In recent years, an alternative to both these strands of modern political theory has appeared in the form of Post-modernism. The post-modernists challenge liberalism for its abstract categories –like the universal rights of all people and emphasize the rights of specific groups-women, tribal’s, blacks and the colonial people etc. This has led to the emergence of New Social Movements which challenge specific forms of social domination based on gender, caste, color and race. Identity politics has become the most crucial element in these movements. It also marks a shift from macro abstract political, social, economic issues to culture.
The basic argument of identity politics is that individuals define themselves mainly as belonging to a given cultural group which perceives itself as disadvantaged and oppressed at the hands of groups which are privileged and dominant-males, upper castes, white races and the imperialist countries. The relevant binary categories in identity policies become “we” and “they”. It is important to note that in practical terms, this new political theory of identity politics tantamount to rejecting the Marxian category of “class” as a major tool of analysis. It, equally vehemently, negates liberalism’s universal categories like”universal rights”,”civil” liberties” and “equality”. Instead of the mega “class war” of Marxian variety, it emphasizes “local struggles”. Instead of advocating power to the working class, it advocates empowerment of the local communities and specific cultural groups.