A Gaze at the Politics of Identity as a Transformative Justice: Has it Become Ostreperous?

So efficient and hushed are our brains in their day-to-day operations. We are apt to see the pervasiveness and existence of social disadvantages for minority groups such as the LGBTQIA+ community. Of course, the resistance in which many movements arise from it. Disagreements, contentions, polarization have become significantly more comfortable nowadays; the political divide has never been like before, for many reasons. Getting along with those who disagree on politics is a challenging scenario — two different opposing groups, the left-wing and right-wing extremists, are getting the other side even more riled up when clashed.

Identity politics is defined as the propensity for individuals of a specific race, religion, gender, or ethnicity to organize politically around that particular interest solely to advance that interest without concern or regard to any broader group or community. There is a need for collective action among the identities to come together as a class. Those who are victims of discrimination — those who take it to the streets with their placards screaming “equal rights!” the feminist movement, the civil rights movement, and the gay liberation movement, are involved in this politics. So long as these people are marginalized or oppressed solely for their identities, there is a need for identity politics. That is to acknowledge its importance but, such becomes problematic when these movements enforce it rather than dismantling its political impact. So it is a racist agenda in which people unite along racial or ethnic lines to further their interests exclusively without consideration of the party or collective. And by just taking a glance at the internet where online polarization occurs, you will see how it has become hugely influential in contemporary political discourse, almost to the point it has also become abhorrent in the sense that it is divisive. And that is the other side of it Identity politics, where it is creating culture war. Jonathan Haidt, an American psychologist, expounded this, where he differentiates the two kinds. The first one is where he considers it as good. Suppose we traced back to history where we look at what the civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King did. In that case, we will understand the power of Identity politics when placed and done in an easier way for people to find common ground. By gathering the people and emphasizing what they have in common, then recognizing the marginalized and their struggle, the civil rights leaders made it compelling.

The other side of this is.” when common enemy identity politics occur, which is based on Bedouin’s notion: “Me against my brother, me and my brother against our cousin, me and my brother against the stranger”. While the marginalized are collectively organizing, they create a realm where they are uniting against other people, completely antagonizing and neglecting how we all people can work on one solution. This side of Identity Politics, of course, as what I have mentioned where it has become very dangerous. Also, in Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, Francis Fukuyama argues that “individuals often want not recognition of their individuality, but recognition of their sameness to other people.” People also want that identity recognized and respected. Fukuyama reminds us that philosophers from Aristotle to Hegel placed the desire to be treated with respect at the center of human motivation. Therefore “identity politics is everywhere a struggle for the recognition of dignity.”

Indeed, we have seen how identity politics have become obstreperous, especially when injustices occur and are brought about probably globalization, or could be due to class consciousness or the blatant attacks on the marginalized happening domestically and globally. Considering that global crises in the international arena are not impossible and that even now that we are in a pandemic, violence still occurs due to the political agenda, recognizing this, we may have to reflect and look at one another. By differentiating the two kinds of identity politics and leaning towards what the civil rights leaders did, we can create a realm within which radical empathy and intellectual discussion occur without throwing bombs at each other — thus, we make a more just global order. We should be reminded of Martin Luther King and how he dreamed of the world where we are seen and judged as individuals by our character rather than by race.