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"all the while it is their own congenital characteristics which makes them their own worst enemy."
Do you have any evidence for this?
"Legislation was passed many years ago in an earnest attempt to ensure that blacks enjoy equal opportunities as all the other ethnic groups"
I agree, people that think blacks are second-class citizens do not live in reality.
"You cannot know a person's personality through generic identifiers, though. To know someone you have to engage them beyond the generic, otherwise you are filtering them through abstractions that entail things which won't be true of them. Even if that doesn't involves a value judgement (I'm not sure how it couldn't), it's still going to be epistemically inaccurate."
I agree, I mean if we somehow know their personality.
"I don't think my argument has been properly understood here; I'll try again. My point is that the ideas of (dis)advantage and (dis)privilege can be separated from the belief that identity groups call out something that actually exists. The implication is that we can talk about relative (dis)advantage between groups so long as we understand that the groups don't literally exist and that individuals are uniquely positioned socially. I'm saying that identity politics is partially correct in identifying trends, but that it overextends some of its other claims from those trends. It seems like we might not disagree that much here, but maybe I'm mistaken."
I think you're thinking about the concept/idea of identity politics and I'm thinking of it's application. I don't particularly disagree with what you're saying but as you say when it filters down to popular use the problems arise. I personally don't really see any positive ways to implement these ideas but perhaps I'm wrong and you can change my mind?
"Interesting. I'm starting to think 'identitarian' may be a leftist dog whistle to signify identity politics they don't agree with, which could explain why they don't like me using it to talk about their identity politics. :P"
Haha, it wouldn't surprise me, it's probably a dirty word to them. The power that these identitarians have both in the humanities departments and culture itself is rather alarming.
"However, I'm also cautious about how intelligence and character features are called out because they generally reference back to something outside the individual to assess and classify the person (IQ and morality, respectively)."
We don't need to make a "value" judgement on their characteristics (though we inevitably will), it's just that a person's personality is actually a relevant feature for interactions with them.
" My approach is heavily informed by the philosophy of Maxwell Stirner, if you're familiar."
I'll look into his work, thanks for the rec.
" I am, however, a bit dubious of the distinction you are drawing between identity and features because the latter seems like a type of the former."
Yes, I had intended to note this.
"The divisiveness of the language is probably non-essential to identitarian politics"
I disagree, when you divide people into advantaged and disadvantaged it creates friction between the groups. I'm not saying we should ignore relative advantages if they exist (because it appears that the relative disadvantages of allegedly advantaged groups are ignored). What I'm saying is that the aim of applied intersectionality is presumably to foster positive intergroup relations and the outcome is in fact the opposite.
"With respect to massacres, I think strong in-group/out-group thinking is a necessary but not sufficient condition for that."
Don't get me wrong I'm simply saying that these narratives cause a major breakdown in intergroup relations and makes acts of aggression between the groups more likely.
"Do you know where you got the term 'identitarian' from?"
It originally was used more to describe the white nationalist crowd because of their use of identity politics but can be applied to anyone using identity politics (Source 1).
Awesome, I hope it goes well and I'd love to read it when it's finished. For a more academic critique of identity politics I'd recommend the psychologist Dr Jordan B. Peterson, though he's probably center-right (which is why I didn't give his name before).
"I'm especially focused on critiques about the a priori essence of identity and why it's objectionable, particularly when leveraged politically"
Well first of all, when someone says I'm X because I'm black/white/male/female etc. they have stereotyped themselves and as we know stereotypes can be true as a group trend but isn't applicable to individuals.
A more astute criticism might be that undue focus on one facet of identity is counterproductive to a holistic view of the individual. While one focuses on what one's race/gender/sexual preference etc.'s stereotype supposedly says about the individual, everything else about the individual, usually the more important features, are relegated to secondary importance. These, non identitarian, features are what we should be focused on, particularly if our goal is ending discrimination based on identitarian features. I no doubt need not elucidate why character, intelligence etc. are more important features than one's skin color, gender sexual preference etc.
Interestingly, this also ties in to the oppression-privilege dichotomy. If one can be said to have privilege or oppression based on what one's features elicit from their socio-cultural environment then features such as attractiveness are far more important determinants of this. To begin, attractive people are thought of more positively on all dimensions relative to average people due to a psychological phenomenon known as the Halo-effect (Source 1). The Halo-effect also applies to other positive aspects of people, but since attractiveness is the most obvious positive aspect one can have, it's effects are the best documented. In addition to being perceived more positively in all areas, attractive people are paid more (Source 2). The same applies to taller and slimmer people (Source 3). These groups also of course have an easier time finding mates and siring offspring.
These are just a few physical features that appear to have greater predictive power of how one will be seen and treated than any identitarian feature. There are also many non physical predictors of success in multiple domains, such as the fact that those higher in extroversion will have more friends and those higher in neuroticism will experience negative emotion more strongly and more often. One could go through all the temperamental subcategories and find multitudes of categories that confer advantages relative to others. The same applies to the myriad of different circumstances of birth (single-parent households, poorer households, abusive parents etc.). When we take a holistic view of the individual then, we cannot conveniently place the individual into the advantaged or disadvantaged category because we lack the information to do so. It would appear that the decision to base one's relative advantage on identity rather than any other feature is strictly arbitrary and that an accurate holistic view of relative advantage and disadvantage seems impossible.
Dividing groups into "oppressed" and "privileged" also engenders resentment between the groups. The "oppressed" envy the "privileged" for their perceived ease of life and the "privileged" are angered by the allegation that they have things easy, particularly if they are struggling. Also, historically such narratives have precluded massacre, such as the massacre of the Kulaks in the Soviet Union.