Identity politics can make us a more liberal or less liberal society. It’s our choice.

Update (7/18): I have been made aware that the language used in the original edition of this article could be divisive and hurtful to some people. Upon re-reading it, I have decided to remove that language.

The constructiveness or otherwise of identity politics has been a constant point of debate. Some have pointed to feminism, saying that it is a successful identity politics movement that has changed the world for the better. Others have said that identity politics is divisive, and threatens the cohesiveness and solidarity of society.

On the other hand, history has also shown us that identity politics is not always exclusionary. Liberal feminism is perhaps the best example of an identity politics movement that has not been exclusionary. Although women have been the main beneficiaries of this women, men have also been lifted out of their rigid gender roles and expectations. Liberal feminism has also given society many great voices, great minds, and great ideas, through the increasing participation of women in the public sphere.

There are actually two very different types of identity politics. One type of identity politics seeks to use shared identity and shared lived experience to inform how society can be more liberal and less discriminatory. The other type seeks to use shared identity and shared lived experience to build walls and keep outsiders firmly out. It is just natural that the former would make society more liberal, and the latter would make society less liberal.

We should not assume the identity politics movements of the left are always the liberal type. Leftist identity politics has at times been exclusionary. Therefore, it would be dangerous to just accept all left-wing aligned identity politics. Instead, we should reject all exclusionary and illiberal identity politics.