The Oppressors’ Trifecta: Race, Gender, and Class.


THE SEVENTIES had come to an end with Western Leftism in a thoroughly confused state.

Actually Existing Socialism still held sway over most of the Eurasian continent. Admittedly, the Chinese variant bore less and less resemblance to the original Soviet model, which had rounded off the Seventies by invading Afghanistan. It was, however, extremely hard to like either of the Communist behemoths. Of the French revolutionary credo: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity; the actually existing socialists had mastered only Equality. Although Cuba and the recently liberated Portuguese colonies of Angola and Mozambique were making slow but steady progress towards Fraternity.

For Western Leftists, Actually Existing Socialism’s evident failure to promote Liberty proved to be a deal-breaker. After all, what had the Sixties and Seventies been about – if not Freedom? The anarchist firebrand, Emma Goldman, had written to Lenin in 1917: “If you make a revolution, and there’s no dancing, then I’m not coming.” The New Left felt exactly the same about Freedom. When Actually Existing Socialism finally embraced Liberty, wild horses wouldn’t be able to keep the Western Left away, until then …

But, if class-based revolutionary politics found itself becalmed, the so-called “New Social Movements” movements arising out of the struggle for Black civil rights in the USA and South Africa, feminism’s second wave, and the energetic pursuit of gay and lesbian liberation, had storm-force winds in their sails. As the Eighties dawned, it was almost impossible to engage in left-wing politics without acknowledging these new emancipatory movements, or avoid incorporating their radical insights into the Left’s revolutionary praxis.

Predictably, the New Social Movement’s hardest sell was to that part of the Left which still clung to the ideas of Karl Marx. It wasn’t that the Marxists were incapable of recognising the oppression of Blacks, women and gays, merely that they regarded the struggle of these subordinate groups as mere skirmishes within the overarching and all-important battle between Capital and Labour. Class consciousness was the “Open Sesame!” to the free and abundant world that socialism would make possible. Since exploitation was indivisible, the struggle against it had to be the same. Unity – not Identity – was the watchword.

The fighters for racial, sexual and gender equality were having none of it. They would not be subsumed in the “world historical struggle” whose ideological generals all seemed to be straight, white, and male. If the personal was political, then these unconscious beneficiaries of white supremacy and patriarchy had some serious shit to work through.

Enter the Tripod Theory. According to its promoters, subsuming all other emancipatory struggles into the one great struggle between capitalists and proletarians was a mistake. Exploitation wasn’t purely a question of economics, it was a vast, multi-faceted collection of struggles in which racism and sexism featured hugely. Far more could be achieved, they argued, by recognising the co-equal status of race, gender and class in the “triple oppression” of humanity.

Each of these buttresses of oppression depended on and was upheld by the other two. Patriarchy provided capitalism with an already elaborate framework of sexually-charged power and control, while white supremacy had made possible the vast accumulation of slave-generated wealth that set the capitalist system in motion. Race and gender thus raised profound cultural issues that could never be accommodated comfortably in the narrow economism of class politics.

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The Tripod Theory gave rise to another metaphor, one in which the Left, by embracing the concept of the “three oppressions”, constructs a fighting platform upon which Blacks, Women, Workers and Gays can fight white supremacy, patriarchy, homophobia and capitalism side by side – each group aiding the other. Race, gender and class thus become the three legs of the Left’s footstool, distributing the revolutionary load equally.

In an attempt to draw the separate struggles of the traditional socialist Left and the New Social Movements into a useful theoretical and political dialogue, Rob Stevens, a progressive academic based at the University of Canterbury, bravely launched the journal Race Gender Class in 1985. It ran for 14 issues and ceased publication in 1995.

