Resentment, Multiculturalism and Identity Politics

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By David Eaton

david_eatonDuring the post-World War II era the influence of multiculturalism and identity politics in the West became a pervasive and potent force in politics, academia, sociology, and culture. So-called “social justice warriors” (SJWs) have taken activism on a variety of issues — race, gender, ethnicity, sexual preferences — to such extremes that it is near impossible to engage in reasoned debate or discussion without finding oneself mired in invective-laden exchanges drenched in political correctness.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy explains that the term “identity politics”

“…has come to signify a wide range of political activity and theorizing founded in the shared experiences of injustice of members of certain social groups. Rather than organizing solely around belief systems, programmatic manifestos, or party affiliation, identity political formations typically aim to secure the political freedom of a specific constituency marginalized within its larger context. Members of that constituency assert or reclaim ways of understanding their distinctiveness that challenge dominant oppressive characterizations, with the goal of greater self-determination.”

There is an emphasis on the need for various social groups to use political means to attain social justice — justice not necessarily based on principle or universal truths, but rather on “political formulations” or an affiliation with a particular political party that will legislate according to a specific set of concerns. Current iterations of multiculturalism and identity politics can be traced to Marxism and the Cold War, particularly the Marxist ideological tenets of the Institute for Social Research at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, known as the Frankfurt School.

As the Industrial Revolution led to the emergence of a substantial upwardly mobile middle class, the issue of economic disparity between rich and poor — a main Marxist premise — began to dissipate, hence the revolutionary urges exploited by earlier Marxist revolutionaries were mitigated.

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