All politics are identity politics

Said Matt Yglesias. Who, while being a disgusting piece of grease, is more candid than most other apparatchiks. Which is useful in understanding what leftists, or a particular set of leftists from a particular ethnic group, are thinking about. See this other recent example:

Mmm why would he say that?

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There, FTFY.

If you’re into memes this guy makes the same point.

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29 Comments.

  1. All politics are identity politics | @the_arv - pingback on August 14, 2017 at 4:50 pm
  2. The Charlottesville marchers are more punchable than Sam Harris’ face. Alt-Reichtards and their rally for Hitler did nothing wrong. Type-2 diabetes is a lifestyle choice Americans. And yet Harris manages to make himself look like the shit stain in comparison. This blog has done us all wrong, once you are taught to see virtue signaling, you can’t unsee it. And no one likes to see pathetic.

  3. Ludwig von Neetgenstein

    It consoles me that, if the left wins in the upcoming civil war, Sam will hang, and if we win, he will get tarred, feathered, and deported. A fitting end for an establishment climber cum intellectual fraud.

  4. All politics are identity politics | Reaction Times - pingback on August 14, 2017 at 8:27 pm
  5. Harris thinks that selfhood is an illusion (see SPIRITUALITY WITHOUT RELIGION), so would probably tweet that personal identity politics is, come to think of it, even worse than White identity politics.

  6. Possibly what Harris has in mind is something like what Terry Pratchett expresses here, in NIGHT WATCH. (A political rebellion is underway in Ankh-Morpork, the London of Discworld; the rebels are waving Ankh-Morpork flags and singing the Ankh-Morpork anthem.) —
    “Tom?”
    “Yes, Clive?”
    “Have you ever sung the national anthem?”
    “Oh, lots of times, sir.”
    “I don’t mean officially.”
    “You mean just to show I’m patriotic? Good gods, no. That would be a rather odd thing to do,” said the captain.
    “And how about the flag?”
    “Well, obviously I salute it every day, sir.”
    “But you don’t wave it, at all?” the major enquired.
    “I think I waved a paper one a few times when I was a little boy. Patrician’s birthday or something. We stood in the streets as he rode by and we shouted ‘Hurrah!’”
    “Never since then?”
    “Well, no, Clive,” said the captain, looking embarrassed. “I’d be very worried if I saw a man singing the national anthem and waving the flag, sir. It’s really a thing foreigners do.”
    “Really? Why?”
    “We don’t need to show we’re patriotic, sir. I mean, this is Ankh-Morpork. We don’t have to make a big fuss about being the best, sir. We just know.”

    • (The text has the upper-cased words here italicized:
      “WE don’t need to show WE’RE patriotic, sir. I mean, this is Ankh-Morpork. We don’t have to make a big fuss about being the best, sir. We just KNOW.”)

  7. Does “Why would he say that?” mean “What thoughts lead him to his conclusion?” or “What experiences and imaginative associations have given him the emotional inclination to arrive at such a conclusion?”

  8. What to say?

    The same rules apply to all relations, from the dating and mating game to politics — aren’t they all social relations?

    Basically, everything will be perceived — and claimed by the majority — counter to truth.

    The more racist/ethnocentric groups will be known to be the more antiracists… and viceversa.

    The less supremacistic will be the only ones to be charged with supremacism.

    Heck, isn’t everything in this life like this?
    I’ve never seen anything unlike this…

    • Who lies/deceives best is the most right.
      Who lies/deceives well is well right.
      Who lies/deceives bad is wrong.
      Who can’t lie/deceive is… gamma.

      • (And also a stalker, molester, harasser of poor guiltless harmless saintly freshly-divorced wifies, to make another example.)

        It’s strange (from my point of view) that you on this blog fight women freedom and independence, but never say a word on their uncanny talents in deception, feeling unanswerable for whatever disaster they cause to fall upon themselves (this wouldn’t be much of an issue) and their partners, …

        There is no doubt that the same intellectual gap between men and women (which is something wider than IQ…) is there when it comes to cheating, lying and deception, just turned the other way. Heck, sometimes they see one standard deviation above men.

    • Let’s just posit for sake of argument that my identity is Coptic (Egyptian) Christian. It is not, but it is a close enough proxy for the sake of this discussion.

