In the age of mass media, the unfamiliar can even include our own selves. With a constant parade of powerful caucasian men occupying all media, particularly in a population whose social training is provided by media, women and indigenous people could learn to be dissociated from even their own images. Media taught the lower classes to marginalize themselves as everyone strove to emulate the ideal of a caucasian man and rank the interests of caucasian men as the most important. Identity politics replaced this pattern instead of abolishing it. While the established halls of knowledge created history as a work of solitary European men of genius, identitarians created alternative views of history from supposedly feminist or cultural perspectives. They replaced the myopic and narcissistic bias of European men with their own opposing bias. To those excluded from the halls of academia and science, the methods and language of academia and science were also the enemy. They felt free to present alternative views of reality that justified their own bias but seldom bettered the intellectual rigour of those whose failings they so justly pointed out. While powerful caucasian men exclusively claimed the laurel crowns of history, their critics exclusively claimed the crowns of thorns.
Both media and the public recognized that the exclusion practised by the intelligentsia was real and pervasive and needed to be rectified. This led to both feminist and cultural streams of theory being created that were not up to the standards that should ever have been accepted by academia, any more than the sole glorification of academic men should ever have been accepted by academia. The new perspectives far too often pushed easily discredited theory as feminist thought or cultural thought. It was not any worse than the history which existed, but the laxness which was tolerated in an attempt to end racism and sexism just gave targets to those pushing racism and sexism. Representatives for marginalized groups were promoted to speak for only their marginalized groups. They began to claim societal issues as their own turf, rape and violence for women, slavery and poverty for descendents of Africans, and so on. Seldom did the turf claimed actually belong exclusively to the group claiming it. This led to unfairness in coverage and outright false claims by some advocates for marginalized groups.
Many feminist groups receive funding to combat rape or violence against women. Not only is rape not a gender specific crime, there is far more stigma attached to male victims than to female, all over the world. There is an indisputable physical power imbalance between men and women, but violence against women is not greater than violence against men. From the time they are born it is more socially acceptable for both girls and boys to hit little boys and it is also more acceptable for parents, teachers, coaches and other authority figures to both hit and verbally abuse boys. Boys are far more likely to be recruited for gangs, militias and militaries, to be imprisoned, to have blue collar jobs that come with verbal and physical abuse and to be expected to take more risks in any dangerous situation. Women do more housework but men do more yardwork and house maintenance. Female genital mutilation is still carried out in some parts of the world as is male castration. There are extremely harsh punishments for women’s infidelity in some parts of the world, including death. There are extremely harsh punishments for men’s infidelity in some parts of the world, including the no longer legal but still common and very under-punished crime of cutting men’s penises off.
The point is not to have some kind of group affiliation tit for tat, which the war between the feminists and the masculinists has become. The solution to the marginalization of some groups from the halls of knowledge and power should never have been treated as a problem of group affiliation and the remedies should never have been to incorporate something called feminist critique or cultural perspective. All that was needed was for everyone to be allowed input so that we could resolve all of these problems together, not from the sole perspective of one group. Rape and violence are problems for whole societies, not brand issues to be used as the exclusive causes of one sect. Men cannot be told to sit down and shut up and march at the back for issues which effect them as well. The inclusion of one group should not mean the exclusion of another.
The men’s rights movement in particular was created on the weaknesses in feminist theory and action. While many men around the world are fighting for the reinstatement of the patriarchy, the modern fraternity has no idea what it is fighting for. These men have kept the patriarchal ideas which suited them. They want to keep the belief that women are inferior and that they are entitled to the labour of women, but they refuse the responsibility of the male role in a patriarchy. While patriarchal structures had thousands of years to create themselves, the fraternity was not clear about where it was headed and is even less clear about where it has arrived. The genuine unfairness of the above and many more issues being viewed solely though a feminist lens is a source of genuine grievance to some men’s rights activists. To others it is a gift as a raison d’être and a marketing gimmick to push misogyny and recruit members to far more sordid ideologies. Even if there was only one man ever raped, efforts to combat rape which are focused on only women as victims would be unacceptably exclusionary. The co-opting of victim status to identitarian groups is a bigoted action that is used to justify even more bigoted reactions.
