Just what is intersectionality, and why is it so dangerous?
The radical left always needs new bogeymen to have around, new enemies to oppose, and new evils to resist. For revolutionary ferment to be constantly stoked, new sources of oppression and injustice must be found so that people will always be in a constant state of agitation and discontent. Anything to keep the masses from actually enjoying life and all the benefits of living in the West.
This is where the new term intersectionality comes into play. To help us understand it, we could look at its academic background. We could examine the writings of Kimberlé Crenshaw for example, the American lawyer, scholar, philosopher, and founder of critical race theory.
A 1989 law paper written by her, “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex,” was the genesis of the idea, and it was further promoted in a 1991 essay, “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color.”
But behind all the tens of thousands of pages of academic discussion that now exist on this concept, we can explain it in quite simple terms: oppression happens on more than one level. There are multiple levels in which oppression and injustice occur. Thus the oppressed are not just victims of racism, for example, but are victims of other evils, be it sexism or imperialism or homophobia or whatever else you want to add to the list.
There is a never-ending list of evils that are out to get us, and there is a never-ending list of types of oppression. But one thing needs to be added here: basically there is ONE group and one group alone who is responsible for all this evil: White males – especially white male conservative Christians. They are the source of all evil. They are primarily the enemy.
So all this is simply a new spin on an old ideology. This is neo-Marxism, or Cultural Marxism. The original Marxists saw one main enemy: capitalism, and one main solution: socialism. Capitalists, the owners of the means of production – these were the bad guys. The workers, the proletariat – these were the good guys.
But Marx’s gospel of revolution never quite got off the ground. The spontaneous workers’ revolutions he predicted would spring up all over Europe never happened. This in large measure was because workers under capitalism actually found their lot improving. The lower classes moved up into the middle class, and those in the middle classes often rose to the upper classes – all thanks to the free market system.
So the cultural Marxists shifted from economics to the culture. Instead of focusing on the evils of economic class, they now focused on all sorts of other evils – real or imagined. Thus the radical sexual revolution erupted in the 60s, as did so many other radical movements, be it the black power movement, the feminist revolution, the homosexual movement, and so on.
Instead of having just one source of oppression, we now have lots of them! There is always plenty of fodder to keep feeding the revolution, in other words. We now have an endless stream of sources of hostility and oppression. In their crucial 2020 volume, Cynical Theories, Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay identify just some of these categories:
“In addition to those of race, sex, class, sexuality, gender identity, religion, immigration status, physical ability, mental health, and body size, there are subcategories, such as exact skin tone, body shape, and abstruse gender identities and sexualities, which number in the hundreds.”
All of which makes “intersectionality incredibly internally complex”. They go on to say this:
However, there is nothing complex about the overarching idea of intersectionality, or the Theories upon which it is built. Nothing could be simpler. It does the same thing over and over again: look for the power imbalances, bigotry, and biases that it assumes must be present and pick at them. It reduces everything to one single variable, one single topic of conversation, one single focus and interpretation: prejudice, as understood under the power dynamics asserted by Theory. Thus, for example, disparate outcomes can have one, and only one, explanation, and it is prejudicial bigotry. The question is just identifying how it manifests in the given situation. Thus, it always assumes that, in every situation, some form of Theoretical prejudice exists and we must find a way to show evidence of it. In that sense, it is a tool—a “practice”—designed to flatten all complexity and nuance so that it can promote identity politics, in accordance with its vision.
One could share more insights from this helpful book, but here I want to broaden things out just a bit by bringing in two Christian commentators to look at this matter (although one of the two authors of the book I just cited is a Christian: Lindsay). In his 2017 volume How to Think, Alan Jacobs discusses intersectionality, arguing that it is not just about group affiliation and identity. Instead, it is “more of a rallying cry.” He writes:
It’s shorthand for an argument that begins with one key insight: that someone who belongs to more than one oppressed or marginalized group—a black lesbian, for instance—experiences such oppression or marginalization in a particularly intensified way thanks to the “intersection” of those social forces. To call attention to intersectionality with a hashtag is to remind people of that intensification, but also, often, to suggest that people who belong to various marginalized groups need to see their cause as a common one, to focus on the points at which their experiences intersect.
My second Christian voice on this is Scott David Allen. I want to quote from his 2020 book, Why Social Justice Is Not Biblical Justice: An Urgent Appeal to Fellow Christians in a Time of Social Crisis. Let me first discuss what he has to say about Critical Race Theory, since just hours ago I penned an article on that very subject: billmuehlenberg.com/2021/06/25/fighting-critical-race-theory/
In a chapter on the tenets of social justice ideology, he says the following about the Marxist basis of all this:
Karl Marx, of course, was a committed revolutionary. His great aim was to tear down the oppressive capitalist system and build his communist utopia. Social justice ideology takes it a step farther—make that several steps! It seeks the overthrow of systemic white-supremacy, the patriarchy, and Judeo-Christian morality. This revolutionary zeal drives one side of our ongoing culture war.
According to the social justice warriors, the solution to our problems is revolution: “Oppressed victims and their allies must unite in an intersectional coalition to unmask, deconstruct, and ultimately overthrow oppressive power structures.”
The concept of intersectionality came about by this dividing of the world into oppressors and the oppressed – between villains and victims. And the “more victim boxes you can check, the greater your experience of oppression.” And as already stated, it seems there is an endless supply of various types of oppression. He continues:
Ideologies that draw the good vs. evil line between different groups are not just wrong, they are dangerous. If this group is good, and that group is evil, it is very easy to dehumanize the “evil” group. This is what happened in Nazi Germany with the Jews and in communist nations with “capitalists.” It happened in Rwanda in 1994, when the Hutu-led government, fueled by an ideology of hate, launched a genocide that left as many as a million Tutsis dead in just one hundred days.
Indeed, the biblical Christian will want nothing to do with such dangerous ideologies. Says Allen: “Followers of Jesus Christ must never be complicit in an ideology that encourages the dehumanization of our neighbors, particularly when the dehumanization is based on an immutable characteristic such as skin color.”
He continues: “Despite the best intentions of its adherents – and many do have good intentions – ideological social justice destroys civil, humane society, replacing it with hatred, division, and tribalism. Unless we wake up to its dangers, social justice will destroy us – and it will do so on the name of ‘justice’.”
So what is the way forward for the biblical Christian? Allen says this: “What solution does the Bible offer to our fundamental human problem? That problem is broken relationships and, fundamentally, alienation from our Creator – the wellspring of all the brokenness that exists in the world. Until this root problem is addressed, there is no possibility for lasting social change.”
He goes on to say this:
Social justice ideology sources evil in social structures. We find it, by contrast, in human hearts and demonic forces. They see evil as social. We see it as personal. Unjust people create, sustain, and perpetuate unjust systems and structures for selfish ends.
Ultimately, injustice isn’t a social problem. It is a moral problem. Injustice exists because we are all fallen, sinful, selfish people. The only solution is a personal, heart-level transformation, not just for a particular group of so-called “oppressors,” but for everyone. Biblical transformation encompasses both the inward and the outward, the personal and the societal, the regeneration of fallen hearts and minds and the reformation of society. Biblical change is an inside-out process that begins with inward transformation….
Exactly. Simply heaping up – or inventing – one new oppressor after another is NOT going to solve our problems. The number one problem that we face is this: sin, selfishness and Satan. Unless those three are properly addressed, all the intersectionality in the world will not solve anything.