In this coronavirus crisis, we’ve gotten a nasty preview on a temporary basis of what socialism would feel like on a permanent basis: empty shelves, shortages and limits on basic commodities, and a wholesale assault on our civil liberties, including invasions of privacy through government surveillance, and restrictions on freedom of assembly and religious freedom.
We also see Democratic politicians like Nancy Pelosi, Bill De Blasio, Jay Inslee and Gavin Newsom seeking to use the crisis to push a whole slew of socialist proposals.
A review of this laundry list of proposals, however, makes it clear we are dealing with a new type of socialism. Here are a few examples: regular monthly payments to illegals, diversity commissions to review corporate governance, money to fund Green New Deal proposals, studies to determine the impact of coronavirus on racial minorities, taxpayer funding for abortion.
This is identity politics; what does it have to do with socialism? The Democratic primary this year featured all the candidates highlighting their diversity credentials and competing for victimhood in the identity Olympics: Buttigieg scored a point for being gay and Cory Booker one for being black. But they were outscored by Kamala Harris who got two points for being black and a woman. Elizabeth Warren got one for being a woman although she attempted to go for two by falsely claiming to be native American. Ironically the two final contenders were both white men, and the prize in the end went to Biden, the oldest and one might almost say deadest white male in the race.
A recent meeting of Democratic Socialists of America featured people calling themselves ecosocialists, Afro-socialists, Islamosocialists, Chicano socialist, sanctuary socialists, #MeToo socialists, queer socialists and transgender socialists. Consider, too, the new vocabulary that leading Democrats now use. Here’s a tweet by Elizabeth Warren: “Black trans and cis women, gender-nonconforming and nonbinary people are the backbone of our democracy.”
The new socialism is identity socialism, a marriage between classic socialism and identity politics. This new type of socialism has transformed the Left and the Democratic Party. This is clearly no longer the party of Franklin Roosevelt. Indeed, FDR would not know what Warren was talking about. Who are these people and how could they be the “backbone” of our democracy? They are, however, the backbone of the socialist Left.
Typical of the new type of socialist is Stacey Abrams, who said her campaign for governor of Georgia “championed reforms to eliminate police shootings of African Americans, protect the LBGTQ community, expand Medicaid to save rural hospitals and reaffirm that undocumented immigrants deserve legal protections.” Only one of these four planks — the one about saving rural hospitals — would be even remotely recognizable to FDR as part of the progressive agenda.
Not just the Democratic Party or the Left, socialism itself has become redefined. For Marx, socialism was exclusively about class division. The world is divided into two camps: the capitalists and the working class. The former are the exploiters; the latter, the exploited. For Marx, other divisions based on race, gender, ethnicity and nationality were merely clever devices on the part of the capitalist class to divide and conquer the working class.
Yet socialism in America today emphasizes not one social division but several, not merely the division based on class but also the divisions based on race, gender, sexual orientation and even immigrant status. For the socialist Left now, it’s not merely the rich against the poor, but also white against black, male against female, straight against gay and transgender, and legal against illegal.
The new term is “intersectionality.” What this means is that one belonging to one victim group is impressive but belonging to multiple victim groups places you at the top of the new social totem pole. Conversely, it’s bad to be white, but it’s worse to be white and male, and worst of all is to be white, male and heterosexual. The new socialism is not merely about inclusion of previously victimized groups; it is also about demonizing people belonging to designated oppressor groups as racists, bigots and Nazis.
What’s the goal of identity socialism? Ultimately it’s about trying to get people to define themselves in terms of their race, gender and sex organs. These various forms of division are intended to create large, resentful victim groups. The Left hopes to bring together enough of these victim groups to form a popular majority. In this way, they can then rule unobstructed over the rest of the population.
This doesn’t merely involve confiscating people’s money but also forcing them to conform to the social norms of the Left on pain of being ostracized, shut down or even locked up. The conservative watchdog group Project Veritas even recorded Bernie staffers talking about putting Republicans and conservatives into gulags and reeducation camps. As one of them, Kyle Jurek, addressed them, “We’re going to have to teach you not to be a f*ck*ng Nazi.”
The problem with identity socialism is that we are more than the sum of these identities. We are humans, and we are also Americans. We are neither pure victims nor victimizers; on the contrary, the line between good and evil runs through every human heart. If we want to bring the country together, if we still believe in one America, we should reject the politics of division and resentment that defines identity socialism.
Dinesh D’Souza is a bestselling author and filmmaker. His new book “United States of Socialism” is published by St. Martin’s Press.