Glancing through the issue released in 1991 it very soon becomes clear that if Stevens and his editorial collective had hoped the ideologies related to race, gender and class might, by virtue of being brought together on the pages of a single periodical, somehow give rise to a new and powerful revolutionary praxis, then they must have been disappointed. Not even the tender ministrations of Bill Birch, Ruth Richardson and Jenny Shipley: which had, in that bitter year, 1991, dramatically raised the Misery Index for unionised workers, solo mums and the whole beneficiary underclass (in which Māori and Pasifika figured so disproportionately) could generate the intersectional fightback anticipated by the Tripod Theory.

And just in case any unreconstructed class warriors out there feel moved to lay the blame for this failure at the feet of the race and gender contingents of the broader emancipatory movement, it is worth recalling that it was the Council of Trade Unions which refused to call the general strike that would, undoubtedly, have brought together workers, women, people of colour, and gays on the one platform where real and durable alliances are formed – the barricades.

What the 1991 issue does make clear, however, is the dramatic progress made by those who elected to march under the colours of race and gender. It’s not just the familiar names of Jane Kelsey, Moana Jackson and Vincent O’Malley that catch the eye, but also that the issues they wrote about have such a contemporary feel. Thirty years ago, discussions about the implications of the Treaty “partnership” were confined to a tiny minority of senior public servants, academics and activists (pretty much the readership of journals like Race Gender Class). Thirty years later, the issues debated by the ideologues of race and gender in 1991 constitute the political agenda of the 2020s.

But, if the Politics of Identity have thrived over the course of the past three decades, the Politics of Class have dwindled and faded. Which is not to say that the vast gulf separating the human-beings who keep the capitalist system running, and those who pocket the profits, has not widened since the days of the tragically optimistic Tripod Theory. Nor that the rate of global exploitation has eased in any way. Merely that 1991 was also the year that the Soviet Union fell to pieces.

Turns out that the only thing keeping Western Leftism remotely credible was Actually Existing Socialism. With the reality of class-based politics removed – along with the Berlin Wall – the Politics of Identity, now on two legs, race and gender, was free to run away and join the capitalist circus. What these identarians have yet to appreciate, however, is that Capitalism remains the ringmaster. Thirty years on, all that the politics of race and gender have become is the entertainment.



  1. Identitariams have amassed vast new laws in the past ten years the only ones left are all about controlling reproductive organs and I don’t want to be called a woman.

    Perhaps all these misery merchants assulatimg western masculinity can take there lovely little trauma memes over to Saudi Arabia where they’re really needed.

    How dare the council of partiarchy use the state to assault masculinity. I’m not fighting for these charlatans.

    First of all, all of these brother and sisters of Karen making false accusations need to have the pensions for making a false police report raised on them. Someone needs to advocate for men’s rights.

  2. Most of these leftie identarians operate online on the latest must have 2000 dollar iPhone. Ask them to give it up for a cheaper more socialist model and see what you get. Capitalism and competition rules. Without it we’d still be using horse and cart…the great Green Party dream.

    • And the right drive 50 meters in a black Mercedes whilst having their shoes polished by the homeless, the great neoliberal dream.

    • You give Capitalism more credit than it deserves.That economic powerhouse the CCP is where hi tech phones are made amongst other things.
      Labour is always the resource…created capital and interest bearing debt…exploits it.

      Who put the first man in space?

      • The CCP is a capitalist economy these days. The first man in space by the soviets just geared American investment and innovation towards what became a space race – which they ended up dominating. This continues today with the likes of Space X etc.

      • Blazer. Daedalus put the first man into space, his son Icarus. Both Greeks. The lack of success may have been due to sabotage by Apollo, a Greek god. We owe much to the Greeks, and Greek gods can get rather complicated, but they’d sort our effete pollies out.

    • and identitarians of the right don’t have devices and are not found like trails of slime all across the intramawebby—cabbage

  3. Let’s clear this up one last time.

    The current, Woke identity politics is solely a left-wing creation. It came from 60s left-academics and theories in various studies of power and ultimate obsession with opppression. It later fused with 80s postmodern “there is no truth but its one’s own” and then was enabled in its 2010s institutional capture by perhaps well-meaning left-wing academics, technocrats, and beauracrats. They all gained immense institutional power during the 80s-00s and then sat on it as liberal values were attacked. They were classical left-wing but they indulged nonsense theories because they wanted to keep relevant and believe, like often happens, that those in ‘their’ group mean well but are just misguided. Except they weren’t.

