For many activists today, the language of “privilege” and “privilege checking” is the default setting. We live in a highly atomized world where the default understanding of how to organize against oppression is to root out bad interpersonal practices. Yet while awareness of privilege, inequality, and intersecting oppressions is positive in that it connects with people’s lived experiences and gives them confidence to “call out” oppression and challenge it, “privilege checking” can encourage movement activist to turn inward and against each other, and to “rank” each other according to degrees of oppression. This can create a hostile environment in which it becomes difficult to build collective solidarity and struggle, which are the best means to challenge oppression both within our movements and against the system as a whole. A Marxist perspective that links different forms of oppression to the needs of capitalism provides a framework in which to build mutual solidarity based on the championing of struggles against all forms of oppression.
What Should Socialists Say About Privilege Checking?