The Failures of Identity and Personality

Honesty? A liability — give an honest critique to your boss, you’ll be fired; an honest review of your job applicant, you’ll be sued; an honest account of your government, you’ll be audited or worse. Loyalty? A liability — employee loyalty is met with layoffs and pension busting; as an employer it’s met with insubordination and increasingly incredulous demands. Integrity? A liability, as everyone is considered so replaceable that taking a stand of any kind is met with rejection in all kinds of relationships. Honor? The most dangerous liability of all — after all, could people of honor ever ascend to the top of a society that spies on its own people and lies about it, poisons its own drinking water for profit, or propagandizes the schemes of the powerful?

We’ve developed a society where we segment ourselves, in the most categorically appalling ways possible. In terms of politics and consumerism, we allowed ourselves to be defined in severely racist, classist voting and marketing blocs rather than as individuals. And it manifests in our day to day lives — we look at people and decide, in an instant, whether they’re on the same ‘team’ as us, whether a product is ‘for us’ or for the dreaded ‘them’.

Somehow, as a form of progress, we look at a person, and before we ever see their ideas, we see their race, gender, class, hometown, political leanings and any number of irrelevant things in order to try to intuit whether they’re ‘one of us’. If so, we embrace them despite any flaws we may find; if not we reject them wholly as a package, including any of their ideas we may like. As if a woman would never hurt another woman, or a liberal could never be a racist, or a rich person could never give help to a poor person without strings attached, or a white man could never help provide opportunity to minorities.

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