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  • The Identity Trap

  • A Story of Ideas and Power in Our Time
  • By: Yascha Mounk
  • Narrated by: JD Jackson
  • Length: 11 hrs and 1 min
  • 5.0 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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The Identity Trap

By: Yascha Mounk
Narrated by: JD Jackson
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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

The origins, consequences and limitations of an ideology that has quickly become highly influential around the world.

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 believe 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. 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 origin of these ideas. He tells the story of how they were able to win tremendous power over the past decade. And he makes a nuanced case 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.

©2023 Yascha Mounk (P)2023 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

A powerful, timely book, seeking to understand the origins and impact of the ideas that rightly or wrongly constitute "identity politics" - where they come from, what effect they have, where they could lead. His book is both an excellent analysis and an eloquent plea for the recovery of shared values, the ideas that link us instead of dividing us (Anne Applebaum)
In The Identity Trap, Yascha Mounk explains how a few powerfully bad ideas, propelled through institutions by people with good intentions, are causing systemic dysfunction and dangerous polarization. This is among the most insightful and important books written in the last decade on American democracy and its current torments, because it also shows us a way out of the trap (Jonathan Haidt)
In his indispensable book, Yascha Mounk proposes an alternative to the ceaseless combat between "woke" and "anti-woke" extremes -- one that takes seriously the enduring malignant legacy of systemic discrimination, yet correctly identifies that universal values, not group solidarity, offer the surest path to justice, fairness, and enduring social peace. The Identity Trap is necessary reading (David French)

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An eloquent and deeply considered critique of a disturbing contemporary trend

I was introduced to this text by a Sam Harris podcast where Yascha Mounck was the guest. Both Sam and Yascha self describe as liberals, whose politics lie to the left of centre. Like them, I am distressed by the ideological excesses of identity politics. The categorisation of individuals by external labels united only by their historical oppression by a bland oversimplified class of individuals (white, European, male) without regard to the historical contexts in which oppression occurred (and continues to occur) is a denial of the reality of progress. In an era when barriers to self actualisation and true individualism are progressively attenuating, and the promise of people being truly able to be themselves actually seems possible, an academic class born of this liberal tradition seem intent on trapping people into arbitrary categories with predetermined scripts and beliefs. That the majority of adherents to what Mounck describes as the identity synthesis are indeed white and European smacks of self-loathing. The best excuse for their denial of self legitimacy is guilt for their cultural history. Surely the path to freedom of identity and personal fulfilment is to continue on the magnificent path to political and moral equality which we have been striding since the enlightenment. Yes, our distant history is loathsome, but our modern history is admirable and our future promises to be wonderful. The identity synthesis is indeed a trap, easily ensnaring those without a sense of historical progress, those who woke up finding they were not in utopia and whose only response is to dismantle the whole culture.

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