Tag Archives: Identity Politics

The Politics of Identity is Undone by the Impracticality of Achieving Recognition

Steven Pittz, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs who specializes in political theory and international relations, writes at Law and Liberty that

…even if we accept the purported goal of recognition (leaving aside the question of whether recognition, as described here, is truly the goal of most identity groups) and if we are conscientious in working towards it, we will not be able to reach it. In short, the imposition of a “duty to listen”, the sheer impracticality of a genuine fusion of horizons, and the extreme vulnerability of negotiations to capture by a self-selected elite combine to render the goal of political recognition a fool’s errand. It seems only practical to reject it.

Put in the theological language of the Church, mutual recognition of individuals coming from different tradition is a moral undertaking predicated on repentance. Recognition of the other in his or her uniqueness isn’t so a matter of empathy but self-emptying (kenosis) by which we make psychic and social room for the other.

And there’s the rub.

Such self-emptying is possible only in and through the sacraments and sustained ascetical effort. Absent these? Then, as Pittz suggests, mutual recognition is a pretense of the elite to bolster their status.

Such bolstering though only comes at the expense of those who don’t have the personal and social resources to invest in understanding (however poorly) others.

For Consideration: Persons Not Groups

We seem to be creating the cultural version of the Missouri Compromise line. No one, and no group, wishes to think of itself as the bad guy in perpetuity. Given that reality, if identity politics becomes the heart of American politics, it is only a matter of time until “whites” begin to see themselves as a group deserving special protection. (And “whites” now includes ethnic nationals who used to be excluded from Anglo-Saxon nationalism.) If our government remains democratic, these new entrants into identity politics are likely to get a good deal of what they want. Some of President Trump’s support, from what is often called the “Alt Right” seems to fit exactly this description.

And thus the tragic irony: The laws we passed to fight discrimination, however necessary at the time, created new problems that, at this point, threaten to undermine the progress we have made in combatting discrimination. This suggests that the way forward, the way to attain true progress, would now be to take the path away from identity politics. And to do that, we have to rethink the practice of protected classes. Kept too long, they’ve create an American identity that is tribal and balkanized, rather than fostering a common American community.

Richard Samuelson, “Today’s Missouri Compromise Is Bad News

For Consideration: Identity Politics and the Idea of the Common Good

Conservatives complain loudest about today’s campus follies, but it is really liberals who should be angry. The big story is not that leftist professors successfully turn millions of young people into dangerous political radicals every year. It is that they have gotten students so obsessed with their personal identities that, by the time they graduate, they have much less interest in, and even less engagement with, the wider political world outside their heads.

More: (WSJ) The Liberal Crackup