How to Escape The Identity Trap - Yascha Mounk (part two)

We continue our discussion with Yascha Mounk, one of the leading public intellectuals of our time. The subject is a hugely influential ideology that attempts to put racial, sexual and gender identity at the center of our social, cultural and political life. The "identity synthesis", Mounk argues, denies that members of different groups can truly understand one another and this stifles public discourse.

In this podcast episode, we learn why an obsession with identity undermines social justice, fuels culture wars, and boosts hateful hardliners on the right and left— from Donald Trump to protesters who support Hamas and its murderous attacks on Israeli civilians. We also hear how to politely but firmly push back against those who have become ensnared in "The Identity Trap," the name of Yascha Mounk's new book.

"Categories like race and gender and sexual orientation help to explain what's going on in the world, but they're not the only categories that help to explain it," Mounk tells us. "There's also social class, religion and patriotism as well as individual actions, attributes and aspirations."

"The Identity Trap" has been called "the most ambitious and comprehensive account to date of the origins, consequences and limitations" of "wokeness". In our last episode, Yascha Mounk explained how postmodernism, postcolonialism and critical race theory gained currency on many college campuses by 2020. Today, a simplified version of these ideas exerts a strong influence in business, government and media. 

In this episode, Mounk urges listeners to claim the moral high ground. "Don’t apologize about arguing against a worldview that emphasizes identity to the exclusion of other factors". Recognize we have genuine disagreements but argue for convictions that you believe will result in a better world. People are open to persuasion, he says.

Mounk mentions two of the most effective critics of the identity ideology were once very drawn to it: Maurice Mitchell of the Working Families Party and interfaith organizer, Eboo Patel.

Recommendation: Richard has just read "The Speech", by Gary Younge, who writes for the Guardian and The Nation. His book is the story behind Martin Luther King Jr.'s powerful "I have a Dream" speech delivered to a vast audience in 1963.

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