Marshall McLuhan said “First we shape our tools, then our tools shape us”.
So it is with identity. First our identity is shaped, then our identity shapes us. In an age of monitored and manipulative media that process is tightly controlled. We are all categorized and the recipients of custom messaging designed to shape our behaviour to the advertisers, or corporate class’s end.
The first step in successful indoctrination is to fall for the notion that you are your identity, a static ideal, be it:
-Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or Taoist
-Maoist, Anarchist, Libertarian, Socialist, Liberal or Conservative
-Vegetarian, Paleo, Mediterranean or just like Mom and Dad
-A God, Guns and Christ loving redneck or a Black Lives matters activist, F150 vs Dodge, Strait or Gay or Gender confused it matters not.
The opposite of the idea of having a personal identity is to be a human being that is growing and developing, a person who thinks critically and explores the world. A person who is part of a larger struggle working for a sustainable society perhaps.
A few problems with segmentation
Firstly: Whatever you think you are, by striving for a brand or identity you forgo the opportunity to be more than your own petty grievance or recent purchase and you are open to manipulation by the power brokers in our society. The goal of course is to have confusion and segmentation “…to call for an inclusive revolutionary politics, which became possible when black women organised autonomously…” (1) In other words divide and conquer, if you can convince a subset of a progressive group like feminists that the only way you can achieve equality is to organize autonomously then you have as the power broker in society achieved your end. You have divided the women s moment on racial lines. Task complete, they are no longer effective; Roe vs Wade was overturned when this happened in 1977 not 2022 by the supreme court.
The alternative to having an identity is to grow and organize having come to an understanding of the class (identity) struggle that really matters.
The second problem is Group think, the nuances of any debate and the growth of ideas only comes from reflection and changes in thinking as people develop variations on ideas as situations change.
“Yet proponents of Identity Politics would claim the opposite. They often claim that a group’s experience is defined by their group identity, and that the actual content of their experience is identical to other members of the group. Moreso, proponents of Identity politics encourage members to interpret their experience in similar ways, and shun individuals who refuse to conform. ” (2)
If you don’t conform, you’re not a true believer.
The third problem is one of character. Character is not determined by our race / ethnicity / gender or sexual preferences. These are trivial things some say moods. Character is defined by your actions.
Honesty: Do what you say
Integrity: Acting in private as in public.
Loyalty: Faithful to your pledge.
Generosity: Expecting nothing in return.
Humility: Lacking ego, Not caring for status.
Perseverance: Weathering the storms of life.
Compassion: a desire to alleviate suffering.
Hardwork: Tasks performed on a consistent basis.
Forgiveness: Letting go of anger.
Politeness: Showing respect to all.
By focusing on your identity as opposed to your character you become narcissistic and self centred instead of capable of working for broader social change. To develop an expanded sense of self and to see yourself as more than yourself is the beginning of maturity.
The fourth problem with clearly defined identities in society is not new.
~India has a well developed system of identity; the Caste system,
~if European you come from a system of identity where royalty received privilege and the commoner was destined to always “be in his place”
~The Russian Noble and Souther Gentleman loved the knowing of place of thier serfs and slaves.
~All primitive societies have clearly prescribed roles and responsibilities for all members of society. Everyone had an identity, an identity of subservience.
Retreating into a dissected specialized little identity, or brand, (brands are for cattle and ketchup) is to retreat to a primitive mentality or the shackles of a herd or brand identity.
The alternative to “having an identity” is to think, grow and organize, not your pathetic little subset of a group but the 90% of people who are oppressed. As long as you are some made up inter sectional identity you are divided and conquered.
To have a scientific perspective and to think critically about issues you face and work towards just solutions to our collective problems of oppression and exploitation is to turn you back on an analysis of oppression as a racial or gender based problem, you are not a petty self centred, narcissistic little fool you are an agent of change.
If you ask “is not what your advocating just another form of identity“? I will retreat to the shelter of Charles Babbage who said in 1857 “I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.
Weird Sly Kip
October 2022 Happy Birthday Grand daughter and Grand son.
(1) Quote from https://newhumanist.org.uk/articles/5342/the-problem-with-identity-politics
(2) Quote from https://www.thepublicpen.com/2020/11/the-problems-with-identity-politics/