    Woke identity politics is a cancer to the West and the traditional Left-wing were the intellectual predecessors, the managerial indulgers, and tribal protectors of Woke identity politics.

    It has nothing to do with capitalist or the right-wing. Late stage Capitalism may exploit its sentiments or enjoy its diversion but it is neither the parent, uncle, or even distant cousin to Woke identity politics.

    The Right has much to answer for, but Woke identity politics is not one of them. Instead, classical left-wingers like Trotter rage against their child and the hypocrisy stinks, it stinks and it sinks the Left down even further when it won’t acknowledge parental DNA.

    It just shows up the Left as vaucous idiots who can never accept their own responsibility.

    • Best post ever read on the TDB explains the stupidity of the Left who rely on the Rignt for their very existence.( Yes the Right has much to answer for.)
      Fabulous Dustin.

    • Yes, woke identity politics is the bastard child of Marx. And yes, it is a cancer on Western societies, especially in the Anglosphere.

      BUT, the political right is complicit in at least two important ways. Firstly, the National Party (and nominally conservative/right-wing parties in some other countries too) have failed to mount effective and intelligent opposition to wokeism, and in fact have directly colluded in some cases. A shameful example here in NZ – only 8 out of 33 National Party MPs opposed the “conversion practices” legislation, which will criminalize parents and medical practicioners who are reluctant to “affirm” (i.e. medicalize) a child’s gender dysphoria. So either the Nats are almost as woke as LINO, or else most of them lacked the courage to stand up and oppose this sinister piece of legislation. Look who they’ve appointed as leader – a woke corporate Hollow Man. Why are LINO still polling 35% despite their manifest incompetence and confusion? Because the Nats are spineless, bereft of constructive ideas, and can’t work out what they stand for.

      Secondly, the user-pays policies favoured by the Nats have facilitated the woke-ification of our universities. Yes I know LINO introduced user-pays, but the Nats ran eagerly with the ball once they got hold of it. When you turn students in a public university into paying customers, you’ve put the students in charge. A university administrator’s worst nightmare is a student denouncing their university as “racist” or “transphobic” on social media. Because now our universities each have a precious “brand” to protect. But But I’ve never met a committed rightist who’s prepared to acknowledge the problems created by user-pays.

      • Firstly, the National Party (and nominally conservative/right-wing parties in some other countries too) have failed to mount effective and intelligent opposition to wokeism, and in fact have directly colluded in some cases

        Well said. They’re still living in a world of “spending cuts” (which they’ll never do) and “tax cuts”. The attitude is that everything else will work itself out in the meantime. Fuck them.

    • Except … Wokedom is, in key respects, the antithesis of traditional Social Democracy.

      The affluent Woke professional middle-class slowly but surely capture the main institutions of the mainstream Left, transform its broad ideological direction & enforce policies that fundamentally subvert and pervert its core principles … namely: universalism, egalitarianism, individual human rights, liberal democratic norms, free expression of ideas.

      Top-down elitism, authoritarianism & particularism; self-interest, power-grabbing & scapegoating of intersectional ‘outgroups’ (eg poorer pakeha / asians) are being systematically pursued by an establishment class … all under the guise of ostentatious (and highly selective) moral posturing. This fraudulent “morality” is their perpetual alibi as they continue to doggedly accumulate power & wealth.

    • but dustin the snowflakes of the right have taken it up with gusto haven’t they THEY JUST DESIRE A NICE RACIST WHITE FUNDAMENTALIST SAFE SPACE.
      ..a texas school district CANCELS the diary of anne frank

      • They also cancelled the Bible. Blue Lib college Town, with additional new voters – economic refugees from California. A large migration from Cali, NY, IL to FL and TX.

