Identity Politics Runs Much Deeper than Politics

Aug 27, 2019 | Essays and Reviews, Interviews

Mary Eberstadt hears a civilizational cry in her new book Primal Screams.

‘Conservatives and other nonprogressives have missed something major about identity politics: its authenticity. But the liberal-progressive side has missed something bigger. Identity politics is not so much politics as a primal scream. It’s the result of the Great Scattering—our species’ unprecedented collective retreat from our very selves.”

Mary Eberstadt writes this in her new book, Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics. The book includes responses by Rod Dreher, Mark Lilla, and Peter Thiel. She talks about Primal Screams in this interview.

Kathryn Jean Lopez: At one point in the book, you write: “The crisis over identity is part and parcel of a larger unraveling. . . . Foreboding saturates the politics and societies of the West today. . . . It is not impossible to hear in today’s secular jeremiads a displaced panic for a pandemic no one saw coming: the diminution of the human story itself.” How is that not overly dramatic, and if it’s not overly dramatic, well, shouldn’t we panic?

Mary Eberstadt: Sometimes the truth is dramatic. Ours is one of those times.

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