Any observer of Western politics will have noticed the rise and rise of Identity Politics. Why is this happening?
It was once tacitly assumed that the participants in political debate had good intentions even if you thought they had the wrong ideas. Identity Politics abandons the assumption that opponents have good intentions. Identity politics is about assessing intentions and judging them according to whether or not they offend a section of society. The participants in debate are then branded as good or evil people.
Why has this happened? Why is moral condemnation so important in post-modern politics? When Church attendance was high the middle classes revelled in being morally superior to others. The feeling that a large organisation and “Society” itself supported a moral position made moral condemnation a gratifying pursuit. It is hardly surprising that in an age when religious belief is in precipitate decline the desire for moral condemnation has found a new means of expression in Identity Politics.
Any movement that divides people into good and evil is extremist. Most extremist beliefs like Extremist Islamism are condemned by the media in the West but this new extremism of Identity Politics has the full support of the media, especially the broadcast media. The reason Identity Politics became favoured by the media is that the Identity Politics of sex ensures high viewing figures by the salacious viewing population and the Identity Politics of race allows the middle class journalists to practice their saintliness.
Politics has now become a matter of pinning a label such as “racist”, “sexist”, “homophobe” etc. on political opponents and then hoping that it sticks. When this method is applied to people in British mainstream political movements it is scarcely ever fair because the labels could, given enough investigation and spin, be applied to Lib-dem, Tory, SNP or Labour people. There is always a dubious speech or behaviour available somewhere in the ranks of the Party elite that can be used to hang evil around someone’s neck. Once the “evil” label has been attached and used to smear a movement it is very hard to remove and the middle classes who enjoy moral condemnation do not forgive.
You may think this is all harmless and has always happened, for instance in the days when the Church was ascendant the label “homosexual” was used like “homophobe” is used today. This is a very poor argument argument however because modern Identity Politics covers a much wider spectrum of labels and the idea that because a bad practice was prevalent in the past it should be used today is irrational.
Where is Identity Politics leading us? Its most corrosive effect is that it can be used to divert attention from real issues. Simply covering Identity Politics on the News Media reduces space and attention from the real problems of our times such as the growth of inequality, the rise of the power of bankers and large corporations, the rise of China, the growth of internet business, phone addiction and AIs, and the destruction of the environment. This diversion of the news away from the issues suits the large corporations that run the news media because large corporations are implicated in many of these issues. Another corrosive effect of Identity Politics is that the racism label has been bent to fit any political cause, for example the growth in inequality only has a negative impact on those “left behind” who are nationalist racists, the rise in power of international corporations is only opposed by those who want borders and so are xenophobes, opposing China is obviously racist etc. It takes little time for journalists to work out how to bend their reporting to emphasise the racism involved in any field of human endeavour that they oppose.
There is no need to address any political issue when a feeding frenzy of Identity Politics can be unleashed on the opponents of the corporate media and their pals. This decade from 2016 to 2026 will be seen as pivotal in the political and social history of the West. Either freedom, especially freedom of speech, and independence will be preserved or our societies will slump into ever increasing corporate control and homogenisation.
It is up to you, you can assess policies and debates on their merits or simply gang up, scream evil when prompted and clamour for the destruction of those that you have been told to hate.
See The Great 21st Century War: Corporatism vs Freedom for an analysis of why the corporate media is focussing attention away from the reality of global politics.
This post was originally published by the author on his personal blog: http://pol-check.blogspot.com/2018/08/why-identity-politics.html