A common justification for identity politics is the need for a safe space. Some people felt they were being interrupted, ridiculed and talked over in diverse groups and felt they needed an exclusive space to be comfortable. Affinity groups can be safe spaces. Affinity groups are personality based organizations however, and while they may be comfortable for talking, they are not effective for mass action. At the point of creating society wide action to achieve a goal, action must be driven by stigmergy and it must follow an idea, not personality based organization. Affinity groups consisting of only women can march against rape, and so can affinity groups of only men and any other affinity groups. If the recent Women’s March had a clear goal, and if the goal had been prominent instead of a dishonest claim to represent all women, that goal could have been furthered by any amount of affinity groups or individuals without any being uninvited or told to march at the back. As long as no one has exclusive control or ownership of the goal, we can have a mass movement and collaborate, even without ever talking to those we don’t like.
Where there are ingroups there are outgroups. Creation of outgroups is the definition of bigotry.
The result of having an international elite class composed of almost entirely European men meant that efforts to change the system relied on identity politics. Instead of removing the stratified structure, reform movements look for representatives of every conceivable outgroup to empower as though there was such a thing as a single feminist perspective or WOC perspective. This strategy not only increased sectarianism, it increased the class system within each sect, promoting some and silencing the rest still further. As those who were promoted immersed themselves in their new class, they stopped desiring or being able to speak for the class they were supposed to represent.
The stratified societies of the second age have become a grid. Each strata is divided by so-called race, gender and endless other sects. Identity politics strengthens the grid and the stratas by insisting on equal strata promotion for each grid section. As the world bizarrely attempts to abolish the divisions of gender and race by strengthening them, while also leaving the classes intact, societies are shattering into millions of little fragments.
The grid has led to even more hierarchy within the original pyramid. There is a hierarchy across the grid and some sects have more political clout to demand change. The amount of angst dedicated to the sin of appropriating culture at Hallowe’en vastly eclipses the non-existent concern over anyone dressing as witches and having bonfires, despite the fact that Hallowe’en revolves around the torture and burning of women, not cultural appropriation. The United States has an ever expanding list of forbidden words considered offensive to the dominant racial minorities but those minorities also claim a culture in which demeaning slurs about women are a standard. The same people who fight for transgender acceptance are violently opposed to transracial acceptance. It is no longer enough to fight racism as identitarians insist on subdividing and fighting anti-blackness instead, an ostensibly anti-racist agenda that promotes a fictional race. The #NotYourMule hashtag was a statement by one sect in the United States indicating that they were only concerned about racism towards their own non-existent race. In Canada, where there was not enough material for the Black Lives Matter organization to gain a following, its representatives appropriated the tragedy of the missing and murdered indigenous women as their own, #NotYourMule notwithstanding. To say that the identitarian fight against racism is confused would be a gross understatement.
The division of each strata into a grid and the demands that each grid has equal representation at each strata has created a boon for some of those at the top. The United States now has a United Nations microcosm of Thought Leaders who demand the international microphone to speak for every person in the world they claim to be ethnically representative of. They receive an inordinate amount of air time on mainstream media, unelected but self-proclaimed representatives of everything from the entire female sex to every nation on the planet, each claiming a huge amount of victimhood that almost none of them have ever been near. Twitter microcelebrities warred over who in the United States was most qualified to speak over Nigerians on their viral #BringBackOurGirls hashtag. Nigerians in Nigeria, who speak English, were ignored. Wealthy descendents of South American capitalists suddenly become imperialist victims when they land in Miami and claim to be POC based on ancestral South American citizenship. Those almost at the top of the global ponzi scheme, with access to the formidable media megaphone in the United States, exploit the exploitation of the lower classes to elevate themselves. The top strata of every grid is still almost entirely in the United States and other wealthy countries. Even stratas such as low income workers become identities represented by only the top strata. Those in the U.S. Fight For 15 movement receive vastly more attention than any other low income workers in the world.
