The history and politics of white identity

Kenan Malik in Pandaemonium:

Identity politics is one of the defining – and one of the most divisive – issues of our age. And no identity is more contested or fought over than white identity. For some it is a means of giving voice to a group whose identity has previously been denied. For others it is simply as an expression of racism.

The political context of the emergence of white identity is that of the rise of populism, of politicians such as Donald Trump in America and of Victor Orban and Matteo Salvini in Europe, of growing hostility to immigration and of the rise of nativism.

In much of the debate around these changes, the politics of identity is seen primarily a politics of the left, the politics of minority and oppressed groups. White identity is viewed as a latecomer on the scene, an attempt by whites to replicate the success of minority groups.

I want to turn this perception on its head. The origins of the politics of identity lie not on the left but on the reactionary right. Radical forms of identity politics were the ones late on the scene. Now, contemporary white identity is reclaiming its original reactionary heritage.

To understand all this, I want to retrace the history of identity politics, to tell the story of identity politics before it was called identity politics.

More here.