Persecuted religious, ethnic, and sexual minorities have embraced identity in the last decade as a form of resistance to ensure attention and resources are focused on the marginalized. However certain actions designed to counteract discrimination can become their own form of segregation making progress toward true equality stymied. Nothing in life is simple, or rarely is. Yascha Mounk makes it clear his politics are left and socially progressive but considers the "great Awokening" (not his words) needs careful nuance and examination to avoid The Identity Trap.
Mounk a highly awarded political scientist is arguing ideology centered around an individuals matrix of identities, potentially has a flip side. He provides many examples where identity segregated, runs the risk of creating a meta marginalisation that stifles discourse, politicizes human relations, and potentially undermines the intention. This view is likely to inflame the far left who won't engage in nuanced debate around gender, religious and race issues and in turn become weaponised by the far right, while sensible solutions are more frequently the causalities of identity politics.
For much of their history, societies have violently oppressed ethnic, religious and sexual minorities. It is no surprise then that many who passionately believe in social justice have come to think that members of marginalized groups need to take pride in their identity if they are to resist injustice.
But over the past decades, a healthy appreciation for the culture and heritage of minorities has transformed into an obsession with group identity in all its forms, one that has quickly become influential around the world. A new ideology - which Yascha Mounk terms the 'identity synthesis' - seeks to put each citizen's matrix of identities at the heart of social, cultural and political life. This, he argues, is the Identity Trap.
Mounk traces the intellectual origins, consequences and limitations of these ideas, explaining how they have been able to win tremendous power over the past decade and why their application to areas from education to public policy is proving to be deeply counterproductive. In his passionate plea for universalism and humanism, he argues that the proponents of identitarian ideas will, though they may be full of good intentions, make it harder to achieve progress towards genuine equality.