In Britain, the Identity Politics revolution is starting to devour its children. But the same climate of open “competitive grievance” warfare is less pronounced in the United States
One aspect of the Identity Politics / Safe Space culture which genuinely seems to differ between the United States and Britain (following close behind) is the different dynamic which exists between all of the various arrayed grievance groups.
In America, Identity Politics practitioners tend to practice solidarity and stick together – you will often read stories of the various campus cultural centres, women’s centre and LGBT centre (for all must have their own safe space) collaborating together when producing their tedious lists of demands for campus reform.
But in Britain, Identity Politics seems to be a bit more competitive, and you are more likely to see the various victim groups (or generations) acrimoniously competing with one another for the limelight and striving to portray themselves as the most oppressed and victimised (thereby, conversely, granting themselves the most power and authority in the New Order).
In his latest review of Stepford Student activity for the Spectator, Mick Hume outlines the self-cannibalising nature of the Identity Politics movement in Britain:
Barely a week goes by without similar student-eat-student lunacy. Campuses are becoming ‘intersectional’ war zones, where identity zealots compete to see who can appear the most offended and victimised and so silence the rest.
In British universities, a rising ride of intolerance sweeps away anything that might make students feel uncomfortable. A leading anti-fascist campaigner has been ‘no-platformed’ by the NUS black students’ group, who branded him ‘Islamophobic’. The NUS lesbian, gay, bi- and transsexual officer refused to share a platform with Peter Tatchell, doyen of LGBT lobbyists, because he had opposed bans on Terfs (‘trans-exclusionary radical feminists’). After standing up for free speech, it seems, the likes of Tatchell must be denied the right to speak on -campus.
[..] The campus censorship crusade is not craziness so much as a logical extension of the ‘no platform’ policy so beloved of the left. This dates back to the ‘no platform for racists and fascists’ policy adopted by the National Union of Students in 1974. Today it seems more like ‘no platform for racists, fascists, Islamists, Islamophobes, homophobes, Nietzsche, rugger-buggers, pin-ups, rude pop songs, sombreros, sexist comedians, transphobic feminists, Cecil Rhodes or anything at all that might make anybody feel uncomfortable’.
[..] The irony is that many throwing up hands in horror at today’s promiscuous ‘no platform’ antics have themselves tried to ban speech of which they disapproved. It will come as little surprise to those with a sense of history that among the latest ‘victims’ of ‘no platform’ are those who demanded campus censorship in the past, up to and including St Peter of Tatchell. Those who live by the ban can perish by it, too.
As this blog wearily pointed out when Peter Tatchell (of all people) found himself ostracised by a group of virtue-signalling young activists who had the temerity to accuse him of prejudice while themselves standing on the shoulders of Tatchell’s own achievements for their cause:
That’s the rotten core of today’s student identity politics movement. A constant, bitchy, backbiting game of snakes and ladders, with one insufferable petty tyrant rising to the top of the Moral Virtue Pyramid only to be brought down by their jealous rivals, either for no reason at all, or for having unknowingly violated one of the many red lines that they themselves helped to draw across our political discourse.
This phenomenon of competitive grievance within the Identity Politics movement does not currently seem to be as common in the United States, at least to the same degree. The same Hierarchy of Privilege exists in the minds of American devotees of Identity Politics – that much is the inevitable consequence of intersectionality. But at present it does not seem to be leading to the same degree of internal warfare as we now see in Britain, which is odd when one considers that America is traditionally more individualistic and Britain slightly more collectivist. Surely, by this logic, America should be leading the way with a ruthless rat-race between the different groups for the coveted title of “most oppressed”.
One of the things which gives me the most encouragement – besides the sight of feisty, no-nonsense university leaders like Dr. Everett Piper and Chris Patten showing some backbone and standing up to increasingly ludicrous student demands – is the way in which our competitive grievance culture, so pronounced in the Identity Politics debate here in Britain, is now threatening to bring the whole edifice crashing down in an enormous word cloud of overwrought self-pity.
It is curious that the United States – typically in the vanguard of this movement – does not yet seem to be witnessing the same furious self-cannibalisation of Identity Politics preachers as we are currently witnessing on this side of the Atlantic. Perhaps this can be Britain’s contribution to the cure.
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