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Above Identity Politics

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posted on Sep, 12 2015 @ 12:42 PM
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Identity politics gets a sufficient thrashing by a variety of critics, whom no doubt have some unconscious aversion to the type of tribalism that always emerges from this social environment since God knows when. Indeed we should treat it like some kind of leper. However it seems dangerous to forego another’s voice on principle, no matter how divisive or ugly those voices may sound—but then again it would be just as unwise to apply no principle whatsoever.

This is the difficulty for myself and perhaps others in these regards: should I ignore identity politics and get on with my life, or should I heed their ugly cries at least for a moment, just in case they decide to tear themselves apart and me with them? With each step in its general direction—that is, in the direction of the vicious circle known as identity politics, with its stupidity, its double standards and its squalid ethics—the closer I get to whatever category I am inevitably assigned to by its participants, and thus, one step closer to the brand new set of names, friends, enemies and baggage that come with it. Conversely, if I stay out of it, I basically turn my back to whatever injustices may actually be occurring to one faction from another. Silence too is a choice, and often leads to more severe consequences. I think the only possible thing I can do in this instance, and hence to retain my distance from these diseased and leprous polities, is to remain somewhat above identity politics altogether, rising to a view distant enough to remain quarantined, yet close enough to observe its madness. Only from this viewpoint can one see injustice. Is it possible?

In the first analysis, Identity Politics, besides being a philosophically troubling term (try defining politics or identity), is something like what Freud called the “narcissism of small differences”. If a Voltarian Micromégas were to descend on Earth from somewhere near Sirius, and upon arriving on this wet and blue planet, observed the trifles of its tiny inhabitants with their obsequious conformity to their tribes and nations, he would be forced to laugh a condescending laugh to his Saturnian companion. It is the same with identity politics. Who one sleeps with, what pigment the skin may be, what fleeting or idealistic classifications such as nation, religion, or class one gives himself and others, are of a distinction quite obvious to one with the indelible branding of his tribe, but when viewed from the outside, are not worth a second notice, if visible at all.

The sort of tribalism in question here is far more complicated then your typical racism, sexism, or any other irrationality-based conformity, because it not only embodies all of these elements at one time or another, but these very same elements are the necessary evils used to combat them. What I mean is, if one engages with it for some time, it isn’t long until he is found dishing it back out. One tribe who gathers under a typically superficial banner of their choosing will classify other individuals in the exact same superficial fashion as they have determined themselves, deriving their conviction of others from these classifications in comparison to one another, as if these subgroup were actual living beings, as opposed to deriving convictions on an individual basis using a little technique called learning, which is no doubt too difficult for a thought-poor mind.

A person who divides members of a species into sects, denominations or factions, is not only dead wrong, but does so by his own whim and fancy, and according to conception, rather than by any concrete fact. Surely this categorizing of each other into types or kinds of homo sapiens had an evolutionary advantage at one point or another, but so did the wisdom teeth. We could surmise that from the vantage point of one so entrenched in identity politics, and who uses it as a method of distinguishing, it becomes easy to induce certain assumptions about character, worth, and so on, by recalling others who possess the same quality, and abstracting them into some disembodied platonic ideal and fashioning a label to it. The problem is that these assumptions are often swayed by portrayals and caricatures and not any actual individual to individual interactions. This tendency works both ways: first when grouping others according to these distinctions, and second, by conforming to them. A so-called “community” is created in the herd imagination, and one community compares itself to other communities in a vicious circle spiraling inevitably into tribalism. If the reader has the imagination, she might picture something like a flushing toilet, and we its surging turds.

Philosophically, to identify with anything more or less than what one is is to misidentify, and to do so towards others, the same—this is the fundamental stupidity involved in the classification of the human species into types or subspecies, when no such taxonomy exists. A quality is never an extant being, but a mere description of extant beings. Indeed a quality says something, but never everything about the being in question. How could it?

