There is a lot of talk about identity politics recently but when we talk about ID politics we are usually referring to minority groups. Lets widen the debate and discuss other forms of identity shall we? In a sense: all forms of politics are forms of identity politics but what of more traditional forms of identity such as religion?
I have a vague suspicion that this is one of the main reasons why the left has lost its way. The fact that it is irreligious or post-religious. It is telling that Trump won the vote of 81% of white evangelicals. It also telling that Trump won the vote of 28% of latino’s. Perhaps their ‘identity’ as RC trumped ethnicity? What with HRC’s pro life stance and the fact 3 supreme court justices are 79 and over? I think so. It certainly says much of the secular nature of British society that this factor was largely missing from the commentariat’s post-election hot takes.
The post 1960s left understandably finds it hard to reconcile social liberalism with religiosity because the Abrahamic faiths tend to be culturally conservative. The problem that remains is:- how does one ever re-create socialism/social democracy without a shared sense of identity? prior to the 1960s patriotic ideas and religion formed two of those bonds of shared identity. Now the modern day socially liberal left rejects both as reactionary.
Traditional British socialists were, more often than not, highly religious. An indicator of this was the fact that British socialists in the early 20th century were also usually proponents of temperance. Socialists were, more often than not, also non-conformist protestants. It is often said, and it is true, that the UK Labour Party owes more Methodism more than Marxism.
The irony is more culturally conservative modern day political movements in this country – Im thinking specifically of UKIP and blue labour – tend to be also anti-immigration to some degree. Why is that ironic? because immigrants from poor countries (forgive me for generalising) tend to be more religious and more culturally conservative. So, in other words, natural blue labourites and UKIPers!
Socialists/social-democrats who combine it with social liberalism are fooling themselves because if they sneer at powerful mobilisers of a sense of shared identity such as religious faith or patriotism then ‘socialism’ is merely an empty phrase devoid of all meaning. Man cannot live by bread alone (Matthew 4:4.) Socialist economics that isnt undergirded by a shared sense of identity drawn from either patriotic ideas or religious faith simply WONT WORK.
Socialists/social-democrats who combine it with social conservatism are also kidding themselves because they tend to be anti-immigration, to some degree. Immigrants are their allies! the culturally conservative left need to answer the question: who is my neighbour? (Luke 12:36-37.) Social conservatism that is anti-immigration also WONT WORK.