An extract from Jeremy Sammut’s excellent column on identity politics in The Australian.
Like fleas on a dog, the basic thrust and distilled essence of identity politics is about finding, mining and exploiting grievance. Convincing people who never thought of themselves as a victim, that they are indeed, a victim. It’s about creating, exploiting and servicing the newly acquired constituency then moving on to the next target group.
That at its core, is the raison d’être of the left.
“….The rise of identity politics can be explained in part by the malign influence of universities that have embraced postmodern theory in recent decades.
We now have at least one generation of tertiary-educated Australians who have been politicised, and are deeply invested in the identity politics notion that certain groups in society remain the perpetual victims of bigotry and prejudice at the hands of the dominant culture — despite the enormous social changes that make a nonsense of this theory.
Nevertheless, identity politics is integral to the “intellectual left” sense of identity and status as an enlightened class, which not only supposedly possesses superior insight into how society marginalises assorted victim groups but whose members consider themselves morally superior to what they view as the great unwashed, bigoted “ordinary Australians”.
This is why the identity warriors invest so much time and effort finding and backing causes and issues that can validate their identity and status — whether by demanding changes to marriage, or by demanding changes to statues of colonial explorers and governors.
Identity politics is really about the politics of moral embarrassment. It is, therefore, ultimately a primitive way of conducting politics.
For all its modern trappings of relativism and non-judgmentalism, identity politics represents a reversion to the shame culture of traditional societies, whereby dissenters face exclusion from the tribe — from the charmed circle of approved progressive opinion — for transgressing politically incorrect taboos.
The way alternative opinions are thereby silenced makes identity politics not only a threat to free speech and democracy but also to the true Enlightenment traditions of rational inquiry and debate.
Yet the notion that the so-called “deplorables” are bigoted oppressors who deserve to have their privilege checked, including their right to freedom of speech, thought and conscience, in the name of promoting equality and diversity, is wearing thin.
Those who are sick of being told they don’t know how to treat others decently, and are tired of being lectured and hectored by their so-called betters, are the people who voted for Donald Trump, for Brexit and, locally, for One Nation. The growing political revolt against political correctness is a warning that the identity warriors should be careful what they wish for lest this lead to the ultimate paradox.
Because of its intolerance towards so-called “intolerants”, identity politics risks becoming a disastrously self-fulfilling prophecy, which will end up fostering ever deeper political and social divisions over issues of race, gender and sexuality…” Identity politics takes us back to the shame culture of the past