Saturday, May 13, 2006

Identity Politics

Dave Hill states something that has been in the back of my mind for some time:

"I'm wary of accidentally joining in with the dreary right-wing drone about "victim culture", "multiculturalism" (whatever they think it means), "political correctness" and so on, which some "hard liberals" seem in danger of doing. Yet it has long been very clear that while identity politics can be a rational and affirming response to prejudice and oppression they can also be deeply reactionary: racial essentialism, inward-looking nationalism, cultural purism and a general suspicion of difference and change too often become integral to them."

That's the word I've been looking for: reactionary. It's fascinating, isn't it? At their best, identity politics are a stirring response to an "us-or-them" monoculture. But, at their worst, identity politics assert another us-and-them dichotomy that in no way threatens the dominant culture, as much as gives a new way to consent to it.

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