Updated: Mar 5
The poverty of identity politics
A person can die by suicide, or develop an illness where their immune system kills healthy cells. In either case, that person's biological identity disappears. Social organisms are no different. The former USSR committed suicide in 1991. The United States has entities within slowly destroying its already tattered social fabric by failing to see its disease, and instead discombobulating the nature of the very existence of its citizens. Putting it mildly, we may – like the rapidly-melting Greenland ice sheet humans have caused – have crossed the tipping point in this country's survival.
In the fourth issue of The Reformationist my article "The Rage of Identity Politics" appeared, as a generic analysis of the obsessive focus on "race", ethnicity, disablement, gender, religious preference, and other bigotry in social change activism. With Joe Biden's selecting Kamala Harris as running mate for Vice-President, my concerns now have translated into reality, and I think it is time to extend my previous remarks. I do not think I covered the real essence of "identity" sufficiently before. Last, I do not think I presented an adequate alternative to the visions offered by the major U.S. political parties.
Here, I will direct your attention to the prevailing capitalist system's ideological foundations – liberal democracy (with its accompanying materialist foundations) and the primacy of the individual. How that individual is identified helps shape the appeal system leaders make to the masses supporting it.
In the U.S. quadrennial scam of liberal democracy, the capitalist propaganda machine once again is working its legerdemain by fooling the voters into thinking another election will be different, not unlike thinking a student government will make any meaningful and lasting humane changes in school administration. A major source of this massive engine of fraud is the most impoverished ideology, identity politics. The Kamala Harris candidacy is an excellent illustration.
Without the following section on liberal democracy, I will be merely beating around the U.S. bush (now in flames) and threatening the whole homo sapiens sapiens subspecies with its low-road value system. The fraud, wealth disparities,vast impoverishment, incompetent responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the coverup of all these with identity politics have at their root liberal democracy and its mentality. Without knowing its essence, its values, we will not realize its toxicity and see it only as a shibboleth. It is all about values, ethos, the core; this is what is most important to us. Everything else flows from this center; ethics, morality, systems, governments, actions, and everything else done by humans.
Curing what ails countries in disarray is "liberal democracy" say the pundits. "Liberal democracy", or just "democracy" as the shorthand sloganeering word, is chanted like a mantra by U.S. politicians and their sycophants to the masses, just like cult leaders babbling their mumbo jumbo before dazed onlookers drinking the fatal Kool-Aid. Their boogeymen, "authoritarian" regimes, threaten world peace and make people miserable, because the leaders impoverish them, are corrupt, and do not allow people to make decisions for themselves. Surely, you don't want all that to happen. Indeed, it already has, given the populism under the banner of "democracy" in Brazil, Hungary, Mexico, and India, among others, the very countries liberal democrats persistently hold up as being "authoritarian". How can a democratic country be authoritarian?
People through their incompetent uneducated leaders have been bringing their countries to ruin. Absent outright violent oppression, corruption, and vast poverty, the tendency is for these persons to remain in power. The raw truth is that large segments of the population are largely illiterate, and hence undedicated. They shun the responsibility of bearing the weight of critical social decision making. Imagine being held accountable for a heart patient's surgery when you, in a technologically advanced country, have never even read a medical textbook. No, you do not inject bleach into your veins to cure COVID-19, nor is this virus the flu, let alone a mild one. It is not "authoritarianism" but the quality of firm, competent, ethical leadership essential for the peoples' well-being and survival of the country. Add to the mix the divisive nature of "democracy", spawning anarchy ("freedom") with its attendant divisiveness and destruction of social unity.
You can crow all you like about your “freedom" and "rights", but with these come duties and responsibilities, and these are what you give to society. Yet, you must have the right attitude, sense of belonging, and intellectual capacity to do so. The narcissistic liberal democrat is not a candidate for this arrangement, let alone one within the State.
The liberal democrat chatters on. Only if "the people" were allowed to decide a country's fate will tranquility, prosperity, and harmony follow. We have jumbled concepts together; oddly juxtaposed logical fallacies like false dilemmas, and with no coherent framework. Liberal democracy replacing "authoritarianism" does not guarantee a desired outcome. The U.S., among the most powerful liberal democracies in the world, is a pacesetter. it being in disarray, incompetent to meet social emergencies like COVID-19, unwilling or unable to provide quality universally-accessible social services like health care and schools to its people, and even failing in its empire in the form of failed states like Iraq. Closer to home, remember Puerto Rico and how the U.S. regime handled it after the 2017 Hurricane Maria?