When Donald Trump declared that he would kill the families of ‘terrorists’ in the Middle East, there was very little reaction from the world’s media. When Barack Obama set up detention camps and kept Central American families with small children imprisoned for years, there was almost none. When Trump banned air travel from certain countries however, or talked about a ban on air travel for Muslims, there was a huge media uproar. The only difference in these situations is the class of the people being victimized. Racism is only protested with international outcry if it happens to those in the top strata, where business travelers might be affected.
Endless new categorizations are being used to create increasingly more tenuous identity groups. The mention of class has become associated with Marxism and fallen out of favour, so abstractions such as race are encouraged instead. Identity politics creates personality based organizations demanding inclusion instead of idea and action based movements which would change the structure. A distracting horizontal conflict releases pressure from the vertical conflict. Anti-hate laws all focus on the grid while ignoring the stratas.
Oppressor and oppressed are class stratas, not identitarian groups. People in the same strata can be bigoted against each other, but they cannot oppress each other because they have the same power. Those that fly can create international media outcry and lobby their countries to reciprocate. Those that are smuggled in trucks or trapped in countries being bombed are unheard. Single moms are sometimes wealthy mothers with fully participating spouses and supportive communities, family or staff. Married mothers are sometimes in poverty and receiving no support from anywhere or surviving abuse. Nicaraguan president and anti-imperialist icon, Daniel Ortega, quietly plans to run a canal through Lake Nicaragua and ruin the sacred indigenous island of Ometepe. Ecuadorian president and anti-imperialist icon, Rafael Correa signs mining deals on indigenous land in the Yasuni.
Promoting gender, ethnicity and other sects while ignoring class, or equating the appearance of class with the reality, is creating a completely distorted statement of the problem of stratified society. Pretending that the problem is one of representation instead of one of tyranny will result in a surface diversity among homogenous tyrants. Representative democracy is identity politics. Democratic parties convince people they are different by representing different demographics in the same structure. Reforms promise adjustments to the grid, not the stratas. Not only does this representation not help those in lower stratas, it silences them with a representative from the top strata who supposedly speaks for them. Those in the top strata have no ambition to fight the industrialization and corporate exploitation that created the victimhood they are representing. They want a place at the table of the exploiters. Since they are claiming to represent all of the oppressed, this also gives the appearance of the victimized groups being complicit in and acquiescing to their own victimization.
Group affiliation is used to create a cohesive block that can be easily controlled. Feminism is packaged and marketed, dressed in pink t-shirts and producing op-eds on the women’s pages. Feminism speaks for all womankind and provides the token official voice heard to cover for the lack of witches in every forum. Feminism has been used to lobby for women’s inclusion into the trade economy instead of the abolition of it, to lobby against free speech in the only forums that actually have a female majority, to impose western corporate culture and morality globally and to tone police women everywhere. It is used as a club to bash witches into conformity and designate approved group views. Since Feminism has become a large part of the NGO economy, there is great lobbying to establish and control turf and real activism is co-opted by corporate astroturfing. Support for Feminism co-opts progress for women and puts it under corporate control. We do not need feminism, we need an end to masculinism. We do not need stifling solidarity, we need support for diversity.
Your worst enemy is not the person standing opposite you. It is the person standing where you would be fighting from, doing nothing.
Both cultures and nations have been part of an attempt to isolate and classify everything, whether it fits into a classification or not. When lower classes demanded their culture be recognized along with the culture of the ruling classes, they frequently used group affiliation as a vehicle. This has brought us the concept of culture ownership by usually entirely imaginary social groups. Cultures and nations at best describe vague tendencies and spectrums. While nations can be enjoyable and satisfying for the feeling of inclusion they bring and diversity of culture brings richness to humanity, both are too fuzzy and constantly evolving to be rigidly categorized or enforced. Culture is meant to be enjoyed, shared, passed down and modified. Humanity is a living and evolving organism. It should keep historical records but never be forcibly preserved, much less guarded or enforced.
