On the pathetic fallacy of identity politics…

From time to time, Slugger is capable of sustaining the odd erudite discourse on matters of pressing and controversial import. Sadly, not as often as we’d like. Inattention to detail and resort to easy grand narrative give some discussions an endlessly circular character. In which case, Conor Foley may be on to something in the wider world when he argues that concepts like ‘anti semitism’ and ‘muslim oppression’ all too often become lazy catch-all slogans for our own pet causes to emulsion over genuine complexity.He concludes:

I cannot see a single explanatory thread behind all the conflicts in the world today, whether it be oil, capitalism, democracy, fascism, religion, gender or whatever else. I do, however, think that inclusive dialogue is one of the most consistently effective ways of resolving conflicts and also for combating real, or imagined, prejudices. Unfortunately, “speaking as a … ” politics are often one of the major obstacles to the two sides actually listening to what the other has to say. Perhaps we all need to get out of our ghettoes a little bit more.

Sound familiar?


  • Pete Baker

    Of course it sounds very familiar, Mick.

    But, and of course there’s a but, Conor – given his opening lines..

    A couple of months ago I wrote a piece here in which I compared the radicalising effect of the 1981 hunger strike on Irish politics with how Israel’s strikes against Lebanon were boosting support for Hizbullah.

    .. and, indeed, the subsequent comment..

    I have written a few other pieces in which I have drawn on my family’s history to make broader points about conflict, terrorism and human rights. Earlier this week, Julie sent me another message suggesting that the analogies are getting boring.

    .. would have been better advised to revisit his earlier topics rather than pontificate on others’ arguments.

  • Benn

    Identity and experience have their place, but also their limitations, so good to remember that. It’s also useful to approach complex issues with questions as often as, if not more often, than answers. Once we no longer feel a need to learn, things are bound to deteriorate. Let’s take our politics with a dose of humility. Cheers, Ben

  • aquifer

    How about the little factoids people of both sides here carry about with them to justify their position vv ‘the other side’. Tales of hurt and discrimination done to them or their connections, sure, but these small talismans are toted around without any ambition to put them in the perpective of bigger hurts done to people here and elsewhere. They end up being sad badges of sectarian fracture and inadequacy.

  • Hidden Gem

    Though I agree with much of what has been said, I think many of fail to acknowledge that it takes a huge leap of faith to jump from the burning building in to the blanket held by the firemen below. Sometimes, even when we know where our best interests lie, there is something telling us to stay where we are.

    How do you convince someone to take a necessary leap of faith?