The Hidden Trauma of Identity Politics

Jul 28, 2020 | Most Recent, The Critic

Begin with some uncontroversial facts emphasised most recently by protests, riots, and statue-trashing across the Western world. Sexual identity, racial identity, ethnic identity, and the rest of the pack have become essential to leftist politics—so much so that imagining today’s progressivism without these group identities or their agendas is an exercise in futility.

Legitimate global outrage over the killing of George Floyd is one thing. Its hijacking by activists intent on identitarian mania, such as ritualistic prostration, is another. Here as elsewhere, collective furore over the self is revealed as the signature political development of our time. The outcome of the next American presidential election, to name one prominent example, will depend in part on the struggle—already titanic within the liberal-left—between those who believe they can ride identity politics into victory, and those who demur.

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