2016-12-20

My Resistance To Identity Politics

There is a lot of identity politics out there. It comes in various forms, and the liberal-tarians are all united on the fact that it is good to be an “ally” to victims of certain difficult lived experiences. But just as I have resisted the inclination to call myself a “feminist” despite believing in equal rights for women, I’m not ready to sign-on to the pleas of the likes of (most recently) Jacob T. Levy. The natural question is, “Why the heck not, Ryan?” and the answer is because the evidence and the philosophy just aren’t there to support the notion of identity politics.

But does it matter? The toothpaste is already out of the tube, as the saying goes. It’s only a matter of time before everyone in the LGBTQ community gets to enjoy the same kind of social respect that we pay to everyone else, and racism and sexism is always and everywhere deplored by everyone who counts for anything. No one takes a bigot seriously anymore, not in today’s world. Despite the lamentations over Trump’s allegedly white-supremacist agenda, society as a whole wants to move on from all this bigotry. In that environment, why shouldn’t I just be simpatico? I mean, why can’t I just be a nice guy and declare myself an ally of women, of LGBTQs, of racial minorities, of religious minorities, etc.? Why hold out? Do I want to make myself look like an asshole?

In other words, why don’t I just follow where the group leads me? What’s the harm in that?

Libertarianism – the belief that people by and large ought to be left alone to pursue their own slice of happiness – deserves a unified theory. It’s almost inevitable. Despite the attempts of many to divorce libertarianism from hardcore individualism, Aristotelianism, first principles, and unfettered market capitalism, libertarianism only makes sense as the fusion of those ideas. If you remove one of those things, then you are no longer left with a consistent, coherent political philosophy. Instead, what we end up with is a contradictory mess of personal whims and wishes; but you don’t need philosophy to just believe whatever the heck you feel like. Philosophy without consistent self-reconciliation is just word salad.

Thus, to wit, I don’t want to just go along with the crowd on identity politics because, doggone it, I’m an individualist. I’m not going to just accept any hackneyed idea just because a bunch of really nice people really really want me to go with it. That kind of blind susceptibility to situational influence is what produces the Lucifer Effect, and I’m not into that. While we’re busy pitting our various political identities against each other, we’re causing a real rift between and among groups. It’s not very hard to imagine the different ways the Lucifer Effect would take hold. It ought to be resisted.

I bring this up because it highlights the importance of individualism as an idea in general, but specifically with respect to libertarianism. Without the general principle that individuals ought to be left alone, we become a teeming mass of identity-factions, each more justifiably angry than the next. The function of individualism is to diffuse the claims of specific factions and to apply broad principles of freedom to all kinds of people, no matter what their demographics happen to be. In other words, the purpose of individualism is to prevent us from getting caught up in bigotry. Inventing a complex “intersectionality” of factious identities will only serve to pit factions against each other.


What we want is to treat all people equally. So long as we’re pounding pulpits over identity politics, we’ll never get there. Separate is inherently unequal. "All collectivist doctrines are harbingers of irreconcilable hatred and war to the death."