All the acolytes at the August 2020 Democratic convention could do is rant on about Mr. Trump and pine for the "good old Obama days'', when he authorized "ten times more drone strikes than Mr. George W. Bush'', bailed out the banksters, failed to prosecute Dick Cheney and the rest for Mideast war crimes, proffered Obamacare, which was a windfall for insurance company parasites and drug companies, and,most importantly, failed to provide a platform giving sustained decent paying and meaningful jobs to U.S. workers. In looking at the 2016 Democrat Party Platform (as the 2020 one has not in a typical cart before horse anarchic fashion was not finalized at this writing), we find copious whining and platitudes, saying that "we must" (as in enforcing inherently unenforceable) laws, provide all society's goodies, and do those things that are fair and equitable. As a supplementary aside and on the international level of liberal democracy, look at the United Nations' International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its recommendations and imploring about the "need to". How effective has this anarchy been in stemming global warming? Notably absent with the Democrats are: A) any fundamental structural changes to the system and B) more important, no embracing social philosophy. It is a wish list of bread (social "benefits'') and circuses. What propels such demagogic grandstanding? More specifically, what IS "liberal democracy"? Why is it so objectionable?
We pull apart the phrase itself; "liberal democracy", examining each word carefully.
mid-14c., "generous," also "nobly born, noble, free;" from late 14c. as "selfless, magnanimous, admirable;" from early 15c. in a bad sense, "extravagant, unrestrained," from Old French liberal "befitting free people; noble, generous; willing, zealous" (12c.), and directly from Latin liberalis "noble, gracious, munificent, generous," literally "of freedom, pertaining to or befitting a free person," from liber "free, unrestricted, unimpeded; unbridled, unchecked, licentious." [https://www.etymonline.com/word/liberal ]
where it morphed into
The Enlightenment revived it in a positive sense "free from prejudice, tolerant, not bigoted or narrow," which emerged 1776-88.
"Free", "generous", and "tolerant" are the keywords here.
"Liberal" applied to economics is expressed classically in true Enlightenment fashion by Adam Smith in his Wealth of Nations:
Every man, as long as he does not violate the laws of justice, is left perfectly free to pursue his own interest his own way, and to bring both his industry and capital into competition with those of any other man, or order of men.
Focus on "industry" and "capital"; they are the pivot points for "liberal", the way to fulfilling "happiness". "Pursue his own interest" is code for predation, in the same manner as a lion preys upon a gazelle. "Justice", you say. Whose? Try this out for size. Justice under Adolph Hitler was exterminating Jews. Justice for those with only part-time jobs is bankruptcy from medical bills; there is no universally-accessible health care system. Now that the bankruptcy laws have been changed, it is almost impossible to escape debt born of the necessity to live, given inadequate income. Justice is the homeless. Justice is a system allowing the 50% adult illiteracy rate and appalling knowledge deficiency. Justice is defined by the millionaires and billionaires running the country. The US bourgeois regime up through the White House, itself, admits, "In January 2018, 552,830 people were counted as homeless in the United States." So much for making people well-off through liberalism. So, now we see how predators allowed to roam freely, commandeering the landscape (illiterate/ignorant voters), can apply the liberality of manipulating land, labor, and capital to be the real authoritarians. If you don't think so, go to the regime's courts, dominated by judges who ultimately must abide by the Supreme Court of nine persons- nominated by the President and approved by the U.S. Senate (composed mainly of the wealthy).
To see how the present situation occurred, we look at the process, "democracy".
government by the people, system of government in which the sovereign power is vested in the people as a whole exercising power directly or by elected officials; a state so governed," 1570s, from Middle French démocratie (14c.), from Medieval Latin democratia (13c.), from Greek dēmokratia "popular government," from dēmos "common people," originally "district" (see demotic), + kratos "rule, strength" (see -cracy). [https://www.etymonline.com/word/democracy ]
Observe the two meanings – "a system of government" and a decision-making method, i.e., "by the people". "People" is a loaded word, Wall Street bankers being just as much homo sapiens sapiens as the ones living under a bridge. Every political region in the world under "democracy" has defined who will vote. It is common knowledge that U.S. blacks did not get the right to vote until 1870 and women in 1920. These formalities did not prevent barriers, as in poll taxes, voter registration purges, and so forth. Again, whoever controls the media, instruments of violence, and money says who gets to vote, not some idealistic document.
