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by UnHerd Staff
Friday, 13
October 2023

Yascha Mounk: Israel to America — escaping the identity trap

The author makes the case against dogma, and for universal humanist values
by UnHerd Staff

Yascha Mounk is one of the foremost critics of the potent new ideology that has swept the globe — variously labelled the social justice movement, “woke” and identity politics. In his new book, The Identity Trap, he takes on this obsession with identity and mounts a defence of liberal individualism and Western humanism as the most effective route to equality and social harmony.

This week, he joined Freddie Sayers at the UnHerd Club to discuss the delusions of the progressive Left, the possibility of a universal politics, and the revival of nationalistic conflict across the world, most recently seen in the attacks on Israel. You can watch the full event with Yascha Mounk above.

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AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 month ago

I’m surprised this conversation hasn’t generated any other comments within a week’s time. Perhaps there isn’t enough lamentation and doom-saying for current tastes. While it’s true that Mr. Mounk doesn’t offer any detailed or concrete program for reform and renewal, in my estimation he brings a deeply-read understanding of liberalism, as well as its perils and detractors, to the table. Interesting that a bit over half the audience raised their hands to be counted as “liberal” according to a self-styled or ideal version of the word.
As a professor at a top-tier American University, he also has a close-up view of the prevailing academic winds and of common notions among elite-track “kids these days”. In this talk–and especially in reading The Identity Trap–I admire his patient, (not unduly) respectful engagement with ideas he doesn’t share, or even finds dangerous. I wouldn’t be able to match his level of calm immersion in historical and present-day struggles between liberal and illiberal strains of left-leaning (or center-right) thought, but I trust his sincerity and discernment.
I strongly recommend Mounk’s website Persuasion.com to fans of free exchange. The average tone is moderately left-leaning, but in a vibrant, non-conformist way, and not without exceptions. And it never stays “only one thing” for long. Rather like UnHerd in that way, but with fewer extreme and angry voices. I’ve missed you guys and gals.