It is without a doubt that we live in perilous times, ripe with the inconsistencies of identity politics and the dogmas of the right and left. With the ascendancy of Trump as president, and the death of Fidel Castro, just to name a few salient events in the last few weeks, it seems that the world has become more uncertain in its collective understanding of itself, and the identity of individuals.
Invariably we live in a world where wearing a red cap, or wearing a safety pin seems enough to signify the self-identifying mechanism of an individual. The days of reading, and learning and the complexities of socio-historical principles are gone – not that they were truly established. Yet we can be sure of one thing, there is a detraction from trying to understand the fundamental lessons of history, and the theory of philosophy. Pillars which make up the true nomenklatura of identity.
The rise of philistinism, as always, is at the root cause of many of the troubles that ails our political landscape today. If we look at our prime minister, we see the hollow shell of so called “progressivism” which is invariably more hypocritical than ever. The rise of populism and nationalism in the United States, due to the democratic-liberal failure to try and come out of its ivory tower and mingle with the populace of the United States. The left is losing its grip on reality. These are all signs of one thing: people see the world as a binary, an either/or situation, brought on by the fact that they refuse to read a book. So, what’s new?
One of the failings of the left today it that it has been corroded by its own arrogance. There was a time when serious deliberation, through provoking social and economic theory was at the forefront – from Gramsci to Lacan – yet now we find ourselves in an age where the masses express “Marxist” theory in an 140 word character tweet.
Oversimplification of leftist and democratic ideals, harboured within identity politics, led to the rise of Trump, Brexit, and so on. Like all the leadings intellectuals and thinkers of our day I urge, and am most inclined to say, that we need theory now more than ever. Stop citing quotes from Capital, The German Ideology, or in the case of the libertarians Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom. Actually read them, and you might find that the world is more complex than considering that every single issue is due to some form of oppression, or as those on the other side of the aisle(the right) believe, that there is no such thing as oppression and everyone is just fine. It is more complicated than that.
Both the left and the right believe that they understand the world from their own paradigm, and each are inclined to simplify everything in order to fit anything into their view of the world. They are more alike than different, as any libertarian would tell you. Today it is invariably more important to remind people that to think for oneself is more important in an age where identity politics seem to rule the West more than ever. If there is one thing we can learn from the study of history and philosophy is that you cannot assume anything, and that you must question everything. Such is the case in Trump’s America.
History is exceptionally complicated, and its oversimplification has led us here.