The nihilism and incompleteness of modern life will never be healed through an infinite fracturing of humankind through the lens of identity politics. Fracturing can only lead to the annihilation of universal concepts, and with that, the end of the universal ability to speak and reason freely.
Identity politics, nested in postmodern thought, seeks to escape from the all-consuming reach of capitalist Western society. However, it makes crucial errors when assigning the virtues of the West to its very real faults. The concept of reason itself is maligned as a colonial outpost. Reason, to the identitarian, is a fantasy. It is nothing more than the imaginary idea that a white person, through distance and objectivity, can understand blackness or black life in America. This is why so many publishers and magazines desire writing by people of color – they are under the impression that they can break reason’s constricting spell, and the illusion of objectivity, by allowing unheard voices to fill the world. Through diversity, the multitude, the infinite fragmentation, difference and subjectivity of the world, new ideas and new modes of thinking can come into being.
Men should let women speak. Women should let trans people speak. Trans people should let black trans people speak. And so on and so on, until physiology alone is expected to speak for the revolution. A universal faculty of speech and reason has no place here. That ‘universality’ would be seen as a ploy to extend a default whiteness over all politics. Hence, speech itself becomes just another tool of whiteness, or maleness, ‘mansplaining’ or ‘whitesplaining’ away the nuances of subversive identities.
Freedom of speech, universal rights, and equality under the law are concepts opposed to identity politics. The attempts to redefine identity politics as ‘just not being racist’ are propaganda designed to undermine the very notion of universal ideas. In infinite difference, and infinite subjectivity, there exists also infinite chaos and an inability for speech to unite people. That is so clear, yet the left insists upon fragmentation as a worthwhile political project in the 21st century. It is not.
Everyone feels fragmented. Everyone aches in their bones for a different world, a profound anxiety and discontent has settled in the digital era in a way more palpable and visible than ever before. Hope in the human project itself is fading. Will hope be renewed by accepting fragmentation? Of course not. That leads only to the infinite regression of reason, the slow collapse of a universal movement into a Dada display of madness. The anxiety of infinite subjectivity is already a flaming pit capable of consuming us all. How can a political movement succeed by evoking it?
I am reminded of one of the greatest passages in Moby Dick: “The great God absolute! The center and circumference of all democracy! His omnipresence, our divine equality!”
The universal spark of divinity in every individual is the essence of democracy, of human rights, of the liberal ethos. Perhaps I have framed this question in the wrong way. But to my mind, identity politics is a doomed project precisely because it rejects the notions of objectivity, universality, and the reasonable speech capable of bringing together a multitude into a coherent whole.