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Old 06-16-2017, 11:56 AM   #1
tomdemaine
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What is/are identity politics?

This is probably the wrong forum because we all probably agree but I would like to invite any posters who are anti-identity politics to provide some insight into how they define the term. This thread (if it happens at all) will have special rules that anyone on the anti-identity politics "side" can request the deletion of any post they feel is "shouting them down" full disclosure obviously I'm skeptical about identity politics but I am interested in other opinions especially from our beleaguered right wingers. Of course any posts that break forum rule wrt racism etc will be removed.

There was a video posted in the forum that I can no longer find (can someone help?) which is a real shame because it kicked off me thinking about this topic. The video was at a free speech rally about one group wanting to fly the confederate flag and one not. It was them calling each other cucks etc but there was one line spoken by a big beardy guy guy who identified himself as a white supremacist that really stuck with me. He said,

"White conservative christians are the only group that doesn't engage in identity politics."

One sentence that kind of encapsulates everything. White, conservative and chrisitan are all clearly identities that affect this guy's politics but he can utter that sentence without thinking twice.

My cynical definition of identity politics is any movement, group or individual that challenges the hidden baseline assumption that white christian conservative (and male lets face it) is the default. I've got more to say on this topic but will leave it to see if there is any interest.
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Old 06-16-2017, 12:05 PM   #2
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Re: What is/are identity politics?

Even more cynical: everyone who disagrees with me engages in identity politics
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Old 06-16-2017, 12:11 PM   #3
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Re: What is/are identity politics?

I also have no idea what identity politics is. I guess I just assumed that as opposed to forming party allegiances based on policy, people form them based on groups they identify with?

But politics (national?) has almost never been about policy, so I am not sure why this is considered a new thing?
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Old 06-16-2017, 12:14 PM   #4
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Re: What is/are identity politics?

I take it as the assumption that having a singular position on one topic lumps you (identifies you) into other stereotypical categories. For instance, the assumption that someone who denies climate change is also likely to be pro-life even though these two issues have nothing to do with one another.

Likewise, if you have a hard time understanding why a trans woman needs to use a women's locker room, you're also likely to be identified in all other categories of bigotry such as racist, xenophobe, etc. Progressive liberals have left only a razor's thin edge between two identities now. You're either balls out progressive on all issues, or you're a racist human piece of ****. There is no middle ground to stand on, which stops all productive dialogue dead in its tracks.

And I agree. The default is the typical older white Christian male being identified as a right wing conservative.
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Old 06-16-2017, 12:17 PM   #5
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Re: What is/are identity politics?

LOL Lestat not knowing what it means while raging against it.

The dictionary definition is actually really all you need here, maxtower is correct:
Quote:
a tendency for people of a particular religion, race, social background, etc., to form exclusive political alliances, moving away from traditional broad-based party politics.
Basically that things about one's identity shape their votes, rather than policy stances. So evangelical Christians vote R, gays vote D, and so on.
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Old 06-16-2017, 12:19 PM   #6
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Re: What is/are identity politics?

tom is also correct in that the actual political science definition is not the layperson definition, in common usage now it's just a bogeyman white conservatives complain about, see Lestat's post for a perfect example.
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Old 06-16-2017, 12:19 PM   #7
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Re: What is/are identity politics?

The funny part is that whining about identity politics only happens because one party is so openly hostile to people of certain identities, like blacks, gays, etc., that it drives those people to the other major party.

It's nothing more than conservatives upset that their toxic platform isn't blindly accepted by people of all creeds, races, genders, sexual orientations.
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Old 06-16-2017, 12:20 PM   #8
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Re: What is/are identity politics?

Identity politics is about what you think is most important about a person. Does it matter if you are born male or female, black or white, rich or poor, to a religious family or non-religious family?

To many the identity of the groups you are born into are the most significant thing about a person and follows them for the rest of their life. You think of people by the groups they belong to.

To others, your birth details don't matter. You are an industrious or lazy person based on your character and habits. You are a good or bad person based on your character. and so forth. You are not who you are born as, you are who you decide to become, you are an individual.

In a political context it appears that Democrats think of people in terms of groups more often and Republicans think of people in terms of individuals, and the policies each party has and the campaigns each party conducts reflects this.
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Old 06-16-2017, 12:20 PM   #9
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Re: What is/are identity politics?

