13 June 2015
The stark contradiction at the heart of identity politics
For ideologues of identity, a racist is someone who does not share a whole, approved and totalised view of race, racism and how to combat it; likewise with sexism and gender. Their arguments come down to an assumption that, since they are ‘fighting’ racism or sexism or both, then anyone who criticises anything about them or their approach is by definition racist or sexist.
We can see here a stark contradiction, that you can be defined as (and therefore known to be) racist or sexist without having expressed a single racist or sexist thought, indeed for just sitting at home watching TV and not joining the struggle.
This approach is based on the assumption of higher knowledge and understanding; in seeing that terms like ‘racist’ and ‘sexist’ have a broader meaning in relation to the status of society as a whole rather than the person who is being judged and condemned. We might see it as an example of a sort of ‘social justice’ trumping personalised ideas of justice and ethics: whether you are a racist or not does not matter if you are a racist on a structural level which those of superior understanding can see.
As a form of moralistic judgement this negates morality itself and places knowledge – of the ‘real’ situation - in its place. It negates factual reality for a higher plain which most of us do not have access to. Alas, we poor souls are stuck in a version of the old Marxist ‘false consciousness’, failing to see reality as it really is beneath the false sheen of...reality.
For more on similar themes, see Identity politics and the left page.