As the capitalist noose has tightened its grip on a hapless population through ideological chicanery, a progressive social philosophy vacuum has developed over recent decades. Alienating the power to labor from the person is a fait accompli. Democracy is just as relevant to the workplace as a seashell is to nail clipper. It seems that the power structure now has been settled, there being no need to debate its foundations -materialism, greed, consumerism, and hedonism, all under the flag heralding the sanctity of the individual over society. The "debate" now centers on "issues", the brand of patch to cover the wound, the gaping alienation created by "freedom" given to the capitalist predator. Talking theory is essential, but theory stems ultimately from observation, and there is no better place to start than with the present.
Manufacturing the identity potion for alienation
Vulgar corporate mainstream media adoring Kamala Harris sets a very dangerous precedent in US politics. In recent years, political discussions have increasingly focused on identity politics, the importance of selecting candidates based on ethnicity, disability, religion, or how much melanin content there is in the skin, rather than their ethos (core values) or social philosophy. George Floyd's murder added high-octane fuel to the engine.
It is inconceivable that powers that be would allow a candidate to advocate real structural change in this country, like replacing capitalism with a system in which the means of production and distribution of goods and services are socially owned and controlled. Witness the lack of socialists of any kind in the U.S. Congress. Almost guaranteed, no one advocating establishing the State will be permitted within capitalist power-broking circles. Who wants to irk the banksters, speculators, the military-industrial complex, and other gangsters and parasites?
Harris is an ex-California attorney general who is not about to be living under a bridge or peddling chewing gum in the street. Her net fortune is some six million dollars. Wall Street can be confident Harris will do all she can to protect the system that gave her this wealth.
CNN slobbered all over her in a 12 August 2020 banner headline "Kamala Harris' Indian roots and why they matter", touted as fact (though it was just propaganda touting identity politics). "Make Shyamala proud." was the last sentence. I am sure the Establishment will rave about Biden too. The New York Times on the same day crowed, "Analysis: In Harris, a Choice Both Safe and Energizing", remarking it was "...historic, and especially sweet for many Black women." Multi-billionaire arch-reactionary and predator Jeff Bezos should be gleeful that his paper The Washington Post followed the crowd in saying, "Harris is the pick, but women of color remain underrepresented in government", in lockstep with the rest. In this 12 August 2020 piece of classic demagoguery by Jeff Stein, the headline was, "Harris wants the U.S. to give Americans $2,000 a month during a pandemic, a contrast with Biden’s measured approach." Naturally, the average worker needs help like this, but without major structural changes, any funds used to help people will not come from the predators creating the problem in the first place, but either through thoroughly bankrupting the country or through working people and the middle class via higher taxes, fees, and other payments. A shell game like Harris' is not unlike the "good emperor" Vespasian opening the Coliseum to salve discontent and garner support for an already filthy rich elite. Have no qualms about such free spending making the U.S. a place where people can live without perpetual economic fear. My remark above is confirmed in Stein's piece by this quote:
JPMorgan Chase has described Harris’s economic policy as consisting of 'largely centrist views,' pointing out her opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement, support for a corporate tax hike and opposition to a single-payer health care system.
Most significant is that none of her utterances support a fundamental change in the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution of goods and services. Repeat after me, "we are not going to get anything resembling the State or the search for truth." After the degenerate hedonistic shallow party animals have put down their soporific liquids and wake up to reality, they will find their ticket is for a slow-motion movie starring the gangster in the White House.
The New York Times says, "She sees it as an enterprise of writing careful rules and enforcing them with determination, more than engineering transformational social change". Those careful rules are the ones Obama enforced in not prosecuting the gangsters responsible for the 2008 economic crash. They are the rules that say there will be no massive relief programmes a la Roosevelt to help the workers. They were the same rules that say parasitic insurance and drug giants will profit handsomely under Obamacare. Say nothing about the rules making China and Russia the bête noir of international politics. Remember Condolezza Rice and her promoting insane Mid-East wars for Wall Street's benefit? Not to mention the trillion-dollar treasure trove of minerals in Afghanistan, very relevant now with China possibly cutting 80% of rare Earths it contributes to the US total. This may destabilize the whole region, prompted by the U.S. and its European sycophants egging on anarchistic masses crowding in metropolitan centers protesting "authoritarians". Recall Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Then, there are British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, gleefully cheering for the capitalist oligarchies.
