Group Identity

World War II brought the conflagration of incompatible worldviews. In Nazi Germany, Adolf Hilter was convinced that the German people were destined for a climactic battle against the Slavic people of the east, who he regarded as both physical and morally inferior to the Germans. At the same time in the east, however, inspired by the ideas of Karl Marx, the Russians regarded the real conflict as class warfare, where the proletariat was locked in a life and death struggle with the aristocracy. Most people regard the conflict between Nazi Germany and Russia as a showdown between polar opposites but the truth is that both of these worldviews were collectivist at heart and differed only in the specifics of group identity.

The United States is great because it is the first nation that was founded on the ideal that the individual is a legitimate entity worthy of the protections of the government rather than being a means to any greater end. The amendments to the Constitution reflect this inasmuch as they are injunctions about what the government may not do rather than being active duties which would create an intrusive government. This is why, when the US enters into violent conflict with totalitarian regimes, we alone have the ability to legitimately claim that we are fighting for the cause of freedom. The ideologies of our enemies, though varying in many respects over many wars, have one thing in common and that is that they do not uphold the concept of individual rights. Inasmuch as personal liberties exist in those regimes, they are permitted as privileges that can be withdrawn at any time by whim of the government for the greater good. If there is any one idea that is diametrically opposed to the intentions and will of America’s founding fathers, it is collectivism.

Among the many types of collectivism in existence, racism is especially deplorable, not only because it is the most base form of tribalism, but also because it prevents people from recognizing each other as unique individuals and dealing with each other as such. Not only does the concept that members of racial groups share personality attributes do violence to our understanding of understanding of what it means to be human, to judge people based on incidental physical attributes rather than for the merits of their personal actions is an affront to our concept of justice which demands that each person should reap what he has earned. When Jackie Robinson scores a run in baseball, we do not credit him with three fifths of a run, he is credited with one run just like everybody else because he has earned it. Race does not enter into it. I use sports as an example because they appeal directly to our concept of fairness and also because I think that the entertainment industries have usually been ahead of the curve on the subject of racial equality. My point is that where success (whether monetary, sports victories, or otherwise) becomes a primary, racial considerations should disappear because the consideration of arbitrary characteristics is a barrier to successful strategies.

A true meritocracy is the ideal but because as we live in the real world where racism (and other injustices still exist) the question remains as to how we should deal with this problem. It is my view that tribalism cannot be stamped out by other forms tribalism any more than an orgy can be blow jobbed out of existence. Racism and other forms of collectivism can only be opposed by its true philosophical opposite which is individualism. Only when “us” and “them” cease to exist as a generally accepted concept will group conflict truly drop away and we can get down to competing as individuals, just like God* intended.

* metaphor!

8 Responses to “Group Identity”

  1. Kristin says:

    Clarity please, are you suggesting people stop identifying racially and that will solve the problem of racism?

  2. mexi says:

    Racial identity is not the source of racism, but racial group loyalty certainly is. I don’t think anyone would disagree that a judge who favored certain ethnic groups would not be a fair judge. Every person’s mind is their own judge and the world would be better off if we were inclined to favor truth rather than specific groups. I have made a conscious effort to heed my own words, I used to root for the Puerto Ricans every year when I watched the West Side Story, now I just hate the whole movie equally and without bias.

  3. Kristin says:

    I will freely admit I participate in racial group loyalty to an extent. I will also freely admit that I suffer from biculturalism. I also agree that at times it does create an “us” versus “them” mentality. Heritage consistency differs within and between ethnic groups because people are individuals. Individuality is not lost because people choose to group identify. Group loyalty does not necessarily indicate ethnocentrism which, I believe you are describing.

    I wrote about something similar to this awhile back about not being able to choose between being a black person and woman. Phelps asked the question why I can’t just be who my family needs me to be. I always have at the fore front of my conscious how will this reflect on Black people. Is whatever I am doing at the moment going to be perceived as negative or positive. Undoubtedly, this is more self-imposed but, I am not willing to let my want and desire for Black people to be great fall to the wayside because other people believe collectivism is dangerous.

    Let me ask you another question. What group do you perceive social collectivism to be a problem for, all races or just black and brown people?

  4. mexi says:

    The first example of collectivism in this blog entry was Naziism. The second was communism. I could have also used religious collectivism as examples but the issue was already controversial enough without injecting religion into it. The problem with collectivism is certainly not unique to black or brown people and it’s not specific to any religion or sexual preference.

    Collectivism only makes sense for creatures like bees and termites because the entire colony shares so many of their genes in common that the success of one really is the equivalent of the success of another. People aren’t like that. If 10 Latinos across town become successful that is not a breakthrough for me as an individual with one critical exception. If racism is so prevalent that people in a society firmly believe that a member of a minority group is actually incapable of performing a certain job, the success of a person like Jackie Robinson can blaze a trail for all the others who are able because he destroys the myth of racial based inability. The important thing to remember here is that Jackie Robinson succeeded in destroying that myth because he was just as capable (if not more so) than his white counterparts. If, by some affirmative action quota, a black player of lesser ability than his white counterparts had been promoted to the big leagues, his failure would have reflected poorly on all the other black players which is to say his failure would have seemingly confirmed the racist stereotype. This is my biggest problem with affirmative action programs, they inadvertently hurt the populations they are designed to help.

    There is one more pragmatic reason for ditching racial identity politics and it is this: if all Americans favor members of their own ethnic group then Obama never gets in the White House no matter how intelligent and inspirational he is. Whether you like or hate Obama the fact that so many white people supported his bid for the white house is clear evidence that white people have turned a corner in US race relations. If the rest of the non white population follows suit then we can actually get down the business of hating each other for the content of our character instead of for the color of our skin.

  5. Kristin says:

    Well written and well stated.

  6. mexi says:

    Oh thx. I like arguing with you too. It’s nice when debates can happen without people thinking that disagreement equals a personal attack. That just gave me an idea for my next post!

  7. Kristin says:

    Mmm wish I could say I argue this way all the time but I cannot tell a lie. I had to apologize to Phelps awhile back and I have been perilously close to calling him an MF on several occasions.

  8. mexi says:

    You should never call your opponent a MF in a debate, you should only imply it!

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