  4. I was taught by Rob Steven and Wolf Rosenburg amongst others, good principled men. I never believed their core equality credo for “Existing Socialist” states. I’d read Orwell and some animals were more equal than others.

    That left a problem, essentially Marx is correct about class struggle, the rest of the identitarian stuff is gibberish voiced by superior pigs.

  5. The Workers Communist League–WCL and Socialist Action were probably the only two NZ marxist groups that “got” identity politics early on. It is how the various layers of oppression are handled that matters. The NZ commos were casualties of all this too due to sectarianism, and over focusing on the international (which of course all the other parties practiced not your own) so now we just have online rumps of what were once a number of proud active organisations.

    The Soviet Union after Lenin’s demise indeed became a “degenerate workers state” as some trotskyites liked to term it. The Russians should have abandoned SS20s, developed skinny jeans and Apple type gadgets and they would likely still be here today!

    But do not crow Chris–NZ Labour is a neo Blairist outfit these days with declining real world support at LEC and conference–joke–levels. The Labour Caucus is full of ideological nobodies incapable of a class analysis bar Michael Wood it seems.

    Post Modernist philosophy (where anything means anything) and Monetarism/Neo Liberalism have significantly laid waste to collective thought and action–but none the less capital and finance capital continue to push the planet closer to a dark end every year. So the answer will be determined by the new gens, not us old tuskers. Class war goes on as evidenced by pockets of union organisation even in the USA and UK–“Enough is Enough!”

    • The bad news is that the new gens aren’t very interested in class – it’s all about ethnicity and gender. But I must say I was pleased to hear Amazon was unable to block unionization of its workforce. An appalling place to work! Zero-hours contracts, and they time you in the toilet – you earn demerit points if you spend too long in there.

  6. ‘ the Politics of Class have dwindled and faded. ‘
    My view is the complete opposite.
    Class is THE dominant factor in politics all around the world.
    Look at Sth Africa- replace the white ruling class with a black ruling class.
    Neo liberalism relies on class distinctions-race,gender etc are just diversions.
    Look at NZ today….you either own property or you don’t=black and white distinction that translates straight to the ballot box.

  7. An interesting perspective. The broader and perhaps more important question, from my point of view, is “where to from here?”.

    Could identify politics ultimately be more than entertainment and ignite the break down of civil society itself as populations are deliberately and successfully divided by gender and racial identity through the politicisation of the underpinning ideologies? Could such ideas, captured and instantiated by Governments lead to, in NZ, the loss of democracy itself?

    Any ideas on this Chris?

    • If having children is a woman’s choice then I want a financial abortion. That’s to say I want to be able to opt out of paying child support of the woman initiates a divorce.

        • That’s not the point. Point is have more rights than men it’s only now someone’s sticking up for cockfighters and that’s the bit that grates on you.

                • Its not dudes who are leaving the family home for the streets it’s woman.

                  If woman want more rights to enter the work force and maintain there single status then more power to them.

  8. Perfectly explained.

    These mels and gen-zeros ignore or refuse to engage with any discussion, debate about class war, or struggle or identity.
    They’re the least caring generation too! They only care about an imaginary group in a bubble and the rest is just a cosplay virtue signal.

    • Agreed these generarations really are uncaring. I have seen them Walk past street people with their little noses in the air. They don’t give a hoot about anyone below them. It’s a sad statement about society today.

      • The words of Don McLean’s song recorded in the 1970’s? What is the next step after noting it and writing on a public forum? Is it resignation, wringing your hands? What do you suggest we should all do to improve it.,
        Prime Time Don McLean
        I was ridin’ on the subway in the afternoon
        I saw some kids ‘a beatin’ out a funky tune
        The lady right in front of me was old and brown
        The kids began to push her, they knocked her down
        I tried to help her out but there was just no way
        A life ain’t worth a damn on the street today
        I passed the ambulance and the camera crews
        I saw the instant replay on the evening news

        Well this is life, this is Prime time
        This is livin’ in the U. S. A
        Well this is life, this is Prime Time
        This is livin’ the American way

        Now it is living the NZ way? And NZs have to change their ways, and just changing the name to Aotearoa isn’t going to do it – will be just a smokescreen. So what personal action do you suggest Jono?