Need we be reminded that ideas like "persons of color", ethnicity, gender, or religion can be just as brutal, predatory, serving the gangsters in power, materialistic, and having all the qualities identity politics advocates claim to eschew? Think of Idi Amin or the Rwandan genocide. North Korea's Kim Jon-un is no angel either. There is no data showing persons in any identity politics category are more or less humane than any other identity group, any more than there is data supporting racist claims about the inferiority of blacks, Jews, or other "persons of color". None of these “races” or ethnicities is superior or inferior to another. The problem lies with homo sapiens sapiens.
We need to pause and reflect on the comparison between the Nazis presenting their identity politics as a chief reason for supporting Hitler and the current rush to promote candidates because they have a certain identity. Say, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Now, remember your history. Does this quote sound familiar? Go back to Dr. Martin Luther King's words spoken in front of the Lincoln memorial on 28 August 1963. To all these identity politics people, I declare, "what a bunch of self-serving hypocrites and crypto-Nazis you are."
I advocate for the need to achieve equity between ethnic groups, "races", sexes, and so forth. Laws should apply equally to all across the board, and there should be equal opportunity, access to social services, and so forth. Cops should not single out blacks (or anyone else of darker skin tone, gender, ethnicity, or physical characteristic) for searches or arrests. Police brutality in any form – physical or psychological – is unacceptable in a civilized society. Yet, such does not happen in a system with a perverted set of values. Identity politics, rather than providing humane solutions to social problems, is a crowd-pleasing low-brow appeal to primitive tribal instincts, not unlike using the corn-dole to rally the masses, again recalling the Romans.
Why this is working
Let's look at the social landscape for a moment, and you should start seeing is why the propaganda is working:
The shocking fact is that adults are effectively illiterate; they "cannot find places on a map, calculate the cost of office supplies from a catalog and compare viewpoints in two editorials."! An educated person should be able to grasp immediately the implications of this illiteracy. There are numerous knowledge surveys demonstrating Americans’ inability to locate countries on an outline map, understand basic scientific facts and historical references. I know it may seem boringly repetitive to many, but judging by what I read in the papers, not one scintilla of attention is devoted to this axial fact in assessing voter competency, election campaigns, or issues. So, I'll bring down the ax again, hoping to chop away some brush of inattentiveness covering up this critical fact. I have to keep reminding my friends and colleagues about the adult illiteracy and knowledge deficiency rates before they continue making broad appeals to the electorate to ___ (fill in the blank). The voters, by and large, will not be able to read what is written. Otherwise and emphatically stated, poignant but alarming is the majority looking at this article and any other published ostensibly for a "general" audience will not be able to read it.
If people are not reading, there is not much else they can do intellectually, perforce their turning attention to material satisfaction. Replacing the library (real or virtual) are the sports stadium, "entertainment", and consumerism. Activity mostly is physical.
Aside from our dependence on reading for the bulk of our knowledge, philosophy, critical thinking, and scientific methods make it happen, teasing sense and meaning from facts. The latter courses get short shrift in school curricula, there being no nation-wide mandate to have them, leaving people to figure things out on their own. For a historical perspective, De Tocqueville in the second preface of his 1835 Democracy in America remarked:
I THINK that in no country in the civilized world is less attention paid to philosophy than in the United States. The Americans have no philosophical school of their own, and they care but little for all the schools into which Europe is divided, the very names of which are scarcely known to them.
Again, I mentioned this previously, but until decision-makers realize that philosophy is pivotal to shaping a humane society, we will rumble on towards oblivion. Things in this regard have not changed since De Tocqueville.
