“Idenity Politics began in the 1960s, with the Postmodernists and the Neo Marxists!”
— Jordan Peterson
Identity Politics is nothing more or less, than an examination of the politics of, identity.
Apparently there is some confusion about this.
For example, the Lobster King of Toronto, Jordan Peterson, recently gave an interview to GQ Britain, in which, repeating right wing orthodoxy and assorted talking point templates, he insisted that “Identity Politics” was an invention of the “Postmodernist Neo-Marxists” of the 1960s, and that, it was impossible to change the definition and apply the term to any historical events prior to the 1960s.
As we showed in our previous missive, this is of course factually wrong. The assertion made by any number of people, from Mary Wollstonecraft in, The Vindication of the Rights of Woman, to Montesquieu, Rousseau, Thomas Paine, Edmund Burke, to David Hume’s assertion that the “individual” as such, does not exist at all, all clearly show the tell-tell marks of “Identity Politics” even if they did not use that phrase, and that these ideas, far from being locked in intellectual or historical amber, are fluid. After all, we doubt that Wollstonecraft was so strident in her Feminism, that she would have been happy to see Byron burned at the stake, or that Hume, while enraged by Rousseau’s (sometimes) justified paranoia, wanted to see him, or his dog, hanging at the end of a rope.
Further, it is clearly not only wrong but, is wrong in the manner of the standard reactionary to declare, that one is not free to change the meaning or one’s view of past events based on new praxis, and that to dismiss that fundamental right, ironically contextualizes Peterson as a poor man’s Marxist, offering a retrograde dialectical determinism.
The stubborn facts, the dreary, annoying truth is that again, as we showed previously, the reaction to the French Revolutions of the 18th century, the reactions to the American Revolution, and the push to restore absolute monarchy to its position of authority, all sound essentially like, the reactionary dogmas of the contemporary scene. Herder, de Maistre and any number of others who believed stridently in power, and discipline, and the mythology of the tribe, declared in absolute terms that the individual did not exist, that women were, by definition, second class citizens, that, in the words of Emanuel Kant, “blacks” were inferior and that while (White) men, of specific class, education, wealth and property, were endowed by sublime, divine providence with rights, everyone else was, more or less, fucked.
A further irony is that, Peterson, while sounding like the worst sort of doctrinaire Marxist whose idea of sophisticated analysis is, a back catalogue of Pravda, also sounds like any number of “We are the World” self-described, “leftists” whom he despises, and who know as little about the past as anyone on the right, have the same slippery grasp of the details as Peterson, and as a result sound like, the worst sort of doctrinaire Marxist whose idea of sophisticated analysis, is a back catalogue of Pravda.
Given that Identity Politics is nothing more or less than an examination of the politics of identity, and that we are free to repurpose language and to change our minds, we offer a few brief examples:
Who, was Josephus? And who is he now? Were there politics in the formation of his identity as he crossed the social border from rebel to slave, and from slave to citizen? For whom did he write? Those who held him captive, or those who were captive? Was he Hellenized or a subversive operating in cultural (thus political) drag? Was he a collaborator, or a traitor? Both, neither? What were the Identity Politics of being a “Jew” when the Romans declared “Jews” to be erased from History?
Who was William Butler Yeats? An “Irish” nationalist? A proper Protestant? An apostate? A bad liberal or a good conservative, or the other way around? A member of the ruling class who slummed with Maude Gonne? Or a radical revolutionary who slummed with the ruling class and was a member in good standing, of the parliament? What did it mean to him that Ezra Pound was his administrative assistant? Were Yeats’ fairies, ghosts, and sprites, an anti-British code, or a pro Irish jig? Both? Neither? Who saw the wild swans, and who sailed to Byzantium? Who seduced Iseult, but was seduced by her mother? Who was Irish? British? European? Blueshirt and thus a fascist, or Irish and thus, not English? What rough beast came around at last in Easter, 1916? Those he guarded, he did not love, and those he fought, he did not hate?
What goes missing in this; in Peterson’s carnival of mendacity and militant ignorance, is that the symbiosis between the two seemingly opposed camps, not only keeps them in business, selling books, and selling out auditoriums full of people who prove that the maxim, there’s a sucker born every minute, belongs on every piece of currency, but proves that ignorance is no barrier to success.
But, beyond that, what also goes missing, is that it is not the “left” or even the Left that is responsible for this sham, but the marketing machine of the dominant system – capitalism, or iCapitalism.
