Where does this leave liberalism? “Cynical Theories”, a forthcoming book by Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay, two writers, argues that the two systems of thought are incompatible. One reason is that the constellation of postmodern thinking dealing with race, gender, sexuality and disability, which they call “Theory”, disempowers the individual in favour of group identities, claiming that these alignments are necessary to end oppression. Another is Theorists’ belief that power is what forces out entrenched
While a politics of ethno-racial identity have roared into the mainstream of both the Democratic and Republican parties, this parallelism by no means entails moral equivalence. For one side the goal is to complete the march through the institutions in order to end the four-centuries-long legacy of white supremacy. For the other it is about a last-ditch defense of the longstanding privileges associated with that history. What the collapse of racial liberalism means is that Americans of every race no longer can defer the choice between those two visions of the country’s racial future.