[National Review] E Pluribus Nihil
Ethnic and racial identitarianism are incompatible with the Constitution. Is America sleepwalking to socialism?
The Plot to Change America: How Identity Politics is Dividing the Land of the Free. By Mike Gonzalez. Encounter Books; 254 pages; $28.99.
Editor’s note — an excerpt of this book review featured in National Review on June 20th, 2020 under the heading "The Intellectual Roots of Today's Identity Politics — A new book explores the ideological wellsprings of ethnic and racial identitarianism". Read the abridged version here.
When I asked Mike Gonzalez what new constituency identity politics would start pandering to next, he quipped “not to let the imagination run wild, lest we give them ideas”.
His answer spoke to the movement’s unbounded tendency to socially engineer a fractured map of ever-smaller subnational communities with shared interests more trivial each time — not to mention contradictory, in some ironic instances of the recent past. But one could have also mistaken Mike’s humorous cynicism for genuine prudence. Such is our era of hyper-tribal culture wars that in the minds of many a social justice warrior, the urge not to let the enemy define you has given way to the imperative of embodying their worst caricature of you. Gonzalez’s The Plot to Change America is the best account yet of the deep ideological wells from which identity politics quenches its thirst. His urge “not to let the imagination run wild”, if heeded by the movement’s Marxist forebears, would have meant a world of difference to today’s society — for if one thing defines the history of identity politics, it is wild imagination.
Divide and conquer
In 1928, the acclaimed illustrator André Galland was commissioned a placard exposing French communism as a foreign plot of subversion. France would eight years later pioneer Western Europe’s experience of socialism through electoral means as its communist party propelled the Front Populaire coalition of left-wing reformists to a parliamentary supermajority. For Galland’s…