Perhaps it is necessary to examine the language here, which rarely seems to conform to reality in any case, and to see if it leads our minds further away from actual states of affairs as it is prone to do. “X is black” is a true proposition if and only if X is black. We see that X’s skin is black, surely, but that’s about it. X is not an epidermis. Therefore, X is not black. To identify as black, white, male, female, hetero or homosexual in this tawdry way is a misidentification, simply because such distinctions say very little, if anything, about one’s actual identity. A human is not a skin, a sexual preferences or certain set of private parts. These sorts of terms are for descriptive purposes, for purely day-to-day practical and utilitarian usage. To use a partial half-baked identity for political purposes is to make a mockery of oneself and others.

I admit I find it absurd how one can align in solidarity with people he has never met, with people connected to him by no more than a fleeting and fuzzy similarity such as race or party or religion or experience—in other words, not connected at all—and call that his community. But this community is nothing more than a euphemism for mob, who on short notice can band together against other mobs.

Maybe it's a characteristic or quality that binds them; maybe a gender; maybe it's a matter of wealth or standing; maybe it’s a common enemy, a common plight, a common bedfellow; then again who knows? One thing is for certain: none of these memberships are a ticket out and away from the human condition and one’s individuality. But in the glaring light of what I would deem an obscenity and a surreptitious sort of nationalism, it's difficult for me to stay my criticism when these so-called communities consist of people who have never met, are unaware of the content of each other’s character, and for all they know, could be so fundamentally opposed to one another in wisdom, ethic and culture, that they would never be friends outside of their imagination—an un-community of the first order, giving a bad name to real communities.




posted on Sep, 12 2015 @ 12:43 PM
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But to be above identity politics…when I think of it I imagine someone detached enough to view it from the outside, yet front and center where everyone can watch him do it. When I was thinking of someone who might be above identity politics I admit I had some difficulty. It appears everyone has quite the bias and allegiances. But then, during some droll searching through my books, I reintroduced myself to the existentialist philosophies that a time ago rid me of my own need for conformity, and one of its members that stood out to me above all.

To the reader who has not read, listened to, nor perhaps even knows of James Baldwin, you are the poorer for it. His language is something to behold and to cherish for simply existing, and his timelessness is poised to span the centuries, relevant in times well beyond ours. This great but underrated philosopher was living proof of something yet too big to put into words—the heart of a movement, a voice for the people in the grand sense—but despite this, he is hardly celebrated, even by the marginalized groups he always upheld. He isn’t as ubiquitous as an MLK, a Malcom X, or a Robert Kennedy even though he influenced them all. Why, you ask? I will furnish a guess: he was above identity politics, without affiliation. Though his situation was the type of culture where this bacteria always seems to grow, he was able to rise above it.

He was able to stand alone. His work, written as it was by a self-exiled homosexual black atheist, would influence the most influential of the civil rights and gay movements, while he himself was kept at somewhat an arms length from the very groups he championed. He was considered too gay for the black identity, too black for the gay identity, indeed smart and classical enough but definitely not white enough for the white identity, and too cosmopolitan to be considered American. Nonetheless, he brilliantly defended them all, eloquently butchering his opponents in debate and criticism. These struggles with identity were the obvious cause of his existentialist outlook; and it is no wonder he found comfort in a bustling post-war Paris among the literati and artists of that setting.

He was provocative. When he was expected by the so-called black community to write about the plight of the strong black man in his work, thereby conforming to the ideals of that identity, he surprised everyone when he made his main characters white and gay. When expected to promote and praise the writings of his fellow black writers, he criticized them sharply. He didn’t believe in race, yet was keenly aware of racism having been on the receiving end of it for most his life.

What was profound about Baldwin was that even though his appearance, his sexuality and his views would precede him in almost every social situation, even the ones with which he could most identify, he never attempted to be anything less than what he was, that is, anything less than James Baldwin. He never limited himself, like so many others, to the racial or the sexual or the class identities—within the rigid, but at the same time, befogged boundaries that others might try to condemn him within, and often did. He proved unrestrained by such superfluous labels, which only served to lessen and dehumanize him and his work. He didn’t fit in. He didn’t conform. He wasn't a part of any community nor acted in accordance with any collective standards, unless it was on his own terms. He never fell victim to the need to belong and hence gravitated towards expatriation, defining his very own belonging. He was an exile, and hence, above identity politics.

Like you and me, comrades?