        • It’s society Greywarbler (u sound like some sort of a lol)and powers that be want it this way so good luck trying to change it. It makes them very wealthy. Good luck.

          • Poor little jono,. Give up, don’t try, just moan on blogs happily run for them,. What about setting up a blog and call it Wallies Wail – sneer here? And what does this mean in words – ‘some sort of alol’?

  9. A few weeks ago I received a phone call requesting participation in a survey, it was under the auspices of one of our universities I believe. They asked to speak with someone “that identifies as Maori”. My response, that there was no one here like that, was met with a questioning disbelief. I assumed that she was somehow privy to the fact that I have some Maori ancestry. I explained that, despite that, I don’t consider myself a Maori. She couldn’t properly explain what she meant by “identifies as” but the reaction was accusatory and ended with; “well that’s your choice”.
    So what is going on here? Is identity a mere choice? At once subjective, spiritual and ethereal, a matter of “choice” while simultaneously being inserted, institutionalised and sanctified as practice and law? It’s increasingly obvious, to me anyway, that the current identity obsession is a childish pretense.
    Here’s a great piece on that question and it’s social and psychological roots. “Identity Fixation”, 26 minutes

  10. all the rightards…please define ‘woke’ female dr who? mixed bogs? teaching kids history?

    or is it just….me no understand me scared me no like…

    now some of the stuff the middle class busybodies do is rank stupidity that frankly harms their cause more than it helps any problem ‘right on-ness’ serves the same purpose foe the administrative class as sport does for the proletariat, something they can be passionate about that effects nothing.

  11. There is no right or left anymore.

    It’s the Snowfake Mel-GenZero against anyone over the age of 12 physically, mentally and whomever identifies as any of the above.

    The Snowfake Generation are just so full of hate of any other generation that doesn’t yield when they have a tantrum.

    They need reprogramming starting with a stint in the Ukraine.

  12. Are we all sage observers here, commenting more in sorrow than anger? And as anger is a fuel to action – what useful action do we plan – if we care.
    Hotel California – We are all just prisoners here, Of our own device!!

  13. I think you are all over complicating it. Structurally we live in a complex but very clearly defined Hyper-capitalist society. People vs Capital = tax and regulation, so we value the rule of law as well. Woke seems good to me. I want to hear the oppressed voices and make them feel included and energized, otherwise only the strong, cruel, selfish and insensitive people raise to be leader etc. Woke does not explain the structure of society economy but it can make us more inclusive and sensitive. Dance with both partner, do ley either one diamante. Let’s start with a 60/40 Split.

    • Come on woke can be cruel, selfish and insensitive. There is no us and them we are all a mix, woke have just pulled down an iron curtain on the concerns of people who have been perhaps crippled by the system as much as wokeists have been. And as wokes advance in agency and demand they get more power which tends to corrupt. No-one is perfect and they can argue away their own faults by blaming others for them but that’s just a convenient stance, claiming to be biggest victims allowing them to be the biggest aggressors.

  14. Wow you are not one to generalise are you. That’s like saying all the old c*nts don’t care because they pollute like crazy but can’t be arsed doing anything about it because it’s either futile or a myth, received heavily subsidised education but bitch about one year fees free etc, and won’t entertain different thoughts on topics because they have ‘wisdom’ that comes with age.

  15. Identity is a cheaper constituency than class/labour.

    That’s why Labour and worldwide parties of the left have gone with it. Just that slight bit easier to get elected – slightly fewer capital-owning opponents opposing with slightly less vitriol.

