Friday, September 2, 2016

David Brooks (yes, really!) is right about how identity politics serves the right

Identity Politics Run Amok - The New York Times:
First, it is Manichaean. It cleanly divides the world into opposing forces of light and darkness. You are a worker or an elite. You are American or foreigner.

Seeing this way is understandable if you are scared, but it is also a sign of intellectual laziness. The reality is that people can’t be reduced to a single story. An issue as complex as immigration can’t be reduced to a cartoon. It is simultaneously true that immigration fuels American dynamism and that the mixture of mass unskilled immigration and the high-tech economy threatens to create a permanent underclass.

Second and most important, identity politics is inherently the politics of division.
It just goes to show that no one is wrong all the time. I tend to see the issue as divided between right-identitarianism and left-identitarianism. The motives are different, but the result's the same.

ETA: I left this comment there:
Brooks is 2/3 right when he says, "Human beings are too complicated to be defined by skin color, income or citizenship status." Income is not a social identity because it can change in an instant. Win the lottery, and you join the 1%. Have a financial disaster, and you join the working class. Income is only a relationship to economic power—black women like Melanie Cain have privileges that poor whites can only dream of.

Identitarianism is a problem on both the right and the left. It distracts from the issue that Brooks does not want to address, the growing wealth gap.