The people generally have no familiarity with the true meanings of words used to manipulate ideas, like "freedom", "democracy", "authoritarianism", and "liberty". How could at least half the population know much about language if they cannot read it? Each word has deep philosophical roots, but the ruling elites are sophisticated enough to attach false meanings to them, along with correspondingly false implications, and if the folks are not educated, they will be vulnerable to that manipulation. As an aside, is it any wonder why pseudoscience, cults, and sectarian religions are increasingly dominating the social landscape? Interesting it is that the CDC's poison control center fielded many more calls after Mr. Donald Trump suggested "by injection inside" of chlorine bleach as a possible treatment for the COVID-19 virus. Hey, I didn't utter this stupidity; someone purporting to be a major nation's leader and with no scientific background did. Any eighth grade science student should know better than even to think such nonsense. It is a sad commentary on the U.S. school system that there were so many calls. Again, think "U.S. illiteracy rate".
Current political discussion swirls about "issues" – responses to problems, rather than addressing their causes – e.g.: throwing money at people to temporarily compensate for losing jobs; declaring "war" on drugs (rather than finding out so many people are taking them and treating it as a health problem); Obamacare to pay these obscenely rich drug companies (rather than nationalizing them, or minimally imposing price controls). Ask yourself why someone like Bezos or Buffett can become so wealthy?
Liberal democrats shed oceans of crocodile tears over economic and social injustices, wealth disparities, and the like, while the likes of a Biden, a 2.3 millionaire, and Harris a 6.5 one, typify the millionaire choir making up more than the majority of the U.S. Congress. I think about all these soapbox orators pandering the unrealistic vision "you too can be like I am" to the growing number of impoverished people or saying falsely that regulation here and there and some scraps tossed to the desperate masses will be the needed social antidote to mounting problems.
A major effect of the COVID-19 epidemic is the alarming rise of mental disorders. Mentally unhealthy people are prone to grasp more uncritically "solutions" posed by those seeking to exploit the masses for their selfish gain. It is called "kicking a person when s/he is down".
Coupled with the item above is the severe alienation felt by people, exacerbated by COVID-19, forced to be physically separate from each other. This arguably is the most critical and to which we will return shortly as an excursion into the world of identity itself.
If identity politics is so empty of philosophical content, besides being scientifically unprovable, what purpose could it serve? It parries the focus on the severe systemic deficiencies in society, like income stratification, economic bankruptcy, crumbling infrastructure, no universally accessible and affordable social services, and job insecurity. Instead identity politics offers a self-serving peddling of a salve for alienation and its causes. Salve contents are designed like a carrot is for the rabbit, soothing and enticing people further towards the trap of social downfall led by politicians whose only concern is themselves. Why should we be shocked, when this whole liberal democratic social arrangement is founded on hedonism? Again, think of De Tocqueville's words. I'll add a philosopher's paradoxical rendering of hedonism, maximizing pleasure, the sadist regarding suffering as pleasurable. It is just a thought.
Theirs is part and parcel of the endemic prejudice against those outside the established order. How often do you see front-page stories about the eye-dazzling wealth of the liberal democrats so eager to "help" the masses? Harris' six-million-dollar figure merely affirms the argument. We all know about the G.O.P.
A real alternative
Plato in his famous cave allegory recounted in the seventh book of The Republic how we figuratively are chained inside a cave to look at shadows of silhouettes on its walls because a fire behind us generates those images. Outside, the fire is the sun shining on actual objects as truth, the forms embodying the essence of the shadows inside the cave. Only if we walk outside into the sun will we realize that truth. So too, we draw a parallel to the Enlightenment, but paradoxically, it has not been the search for truth, at least in modern times, save for that which provides material comfort. In place of searching for truth has been searching for the maximum of material happiness, or hedonism.
Let's take a break for a moment and acquaint ourselves more with hedonism, a word readily searchable in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and common dictionaries. “Hedonism is seeking pleasure and minimizing (preferably eliminating) pain”. Numerous discussions about pleasure to one person being pain to another liven a conversation. Then, too, when is a person satiated? How many houses, boats, land, or planes does one need? Billionaires are proof that satiation can have no bounds, hedonism run amok. The social predation governing current liberal democracies goes beyond arrangements enabling people to survive, given a quick glance at communitarian societies. We see this even in John Locke's On Property in his Second Treatise on Civil Government, that a person has limits on wealth accumulation, not acquiring more land that s/he can walk around in the course of a day, to wit:
But how far has he given it to us? To enjoy. As much as anyone can make use of any advantage of life before it spoils, so much he may by his Labour fix a property in whatever is beyond this, is more than his share, and belongs to others. Nothing was made by God for man to spoil or destroy … [Sect. 31]
He was only to look, that he used them before they spoiled, else he took more than his share, and robbed others. And indeed, it was a foolish thing, as well as dishonest, to hoard up more than he could make use of. [Sect. 46]
...and it was useless, as well as dishonest, to carve himself too much, or take more than he needed [Sect. 51]
I wonder what Messieurs Trump and Biden and their toadies would say to Locke while basking in accommodations that 90-plus percentage of their constituents will never approach living in.