    And look what its got those parties: baubles and a side salad of nothing.

  16. The Germans Italians and Japanese apologised for fascism but I have yet to hear an apology from the leftist ‘intelligentsia’ for the 100 million people murdered under socialism in the 20th century.

    Ah but that wasn’t ‘real socialism’ I now here them cry! Next time we’ll get it right.

    Like hell you will!

    • Yes Andrew I too have pointed out the atrocities of socialism on this site only as expected to be shouted down.

    • they found a note in a file in the kremlin ‘sorry about the deaths, stalin’ there happy now andrew

      and who’s figures are you using bob? because conquests are worthless, indeed have you ever read a book on the subject rather than a meme? try the NKVD ration returns for a still grim to the point of incomprehension picture but probably a tad more accurate than
      think of a number
      multiply by a thousand
      add your daughters age times 1000
      double it
      add a 10 million just to on the safe side
      the method used by most historians

      cue cries of ‘ski’ from those with no comeback.

      • Sure, we’ll include the Ukraine’s Holodomor, the gulags, the ‘road of bones’ the purges of the intelligentsia and the red army.

        But it doesn’t stop at uncle Joe.

        It must include Mao’s Great Leap Forward and his Cultural Revolution. Pol Pot’s genocide. The state sanctioned murders by Castro and a dozen other nasty little South Americans bolivarian revolutionaries. The millions who have died under Marxist rule in Africa mainly due to incompetence rather than ill intent. The people dying TODAY in Venezuela. The million people in concentration camps in China TODAY.

        I’m not pointing fingers at these tyrants because tyrants do what they will. No. I’m pointing a finger at the Marxist academics who enable them and who pass out weak excuses for the endless destruction they promote.

        • how many officers of the red army were sacked/imprisoned rather than executed in the purge and returned(out of necessity) in ww2? you can’t extrapolate from dead marshalls to officers in general…but that’s the historiography in this area. extrapolate from a spurious starting point.

          now stalin was responsible for millions of deaths, the right just want a figure higher than adolf (which it probably was-though if plan ost had come off it would have dwarfed stalin) because ‘worse than adolf’, means adolf not so bad’ then ‘adolf good guy’….
          what’s the diff between 4 million and 40 million in the ‘badness stakes’ both are incomphensivly evil

      • Sorry gagarin but have no idea what you are talking about unless you are attempting to sound superior which I suspect is correct.
        Using a jumble of words out of a scrabble box I suspect.
        Why is it some people are unable to say what they mean yet think they are well educated.

  17. it’s simple enough bob your ignorance is an issue for you but it’s not my problem.

    what part of the post is above your pay grade? let me know and I’ll try to explain it in simple terms.

    • Ok gagarin take your point but cannot accept your assertion I’m ignorant.
      Have to say nothing you say is above my pay grade I just think you have a tendency to use a jumble of many words when a few would do.
      Anyway to avert the outbreak of another world war peace be with you.

  18. bob your opinion of my ‘style’ is irrelevant
    again what part of my ‘word salad’ would you like clarified for you?

  19. I think gagrin knows a lot and thinks a lot and tries to not spend too much time justifying his comments with encyclopaedias of information. There are only so many hours in a day
    So I have just looked up ‘plan ost’ referred to at 11.46. This was really massive reshaping of life – makes Muldoon’s Think Big seem pin-sized.
    The Generalplan Ost (German pronunciation: [ɡenəˈʁaːlˌplaːn ˈɔst]; English: Master Plan for the East), abbreviated GPO, was the Nazi German government’s plan for the genocide[1] and ethnic cleansing on a vast scale, and colonization of Central and Eastern Europe by Germans. It was to be undertaken in territories occupied by Germany during World War II. The plan was attempted during the war, resulting indirectly and directly in the deaths of millions by shootings, starvation, disease, extermination through labor, and genocide.

    However, its full implementation was not considered practicable during major military operations, and never materialized due to Germany’s defeat.

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