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US left wing on wild roads

The Once and Future Liberal. After Identity Politics
Forfatter: Mark Lilla
Forlag: Harper Collins (USA)
American identity politicians have no strategy and want none. They just want to express themselves and increasingly radicalize themselves.


This hip shot has fired art historian and writer Mark Lilla, a professor at Columbia University. He believes this is the main problem for Democrats in the age of Trumpism. Now, a united left side in Western democracies is suffering a split. There is "us against us" over a low shoe, and right-wing extremism benefits from this. Bad enough, but really bad will be the consequences as they unfold in the US power.

What do we do now? Every year, the London Institute's Economist Intelligence Unit publishes a so-called democracy index. Based on 60 criteria, researchers evaluate the state of democracies in 167 countries every year. In 2016, the US slipped down the scale from "full democracy" to a so-called flawed democracy, a damaged democracy. Anyone who would have liked to see a Democrat wing president ask and ask – what is happening and what are we doing now ?!

The bipartisan system does not help. All of America's potential voters must be captured and consolidated into one of two parties. It places particularly high demands on a unifying strategy, if one wants to prevent losing votes to the opposing party. One must look for such a strategy with Democrats, says Mark Lilla, and he believes this shortage has historical roots in two eras, the Roosevelt period of New Deal and Ronald Reagan's self-sufficient regime. A key concept in the analysis bears the name identity politics.

Identity politics. In short – Purple defines identity politics as cultural currents: they manifest themselves among marginal groups, activists of various kinds, who all fight for themes related to themselves and their identity. They may succeed or fail in these battles, but they are essentially unpolitical. They do not unite citizens of different descent and culture on a local or national level. The advocates are not in municipal councils, they do not seek political office, they do not make laws, and they care little about solidarity with groups they do not identify with. They have congregations, not ballot boxes. They are basically missionaries. Mark Lilla: “Mission is to bring truth to power. Politics is about winning power to defend the truth. ”

What Mark Lilla wants is to motivate discouraged Democrats to become active citizens with an awareness of what and who build an inclusive society across social, economic and cultural contradictions. 

Mark Lilla's analysis focuses on the citizen's social responsibility and the concept citizen: "Whatever may be said about the legitimate concerns of Trump voters, they have no excuse for voting on him. Given his clearly lacking high-office qualifications, a vote for Trump would say to betray the civic role, not to exercise it. " In the Roosevelt era, Purple maintains, America was another country. Key words were freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from distress, freedom from fear. Under Ronald Reagan's catechism, it slowly changed, but surely toward a society where the key words were freedom to own wealth, freedom from the community (apart from family, friends and the church), freedom from the custodian state. The Conservatives had got it as the plum in the egg. The liberals, often represented by a well-educated elite, moved ever further into a bubble, where the politics of identity politics dominated, whether it was women's affairs, sex, the environment, race or minorities. The consequence was that the Democrats' actors were on the scene, while the main scene was populated by a great deal of traditional slurs with shitty jobs and a growing sense of not hanging out or being talked to those up there. If we fast forward to Obama, it is easy to understand that he could be perceived as the personification of all the alienation Democrats had to smother among all those not fight for. The fact is that under Obama, the man many of us so dearly miss, and as talk show veteran David Letterman in a recent TV interview insisted on titling mr. president, the number of Democrats in US local government has shrunk significantly.

Counter-criticism. Mark Lilla is the hyper-educated intellectual who became a polemic and thus suddenly went far beyond his student auditorium. Following the November 2016 presidential election, he wrote a post in the New York Times, "The End of Identity Liberalism", which became the most read article of the year. Purple criticism triggered a rage of counter-criticism, more often from his political views than from his enemies, partly because of his skepticism about movements that Black Lives Matter. Did he really want to propagate for white supremacy? Surprised interpretation, Lilla avers. "We just don't need more demonstration trains. We need more mayors. We need to win elections! American liberalism is gripped by moral panic regarding racial, gender and sexual identity. It has spoiled the message of liberalism and prevented it from becoming a unifying force to govern. "

Mark Lilla seems little preoccupied with his own image, staring stone-faced into the camera behind his Harry Potter glasses. He calmly attacks the attacks; some of the tweets he has collected with the greatest entertainment value in his archive. In interviews, he does not describe his book as an academic text, but as an intervention, As in a case of psychological distress, sitting down with a family member who has become an alcoholic: "American liberalism has become dependent on a losing political strategy, and the window for effective intervention is closing." The majority of Americans, Purple believes, have for decades made it crystal clear that they no longer fall for the Liberalists' message: "Even when voting for Democrats, they don't recognize the way they talk and write – especially about them – the way they operate election campaign, the way they govern. " Republican Abraham Lincoln articulated a universal truth, just as relevant in the gladiatorial battles in ancient Coliseum as in today's wild America: “People's emotions are everything. If you have them with you, nothing can fail; against them nothing can prevail… ”

Active citizens. Left-wing Americans have undeniably been activating for months. They give each other peptalks unstoppable on Facebook; they call down politicians. A veritable revival at the grass roots level. It seems to have had limited effect. One by one from the original Trump administration has had to take his hat and go. Clearly, the authorities have it all on their own. What Mark Lilla wants is to motivate discouraged Democrats to become active citizens with awareness of what and who build an inclusive society across social, economic and cultural contradictions. For “only when we have such citizens can we hope that they will be liberal. And only then can we hope to steer the country in the right direction. If we want to get away from Donald Trump and everything he represents, this is where we have to begin. "

Ranveig Eckhoff
Ranveig Eckhoff
Eckhoff is a regular reviewer for Ny Tid.

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