Buckley Conservatives have tried hard to make the term “identity politics” into an epithet, but like all their other efforts, it has been a failure. The only thing David French managed to do in that piece is reveal that he has no respect for his ancestors and he remains petrified of the Left. He and the other wimps of the Right can beg and plead all they like, but identity politics is going to be a feature of the next generation of culture wars, probably the focus.
What is driving the growth of the Dissident Right, in part, is the realization among whites that the old political groupings no longer make sense in an age of identity politics. The one common theme among the people and groups now populating the movement is white identity. Some people prefer white nationalism, but that is mostly the older crowd. There are others who simply go with pro-white. The salient feature here is whiteness and that is generally defined as European, but there is some debate about that too.
Since no one is ready to roll out the equivalent of the Brown Paper Bag Test to determine entry into the Honkyverse, debating these fine distinctions is mostly a waste of time. Like porn, most people know white when they see it. What does matter is the nature of white identity. It is easy to generalize about what it means to be white and list off some things that are in the interest of white people, but that is not an identity. At best that is a list of political goals and at worst a list of complaints about the prevailing order.
Identity movements, as cultural or even political phenomenon, come in two flavors. One is positive and the other is negative. A positive identity is one that exists independently and in isolation. It is true in all times and all places. Its logic is entirely internal and only modifiable by those within it. A negative identity, in contrast, exists only in context, usually in relation to or in opposition to something else. It is dependent on some outside thing. Its logic is external and modifiable by whatever exogenous thing upon which it depends.
Consider something like Icelandic identity. To be an Icelander means you or your ancestors were born in Iceland. If the rest of the humans on earth die off, the person born on that rock in the North Atlantic is still an Icelander. If for some reason the people within that identity group decide to change the rules, adding some morphological feature, then that will be the new definition. Even if the French protest that change, the Icelandic identity is whatever the Icelanders decide. That is a positive identity.
Now, think about black identity in America. sub-Saharan Africans come to America and refuse to call themselves black or even African-American. They have a different identity, their own identity. Black Americans are defined by the fact that whites needed farm equipment and brought blacks over to the colonies to work the fields. Everything about the black experience is in relation to this history and its alleged effects on the present. To be black in America is to be defined entirely by your relationship to white America.
This difference in nature is why Icelanders do not spend all their time listing their grievances against some group outside their group. Blacks, in contrast, do nothing but complain about whites. They define themselves in relation to whites, mostly in how they are treated by whites. It is why they insist on being close to whites. Section 8 housing is popular with blacks, because it lets them mix with whites and have a daily validation of who they are as people. If whites suddenly went away, blacks would lose their identity.
These are extreme examples. A less obvious example of negative identity is Ireland. The Irish fell into the negative identity camp, defining themselves in opposition to the English, over the years of British occupation. The Irish certainly had plenty of cultural history of their own, but their subjugation by the British eventually began to shift the Irish identity from a positive and internal one, to an external and relational one. It is why the Irish continue to obsess over British politics, despite having their own government now.
The point of all this is that what is happening now with white identity has to avoid going down the negative road. If the alt-right, for example, is going to be a laundry list of complaints about non-whites, it can never chart its own destiny. It will always be dependent on those outside groups. On the other hand, if this thing follows the course you see with Jared Taylor, then it can chart its own course. Taylor does not waste a lot of time with grievances, beyond those related to the right to have a white identity.
Put another way, if being pro-white is only going to mean anti-black or anti-Jew or anti-Asian, then it is never going to be a useful identity group. It is just going to be the nullification of other identity groups. That is not a movement with a future, because it is definition lies outside its control. It is why feminism is curdling into a home for barren spinsters. It is just a list of grievances. In order to avoid that fate, white identity is going to have to be a positive identity that defines itself, independent of the rest of the world.
The way to do that is as a cultural movement. The reason Progressivism lasted for half a century, despite being at odds with reality, is it was a cultural phenomenon. Being a Progressive was not just politics. It was a lifestyle. Even today, you can tell a Lefty from a distance because they dress a certain way and act a certain way. One Lefty starts wearing fake glasses and all of them do it. Whatever white identity or pro-white comes to mean, it has to define itself internally, if it is going to be anything more than a passing fad.
Proof of this is the old white nationalist and white supremacist movements. Those old guys complaining about blacks and Jews were just that, old guys complaining about blacks and Jews. You got nothing by being a part of their thing other than endless lectures about blacks and Jews. Even racists run out of ways to keep that interesting. Avoiding the fate of those movement means steering a path down the positive road, even if it takes longer and is less clear. It has to be this way because this is probably the last shot at it.