Friday, November 30, 2018

All Politics is Identity Politics, Jonah

The subtitle of Jonah Goldberg's latest book, Suicide of the West, is "How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism and Identity Politics is Destroying American Democracy."

So Jonah waffles into a column about people who have interviewed him on his book. Everyone is opposed to "tribalism" but "each side thinks only their opponents are guilty of it."
On nationalism, I get the most pushback from the right and the least from the left.
But what does he mean?

However on identity politics,
It's hard for many liberals to understand (or at least admit) that there might be something pernicious about dividing everybody up into categories of race, sex, ethnicity, etc. Meanwhile, many on the right struggle to see how their side might be guilty of doing the same thing.
 Of course the answer to this conundrum is that all politics is identity politics. All politics is division, dividing people up into our tribe and their tribe. Only, of course, our tribe/identity and its memes are good, while the other side's tribe/identity and its memes are bad and threaten the body politic.

All politics divides people into our tribe and their tribe, and all religion, including modern secular religion divides people up into the Chosen and the Rest.

Conservatives in general want to keep domestic politics down to a low roar, in accordance with their idea that government should be limited and politics just a disagreement among friends. But as for those Commies and those Islamofascists...

The left is the same only different.  For the left the question of justice is the only thing, and political power is the one best way to bend the arc of history. But as for the inordinate fear of communism and Islam, well, only racists, sexists, and bigots have a problem with that.

It all makes sense. On matters of life and death, or what we take to be matters of life and death, humans  are intensely tribal and deploy identity politics to rally supporters to their banner. On  other matters, we humans ask "what's your problem?"

It was the Founders and the writers that inspired them that proposed to build governmental institutions that would put roadblocks in the way of political and religious enthusiasts. Limited government and three co-equal branches of government were designed to keep the partisans busy reducing the other guy's idiotic plans to dust. And the separation of church and state were designed to prevent religious enthusiasts from invoking the power of the state in their establishment of a heaven on earth.

And, of course, there is the market, that puts its thumb very firmly on the scales of getting along and trusting the stranger.

I'd say that it's a shame that so many people cannot grasp the wisdom of the Founders and the market and instead live for the revolution and the triumph of the Chosen.

But nobody said that life was easy. And nobody is going to stop the other guys and their evil tribalism with the weapon of our sacred identity and vision of the truth.

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