To go deeper, Murray and Shriver asked the bigger questions of why? Why would a minority want to weaponize an identity to achieve political change, ignoring the clash of competing minority groups?
A suggestion was Marxism, as it is only when the common people realise the mess that Capitalism has left them in, that they will be keen to embrace the salvation on offer from Marxism. However, a more generous take on our situation was provided, as to the suggestion that most people are seeking three things. These are purpose, meaning and justice. Everyone wants these, and so are not wicked men with an evil plan, but misguided dreamers in search of a solution.
As such, and in search of a solution, the conversation turned to the future. What will happen to this aggressive phase of Identity Politics? Their hope was that it would fade away as so many other phases have. The suggestion is that this is a uniquely first world problem, generated by having too much time for self-absorption. The answer? Perhaps it might take an unwanted but necessary jolt from a calamity to awaken society from its stupor.
In the meantime, the source of identity, could come from any one of three locations. Religion, shared identity traits or the nation state. It was the last of these three options that Douglas Murray recommended as the way forwards, and one which Lionel Shriver pointed out is not a static concept. Rather identity is a continual act of becoming. It is dynamic.
Finally, Douglas Murray was left pleading that this preoccupation with Identity Politics, even though he’s written a book on it, needs to end. Rights for all people are historically at an all-time high, technology is advancing at light speed, and the opportunities are there to be grasped. The encouragement was clear. Look out, look up, look around, and stop indulging in self-absorption.
The evening was a stimulating one, and yet, despite the visionary ending, one couldn’t help but feel deflated. Is that it?
So many of the insights that Douglas Murray and Lionel Shriver articulated rung true to what we see happening around us, and his book does this even better. As to the future, Murray does suggest a few other necessities in his book, which finishes on a plea for forgiveness. It is the shrill, unforgiving atmosphere, exacerbated by the unrestrained nature of social media, which has meant that we cannot yet get past these entrenched battle-lines drawn by the current phase of Identity Politics.
Murray wants a better world, better relationships between the creatures upon that world, clearer norms for society to exist upon, love for one another, and to be part of a better progressive narrative story.
And these are good and right intentions. But it would be remiss of me not to ask if they have looked in the right place for their answers? Christianity, the religion of those who follow a crucified saviour has been shown to hold, and still holds answers to these questions. They may not be simple, and they may not be easy to accept, but Jesus speaks with true authority. In doing so he is revealing both God’s identity and our identity. It is within His narrative that we live and move and have our being and within whose norms we live, whether we acknowledge it or not. And it is this man, Jesus, who provides a way forwards in Identity Politics. He calls us to wake up to reality, His reality.
Written by Rob Parson - Oak Hill Student