Critical Thinking: Does Identity Politics Disempower People?

In today’s political climate, there appears to be a greater focus on what would be good for people who belong to a particular gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. As a result of this, what would benefit people in general no longer has the same level of importance.

An Obsession

It wouldn’t be accurate to say that this is something that relates to people on both sides of the political spectrum, though. This is something that someone is more likely to be on board with if they are on the left.

However, as the horseshoe theory points out; the further someone goes on either side of the spectrum, the closer their views will be. When this takes places, what someone on the far-left says might sound different to what someone on the far-right comes out with, but that will be about as far as it will go.

In Group Preference

One way of looking at the lefts obsession with identity politics would be to say that this is a form of tribalism. There is then no reason for someone from one group to assimilate with the members of another group.

Also, by putting everyone into different groups, it makes it a lot harder for people to put their differences aside. In order for this to happen, people need to focus on what they have in common and not on what separates them from others.

Two Groups

When someone has bought into this way of looking at the world, there will be people who oppress others and then there will be the people who are oppressed by others. This is something that is completely black and white.

The biggest oppressors are often said to be white men, and this means that just about everything one else is kept down by these people. White women, on the other hand, are also seen as being oppressed, but they are still seen as having it easier than women who are not white.

Taken To the Extreme

Consequently, there are a number of people who believe that all the problems in the world would disappear is white men were removed from the planet. Ironically, this approach has a lot in common with how those on the far-right think- especially white supremacists.

One side would be happy to eliminate people who don’t look like them, and the other side would be happy to do something very similar. One of the main differences here is that while the far-right is routinely denounced; the far-left is often ignored and given carte blanche to behave however they choose.

Faulty Thinking

The effects that identity politics have on the people who buy into this way of looking at life can’t be overlooked. While it would be easy to believe that every white man on this planet has it easy or that every black person doesn’t, it doesn’t mean that this has any basis in reality.

In fact, if someone has come to this conclusion, there is as strong chance that they haven’t engaged their brain. The psychological term for black and white thinking is splitting and, when this happens, there is no middle ground.

Another Angle

If someone has the tendency to see life in this way, it can show that they have some kind of personality disorder. Perhaps they grew in a very unstable environment, meaning that they were abused and/or neglected.

When this happens, their emotional brain will have take over and this will stop them from being able to use their thinking brain. One is then not going to be able to think rationally; they will be caught up in their own emotions.

The Outcome

What will make it even harder for them to realise that their beliefs don’t reflect reality is what their mind will block out anything that goes against what they believe. The reason for this is that the mind is constantly looking for that which it believes to be true.

It then won’t matter that what they believe is not the truth, as their mind will filter out anything that doesn’t match up with what they believe. With this in mind, it is not hard to see why there are people who actually buy into identity politics.

The First Part

But before one came to see one group as oppressors and just about every other group as oppressed, there were probably a number of experiences that had a big impact on them. These experiences would then have been seen as the truth and what it is like for anyone who has a certain skin colour or sexual orientation, for instance.

It is then very similar to how someone can end up with a phobia, for instance, with one experience defining how they will always respond to a certain object or situation. However, unless this experience is made conscious and acknowledged, it will continue to define their life.

The Death of the Individual

If one is seen as being part of a group that oppresses others, it is not going to be very empowering but, if they are part of a group that is seen as being oppressed, this can be very empowering. The downside to this is that one is no longer an individual who is responsible for their own life; they are simply an extension of this group and are, therefore, not responsible for their own life.

With this in mind, one is going to be more like a depend child than an empowered adult. How well they do in life is then not going to be the result of what they believe and how they behave, among other things; it will be something that is defined by the colour of their skin, their gender, or sexual orientation, for instance.

The Big Deception

It can then seem as though the people in power, who promote this way of looking at life, are there to empower certain people, but this is nothing more than an illusion. If these people truly wanted to empower people, they would encourage them to take responsibility for their own life.

They would also say that, while there may be moments when they are victimised by others, it doesn’t mean that they are victims. And although it might be hard for some people to realise this, not only are there white men who are victimised on a daily basis – they also face discrimination just like everyone else.


If someone buys into identity politics, they are giving their power away – the power that they have to change their life. In the short-term, it is a lot easier for blame others, the trouble with this is that it won’t allow them to live a fulfilling life.