Peterson is a creation of YouTube, and YouTube is a colony of the tech empires operating as both whore and pimp. Consider that in his strident denunciations he has not once offered a single example in the form of quotations, text, peer reviewed papers, or any documentary evidence of any kind to bolster his claims about “Postmodernism” or “Neo-Marxism” or the Yeti of his nightmares, “Postmodern-Neo-Marxism.” (a baggy suit that is akin to, a Libertarian Bolshevik, or a Muslim member of the Klan) and yet, establishment organs, like The New York Times, GQ, and others, proclaim him the most important public intellectual of our time.
Thus, it is the establishment, the bullhorn of the Market, utilizing the propaganda techniques of the Soviets and the Maoists, replete with Orwellian flim flam that renders up, as down, and right, as left, and war, as peace, who have manufactured, “Jordan Peterson.” Thus, it is Peterson who represents, Identity Politics at its most toxic.
iCulture, the idea that buying a product conveys an identity, is a hallmark of Capitalism, exemplified by the cult of Steve Jobs; the 24/7 push that owning a Mac, or an iPhone, (or for that matter any Apple product) bestows upon the user, an identity as, cool, sophisticated, non-corporate, egalitarian, committed to the spread of information, without restriction or recognition of last century, dead on arrival ideas of the state, borders and terminally dull bureaucratic authority.
Never mind that all electronics (including the one on which this is being written – as Baudelaire said – brother hypocrite, I salute you) are slave manufactured, government sanctioned, tracking devices – designed to expand the very power structure Apple claims to be subverting. Never mind that it is a bespoke Identity Politics and the politics of identity being sold as “freedom” and that Peterson is a cheerleader for it.
That this is also the system that fits Jordan Peterson’s definitions of abusive is, as with the tech empires, not up for public debate. After all, turning the truth as a weapon of discourse upon the ring masters, might get the otherwise apathetic SOMA consuming drones, to turn their rage on the powers that be.
For Peterson, as a demagogue, this is clover. There are no details, only assertions of a terminal authority backed up by “research” that he insists is not open for debate, denunciations of “others” about whom he knows nothing, offers no details, but insists, pose a threat to everyone, and that what he is offering is, freedom. This then is Public Relations, Marketing, selling the product which is, as with Apple, “Peterson” as an identity; a way of being, a club, or cult, that serves the system by ginning up ticket sales and clickbait.
As one of those “Postmodern Neo-Marxist, French radicals” that Peterson hates, put it:
“Paradoxically, the games of culture are protected against objectification by all the partial objectifications which the actors involved in the game perform on each other: scholarly critics cannot grasp the objective reality of society aesthetes without abandoning their grasp of the true nature of their own activity; and the same is true of their opponents. The same law of mutual lucidity and reflexive blindness governs the antagonism between ‘intellectuals’ and ‘bourgeois’ (or their spokesmen in the field of production). And even when bearing in mind the function which legitimate culture performs in class relations, one is still liable to be led into accepting one or the other of the self-interested representations of culture which ‘intellectuals’ and ‘bourgeois’ endlessly fling at each other.”
iCulture, has captured the public imagination. iCulture is a bespoke identity, operating in the service of, Identity Politics, and it subverts a sense of community, it has contempt for the individual, it demands fealty not only to its own cult but to the cult it supports, which requires for its survival, the use of children soldiers and slaves who dig Coltan which powers “smart phones” to slaves in third world dictatorships, where they are stripped, not only of civil rights, but of any identity except as a cog in the Borg collective.
It is, capitalism that has absorbed “Identity Politics” and developed an ad hoc doctrinaire hollowed-out Marxist ideology, that demands the elimination of the individual through a collective all encompassing, terminal technological panopticon, that promises seduction but threatens with force if, anyone gets out of line.
But notice, that like a proper foot soldier for the system, Peterson is sounding the charge, demanding that we go over the top of the trench and run headlong in the wrong direction – the “Postmodern Neo-Marxists” are out to get us! The French are out to get us! The Trans are out to get us! The Feminists are out to get us! The Multiculturalists are out to get us! The Environmentalists, (with their bogus data and their ginned up hysteria) are out to get us!
But not a word about anyone else.
Only a demand that everyone should be grateful for what capitalism has given them.
This is Trump but, with the patina of a university degree.
Jordan Peterson, iMarxist.
Jordan Peterson, iCon.