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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

The Guardian and the multiplication of identities

The more you multiply identities, the more difficult it is to satisfy everybody. The Guardian now exists because of the dissatisfaction it creates by needlessly multiplying identities.

Last week, when the UKs General Election results were in, The Guardian produced a photo gallery of selected new MPs, selected because they visibly represented identities which are (or are supposed to be) under-represented in the House of Commons. Forget about political values, what matters to The Guardian is identities. What I found exasperating were two things.

First, that The Guardian is interested in photogenic identities. Being a Sikh male is terribly helpful in this context. But does The Guardian really suppose that identities are always visible to the camera? 

Atheists, agnostics, humanists and many other identities do not yield to the camera and so they do not appear worthy of representation. I suppose that the camera is one reason why The Guardian comes across as a religious newspaper, defender of the faiths.

Second, it made it appear that all those new MPs who don’t take the right picture somehow don’t count. The Guardian clearly has a tick box list of identities which are cool and identities which aren’t. But maybe lurking among those unseen, boring new MPs there are interesting identities yet to be discovered and, perhaps more importantly, people committed to political values worth having represented in the House of Commons. 

1 comment:

  1. I agree that identity is not reducible to the photogenic and thus to the abstractions favoured and flavoured by the Guardian's brand of neoliberalism. To borrow a phrase from Peter Buffet (son of Warren), identity politics is a kind of "conscience laundering" that promotes and celebrates certain identities as answers to problems that the same promoters and celebrants of these ever proliferating identities have helped to create. These identities only come into being as a consequence of the imperialism, the wars, humanitarian intervention, and globalisation that our elites impose on the world. Their promotion serves to distract attention at home from the disasters abroad that the very neoliberalism The Guardian supports has helped to bring about. I agree with your final point, but would add that to the values we need people who will commit to and create the political and social projects (not abstract identities) we need to solve the problems identity politics is a symptom of and certainly not a solution to. Many thanks for your interesting posts, Best wishes!P