ID Politics, Diversity and Biological Determinism?
Introduction by Gilad Atzmon: The following is a segment taken from my new book Being in Time - A Post Political Manifesto. The book offers a crude attack on ID politics. This mini chapter examines the exclusive nature of the New Left discourse and its detachment from working people and their politics. It points at the divisive apparatus that drives the Identitarian philosophy. By adhering to such an ideology, New Left has managed to adopt the most problematic chapter in Hitlerian ideology namely biological determinism.
United Against Unity (Being in Time pg. 46)
What does it take, in an era dominated by progressive identity politics, to be accepted as a fully qualified member of the ‘New Left’ or to be considered a ‘liberal?’
Jane is a well-off London lawyer who identifies politically ‘as a woman,’ and marches enthusiastically for human rights. Can she join? I think the answer is yes, she can.
George is a medical doctor who also happens to be a black man and identifies as ‘Black middle class.’ Can he subscribe to a progressive email group and contribute to the discussion? I hope and suspect that he can.
And what about Julie? She runs a real estate agency on the posh side of town but she also identifies politically as a ‘gay lesbian,’ can she join the parade? What a question! Of course she can.
Abe is an accountant and very attached to his Jewish heritage. Abe identifies as a ‘secular liberal Jew,’ can he join the anti-war movement? More than likely he can, in fact, he may even, within hours of his joining, find himself in a position of leadership.
But what about Hammed, a metal worker from Birmingham? Hammed identifies as a ‘Muslim’ – can he join a Left demonstration against the War in Syria? It’s a good question and the answer is not immediately obvious because it’s no secret that many of those who subscribe to ‘progressive’ and ‘liberal’ ideologies and especially activists, are rather troubled by religion in general and Islam in particular.
So, while Hammed identifies with an inclusive, universal and humanist precept, Jane, ‘the woman’, Julie ‘the gay lesbian’ and George ‘the Black’ subscribe to political identities that are largely determined by biology. Furthermore, Abe, as a secular Jew, affiliates himself with an (imaginary) blood- based ethnocentric tribal identity. Clearly, the contemporary so called ‘New Left’ has no problem with marginal and exclusivist political identities that are often biologically oriented.
How has the contemporary ‘liberal’ discourse been sustained by people who subscribe to biologically- determined identity politics, yet often reject those who actually support equality, human rights issues and who are also often from the working class? Could it be that the ‘New Left’ is detached from working class politics and instead focuses on a vague and inconsistent pseudo-empathic discourse primarily engaged in sectarian battles?
Let’s consider some more possible cases:
Uri is an Israeli peace activist and writer who identifies as an Israeli Leftist. Is Uri welcome within the progressive network? The answer is an unreserved yes.
But how about John Smith, an English bus driver from Liverpool who is proud to be English and ‘as a patriotic Englishman’ opposes the war because John truly believes that peace is patriotic. Can he join an anti-war protest and, while he’s at it, carry a Union Jack to demonstrations? Perhaps.
Tony is a ‘Jewish Socialist’ – certainly not religious but an ethnic Jew who identifies ‘as a Jew’ racially and ethnically. And by the way, Tony also operates politically within Jews-only anti-Zionist groups. Tony is hugely welcome at most progressive gatherings. But can the same be said for Franz who identifies as an ‘Aryan socialist?’ I suspect not.
The point is that there is a critical discrepancy in contemporary Left, liberal and progressive movements between professed humanism and the reality on the ground. Jewish ethnocentrism and even Jewish racial exclusivity is fully accepted, while other forms of ethnocentrism are bluntly rejected.*
And, while we’re at it, what about Laura? She’s a Muslim convert who often hides her face behind a veil. Does she feel comfortable in ‘progressive’ or liberal gatherings? Not really. But Laura certainly supports human rights and equality almost as much as she loves Allah. But the Left, supposedly progressive and liberal, shows very little tolerance towards Allah worshippers while worshippers of the Talmud who are willing to oppose Israel are not only tolerated, they are welcomed. Torah Jews, for instance, are often invited to progressive gatherings though, it must be said, they may encounter some resentment, especially from Jewish secular activists (this surely is because progressive Jews don’t like to be ethnically and ‘racially’ associated with ‘reactionary’ people in caftans).
Membership in a progressive club is not a straightforward matter. We are dealing with an operation that is far from being universal, open or inclusive. The discourse is selective, incoherent and unprincipled. The working class is not represented unless they demonstrate adherence to an Identitarian ideology and subscribe to a predetermined tablet of diverse ‘correct politics’, or shall we call it, an inconsistent set of progressive values. If they espouse a commitment to ‘working class’ values, its presence is not detectable.
So what are ‘correct politics?’ Where are they defined and by whom? Is it the same people who set a ‘progressive threshold’ that excludes the Muslim, the nationalist and the so-called ‘White’ (whatever that means), yet embraces biologically-determined sectarian politics and even racial categories?
*Black ethnocentrism had been accepted within the progressive milieu for some time, however this has changed recently once it was revealed that Black Lives Matter stood for the Palestinians. To read more: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/08/why-did-black-american-activists-start-caring-about-palestine/496088/