19.11.16

WEAPONIZING IDENTITY.

Alan Jacobs suggests Slacker Nation was paying attention to the "Azzas ..."
In precisely the same way, when, somewhat later, academic leftists preached that race and gender were the determinative categories of social analysis, members of the future alt-right were slouching in the back rows of their classrooms, baseball caps pulled down over their eyes, making no external motions but in their dark little hearts twitching with fervent agreement.
That's the same argument Andrew Sullivan made before the election, when (and he's likely to be stressing this rather than his reservations about Trig Palin's parentage, going forward) he, almost alone among the MSNBC Approved People, predicted a Trump win.

Mr Jacobs's essay is one of several Rod Dreher cited in a recent American Conservative essay in elaboration of the hypothesis that identity politics from the left has midwived a similar identity politics from the right.  By all means go there, read, understand, follow the links.

Or, in a more aggressive vein, consider Brendan O'Neill in Spiked.
For a few years now, the term ‘white men’ has been used as shorthand for evil. Apparently white men are running, and ruining, society, the economy, the internet, and everything else. Now, following Trump’s rise, ‘white women’ are getting it in the neck, too. ‘How white women’s fear helped elect Donald Trump’, one headline sneers. Feminists tell us these white women suffer from internalised misogyny, the poor dears, where their brains have been fried by ‘the culture’ and they end up hating themselves.
He's having none of it, and he ends with a reprimand to the social theorists of the left.
As if the white man who owns a bank is indistinguishable from the Rust Belt white guy who works on a production line. As if the white man who runs the European Commission is the same as the white men who must trek from the east of the EU to the west just to find some (hard) work. Radicals’ obsession with whiteness speaks to their utter abandonment of the idea of class, and of any attempt to analyse and rethink social relations.
There's more in Mark Lilla's The End of Identity Liberalism.  It runs in New York's Times, thus maybe a few of the appletini set will read it and understand it.
Hillary Clinton was at her best and most uplifting when she spoke about American interests in world affairs and how they relate to our understanding of democracy. But when it came to life at home, she tended on the campaign trail to lose that large vision and slip into the rhetoric of diversity, calling out explicitly to African-American, Latino, L.G.B.T. and women voters at every stop. This was a strategic mistake. If you are going to mention groups in America, you had better mention all of them. If you don’t, those left out will notice and feel excluded. Which, as the data show, was exactly what happened with the white working class and those with strong religious convictions.
Neglect part of the electorate at your peril, warns The American Interest.  "Both left and right see the politics of group identity as useful to securing short term gains. But in the long run, it will not produce anything good—only tribalism, distrust, and, ultimately, violence."

Particularly where identity politics as practiced becomes "My transgressiveness is O.K.  Yours is not."

But it is to the continuation of Mr Jacobs's argument that I wish to return.  "No longer did we have to fear being brought before the bar of Rational Evidence, that hanging judge of the Enlightenment who had sent so many believers to the gallows! You have your constructs and we have our constructs, and who’s to say which are better, right?"  Or, as I have been arguing for a quarter century, deny coherent beliefs, enjoy the incoherence.  Identity politics, authenticity, transgressivity, all the rest?  Only possible when radical skepticism deteriorates into the absence of skepticism.

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