Yes, we can get into discussions of non-materialist hedonism, anti-social cases of a sadist inflicting psychological violence on others or disrupting society for the sake of enjoying anarchy. The sadist as hedonist comes to mind, as well as the sociopath (not having empathy for others) with serious scientific discussions about 20% of business leaders falling into this category.
Then, we have the pleasure of seeking the truth. Here, we come down to intention, what you see as the desired end in life. Order, cohesion, and meaning combine to form religion, the true meaning derived from the Latin, "to cohere, or bind". More fundamental is the answer to life's meaning, even more refined, what "life" is.
I have no specific answers here, only being able to realize the value in the search process. This process itself being the object of life until we fully realize the truth found by the search. Like consciousness, mind, idea, evil, and these concepts about which we know nothing of the substance (and even in physics, the essence of superposition, unity of opposites, and what a "particle really is at the most fundamental level”), truth now eludes us. People like the Buddhists speak of being at one with the Universe, the absence of turmoil and suffering, the ultimate hedonism, surely a hedonism higher and FINAL than the shallow materialist one. It makes liberal democracy rather petty, doesn't it?
However, there must be one to search for the truth, bringing us to the essence of "one". Now we direct attention to the core of not only alienation but more specifically the identity from which one is alienated and around which the "opposition" has created a smokescreen with its toxic and destructive identity politics.
There are two identities – the false one framing you (and you need a framer, of course) and the one inside of you.
We are appealing to false identity – Black Lives Matter, "Gay" Pride, inequality of women, etc. These refer more to what people do than who they are. All lives matter, it is a matter of pride to be able to identify your sexual preference, and both males and females have (should have) parity. That one group does not enjoy these characteristics, like pride, recognition, or value of life is a social failing, not one having to do with one's core purpose in life. Identity politics also pits one identified group against another, so they don't come together and do something about the overall system promoting social fracturing for the benefit of the ruling elites.
Identity and alienation
What is identity? Logic, mathematics, and science can help us out here, as describing all of our world, including us, comes from these disciplines. To have an existent, you need a property and vice versa. Phenomenologically, in a space with everything the same color, you will not be able to distinguish one object from the next. Something exists because of what it is not; you need difference, or contrast. Together, the object and what it is allows you to see each. In physics, in our case digital physics, everything is reducible to entities called “particles” existing at Planck scale, 1.616255×10⁻³⁵ meters. In this binary world, particles exist in terms not only of each other but what they are not.
One must first have to absorb the full impact of the most fundamental law of all, the unity of opposites. Bound up with this observation are two essential facts. First, something existing because of what it is not is the simplest description of identity. Second, each exists because of the other but for sake of the whole that is perceived. Without the whole existing, neither would the individuals. Ontology is what exists, and it exists because it can be identified, but just equally as true is that you can identify it because it exists. Which came first, the chicken or the egg lies in the singularity. The singularity on the cosmological scale is superposition at the smallest (Planck or sub-Planck) scale. Everything we have around us came from it, but equally important here as well are the processes bound up with the singularity and permeating every aspect of our existence today. Process exists because of object, and object exists because of process. Each by itself and as a singularity are real.
Because the processes original to the singularity are omnipresent today, we should see how establishing identity applies to homo sapiens sapiens, as well. That is, those processes permeate all the Universe, including us.
If we separate one entity from the rest, we alienate it, or, as the root “alien” tells us, we make it foreign to its world. Studying the antics of identity politics advocates uncovers a deeply hidden psychology of narcissism and its attendant hedonism. To think that all a person could resort to for her/his meaning is skin color or gender points to a philosophical vacuum, truly a property without an individual possessing it, the clothes with no emperor. The "woke" will find they have awoken to a living nightmare of eternal conflict. Somewhat paradoxically, to affirm identity politics is to deny identity, the literal substance of the "cancel culture".