In the United States, manufactured sectarianism has produced people who are in every way assimilated to the dominant culture but spend great time and effort (and sometimes third party funding) to acquire and hoard the external trappings of cultures they have no experience of and nations they have never been near. Neighbourhood dialects and slang are attributed to race to manufacture a racial culture which excludes some people actually in the neighbourhoods and attempts to include some of those who are not. Particularly in the United States, this looks like a purely commercial endeavour with manufactured culture being purchased at stores, taught in schools and defended as copyrighted product. In these scenarios, nations and cultures are not a way of life to be lived and shared but a political power to be wielded and a product to be sold. These are not nations or cultures at all.
In 2005, Susan Scafidi defined cultural appropriation as, “Taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission. This can include unauthorized use of another culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols, etc.”i None but the United States culture could possibly have come up with this. People from the U.S. share a far stronger culture with each other than the demographics so many of them claim to represent. This defense of the non-existent intellectual property of non-existent races is really an imposition of property ownership obsessive culture, sectarianism and trade economy on every part of the earth.
Cultural appropriation, like racism, is depicted as a reflection of power. Like racism, it only appears to be a concern when objected to by the most powerful, primarily those in the upper strata of the United States. Identity politics has convinced some that they are entitled to hoard a culture they frequently have never been near. People traveling and experiencing different cultures enrich each other, both with knowledge and money. The cultural imperialists in the United States who dictate that blonde tourists cannot get corn rows in their hair or carry an ‘ethnic’ looking bag are promoting themselves at the expense of those who make their living braiding tourist’s hair and selling regional products. Again, the top strata is oppressing the lower stratas of the sects they claim to represent. Ironically, it is culture created primarily for trading which is mostly now culture hoarded by identitarians.
Instead of fighting racism, identitarians demanded it work for them. Instead of fighting the ownership of knowledge, the identitarians demanded a piece of the pie. Copyrighted culture is a further attempt to divide people now living in an inseparable ocean of humanity and create difference where none exists. Culture is not copyright on festivals or braids. It is the preservation of knowledge and history and autonomy for communities to live the way they wish and evolve at the pace and in the directions they choose. It is also the social sharing of beauty, joy and ritual and the bonding of communities, internally and with their visitors. Cultural hoarding is not solely an attempt by identitarians to condemn the world to a life of grey corporate culture, it is also an attempt to police all inter-community socializing. Since very little education or experience is enough to teach people that there are more similarities among people than differences, culture hoarders are invariably too ignorant to recognize the history of what they are hoarding.
“Strangely enough, listening to leaders like Nasser, Ben Bella, and Nkrumah awakened me to the dangers of racism. … I guess a man’s entitled to make a fool of himself if he’s ready to pay the cost. It cost me twelve years. … [Brotherhood] is the only thing that can save this country. I’ve learned it the hard way — but I’ve learned it.” – Malcolm X, two days before his assassination.ii
Who am I? is a question that is answered by actions. What am I? is a question answered by categorizations. The difference between a life force and a cadaver is the difference between these answers.
In the last centuries the fights of horizontal movements have been taken over by a binary ideology which classified all people as either the good proletariat or the evil bourgeoisie and declared we would have justice when their roles were reversed. This ideology successfully derailed all anarchist movements of the last century, perpetuated tyranny and committed some of the worst mass atrocities the world has ever seen. The people of the world have become more sophisticated and are not so easily trapped by binary classifications. It is now common to agree to classifications by spectrum instead, and identity politics has risen to trap and immobilize any attempts to create horizontal governance which respects diversity.
Affinity groups are social groups with which people feel comfortable. Identity politics is an attempt to create large scale personality based organizations as affinity groups, based on nurtured divisions with wider society. Identity politics is created through group narcissism, not any shared culture, history or experience. The narcissism required to hold the group together feeds on emotion, not facts. Narcissism requires a myth of exceptionalism for the ingroup and vilification of the outgroup. Identitarians are not of the street or the neighbourhood. They are a product of academia’s categorization fetish, an alliance for political power and careerism.
Racists and bigots of all kinds are not on opposite sides. They are all on the same side, the side promoting racism and bigotry.
Excerpted from Autonomy, Diversity, Society. Citations will be transferred when I get a minute.