Probably not. The paradoxical confusion between what one is and what one thinks he is a dynamic very few care about, but those who do, for those who apply the principle of Know Thyself, are necessarily above identity politics.

Thank you for reading,

LesMis



edit on 12-9-2015 by LesMisanthrope because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 12 2015 @ 01:48 PM
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a reply to: LesMisanthrope
As I walk on the path, to my left is the antichrist and to my right christ. I do my best to not identify with either walkers, none the less at times Im forced in to a ferocious dance which always ends in being let go of. Even as I critisize some how I share that space.



posted on Sep, 12 2015 @ 05:10 PM
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a reply to: LesMisanthrope


This is the difficulty for myself and perhaps others in these regards: should I ignore identity politics and get on with my life, or should I heed their ugly cries at least for a moment, just in case they decide to tear themselves apart and me with them?


If you can rise above the person to the real issue, be the change you want to see. Refuse to attack/praise the person, and discuss the pertinent issues or challenges involved. Expect to learn yourself in the process! When people know better they do better. Some people won't want to change or be able to change for whatever reasons. But those who can will benefit from a better example.

Easier said than done, I know! Good luck!!!



posted on Sep, 12 2015 @ 06:32 PM
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Do any of us fit a mold completely? No. If you do then you are, sadly, not authentic or not very smart.

I saw a snip of an interview today with Naomi Wolf. Michael Smerconish asked her if she supported Hillary in an effort to break the glass ceiling for women. I loved her answer. She said basically that she wouldn't vote for Hillary simply because she is a woman, that her own politics are far more nuanced and sophisticated than that.

I wonder how many other voters can be as honest as Wolf or do they simply vote based on a wedge issue, superfical identity groups or loose ideological dogma?

The answer is pretty clear.



posted on Sep, 12 2015 @ 07:07 PM
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S/F



The paradoxical confusion between what one is and what one thinks he is a dynamic very few care about, but those who do, for those who apply the principle of Know Thyself, are necessarily above identity politics.

Thank you for reading,

LesMis


How true, thanks for sharing.



posted on Sep, 12 2015 @ 10:10 PM
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An inherent defect to human society is that in general we feel we are above the animals. Clearly humans still engage in predatory behaviors against each other representative, of a negative expression of tribal behavior.


edit on 12-9-2015 by Kashai because: Content edit



posted on Sep, 13 2015 @ 01:18 AM
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a reply to: LesMisanthrope

There is the problem of respecting individual choice- even in the cases in which an individual has chosen to forfeit his/her individualism for being part of a larger group.

If an individual chooses to identify with a specific group, speaks in terms of "we", with a "they" they compare and contrast themselves with;

With a specific structure of belief about reality, and ethic for behavior they strive to adhere to;

Who are you to deny them that choice? If an individual chooses to cover and hide their individual freedom from themselves, in exchange for the feeling of belonging, and having a powerful collective force surrounding and supporting them- is that not to be respected as part of their individual freedom?

Those collective structures of thought, belief, and ethic will create a certain conformity to their behavior, that is conducive to cooperation, communication, and exchange within that group. There are expectations between them- why would there not then be a certain amount of predictability and expectation about their behaviors from those observers outside the group too?

Sense of belonging is one of the basics of Maslows hierarchy of needs, it is not insane or wrong to seek fulfilment of that. There are individuals that have fulfilled it, and then are able to move on to higher needs of self actualization and self esteem, while still retaining a base sense of belonging to groups... just no longer limited to them.

These are people that can claim being part of "us" and "they" and perhaps other "they"s too.

But there is a price to that, which is that despite their internal identification, the other members of those groups, who are still deeply engaged in the sense of belonging, will not always (even rarely) recognize and acknowledge their membership.
They'll be called out as fence sitters, wishy-washy, even traitors, because they step out of the collective boundries in thought or behavior.

Unless that sense of belonging is deeply integrated, that could cause a real sense of loss and loneliness. The tribes in question will try to put pressure on that belongingness need, through ultimatums and accusations, to "choose a camp". So I understand people who fall back into the tribal identification, in exchange for individuality. It is a valid choice, and it is necessary if the need is still not fulfilled completely.

The choice to "rise above" as you call it, is a lonely route, and will be marked with periods of longing to belong, if one does not choose, from time to time, to return to your groups and engage with them, to re-strengthen your bonds.

