The violent conclusion of identity politics


The New York Times’ Kevin Roose got it right when he tweeted that media should be cautious in approaching the Christchurch shooter’s manifesto: that goes doubly for the politicians and activists rushing to exploit this tragedy for their own ends.

The legacy media and their camp-followers don?t give a hoot, of course. They just make up what they want to believe. They just know the Christchurch killer?s motives without having to bother asking.

Brendan O?Neill puts their prejudices to the test ? and suggests that his ideology may be uncomfortably familiar to many of those most loudly trying to make political hay from the tragedy. Quote:

It will strike many of us, especially those of us who are humanists, as perverse and disturbing that people would so swiftly use a bloody act to further their own narrow agendas of social control and censorship; that they would use a massacre almost as an exclamation point to their already existing demands for the demonisation and punishment of particular opinions. It is cynical and inhuman. End of quote.

The response from some quarters has been almost obscenely, gleefully opportunistic. It?s their every bigoted fantasy about white men come true. The backlash they?ve been screeching about for 18 years has finally, finally come about ? and they?re practically beside themselves. But their cynical opportunism seems undermined by everything this killer has said about himself. Quote:

To fold this barbarism into a narrative about a surging threat of white supremacy or even Islamophobia overlooks what feels terrifyingly mainstream about the ideas that appear to have energised and inspired this racist mass murderer ? namely, the politics of identity. End of quote.

Identity politics has been the rock on which the mainstream left and the fringe right have built their ideological castles for the past few decades. Yet, while they claim to be diametrically opposed, it is often obvious that they want much the same things. The left, for instance, celebrate the mythical country ?Wakanda? in the film Black Panther as an icon of black empowerment ? to the extent that Democrat political candidates unironically champion it. Yet, as many noticed, Wakanda would also be Richard Spencer?s wet dream: racially-purified ethnostates run on socialist principles.

Many other mainstream political movements ? La Raza, Third Wave feminism, Black Lives Matter, transgenderism ? similarly see people not as autonomous citizens, but as walking collections (?intersections?) of essential identities. Quote:

Increasingly, it feels like the New Zealand atrocity is what happens when the politics of identity, the reduction of everyone to cultural or racial creatures whose relationship with other cultural and racial cultures must be monitored and managed, comes to be the only game in public life?

Strikingly, the killer appears to say that his attack was done in the name of diversity ? he says he wants ?diverse peoples to remain diverse?, meaning identity groups must remain ?separate, unique, undiluted, unrestrained in? cultural expression?. This sounds chillingly similar to the separatist ethos of the identitarian outlook, in which ?cultural appropriation? is a sin and anyone who seeks to speak up for other races or cultures risks being reprimanded. End of quote.

Another conspicuous aspect of modern politics, especially those of the ?progressive? elite is their deep-seated loathing of democracy. From Brexit to the Trump election, the elites are dismayed that the hoi polloi refuse to learn their place, and dream of being the benevolent dictators of a global superstate. Quote:

Most striking is the manifesto?s hatred for democracy?Echoing the fashionable contempt of the liberal elite for democratic engagement, it says ?the mob itself? is ?ruled? by the ?global and corporate-run press?. It seems very possible that we are dealing with an anti-democracy fanatic?Democracy is anathema to identitarians and Islamists alike for the simple reason that it holds out the promise of an identity that rises above narrow cultural, racial, religious and gender identities. End of quote.

When you preach that intrinsic identity is the only political metric, you open the door to violence. It?s no coincidence that feminists repeatedly rally around the cry to ?kill all men?. That open hatred of ?white men? has become mainstream on the left. Many on the right also corral themselves in identitarian walled camps, excluding everyone from non-whites to Jews. Many Muslims divide the world into the ?House of Islam? and the ?House of War?.

If all politics is reduced to the struggle for power between identity groups, then identitarian violence is the inevitable result.