Sunday, July 23, 2017

Kenan Malik on the origins of identity politics

NOT ALL POLITICS IS IDENTITY POLITICS | Pandaemonium:
The origins of identity politics in the late eighteenth century lie with the reactionary right. The original politics of identity was racism and nationalism, and it developed out of the counter-Enlightenment. These early critics of the Enlightenment opposed the idea of universal human values by stressing particularist values embodied in group identities. ‘There is no such thing as Man’, wrote the French arch-reactionary Joseph de Maistre in his polemic against the concept of the Rights of Man. ‘I have seen Frenchmen, Italians and Russians… As for Man, I have never come across him anywhere.’
This is why I sometimes refer to left identitarianism and right identitarianism.