The prodigal sons ventures mean nothing to the world if he never comes back to his home to share some of what he has gained while on them.



posted on Sep, 13 2015 @ 03:41 AM
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a reply to: LesMisanthrope

The paradoxical confusion between what one is and what one thinks he is a dynamic very few care about, but those who do, for those who apply the principle of Know Thyself, are necessarily above identity politics.

Unless you know yourself to be nothing then you will be conflicting with some thing!!



posted on Sep, 13 2015 @ 04:07 AM
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There is no choice. If there is identification then there will be fear. If you identify as something and others are identifying as some thing else then there will be conflict. There is no choice in that.
If you believe you are a 'thing' - is that a choice? Until you 'realize' what you really are, you will continue to believe otherwise.
The fear of loneliness will make you chose a side - you do not choose - fear drives you.
It is the fear of not being liked that makes people pick sides and identify, the individual desperately wants to fit in because they feel so out (divided).
But when you realize what you really are then you will never feel isolated.



posted on Sep, 13 2015 @ 04:45 AM
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A mind can disconnect and deny the drives of the body, refusing to feel or acknowledge it's needs.

Happens all the time. People commit suicide. People get anorexia. People live sedentary lives and eat more than their body needs. People isolate themselves from human relationships. People become insane, or demented, and lose touch with their physical being and reality.

Yes, they have that choice. They can be "free" from all those nasty needs like food, water, warmth, shelter,security, sex, affection, contact, friendship, intimacy,

and try to skip ahead to the mental needs they might consider as more virtuous or enlightened-
strength, mastery, independance, freedom, and self-ascendance.

My experience and current view is that trying to "skip" those fundamental needs of the body and it's emotions often results in various consequences-
sickness and death,

abuse of others (the person disconnecting with their need for safety and security will not recognize or respect that in others, for example)

or their emergence in subconscious ways ( like someone proclaiming freedom from need for others
while also going forth into groups to try to convince them to join them in their own belief system, so that they won't feel so alone.)
edit on 13-9-2015 by Bluesma because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 13 2015 @ 05:49 AM
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It is just an idea (a concept) that one can be separate from physical being and reality. The body is never separate from reality - but the mind has words, names and labels and tells stories about 'How I must survive' - 'I have to fit in'.
The 'I' is the first 'identity' - it is the belief that 'I' is some 'thing'.
As soon as there is the idea that there is an 'I' separate from all that is 'I' gets labelled as some 'thing'. It then looks for other 'things' that might be the same as itself.
The 'I' has been cast out of wholeness just by believing in itself as a separate entity (identity).







edit on 13-9-2015 by Itisnowagain because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 13 2015 @ 07:09 AM
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Without the idea of being an identified self (separate from all there is) - life is just happening in freefall.



posted on Sep, 13 2015 @ 09:19 AM
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a reply to: Bluesma

With all due respect, there is no question of denying choice, if one sees the implications behind the divisions, the conflicts and violence, insecurity, one simply can never go back.

The divisions mean that humans live with a separated attitude towards one another, individual, group, national, race, religious, ethnic, politic, economic, it is the very denial of security.

It is not a choice to live this way, humanity is born in this manmade reality, a person simply doesn't know better than this.

Since there is question of me and you, they and us, there is question of conflicts and violence, ethnic, religious, national, political, race, we see it happen currently.

Also choice does not imply freedom, on the contrary, it implies a confused mind which does not see clearly.
It sees through screens of identity, the personal background with which one looks in to the world and concludes, 'we must do something about it', the 'it' is 'me'.
Black against white, east against west, religion against religion, ethnic against ethnic, national, economic, politic, the manmade reality is a battle from birth to death.

It is not a choice to rise above, one either sees clearly or not, if one does, the identifications simply fall away.
It is not a question of loneliness, in fact it means opening up to fellow humans, even if they still isolate themselves through identifications, it does not matter.



posted on Sep, 13 2015 @ 11:07 AM
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originally posted by: earthling42
a reply to: Bluesma


The divisions mean that humans live with a separated attitude towards one another, individual, group, national, race, religious, ethnic, politic, economic, it is the very denial of security.

