Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Vox Popoli: Existential threat or ineluctable reality - Identity Politics

Peter Grant addresses identity politics in the USA:
I've been watching the growing rift in American society for years.  It's particularly evident in larger cities, but it's also happening in smaller towns and rural areas.  It's a growing intolerance with those who hold different views, a refusal to admit that the "other side" might be right at least sometimes, a dogmatic insistence that it's "our way or the highway" when it comes to politics, law enforcement, immigration, economics, whatever.  There's less and less willingness to compromise.  Many commentators have begun to speak openly of the possibility of a new civil war....

The biggest problem I see is that very few of those on either side of our societal divide have any conception of just how bitter, vitriolic and savage internecine conflict can become.  I have all too much personal experience of it in Africa.  Don't think that things will be better here.  They won't.  It's part of the human condition, and race has nothing to do with it.  It's all about one's "tribe" - and that can be cultural, or social, or whatever, but it's the primary group to which (or to whom) one owes allegiance.  It's those for whom one is willing to kill, and those for whom one is willing to die.

The modern name for tribalism is "identity politics".  Beware anyone trying to make you think, and act, and live in terms of "identity politics".  They're trying to get you to be tribal, rather than national, in your outlook.  They're trying to divide and rule.  Division is their strength.  By exploiting divisions between groups, they come to power - and then they rule until someone else does a better job of identity politics, and takes over from them.

Tribe can drive good things - unity, working together, a sense of community.  But there are also negatives.  Tribe drives hatred.  Tribe drives war.  Tribe drives atrocity.  It's been that way since the dawn of the human race, and it's unlikely to change.

Peter and I have talked about this, and here is where we tend to disagree, to the extent that we do.  The core problem, as I see it, is that when Peter says to beware of those "trying to get you to be tribal, rather than national, in your outlook", he contradicts his statement that one's tribe is "the primary group to which (or to whom) one owes allegiance."

By his own definition, and by the very etymology of the word, the nation is the tribe. The problem is not sub-national identity politics, but rather, the conflict that is structurally intrinsic to multinational political entities that masquerade as "nations". The USA functioned very well when it was a loose confederation of different nations rather confusingly called "Sovereign States", it no longer functions at all well as a pseudo-democratic centralized imperial financial satrapy ruling over a multitude of nations wearing the skinsuit of the former political entity.

What was the American Revolution if not the division of one English tribe into two? To claim that America is a superset that includes the Anglo-American nation rather than a subset of the English nation simply doesn't withstand historical scrutiny.

All "identity politics" means is "inter-tribal competition for power". The African-Americans are not going to stop putting their own self-perceived interests first. The Jews certainly are not. The Hispanics are not; neither are the newly self-discovered trans-Asian alliance. All of these identity groups and more are consciously working together in opposition to white American and heritage Anglo-American interests, so white Americans can either embrace identity politics and pursue their own interests or they can reject identity politics, and in doing so, submit to the various groups willing to do so.

Those are the only two options. The option to not play the identity politics game was made when the 1965 Naturalization Act passed Congress and was signed into law by the President. Identity politics are an existential threat to the USA, but they are also an unavoidable reality.

Peter rightly warns of the perils of a post-Apartheid multinational society, but in my opinion, that form of breakdown is to be vastly preferred to the perils of a post-Tito multinational society.
As a general rule, the more interwoven and integrated the various nations are, the uglier the inevitable transition to homogeneous nation-states will necessarily be.