Lestat,

So for you its about the "identity" like racist or sexist being imposed onto people by others (the illiberal left, sjws etc). My understanding was that it was to do with the identity of the other side. Politics based on being black or being gay or whatever. Do you think your interpretation is a common one?
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Old 06-16-2017, 12:33 PM   #10
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Re: What is/are identity politics?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lestat View Post
I take it as the assumption that having a singular position on one topic lumps you (identifies you) into other stereotypical categories. For instance, the assumption that someone who denies climate change is also likely to be pro-life even though these two issues have nothing to do with one another.

Likewise, if you have a hard time understanding why a trans woman needs to use a women's locker room, you're also likely to be identified in all other categories of bigotry such as racist, xenophobe, etc. Progressive liberals have left only a razor's thin edge between two identities now. You're either balls out progressive on all issues, or you're a racist human piece of ****. There is no middle ground to stand on, which stops all productive dialogue dead in its tracks.

And I agree. The default is the typical older white Christian male being identified as a right wing conservative.
It's not the fault of progressive liberals that you can't get past this false dichotomy.
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Old 06-16-2017, 12:37 PM   #11
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Re: What is/are identity politics?

So, a while back I was browsing through Social Theory and the Politics of Identity, a collection of articles from 1994, i.e. the last time when "PC" and "identity politics" was all the rage.

I agree with you that many/most complaints on these topics from the right are merely reassertions of the "hidden baseline assumption that white christian conservative male identity is the default", but if you're looking for something like a definition and a criticism of "identity politics" that holds up somewhat better, Todd Gitlin contributed an article to that volume, a shorter version of which also appeared in Harper's Magazine. I don't entirely agree with Gitlin but I think he provides at least an outline of a definition and a criticism that might be taken somewhat seriously:

Quote:
Instead, the left in recent years has had trouble going beyond what has come to be called “identity politics”–a politics that is rooted more in group self-assertion than in attempts to create broad alliances. Of course, oppressed groups must always struggle to overcome their second-class status; equality demands no less. But what began in the late 1960s as an assertion of dignity by various groups, a remedy for exclusion and denigration and a demand by the voiceless for representation, has developed its own habits and methods of silencing. At the extreme, in the academy but also outside it, standards and traditions are now viewed as nothing more than camouflage for particular interests.

All claims to knowledge are presumed to be addressed from and to "subject positions" which, liek the claims themselves, have been "constructed" or "invented" collectively by self-designated groups. Sooner or later, all disputes issue in propositions of the following sort: The central subject for understanding is the difference between X (e.g., women, people of color) and Y (e.g. white males). P is the case because my people, X, see it that way; if you don't agree with P, it is (or more mildly, is probably) because you are a member of Y.... [note: I took this section from the book version since I think it makes the argument more strongly --WN]

The intensification of identity politics is inseparable from a fragmentation of what I will call “commonality politics”–a frame of understanding that acknowledges “difference” but sees it against the background of what is not different, what is shared among groups....

The left’s attention is now paid to group self-assertion rather than, say, campaigns against poverty or the bankrupting of public education. As once-excluded territories have been recognized in the academy, any lingering aspiration for the universal has been largely abandoned. Whatever universalism now remains is based not so much on a common humanity as on a common enemy -- the notorious White Male. While defenses of group rights often have a powerful logic, the idea of a common America and the idea of a unified left, both great legacies of the Enlightenment, have lost their force.
So, in the Harper's version of this article he doesn't exactly define identity politics, but inasmuch as he's criticizing it, his criticism is that it involves doing politics in a way that is too focused on "group self-assertion", and not focused enough on coalition building and a pragmatic focus on policy.

He also criticizes -- in the section I took from the book instead of Harpers -- the sort of epistemology or logic of settling the truth of propositions by appeal to group membership, which I think is a common complaint. He also argues that the logic of this sort of assertion ends up re-essentializing group differences in a problematic way.

I think the most obvious rebuttal to Gitlin is the one you already made: that conservative groups are often engaged as much in "group self-assertion", especially on culture-wars topics, as liberal groups. And that was probably as true in 1994 (I'm thinking of the "moral majority") as it is now.