Ironically the army of US imperialism once had a motto in its recruitment programme, "be all you can be", capturing the essence of virtue. Very well note that the expression is not "be all you WANT" to be!"
Dissecting the etymology of this word will make it evident how it crucially relates to Plato's cave allegory, truth, and identity.
c. 1200, vertu, "moral life and conduct; a particular moral excellence," from Anglo-French and Old French vertu "force, strength, vigor; moral strength; qualities, abilities" (10c. in Old French), from Latin virtutem (nominative virtus) "moral strength, high character, goodness; manliness; valor, bravery, courage (in war); excellence, worth," from vir "man" (from PIE root *wi-ro- "man"). [https://www.etymonline.com/word/virtue ]
"Excellence" – what is that?
mid-14c., "superiority, greatness, distinction" in anything, from Old French excellence, from Latin excellentia "superiority, excellence," from excellentem (nominative excellens) "towering, distinguished, superior," present participle of excellere "surpass, be superior; to rise, be eminent," from ex "out from" (see ex-) + -cellere "rise high, tower," related to celsus "high, lofty, great," from PIE root *kel- (2) "to be prominent; hill." From late 14c. as "mark or trait of superiority, that in which something or someone excels." [https://www.etymonline.com/word/excellence ]
Keep leapfrogging -surpassing, and you'll be heading out and upward from that cave, jumping over each improved shadow until you reach the outside.
What can you be? The truth exists, as well as the process of obtaining it. Your identity is "x = x", not "x is similar or equivalent to x". That means the property of virtue must be bound up with you, not something to observe from a distance. You internalize virtue by living it.
All in all, the selection of Kamala Harris does nothing positive for enhancing one's identity. Neither does the politics embracing it and as the chief reason for selecting leaders. Backing off from selecting Biden, himself, the self-serving shenanigans do nothing to advance the needed social and economic change in the U.S. We also cannot have any hope in a repeat of the Trump regime. The former merely wants a slow-motion version of the latter- either a salve on the wounds created by this predatory socioeconomic system run by tiny wealthy elites or an openly brutal vicious rapacious one. Both political parties have their common root in materialist greed, the former with a few more receiving benefits, the latter exacerbating wealth disparities with associated further impoverishment. Either case leads to further resource depletion, environmental destruction, further social disintegration, and anarchy, but most critically, there is no reference to society as an organic community with a higher ethos transcending hedonism.
I think it is fitting here to introduce a parenthetical observation about the relationship of hedonism, capitalism, the material impoverishment left in their wake, and "socialism". It bears directly on identity.
Many reading this article, my other writing, and work appearing on the Reformation Party Website and in its publications may notice our opposition to capitalism having many similarities to socialists. There are many types of socialism, but the commonalities are: 1) the predominant political economy is – here we go again - social ownership (by government, collectives, cooperatives, employee ownership, equity, and so forth) and control of the means of production and distribution (including exchange) of goods and services. There are numerous theoreticians, predominantly Marxian, others emphasizing Trotsky, and still the "milder" Fabian socialists. 2) All these socialisms have as their end material betterment. 3) These socialisms usually work towards eliminating the living off others' labor power, every person being paid the full value of what they produce. In reading a good representative of socialism, the World Socialist Website, I find many accurate descriptions about capitalism and its supporters, but highlighting it are:
The central motivation of advancing socialism is materially based.
The solution to displacing capitalism is the "working class" uniting and overthrowing the system.
While critiques of identity politics are very much on target, the replacement is by the "working class" as the identifier.
Coupled with the previous is the assumption there is a "working class", a socially divisive idea. What defines this so-called "working class"? Can virtually every person be grouped wither into those having only their labor power to sell and those who expropriate it? For example, non-working spouses at home keeping house, students, retirees – where do they fit?
Digging deeper, "working class" is rooted in materialism, allegedly the only reality, the operative elements comprising identity: labor and property. Workers are supposed to own and control their labor power, but labor power in a socialist sense comes from the Enlightenment idea expressed by John Locke, transforming something from a state of nature to an artifact to be sold or exchanged. One's identity, characterized by labor power as one property, parallels the object in a state of nature. The labor power then is "mixed" with the object, perforce bringing that object into the expanding group of properties. Observe here the two senses of property: the labor power as a process or ability and property as an object. We should now see how a physical thing is used to define one's identity. This is the substance of the Enlightenment's materialist explanation of a person's identity. Capitalism alienates the property in both senses from the individual. Contemporary socialism seeks to reunite them.
