Identity Politics is Bollocks

BY DOMINIC WIGHTMAN

I attended a meeting the other day at which a very wrong yet erudite man was present. When he spoke, I personally enjoyed the beautiful words tumbling from his lips and the obvious depth of his thinking. With the various literary references embedded in his arguments I was happily reminded of books I had long forgotten. I walked away from that meeting desperately wanting to look up the word callipygian.

After the meeting, one of the other attendees mentioned this man’s verbose style, saying he had hardly understood a word. Others agreed. When I translated as best I could for them, they agreed with me that the erudite man’s point of view was, well, unworkable and “bollocks”.

Beware of those who think too much – they blind themselves.

So it is with identity politics – whether a purposeful ploy by over-thinking, condescending liberals or simply a mistake we will look back on and snigger at from the future. Identity politics is the politics of those who think themselves righteous and justified in placing sticks between the spokes of the wheels of progress; the politics of the over-thinkers which, in its bid to separate, melts the glue that binds us.

Identity politics is hardly a novel error – the Nazis relied heavily upon it – and History shows us that it never ends well for its proponents, just as it will end badly for today’s Left who seem wedded to it. Labour, for example, uses it all the time – from trans spokespeople to reverse racist Diane Abbott quotas to overblowing Grenfell and the Windrush scandal – it has become Labour’s emotional trigger and, in opposition, its PR lifeblood. (Shockingly there are cases of Tories getting sucked into tiresome identity politics too – poor show.)

Identity politics on the Left arguably started out as a noble pursuit. A quest to redress major historical wrongs done to women, gays and African slaves – by mass lobbying and political manoeuvring to achieve their rights. However, it has succumbed to mere self-regard and an increasingly bigoted and exclusionary characterisation. Because of it the tide of popular opinion now turns against higher education across the West, particularly in the UK and US where free speech in campuses has too often been sacrificed in its name.

Perhaps the worst consequence of identity politics has been our young people turning in on themselves – at a time in their lives when they should be eyes outward to the wider world and fellow human beings.  It has left them unprepared to think about the common good outside their narrow identity subsets. Their frustration soon morphs into loser victimhood and all they are left with is their narrow collective to grow thought through. Consequently these young people have no idea how to pragmatically achieve popular goals and are reduced to inanely screaming “fascist”, baring breasts or engaging in mass wailing so their particular subset might just get noticed.

How can these divided young people develop a sound political consciousness from their narrow subsets? How can they sense the importance of freedom?

The Left was once far more united than it is now. Where did its realpolitik vanish to? For now it is a bunch of competing entities barricaded behind walls marked by the divisive difference of identity. Working class and ordinary voters are increasingly put off by identity politics. They seem depressed by the inevitable hypocrisies emanating from these divided groups when they pretend to speak with one voice. Employers baulk at the dross that many universities now produce calling themselves graduates. As identity politics has moved forward one pace, so political freedom has moved backwards one pace – the Left is on a downward spiral into identity political insanity.

Identity activists like to use the imagery of a prism refracting a single beam of light into its multiple colours, producing a rainbow. That’s overthinking. Political success and soundness can be found before the prism, not after it. Like my over-thinking, verbose and erudite meeting companion, the result is inevitably divisive and most often incomprehensible bollocks.

 

 

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