Who am I? The question today haunts every society in the Western
people—especially the young—have become unmoored from a firm sense of self. To
compensate, they join the ranks of ideological tribes spawned by
identity politics and react with frenzy against any perceived
threat to their group.
identitarians track and expose the ideologically impure,
other citizens face the consequences of their rancor: a litany
of “isms” run amok across all levels of cultural
life; the free marketplace of ideas muted by
agendas shouted through megaphones; and a spirit of general goodwill warped into a
state of perpetual outrage.
did we get here? Why have we divided against one another so
bitterly? In Primal Screams, acclaimed cultural
critic Mary Eberstadt presents the most provocative and
original theory to come along in recent years. The rise of
identity politics, she argues, is a direct result of the fallout of the
sexual revolution, especially the collapse and shrinkage of the family.
Eberstadt illustrates, humans from time immemorial have forged their identities
within the structure of kinship. The extended family, in a real sense, is the
first tribe and first teacher. But with its unprecedented decline
across a variety of measures, generations of people have been set adrift
and can no longer answer the question Who am I? with reference to primordial
ties. Desperate for solidarity and connection, they claim membership in
politicized groups whose displays of frantic irrationalism amount to primal
screams for familial and communal loss.
in impeccable style and with empathy rarely encountered in
today’s divisive discourse, Eberstadt’s theory holds immense
explanatory power that no serious citizen can afford to ignore. The
book concludes with three incisive essays by Rod Dreher, Mark
Lilla, and Peter Thiel, each sharing their perspective on the
author’s formidable argument.
Hardcover, 192 pages.