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Copyright 2019

Identity Politics: The Enemy of Liberty

July 17, 2018

 

"Those sympathetic to liberty should veer away from identity politics."

 

Identity politics is best described as organizing politically based on identity as opposed to ideas. If this sounds tribal that’s because it is.

 

Political organization often relies on information shortcuts, such as heuristics, to signal and gather like-minded people into groups. Unlike a market, a political economy has no price system to provide information to participants. Instead, by and large, we rely on interest-based coalitions to convey information.

 

At times those coalitions form less around ideas and more around personal identities.The major problem with identity politics is the fact that it treats outward identity as an information surrogate for inner politics.

 

In political discourse, substituting identity with policy has led to some being unjustly labeled as bigoted, sexist, or racist since a policy or position has unintentionally (or intentionally) become code for a group identity. It has also distracted from real problems with bigots, sexists, and racists.

Further encouraging identity politics will drive the demand up. As a result, we should expect the value of certain identities to increase, the quantity of different identity groups to multiply, and the division along identities to deepen.

 

Which brings us back to the initial problem of treating identity as an information surrogate. When combined with vast political ignorance, it becomes dangerous.

 

Sadly, relying on identity politics encourages stereotypes, thwarts the work of freedom, and assigns motives to many without direct evidence. As this occurs, many may eventually conclude: why bother with evidence when we have decided that identity politics is an acceptable surrogate for actual information? And when it is clear that the value of an idea is no longer relevant, and evidence and arguments are substituted with identities, expect unseemly movements to form in response.

Those sympathetic to liberty should then veer away from identity politics, it works against freedom and equality.

 

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