Craig Calhoun, in the first chapter of the book, makes the argument that collective identity is and always has been of central importance to all politics, so that the idea that there is a politics that isn't "identity politics" is already hopelessly flawed. I tend to agree with that, but it doesn't mean that there aren't more or less useful ways of thinking about group identity in relation to political and social movements.
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Old 06-16-2017, 12:38 PM   #12
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Re: What is/are identity politics?

Is this why the term has a negative connotation?

Each party member wants to believe that their allegiance is based on actual policy preferences, and that if members of the other side would just leave behind their identity associations, then they could support the better policies too ? Meanwhile we're all just associating based on identities.
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Old 06-16-2017, 12:38 PM   #13
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Re: What is/are identity politics?

Quote:
Originally Posted by poconoder View Post
Identity politics is about what you think is most important about a person. Does it matter if you are born male or female, black or white, rich or poor, to a religious family or non-religious family?

To many the identity of the groups you are born into are the most significant thing about a person and follows them for the rest of their life. You think of people by the groups they belong to.

To others, your birth details don't matter. You are an industrious or lazy person based on your character and habits. You are a good or bad person based on your character. and so forth. You are not who you are born as, you are who you decide to become, you are an individual.

In a political context it appears that Democrats think of people in terms of groups more often and Republicans think of people in terms of individuals, and the policies each party has and the campaigns each party conducts reflects this.
Poco,

Do you think that there are any situations in modern america where your birth details do matter? Where a black person (for example) will have a wholly different experience to a white person even if they have the same character in terms of industriousness, goodness etc? Hold everything else equal and just change the skin colour.
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Old 06-16-2017, 12:47 PM   #14
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Re: What is/are identity politics?

On twitter, anyone who hates identity politics seems to really, really have a hard time not posting terribly bigoted things about muslims all day weirdly enough.
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Old 06-16-2017, 12:51 PM   #15
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Re: What is/are identity politics?

Grunching: enough with your hate crimes.
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Old 06-16-2017, 12:53 PM   #16
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Re: What is/are identity politics?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tomdemaine View Post
Poco,

Do you think that there are any situations in modern america where your birth details do matter? Where a black person (for example) will have a wholly different experience to a white person even if they have the same character in terms of industriousness, goodness etc? Hold everything else equal and just change the skin colour.
You are affected by your surroundings. In many cases people are trained to think in identity terms. If your parents grill into you that "the most important thing about you is that you are black" or "the most important thing about you is that you are a girl" you often can't help but be tied to these ideas for the rest of your life.


Look how it played in the national election last year.


What was the Democratic slogan? "I'm with Her"
Its like saying if you are a woman you have to vote for "the woman" candidate. Its your identity, you were born to vote for your fellow woman.


What was the Republican slogan? "Make America great again"
Nothing about identity here. We can all be for America (or sadly against America) regardless of what groups we were born into. You are an individual.
It didn't surprise Republicans that so many women voted for them. Women are free thinking individuals, not just members of a group that must do what the group dictates: "women must vote for the woman candidate".


If you were trained to think in terms of groups you tend to vote one way, if you were trained to think in terms of individualism you tend to vote another way.
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Old 06-16-2017, 01:04 PM   #17
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Re: What is/are identity politics?

Poco, that kind of misses the point that many, many Trump rallies were all about identity politics! He villified entire groups over and over! Are you just being intentionally obtuse on this? You're just regurgitating really dumb Fox news talking points which are debunked with mediocre critical thinking skills.
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Old 06-16-2017, 01:28 PM   #18
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Re: What is/are identity politics?

Quote:
Originally Posted by poconoder View Post
На вас влияет окружающая среда. Во многих случаях люди обучены мыслить в терминах идентичности. Если ваши родители запекают в вас, что «самое важное в вас - это то, что вы черные» или «самое главное в вас - это то, что вы девушка», вы часто не можете не привязываться к этим идеям для остальных из вашей жизни.


Посмотрите, как он играл на национальных выборах в прошлом году.


Какой демократический лозунг? «Я с ней»
Его, как сказать, если вы женщина, вы должны голосовать за кандидата «женщина». Ваша личность, вы родились, чтобы проголосовать за свою соотечественницу.


