The title says it all: "The Trouble with Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality". This is a new book recently published in America that makes a very strong argument against identity politics in favour of a more class-oriented leftwing project. A very good review of the book can be read in the US Observer newspaper online in part one and part two. [Read more below]
Below are a few salient points I picked up from the review of this book by Walter Benn Michaels:
The fact that there is an increasing inequality of society occurring at the same time as an increase in the 'marketing of cultural diversity' is far from being accidental. Diversity politics is embraced by the Establishment, and there is now an 'extravagant trade in corporate-sponsored diversity appreciation'.
Diversity-speak has pushed the left to 'focus our efforts of reform not on getting rid of classes but on getting rid of what we like to call classism.' I.e 'we're urged to be more respectful of poor people and to stop thinking of them as victims', which is possibly more Christian, but nothing to do with progress. Such an approach, the author says, has turned much of the left into 'something like the human resources department of the right'.
With the decline of left and right in politics, Michaels characterises modern politics as a dispute between reactionaries and conservatives, for which in New Zealand would maybe mean that National are the reactionaries and Labour the conservatives:
The reactionaries are the ones who attack diversity, the conservatives are the ones who defend it; the reactionaries are the ones who think our inequalities are justified, the conservatives are the ones who think we don’t have any
The books says that all political parties now fetishize racial difference, and that increasingly liberals merely want the 'moral certainty' of being able to see their conservative opponents as racist. Moreover, racism has been privatized - 'converted from a political position into a personal failing'. The following quote, indeed reminds me of the orientation of much of the left in New Zealand to many National Party politicians and especially Don Brash:
What American liberals want is for our conservatives to be racists …. We want a fictional George Bush who doesn’t care about black people rather than the George Bush we’ve actually got, one who doesn’t care about poor people.
As the book review points out, the Bush administration has actually 'appointed a yet more racially diverse group of senior advisors to preside over far more divisive policies of malign economic neglect'.
The book looks like it could be well worth reading. It seems to make a strong argument for 'equality not diversity'. This is an approach that no party in NZ Parliament is currently interested in.