Not All Identities Are Created Equal

Razib Khan in Quillette:

In 2020, much of the public discussion of social issues revolves around notions of identity. Ideas about race, reformulations of gender, and considerations of class or religious confession. But it is not often stated that these identity categories are qualitatively different, and these differences have different implications for the real world. Some reflection on the real-world consequences of identity ought to make this apparent. Why is a party based on working-class solidarity far less sinister than a party based on a racial or ethnic group? Perhaps because being working-class is not a fixed identity, and solidarity is open to all. One’s race or ethnicity is viewed as more static. Most of us can imagine struggling to pay bills and keep a roof over our heads, but few can imagine being another race. Race-thinking is anti-empathetic by its nature.

Obviously, most humans have a variety of identities that they balance, synthesize, and are enriched by. Before World War I, socialists expressed their opposition to a conflict that they believed, correctly, would only bring suffering to the workers of the world. But once the Great War commenced socialist parties in the main fell into line, expressing national patriotism. This shattered the illusion of radicals that socialism would supersede nationalism, and that class solidarity trumped patriotic feeling. The rise and success of the Soviet Union as a socialist state proved that identities and emotions beyond class are necessary. A cult of personality around Stalin flourished, while to defeat Nazi Germany the Soviet Union promoted the “Great Patriotic War” rooted in a traditionalist Russian nationalism.

More here.