Intersectionality as an Ideological Blockchain


Unless I’m missing something, all the chatter about blockchain technology makes it seem much more complicated than it is.  Basically, it’s just a way to link information together and share the full set so that everybody has the latest version and any modifications are easy to spot.

The information is chained so that broken links can be exposed and fixed quickly and securely.  This basic concept bears a striking resemblance to the ideological dogma of intersectionality.

That notion came to me while reading a blog post by Reason’s Robby Soave about the ludicrous “Green New Deal”:

Many … articles—including ones penned by Reason’s Ronald Bailey and Joe Setyon—have pointed how ludicrously broad the Green New Deal is. Notably, it does not confine itself to environmental policy: the proposal also asks for more education funding, more health care funding, the enforcement of “workplace health and safety, antidiscrimination, and wage and hour standards across all employers, industries, and sectors,” enforcement of “trade rules,” and, according to the Green New Deal’s FAQ sheet, “economic security for all those who are unable or unwilling to work.”

Why would the left include a provision about subsidizing the lifestyle of lazy people in its climate change manifesto? Because that’s what intersectionality requires.

As I explain my forthcoming book, PANIC ATTACK: Young Radicals in the Age of Trump (pre-order it here), intersectionality is a philosophical framework that has come to completely dominate progressive activist thinking in the 30 years since the sociologist Kimberle Crenshaw first coined it. An intersectional progressive recognizes that racism, and sexism, and homophobia, and transphobia, and age-ism, and classism, and so on, are separate-but-related phenomena. To ignore just one of these sources of oppression is to fail intersectionality; the seriously social-justice minded must treat all of these issues as equally important and confront them en masse.

Intersectionality codes disparate causes in terms of “social justice” and links them all together.  The coding is shared across social media such that everybody has an intrinsic sense of what’s included and the hierarchy.  The purpose, as with a blockchain, is to discover breaks in the chain.  Consider this, from Rod Dreher:

I agree that we need more pro-environment government laws and policies. I agree that the government needs to do something about strengthening the social safety net, income inequality, and strengthening the stability of the working class. I am somewhat to the left of the GOP on these issues. But if you think the Democratic Party as it exists today, post-Hillary and post-Obama, is going to let its standard-bearer vacillate the least bit from every maximal demand of the Left, you’re dreaming. It’s not right-wingers like me who are trying to smear socialism by attaching every crackpot thing the cultural left embraces to an economic program; it’s left-wing activists. One Millennial reader of this blog who works in DC Democratic circles told me last year that the militant activists really are driving this bus.

Parties, by their nature, are alliances of different constituencies.  For most of the past half century, the political right was united within the Republican Party roughly under the conservative theory of fusionism, which bound differing interests with the principle of freedom from government coercion.  This linked social conservatives with sometimes libertine libertarians because it proposed a civic structure that permitted genuine pluralism.

During that period, the political left was united within the Democrat Party on the more-patchwork principle of preference for action by the government, which covered socially conservative industrial union members as well as environmentalists as well as ideological Marxists.  The hardening of that coalition into a chain of “justices” has squeezed out those who couldn’t be made to fit because they were dominated by the necessary villain who united the rest (masculine, straight, white men).

Moreover, with the development of the Internet and social media, the broader coalition no longer has the protection of distance between conflicting constituencies.  The intersectional blockchain must attack a photo of coal miners in Arizona as if it’s a display of blackface, just as it must act quickly in response to sexual assault allegations against the black lieutenant governor of Virginia.  Just as it must embed its entire ideology in a Green New Deal.

By the old-time calculations of coalition government, one would expect this constricting chain to push itself out of power.  Unfortunately, a third dynamic of our time — added to the binding theory of intersectionality and the rapid transmission method of social media — is that the political left has invaded and thoroughly controls central cultural institutions like academia and entertainment media.  With that control it has indoctrinated generations of the Western elite with its insidious code, wrapping the chain around us all.