You can argue about whether to call our culture post-modern, multicultural or politically correct. But its fatal contradictions ought to be beyond dispute. It was driven by the notion that a “rainbow coalition” of groups marginalised by straight white men deserved to be championed: women, gays, ethnic minorities. The alert among you will have noticed the first problem. There is no mention of class. An unemployed ex-miner coughing his guts up in a South Yorkshire council flat may be white, male and straight, but he is not more privileged than a female CEO, let alone a kleptomaniac politician in a post-colonial African state. Yet both the capitalist and the dictator can pose as victims and enjoy a global narrative that casts the sick old man as an oppressor.
Enormous consequences have flowed from the failure to think about economics. Across the developed world, Donald Trump and the European far-right parties are gratefully seizing on the lie that the white working class is by definition oppressive, and are busily detaching it from the Left.
True but irrelevant, and this is why, after sharing a bitter laugh over the incredible stupidity of the identity-obsessed left, I have to part company with Cohen and others like him. Really, that’s all you’ve got? A toothless demand for a stronger welfare state and higher taxes on the rich? As if you wouldn’t still be complaining then. Honestly, it seems to me that calling yourself left-wing these days amounts to little more than either frantically performing CPR on Marx’s corpse, bullshitting with fraudulent hucksters like Slavoj Zizek, or pretending it’s 1968 all over again and creating new Trump voters in the process. Well, that’s not entirely fair. There’s also a thriving online scene of competitive signaling over culture-war symbols that provides a semblance of meaning in the empty lives of sad little office drones.