Norman Finkelstein first made his name while still in graduate school when he exposed an acclaimed national bestseller as a hoax. He went on in subsequent decades to subject Israel’s apologists as well as Holocaust hucksters to withering scrutiny.
In his new book, Finkelstein focuses his keen forensic eye on the canonical texts of identity politics. After methodically parsing them, Finkelstein concludes that they’re lacking in intellectual substance. Instead, the real purpose of identity politics is to derail a class-based movement bent on radical change.
In a long, scathing chapter, Finkelstein analyzes the cult surrounding Barack Obama, which he reveals as the ultimate product of identity politics. The first Black president rose to power by having, in Obama’s own cynical words, “pulled off a neat trick” by standing for nothing except his skin color. If “woke” liberals embraced him, it was because, beneath his hip veneer, Obama was a sure bet to prop up the corrupt status quo.
Along the way, Finkelstein recalls his own life in radical politics and his close encounters with cancel culture, which left him unemployed and unemployable. He situates his personal story within broader debates on academic freedom and poignantly concludes that, although occasionally bitter, he harbors no regrets about the choices he made.
“If I can’t laugh, I don’t want your revolution,” Finkelstein declares. Laced with his signature wit, readers of this book will get to laugh along with him.
Norman Finkelstein's previous books include The Holocaust Industry, Beyond Chutzpah, and Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict among others.