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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > November 2016 > Leith on language

Leith on language

Living with “lived experience”

Experience is hot these days. Hot, hot, hot. But it’s had an upgrade. It’s now “lived experience.” The modifier is as infallible and as seemingly redundant as the “furious” that precedes “row” or the “explosive” that precedes “revelations” in middle-market journalism. If you’ve been following the recent twists and turns of liberal identity politics you’ll have come across it constantly. It enters conversations from the Black Lives Matter movement to the swerf ‘n’ terf wars over sex-work and trans rights, and the campus politics of “cultural appropriation.” The formulation has spilled from social media into the mainstream press. A recent Telegraph film review credited the female lead with making “every syllable feel like it springs from lived experience”; a Guardian piece on Rachel Dolezal argued the term “transracial” had been coined to describe the “lived experience of children raised in homes that are different from their birth.”

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In Prospect’s November issue: Sam Tanenhaus argues Donald Trump is a consequence of the American government ignoring the people—and they’ll have to deal with his impact whether he wins or loses the presidential election. Diane Roberts explores the rage eating America by looking at the people that government has failed. Switching the focus to the UK, David Marquand and a quartet of commentators assess Labour’s position—with varying conclusions. Also in this issue: Matthew Qvortrup looks at the relationship between Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin, two of Europe’s most important politicians whose lives have long been intertwined. Andy Burnham, Labour’s candidate for the mayor of Manchester, lays down the reasons why the northern powerhouse is so important and Prospect’s Arts and Books Editor Sameer Rahim reviews Zadie Smith’s latest novel.