I disagree. I percieve that people who belong to a certain religion, for example, benefit from a sentiment of belongingness when they proclaim, "I am _____(place religion here)". They know also that in case of threat or need, those who also proclaim membership of _______ will come to their aid and defense.

This actually does work, when the different groups keep to their own territory. Christians in America have benefitted from this sense of belonging and security for a long time!





It is not a choice to rise above, one either sees clearly or not, if one does, the identifications simply fall away.
It is not a question of loneliness, in fact it means opening up to fellow humans, even if they still isolate themselves through identifications, it does not matter.


I disagree. For example, I identify both with the french and americans. I don't find those identifications falling away when I face their opposite -those who identify only with one. Because they are made up of specific perceptions and values. But those who identify with only one are like a reflection of a part of myself. I am not going to deny that part of myself. The wider my experience and knowledge grows, the more groups I identify with.

The exercise becomes then, not erasing their particular differences - but rather look at what ways they collaborate together or not. Some part of myself I simply cannot manifest at the same time as others, depending upon context and environment. Each needs to be expressed and manifested in their appropriate context, where they developed and are most effective. Trying to do otherwise is what causes conflict.







posted on Sep, 13 2015 @ 11:18 AM
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a reply to: Bluesma

Coming back and reading what I wrote, putting myself in others' shoes, I realized that might seem too vague.
I don't dare delete and re-write it, at risk of being accused of doing so for some nefarious reason.

Let me put it this way-

I percieve that the conflicts and destruction lie not in different people having different belief and value systems they identify with,

but rather, an overly attached identification, in which anyone who doesn't have them are "confused" and wrong.
That is a lack of respect for those individuals choice of belief - even if the belief was structured and constructed by others before them, they chose it for their own. Believing that is not a legitamate right and must be corrected is where the problems start.



posted on Sep, 13 2015 @ 11:48 AM
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a reply to: Bluesma

My contention is that the communities now fostered—for instance the lgbt community, the black community, the white community, the female community, etc.—are not communities. I don't think one should become some hermit, but that one should be a part of real communities, families, friends, where people rely on each other as fellow beings, who depend on one another, who help one another and so on, rather than being just another number, or another similar skin, or another another similar sexual orientation, which are purely politically derived. This, I think, is where community turns to tribalism, once the human individuals are no longer individuals nor considered individuals, but are some sort of political currency for the advancing of a particular subspecies, where no such taxonomy exists. These polities are dehumanizing, and treat its members like cattle or means to a end.

I am negative towards this conformity because one can think he is a part of some abstract community or culture, yet has never met his actual neighbor. The neighbor is the one who will come running in case of an emergency, and he is the one who will defend your life and property. The other conformity is false, because it is defined by false identities; and not only that, but it is a false sense of security and belonging.

The sort of belonging and tribalism I think you are speaking about as valid, where one finds his respective groups, is lonely. It is not real. It lacks all the qualities of intimacy, interaction, and humanity, where people rely on each other as human beings.




edit on 13-9-2015 by LesMisanthrope because: grammar



posted on Sep, 13 2015 @ 12:13 PM
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a reply to: Bluesma




I percieve that the conflicts and destruction lie not in different people having different belief and value systems they identify with, but rather, an overly attached identification, in which anyone who doesn't have them are "confused" and wrong.


If I had to guess, I imagine no two people hold the same beliefs, that interpretations and expressions of specific beliefs are unique to each individual no matter the label. I think the conflict begins when different people believe they have the same beliefs.



posted on Sep, 13 2015 @ 12:14 PM
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a reply to: Itisnowagain




Unless you know yourself to be nothing then you will be conflicting with some thing!!


Or other nothings in your case.



posted on Sep, 13 2015 @ 02:28 PM
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originally posted by: LesMisanthrope


If I had to guess, I imagine no two people hold the same beliefs, that interpretations and expressions of specific beliefs are unique to each individual no matter the label. I think the conflict begins when different people believe they have the same beliefs.


That causes conflicts too, I'll agree on that.
Though doesn't it seem more common that people get into conflicts because they judge the other is wrong, lost, confused, or otherwise needs to be more like themselves?



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