In the fierce post-election debate about how Democrats should respond to the party's astonishing electoral collapse at all levels of government, some have argued that identity politics is the problem, while many others (especially younger activists) have claimed it's the solution.Intersectionality creates the Oppression Olympics, heh.
Those inclined toward the latter position would be well advised to read a recent New York Times story very closely. An account of growing rancor surrounding the planned Women's March on Washington (scheduled for the day after Donald Trump's inauguration), the piece demonstrates with admirable clarity how doubling down on identity politics — and especially the left's embrace of the trendy postmodern ideology of "intersectionality" — is likely to shatter the Democratic Party into squabbling factions even more vulnerable to a resurgent right.
It would be one thing if Democrats had reason to hope or expect that they would be saved by demographics. Ever since the "emerging Democratic majority" thesis was first floated more than a decade ago, leading liberals have been convinced that their side is bound to prevail as the country becomes less white over time and minority groups eventually combine to form a left-leaning electoral majority. In such a situation, a politics based on racial, ethnic, gender, and other forms of identity might make sense as a mobilization strategy.
But recent events and analysis have cast doubt on these hopes and expectations, raising the possibility that the electoral power of white Americans may well persist for a long time to come. In that case, the need for "normal" politics, which involves forming coalitions across racial, ethnic, and gender divides in the name of the common good, will continue indefinitely.
That's where the danger of identity politics — especially in the radical form highlighted in the Times — becomes obvious.
From the start, the Women's March was an expression of identity politics — the coming together in protest of those appalled by the president-elect's attitude and proposed policies toward the female half of the electorate. But some organizers and participants have something else — something far narrower — in mind. For them, solidarity on the basis of gender alone isn't possible because black women have sometimes been oppressed by white women. For that reason, white women must begin "listening more and talking less," and above all learn to "check their privilege."
Here we enter into the kaleidoscopically balkanizing world of intersectionality, which highlights multiple identities in an effort to single-out the nexus of ascriptive attributes that produces maximal oppression. The idea is that once these attributes have been identified, the "privilege" of those who undertake the oppression can be subverted. Yet in practice, the hierarchy of privilege isn't so much subverted as reproduced and inverted.
Consider the world as viewed through the lens of intersectionality...
But keep reading.
PREVIOUSLY: "Leftists Foment 'Contentious Dialogues' at Women's March on Washington (Bad Causes Attract Bad People)."