“I just received the following note from one of our Inner Circle members. Below the note is my response.”
I would welcome a discussion about the content in the attached article. The question used to be…, “who are you?” Now is it “how do you identify…TODAY?” An identity anchored in something has been replaced with how do you feel today is who you are. I have LOTS of problems with this…but I am an old fart!
I have a Lesbian 30 year old daughter, who has a 2.5 year old toddler, which she carried. The sperm donor was the brother of her partner. She did a undergraduate degree in Philosophy and Women’s Studies and a graduate degree in Women’s Studies. She has friends who are not “hes” or “shes” but prefer to be referred to as “theys”. One day we were walking with her baby in her hood, and we came across a couple who she hadn’t seen in a year or so. All four of us had a friendly intelligent conversation laced with pretty good humour. As we parted, I said…”what gender are they?”. She smiled and said, “well Dad, it is complicated.” That is when I realized it is/was a brave new world we are in. She had been heavily inundated by the politics in the article which made our relationship VERY difficult for a time.
Those of you who are curious about defining identity in this age might want to take the time to read this.
What is today referred to as the rise of identity politics is in truth the hollowing out of the institutions, beliefs and freedoms around which life and identity were shaped and cohered for centuries. It is a crisis not merely of politics, or class, or the left; it is a crisis of character, a questioning of what it means to be human, an uncertainty as to how we become fully human. Addressing the emergence of new, weak identities, and the corresponding creation of a therapeutic industry and new forms of moral censure to prop up these identities, will require more than ridiculing the new left or the so-called ‘identitarian movement’. It demands nothing less than the reconstruction of public life, and the rediscovery of our faith in the strong individual who both makes and is made by the world, rather than simply needing to be consoled by it. It requires that we refuse to acquiesce to alienated, subjective identity-making, and instead recreate the conditions in which people can develop their identity through the exercise of moral autonomy, and through creating and engaging in new institutions, new ideas and new societies.
Brendan O’Neill is the editor of spiked.