Two authors recently revealed how the economy and polity of the West, and perhaps Western civilization itself, are endangered by the identity politics championed by leftists. Psychologist Jordan Peterson, the author of “12 Rules for Life: An antidote to chaos,” has become a favorite of the critics of political correctness, while National Review editor Jonah Goldberg in his book, “Suicide of the West,” said that Democrats have abruptly reversed themselves about one of the key groups in a decades-old coalition after the election of Donald Trump.
In an interview with Bill Maher, noted author and psychologist Jordan Peterson gave his observations about American politics from his vantage point as a Canadian. Peterson was faced by other guests, including Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, who are opposed to President Donald Trump.
Wondering out loud on Maher’s show, Peterson asked what would happen to the millions of Americans that support Trump should their opponents win the day and have the president impeached. “It looks to me, from an outsider’s perspective, your country is polarizing in a way that’s not good and that, you know, people are going after Trump and I understand that,” Peterson said, “But there’s all these people that elected him and identify with him and they’re not taking this well…”
“You might not think they’re very bright and all of that…” Peterson continued, “but you know, you need to have respect for the rest of your citizens and if your country is going to pull itself apart and as you really see this happening from an outsider’s perspective.”
In his interview with Steve Inskeep of NPR, Jonah Goldberg (who has often been characterized as a "NeverTrump" conservative) opined that an unheralded form of tribalism has descended on the West. Stating that “Democracy is unnatural,” as are markets and other hallmarks of modern society, Goldberg worried that the achievements of the last 200 years are in danger. “People are retreating to their little cocoons. they're retreating to social media and what they are retreating to are identity politics.” "The Miracle," which Goldberg identifies as democratic capitalism of the West that has provided heatlh and wellbeing for millions, is in danger from growing fatalism and a failure to be grateful for the Miracle. In his book, Goldberg wrote that The Miracle consists of a confluence of specific ideas that have no precedent: “That the individual is sovereign; that our rights come from God, not government; that the fruits of our labor belong to us, and that no man should be less equal before the law because of his faith or class.”
In his NPR interview, Goldberg spoke to the dangers of identity politics. “Our colleges teach people that they should simply think of themselves in racial categories and gender categories. You've got this whole asinine cottage industry on the right that says essentially that we need an identity politics for white people. but that's the real problem with identity politics is that it reduces people's' true identity -- their character, personality, lived experiences -- to these really thin abstractions. It's a really cheap form of tribalism.”
While he said that the original, “evolutionary form of tribalism” was based on familiar people who were close, Goldberg warned, “Now we have a tribalism of abstractions, where people 1,000 miles apart have more fellow-feeling for someone because they have the same color skin or vote for the same party, then they do to their neighbor -- who might share more real lived experience with them -- but they don’t fit into one of these categories.”
After saying that the left bears some of the credit for Trump’s electoral victory and that he is no fan of the president, Goldberg said, “The white working-class voters who gave Trump his margin of victory...are the same voters that Democrats have been bragging as being the heart of their coalition since FDR. How those people, who have been safely ensconced as members of the Democratic coalition for all this time, only become racists when they start voting Republican, I think that people on the left need to think through a bit more.”
Goldberg did not agree that what he described is a form of “reverse discrimination,” he said that while it is unjust to reduce to a racial category the two black men who were recently arrested for loitering at a Starbucks cafe, it is equally unjust to do so with whites. “I don’t like thinking of myself as a white person.” Warning against white identity politics, Goldberg said, “If conservatives aren’t going to defend the best version of what this country and this civilization are founded upon, who will?”