We return to the socialist idea, especially Marxian, of all these workers having a consciousness serving to unite them against capitalism. To emphasize, this unity is a materialist one. More crudely stated, think about the power of a single wolf enhanced by a pack. Just as stark an example is a single individual coming together with others to fight off intruders. Indeed, reading Locke's "On Property", referred to above, will confirm this idea. Now, what is critically missing here?
There is no attention to the character of the individual, but just as important, is there none paid to the social whole in which the individual is placed.
On the heels of the previous observation, these socialisms have no organic character;nothing resembling one with a consciousness emerging from the organism. Peculiarly, there is no "social" to socialism.
Thinking the "working class' will magically come together to rid the world of capitalism is false determinism, something happening to a pre-defined class because wishful ideologues attribute those characteristics. From the previous, we should observe that consciousness cannot be pre-determined and imposed on a collection of individuals as a society. It must emerge organically.
The formal social whole is the State. It is not, as Lenin argued, the imposition of the ruling class. It, too, emerges organically, by a natural process.
Civilization, a collection of individuals defined by their agroupment and conversely, develops from simple entities evolving to more sophisticated arrangements, not unlike an embryo ultimately becoming an adult. Such is a far cry from the Marxian determinism that a socialist society ("The State") withers away, leaving "communism", that "stateless" society. I cannot help drawing the comparison to cosmological physics and the heat death of the Universe, maximum entropy, energy being equally dispersed, leaving no structures.
Several underscoring assumptions are made about this "working class". Each member is equal to the next, having equal decision-making capabilities, leading to "democracy" the final goal. Little or no discussion occurs about there being unequal capabilities, the compensation for which is virtue, doing the best you are able – that doing so makes people equal. Equality is entropy, both physical and social.
Little can be accomplished by just carping on a decaying society. What should be the response to the endemic alienation, also a pandemic in itself? A system and its operations emanate from society but also through feedback shapes it. Ethos generates. The superposition within that ethos occurs by contemplating the other by reflection, the physical presence of a mirror. Back and forth the contemplator gazes at the contemplated and wonders "why?"
Without that internalization (living the idea) of community as the "other" of the individual and realizing that the community gives you identity, the alienation will persist. All the systems, their structures, implementation methods, the politics in the world will come to naught until we identify - literally – the one running the show.
This translates into questioning the materialism of liberal democracy, prioritizing the pursuit of truth (and the institutions doing so), and working against those promoting the opposite, like refusing to vote for persons with those values, even if it means "choose the lesser evil". Both are evil. Hegel said that reason must work itself out in history, including what it takes to pursue truth. Lies are like skyscrapers – impressive shells while they stand, but catastrophically destructive when they fall. It very well may be the case of liberal democracies physically collapsing so the Phoenix of Truth searching – the State- can arise.
A medical professional is not required to observe that the social organism is very ill. Even animals know when they are sick. Here, all the animals being slaughtered to satisfy the craven desire for flesh needless to say goes beyond sickness. Neither is Mother Nature happy, the destruction of land and methane generation contributing to our planet’s degradation. Only the human organism has to choose life or death, and, given our facing the Holocene Extinction, we need to make that choice now by knowing our identity – individuals because of society and society because of the individuals. Neither can exist without the environment.
So, now what? What emerges from identity, and how does that bode for the current situation of the anarchy threatening the world? From the above, we should see that identity based on materialism is without substance, just in the same manner as identity based on physical properties or ethnicity is philosophically poor. Cogitating about identity is extremely complex, if for no other reason we are realizing ourselves through ourselves, a sort of bootstrapping, if you will. Yet, think of organisms and how they fare in the environment. Real identity is a process function, organic in itself. Now, let's look at our formalized social environment.
Those old jokes about "the best coffee in town because it is the ONLY coffee in town" applies here. I am not aware of any organization calling for the social alternatives supported by a coherent philosophy as the National Reformation Party. Yet, without that social philosophy – an organic society through the State whose vision is Latin- founded religion – our homo sapiens sapiens subspecies will not survive. Both individual and social identity will disappear. How is THAT for identity politics?