      I have very little in common with the White Nationalism demonstrators or whatever you want to label them. For all I know many of the demonstrators may regard me as indistinguishable from being Jewish to outward appearances and disdain me as they would a Jew, although to some Jewish people, my identity may be indistinguishable from White Nationalist. Remember Ted Cruz furiously virtue signaling by dissing his hosts when they were voicing their gripes about Israel?

      What has happened and continues to happen is that a broad swath of people are lumped in with the Charlottesville White Nationalists with regard to having their ability to assemble and to speak being vigorously suppressed. Everyone from Charles Murray to Ann Coulter to Milo Yiannapoulos to James Damore to Nakoula Nakoula are all lumped in this together (Mr. Nakoula is the Egyptian film maker alleged to have provoked the Benghazi “protest.”)

      If Charles Murray’s speech is violently suppressed by Antifa or whoever other hipsters-in-black, how is Charles Murray different from the Nationalists? If Nakoula’s speech is suppressed under color-of-law as being a “dangerous extremist”, how am I to react with the Nationalists are called by the same label?

      I am quite disappointed in Mr. Trump for backpedaling from blaming “both sides” for the violence. Were I the president, I would proclaim that I swore an oath to defend the Constitution as amended and interpreted over the years to protect Free Speech. I don’t care how odious their beliefs or morals, we famously let the Nazis march in Skokie, home to many Jewish residents as well as WW-II veterans. We don’t shut them down, we protect their right of public assembly and then we ignore them as we so choose because as Americans, that is truly who we are.”

      We separate protesters from counter protesters so both have Free Speech. We don’t let Antifa or whoever be the deciders of Constitutional rights and shut everyone down from a scholar, a former presidential speech writer, a goofy Greek guy, a crazy Egyptian, or yes, even “racist White Nationalists.”

      The public Nightly News breast beating about Charlottesville deeply offends me because I am no White Nationalist, but I know they will be after me if I speak out too publically.

  9. Hi Spandrell,

    I think you are making the classic mistake here. Sam Harris wrote in The End Of Faith:

    “The gravity of Jewish suffering over the ages, culminating in the Holocaust, makes it almost impossible to entertain any suggestion that Jews might have brought their troubles upon themselves. This is, however, in a rather narrow sense, the truth. […] the ideology of Judaism remains a lightning rod for intolerance to this day. […] Jews, insofar as they are religious, believe that they are bearers of a unique covenant with God. As a consequence, they have spent the last two thousand years collaborating with those who see them as different by seeing themselves as irretrievably so. Judaism is as intrinsically divisive, as ridiculous in its literalism, and as at odds with the civilizing insights of modernity as any other religion. Jewish settlers, by exercising their “freedom of belief” on contested land, are now one of the principal obstacles to peace in the Middle East.”

    Does this sound like written by someone who has a serious case of Jewish identity?

    The classic mistake is that seeing there are liberal Jews and ethnocentric Jews, somehow it follows that Jews are one monolithic block who are demand different rules for whites and jews. Not at all. It seems, liberal Jews hate Jewish identity about as much as they hate white identity.

    • That’s a liberal Jew hating religious Jews. But he hates whites way more strongly. As in the tweet.

      • … which leads kind of neatly to the next question: why do we consider a man born of a Quaker father and a Jewish mother Jewish? Don’t men normally follow the identity of their fathers? And Quakers tend to be far-left, too: http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/169034/quakers-hard-us-easy-iran-mark-d-tooley

        Seriously, is there any sort of heuristic to determine who is a Jew? 50% yes, 25% not? What if someone just has one Jewish great-grandfather, but still has a surname after him, like Cohen? Ancestry? Bloody? Faith? Identity?

        My heuristic would be that at leat at the first approximation we should accept whatever identity people claim to have as long as it does not seriously contradict biology, like their skin color or genitals. People with an ancestry like Harris had a lot of choice during their upbringing with regard to which way to go to.

        I am raising this largely because we need to start discussing Jews intelligently, otherwise it will be left to the Stormer types who apparently cannot do it intelligently and the first and most obvious question is how much Jewish ancestry / upbringing / identity / whatever else makes one a Jew.

        • Apparently his father run away quite soon, and he was raised at his mother’s household.
          Unless you pretend to do something about the issue I don’t see the need really. Self-identification works for me.

