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Political scientist’s new book analyzes ‘identity trap’ for democracy

A Johns Hopkins University professor’s new book defends liberal democracy and against progressive identity politics.

For political scientist Yascha Mounk (pictured), “liberalism – or ‘philosophical liberalism,’ as he sometimes names it – is predicated on the rejection of natural hierarchy, and necessarily entails ‘universal values and neutral rules,'” Nina Power wrote in a recent review in The Telegraph.

However, according to Mounk’s book “The Identity Trap,” scheduled to be released by Penguin Random House Sept. 26, “a powerful new ideology threatens to undo that liberal vision by promoting intractable identities based on particular characteristics: race, sexuality, gender,” Power wrote.

“This new mode of thinking promotes an image of the world based on identity – and it’s seeping into institutions everywhere,” she continued:

Mounk’s painstaking and thoroughly researched account is a revelation. He avoids the term “woke,” already tired and divisive, to describe such moves, although his own description, “the identity synthesis” isn’t nearly so catchy.

He has some shocking examples of that synthesis, which often turns out to be a trap. A black mother in Atlanta is told her daughter couldn’t have her first choice of class because “that’s not the black class”; the US Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices suggests that Covid-19 vaccines should go to racial minorities rather than the elderly, even though the latter are more likely to die. …

Nonetheless, Mounk goes out of his way to be even-handed, even optimistic. Despite the oft-fanatical nature of identity-pushers, their tendency to hound and cancel their perceived foes, Mounk believes that the majority of people are reasonable, and that minds can be changed through dialogue and new information.

“Mounk may be right that we have to defend the gains of liberalism against the terror of identitarianism,” Power acknowledged. “Whether a new dawn of reasonableness will return, however, remains to be seen.”

Read the whole review.

IMAGE: Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

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