People on the political right like to throw around the phrase "cultural Marxism" as a label for identity politics, feminism, intersectionality etc. Evidently its a reference to the Frankfurt school, which is supposed to have infected post-war American Universities with a strand of collectivist ideology wrapped up in the language of critical theory. Of course the Frankfurt school were leftists, but I always thought their leftism was more about economics, capitalism, consumerism, art, media etc. than race/gender theory. So the way right-wingers use the phrase "cultural marxism" always sounded illiterate to me. But recently it was pointed out to me that the phrase "identitarianism" was actually coined by Adorno. I tried reading the SEP entry on Adorno, but the relevant section on the term is hard for me to understand (a bunch of stuff about Kant and Hegel). Does anyone know if Adorno is at all part of the provenance of our contemporary notion of "identity politics", or whether this is just an accident?
In Dialectic of Enlightenment and later in Negative Dialectics, Adorno talks about the non-identity between concepts and objects.
Western thinking has privileged concepts over particular objects of experience that can't be reduced to the concepts used to subsume and define them. So, if I'm friends with Fred and Fred is black, it is not unusual to subsume "Fred" under the general category "black." I then lose contact with that which is unique and does not fit under any general rubric. This:
a) shows the limit of the conceptual, as some things cannot be grasped in terms of general concepts, and
b) makes mass-society and dehumanization of particular individuals possible by lumping them in such categories.
This is very much at odds with "Identity Politics" which relies on general concepts both for understanding and changing society.