Saturday, December 16, 2017

Identity entrepreneurs

 The thing that sticks out to me when I read this wasn’t that a small percentage of people choose to have more than one “partner” (I normally hate describing human relationships in such a businessy way, but in this this case it works). I understand if you aren’t monogamous yet need to get married for financial purposes, that’s something we need to change as a society, but as things are today I get that. I understand being open about that with your “partners.” That’s actually commendable compared to the opposite. But people lose me when they start conjuring up specific identities to describe what essentially is a person having multiple lovers. Yeah, having more than one “partner” isn’t exactly socially acceptable everywhere, but it’s also been happening since time immemorial.

 Typically identities are created by a slow and complex process that ultimately reflects material conditions even if the “realness” of the identity is socially constructed. These people want to skip the whole “social construction” part. I call them “identity entrepreneurs.” In certain left-liberal bubbles having a distinct identity, or even an identity on top of an identity, gives you a niche personality that has a sort of radicalness to it, and even some authority. This can be a good incentive to start layering identities. In truth, calling for higher taxes is a greater threat to the ruling class than calling yourself a “pan-sexual,” but who are you going to remember meeting at a party?

 This search for identities is a symptom of the general shittiness of politics today, from the left to the right, where identity is valued over universality. This is bad news for those of us on the left, as identity is the right’s playing field. We play on their terms we lose. Focusing on the issues that appeal to the widest swath of people is the left’s bread and butter, and has the added bonus of disproportionately affecting society’s most marginalized in a positive way. This is leftism 101. If we don’t relearn this, we continue to lose.

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