working-class political power and the accompanying decay of its political parties. The claim that the term comrade doesn’t ring true is thus more symptomatic than it is descriptive. It attests to a situation that has to be changed, a problem that needs to be solved, and an organization that must be built.
When identity is all that is left, hanging on to it can be a sensible response. At the very least—and against all odds—one survives. But as Silva discovered in her interviews with working-class adults, people can become so attached to their identity as survivors that they lack the capacity to criticize and challenge the conditions under which they are forced to struggle. Because these conditions, generally those of racialized patriarchal capitalism, are taken for granted, figured as either contingent or immutable, survival itself appears as the real political achievement. [...]