Identity politics is an unwieldy word, and many heated debates revolve around it. No one is quite able to explain it, yet the core of this fighting term is as old as mankind. "We first!" is a rallying cry that has been heard throughout the ages. "America first" is identity politics, but "Black Lives Matter" also uses the clout that comes from "We first!". Both slogans share an enigmatic mix of platitude and attack. Of course, Black lives matter. But the call becomes militant where the statement "All Lives Matter" is no longer accepted. Why shouldn't "all lives" count, and why should only "Black lives" count? Or is that not the point at all? With these questions leading to the heart of identity politics, Bernd Stegemann begins his essay grounded in the history of ideas, taking a look at the tipping points of identity politics such as victim management, intimate communication, cancel culture, critical race theory, or wokeness, and asking the question about the future of universalism.
Bernd Stegemann, born in Münster in 1967, is professor of dramaturgy and cultural sociology at Berlin's Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Art and has published Das Gespenst des Populismus, Wutkultur, and Die Öffentlichkeit und ihre Feinde, among others. Most recently published by Matthes & Seitz Berlin: Die Moralfalle (2018).