Identity Politics, The Opium of the People, by Carl R. Trueman

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By Carl R. Trueman, First Things, 4 . 29 . 21

Identity politics is the new religion of the United States. Some will dissent from this claim. There are those who simply don’t want to see how deep-seated the factionalism of the public square now is. And there are those who have a vested interest in minimizing the righteous religiosity of what is commonly called “wokeness.” But in its demand for full conformity, its rituals and liturgies, and its unfailing ability to sniff out heresy, it resembles nothing so much as a religious cult. And this, ironically, is where the man whom many consider the founder of the feast, Karl Marx, may prove useful to those of us wondering how to respond.

Of all Marx’s sayings, the best known is surely that religion “is the opium of the people.” Yet anyone who has read Marx knows that he did not think in sound bites. The silliness of Twitter, with its economy of characters, disregard for context, and superficiality of content, would not have suited his Hegelian disquisitions on the world. This opium claim is no exception; and set in its context, in the introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, its meaning is enriched and its content rendered helpful in thinking about the current civic religion of the U.S. …

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