“The united front of the [American] left broke down over identity issues… There was a retreat to the universities… People on the left really abandoned electoral politics and instead develop this idea that all social change happens through social movements that are tied to identity. And we ended up with gender theory and race theory and we end up with maybe three generations of young people who’ve been brought up to think about politics in terms of group and their own individual identities rather than of the common good and a message that might bind us together as a nation… Blacks complained that most leaders were white, which was true. Feminists complained that most all were men, which was also true. Soon black women were complaining about both the sexism of radical black men and the implicit racism of white feminists—who themselves were being criticized by lesbians for presuming the naturalness of the heterosexual family. What all these groups wanted from politics was more than social justice and an end to the war… they wanted to feel at one with the social movements that mirrored the way they felt as individuals.”
“There’s an economy of victimhood where certain identities trump others… [trying to reach] the apex of grievance so that nothing you say can can be denied by anyone who doesn’t share your identity.”
“What we do fundamentally as liberals is protect minorities… You can not protect anyone if you don’t hold institutional power… If you are not competitive at the state and local level or the congressional level, you can not protect anybody. Now the only way to be successful at those levels is to have a message that reaches beyond your identity group. Therefore if you want to actually protect african americans, gays and lesbians, women who are being paid less than men… You have to find a new message not based on yourself and your feelings and your identity, but a message about certain principles that you hold… and that other people can also hold.”
“If you say to someone, you can not understand me because of who you are… you seal yourself off and fall in love with defeat.”
From “The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics” by Mark Lilla and his interview with Sam Harris.