Why am I linking to a video of a punk song called "Identity"? Well, it seems that identity politics is having a bit of a comeback. Call me utterly naive if you want but I didn't think this was still a thing in 2017, especially not with young people. Oh dear, I couldn't be more wrong. It turns out that identity is the crisis that everyone could see except for the idiot that writes this blog.
Identity politics is a dead-end. It can only ever lead to bitter recrimination, hatred and petty squabbles. Ordering the right to speak using clumsy and arbitrary metrics can never, ever lead to consensus. How do we know that? Well, that's because the arse-end of the UK's radical left fizzled out in a haze of bitter recrimination, hatred and petty squabbles after they nailed their flag to the core principles of identity politics. The radical socialist feminists hated the working-class feminists who hated the disabled feminists who hated the Jewish feminists who hated the lesbian feminists who hated the political lesbian feminists who hated the separatist feminists. They were so engaged with prioritising the right to speak based on arbitrary measures of oppression that they were too busy to listen and work out if any of it had any value at all. Everyone knows that political change can only be achieved through consensus and unity of purpose but identity politics gets in the way of any of that. Identity politics inevitably leads to schisms and arguments and endless hours sitting around getting nothing done except for hating the people closest to your own beliefs and experiences.
Identity politics leads to weird, post-modern articles like this one. It leads to huge arguments about the inclusion of trans-gender women in the feminist movement or whether to even label trans-gender women as any kind of woman at all. It leads to the worst kind of free-wheeling "academia" that categorises and sorts all the schisms, that collates all the tiny details that separate the multi-variate graph of disagreement. It is a massive waste of time. [Just for the record, if someone identifies as black or as a woman or as a born-again Christian that's typically good enough for me. Who am I to question their choices in life? Who am I to make anyone's life harder than it needs to be?]
While I was catching up with sleep on the sofa at the weekend I watched this excellent BBC documentary about the arse-end of the UK radical left and how identity politics killed it stone dead.
I can't recommend it highly enough if you want to know why we should all stay away from the ongoing twitter rage about identity politics. In summary, identity politics will not secure our European passports. To do that we need to focus on what we have in common, not on our differences.
Over and out,