Какой был республиканский лозунг? «Сделайте Америку великой снова»
Здесь ничего нет. Мы все можем быть для Америки (или, к сожалению, против Америки), независимо от того, в какие группы мы родились. Вы человек.
Это не удивило республиканцев, что за них проголосовало так много женщин. Женщины - люди свободного мышления, а не только члены группы, которые должны выполнять то, что диктует группа: «женщины должны голосовать за кандидата женщины».


Если вас обучили мыслить с точки зрения групп, вы, как правило, проголосуете в одном направлении, если вас обучили мыслить с точки зрения индивидуализма, вы склонны голосовать другим путем.
No.
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Old 06-16-2017, 02:01 PM   #19
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Re: What is/are identity politics?

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Originally Posted by FlyWf View Post
LOL Lestat not knowing what it means while raging against it.
What I rage against is lumping people into groups based on one position they hold and then making assumptions about where they fall on other issues. There's another group that does that and I think we call them racists. So you employ the most extreme intolerant racist tactics while claiming to be against racism.
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Old 06-17-2017, 11:02 AM   #20
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Re: What is/are identity politics?

Quote:
What I rage against is lumping people into groups based on one position they hold and then making assumptions about where they fall on other issues.
Dude nobody has done that? I mean it's a solid heuristic the partisan polarization of America is increasing, but that's not the issue. People clown you on issues that you've repeatedly stated your views on.

Quote:
There's another group that does that and I think we call them racists. So you employ the most extreme intolerant racist tactics while claiming to be against racism.
LOL people are being racist against you for not agreeing that Democrats keep black people poor with food stamps?

People are not obligated to pretend obvious bad faith bull**** is sincere, Lestat. People aren't not listening to you, people aren't lumping you in with things, people are just calling you out for being full of **** because YOU ARE OBVIOUSLY FULL OF ****.

Fix that **** anytime you feel like it.
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Old 06-17-2017, 11:04 AM   #21
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Re: What is/are identity politics?

Step one would be reading one(1) left of center opinion source, but that **** would trigger you into a ****ing coma.
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Old 06-17-2017, 11:43 AM   #22
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Re: What is/are identity politics?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lestat View Post
I take it as the assumption that having a singular position on one topic lumps you (identifies you) into other stereotypical categories. For instance, the assumption that someone who denies climate change is also likely to be pro-life even though these two issues have nothing to do with one another.

Likewise, if you have a hard time understanding why a trans woman needs to use a women's locker room, you're also likely to be identified in all other categories of bigotry such as racist, xenophobe, etc. Progressive liberals have left only a razor's thin edge between two identities now. You're either balls out progressive on all issues, or you're a racist human piece of ****. There is no middle ground to stand on, which stops all productive dialogue dead in its tracks.

And I agree. The default is the typical older white Christian male being identified as a right wing conservative.

F**K
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Old 06-17-2017, 03:25 PM   #23
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Re: What is/are identity politics?

Jim Crow.
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Old 06-17-2017, 03:28 PM   #24
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Re: What is/are identity politics?

Quote:
Originally Posted by poconoder View Post
You are affected by your surroundings. In many cases people are trained to think in identity terms. If your parents grill into you that "the most important thing about you is that you are black" or "the most important thing about you is that you are a girl" you often can't help but be tied to these ideas for the rest of your life.


Look how it played in the national election last year.


What was the Democratic slogan? "I'm with Her"
Its like saying if you are a woman you have to vote for "the woman" candidate. Its your identity, you were born to vote for your fellow woman.


What was the Republican slogan? "Make America great again"
Nothing about identity here. We can all be for America (or sadly against America) regardless of what groups we were born into. You are an individual.
It didn't surprise Republicans that so many women voted for them. Women are free thinking individuals, not just members of a group that must do what the group dictates: "women must vote for the woman candidate".


If you were trained to think in terms of groups you tend to vote one way, if you were trained to think in terms of individualism you tend to vote another way.
Any identity politics in the America First (history counts here) slogan or ban all Muslims rhetoric?
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Old 06-17-2017, 04:44 PM   #25
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Re: What is/are identity politics?

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Originally Posted by poconoder View Post
In a political context it appears that Democrats think of people in terms of groups more often and Republicans think of people in terms of individuals...
No
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