I doubt one’s position on racism and identity politics can be rooted in actual evidence because the perspectives are based on the perceived subjective intent of others. What one sees as racism in action, another might see as cultural antipathy and a natural social expression of cohesive traditionalism.
One can probably devise social science methods to separate and test different intentions and motivations, but the interpretation of data is still going to be motivated by one’s subjective perceptions. We can throw up our hands and just proclaim that the entire human race is racist, but that just renders the whole concept meaningless. Societies adhere to traditions because that’s how they have survived over time.

In disagreement with the basic argument of this post, I’d say that identity politics works when it helps lift up a particular demographic group that has struggled to integrate or assimilate into the mainstream of any national culture. It doesn’t work when it segregates such groups and makes it even harder to integrate or assimilate. So, the civil rights movement was successful, the affirmative action policies gradually less so. Is reverse discrimination acceptable? I doubt any heterogeneous group of Americans will come to agreement on that answer and the battle over preferences today is among Asians and other non-white groups.

My critique extends to the implementation of identity politics on a national scale. Democracy is based on principles of compromise and convergence on public issues. If one’s politics is determined by biology, how does one compromise? The evidence suggest it leads the other way, to zero-sum, win-lose battles among groups for dominance. In other words, balkanization and power struggles.

Jon Haidt offers some interesting research and empirical analysis to show how political ideologies adhere to different moral values ordering. I was struck that the liberal left prioritized fairness and care. But “fairness” is treated far too subjectively in modern society to provide any kind of workable moral value for public policy (I’m a victim because I say so?) and “care” is a human connection that isn’t effectively delivered by a bureaucratic agency.

So where do modern liberals go for political satisfaction? It seems they are retreating to idealistic ideologies that cannot end well (starry-eyed democratic socialism?). This is unfortunate for our pluralistic democracy.

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I am currently a tech start-up founder in the creative media original content space. Social science academic and author.

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