  10. … for this reason the actually correct answer is not “Harris having a Jewish mother and Quaker father makes statements like this invalid coming from him” but more like: https://www.xkcd.com/774/ – New Atheists are stuck in an earlier loop of liberalism when signalling smartness was more important than signalling goodness and basically Harris is saying “I am smarter than all of you, black, white, straight, gay identitity-politicians, smarter than all of you, but still a liberal, still ingroup with the black or gay identity-politicians, just want you all to know that I am smarter than even them”.

    To be fair, signalling smarts more than signalling goodness does seem to be a specifically Jewish flavor of liberalism, what little I know about Jewish culture suggests that smartness signals – like the whole Talmud thing, which is valued because basically it is such a convoluted mess of a legal system that defending any position of interpretation is super hard – are incredibly highly rated there.

  11. I don’t think Matt Yglesias’ understanding of identity politics is useful at all. My take of identity politics would be Orwell’s “Four legs: good, two legs: bad.” I.e. while normal politics formulates some kind of demand, some kind of idea how to govern a country, identity politics just reaffirms tribal divisions, and tells everybody who are you with and who are you against.

    So “tax the rich” is normal politics and “the rich are bad” is identity politics. “Independence to Catalonia” is normal politics, waving a Catalonian flag is identity politics. And of course anything that has anything to do with things like monuments is identity politics.

    In other words, I think the American concept of identity politics is something very similar to what is called “symbolic politics” in Central Europe and likely elsewhere. Like, propose the idea to name a street after Rommel or Zhukov in Berlin and you’ll have people up in arms about who was evil and swho wasn’t, and so on.

    Perhaps identity politics differs from symbolic politics in one regard: it is somewhat closer to making actual demands. At least someone is going all hatey on the rich we can suspect they want higher taxes, and probably every Catalonian flag means demand somewhere between autonomy and independence.

    They are related in the sense that any attempt to make a group look bad or good makes any policy hurting/harming them more palatable. What is missing from identity politics, then, is “how much?” but probably as long as identity politics is used, no serious negotiations are started, when they do start they will probably get downtuned.

    They are also related in the sense that given that most policies can be interpreted as a redistribution of social status, identity politcs does it more directly: it is people directly trying to boost their ingroup status and the reduce the status of the outgroup. Yes, but the thing is, it is not real, mostly. “Four legs good, two legs bad” just makes the four-legs feel good and the two-legs maybe feel threated but does not actually change anything.

    I think ultimately it is all about living in this unreal age where most people apparently thinking wishing something hard enough makes it true.

  12. Richard Dawkins, who should have had enough years to realize where he will end up, manages to keep delivering entertainment.

    “Holocaust. Both sides to blame: Jews for being Jews and Nazis for killing them.”

    https://twitter.com/RichardDawkins/status/897789873205194752

    • On Jewish and non-Jewish ethnocentrism.
      It’s somehow IQ-related… then

      In fact, there are two possible ways to congregate a group – the military and voluntary. The first approach assumes rigid hierarchical structure of subordinance with ruthless suppression of any disobedience of subordinates. The second is based on altruism assuming sincere and volunteer help of group members up to self-sacrifice. The first approach is predominant among more primitive species as the more native for basic instincts, reliably implemented in reality, and requiring no any kind of substantial intellect. But it becomes ineffective for organization with very complex collaborative behavior. Obviously that living in extremely dangerous (in terms of predators) Savannah, our ancestors went the most of the evolutional path using the military form of group consolidation. Altruism became a relatively mass phenomenon only when development of intellect made very complex behavioral schemes possible. In its turn, widespeading of altruistic forms of behavior even more complicated human behavior and created prerequisites for even faster acceleration of social evolution that set Humans apart from the rest of the animal world. Thus altruistic behavioral programs appeared in comparatively later evolutional time and did not have enough time to be firmly embedded in genes. Therefore, altruism, so essential for mankind, has to be conveyed by non-genetic means, those which form a notion of “culture”. However, the stronger the genetic base of altruism the higher the cultural level under the same conditions.

      • Of course “altruism” = “self-interested altruism” = “in-group altruism”.

      • But the two are not exclusive – we see it from Nazis to Hamas how combining the two is perhaps the most powerful tribe-forming strategy, when it is the same people who form a disciplined military organization also give their members unemployement allowance or other kinds of aid in need.

        Indeed, how can you form a military without some kind of rewards for veterans?

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