Tender Comrades: The Left and the Politics of Shame


  • Laura Pascoe
  • John Haffner Queen's University
  • John Rose


Shame, it seems, has become a very prominent mechanism for political organizing. In many spaces it is, in fact, the only mechanism employed. Over the course of the 2016 presidential election season it was hard to locate any political action that did not involve a degree of shaming. This shame manifested itself in different ways, depending on the context. When directed at the political right or the opposition, the intent has been to shame in order to win the day. When directed at the political left or the emerging resistance, the intent has be to devour--to weaken our position and erode solidarities in favour of building hierarchies of activism. This article posits that shaming has failed as a political strategy. Instead, the authors argue for a different strategy: one that draws from the rich intellectual traditions of the Left - including intersectionalities - in order to move forward with a politics of reflexivity, curiosity and connection.


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