Single identity road to disaster

Interesting op ed by Amartya Sen in the FT which attacks the single identity approach to culture and politics. He argues:

A single-focus approach is a good way of misunderstanding nearly everyone in the world. In our normal lives, we see ourselves as members of a variety of groups. The same person can be a British citizen, of West Indian origin, of African ancestry, a Muslim, a vegetarian, a socialist, a woman, a jazz lover, a teacher and a mathematician. Each of these categories gives her a particular identity. It is for her to decide what relative importance to attach to these affiliations, in any particular context. Central to human life are the responsibilities of reasoned choice.

  • slug

    Thats very interesting – thanks.

  • Amartya Sen is the cleverest dude in the world right now.

  • slug

    This new book sounds very interesting. I hope he shows some way past this whole (Huntingdon) idea that post the cold war politics is all about civilizational clash – an idea that has taken root too strongly in NI too. Nice to see Sen explicitly support integrated education in NI albeit in passing and as part of a wider debate in the UK. Its the first time I’ve seen him mention NI.

  • slug

    Some points from his final para:

    “Multiculturalism with an emphasis on freedom and reasoning has to be distinguished from “plural monoculturalism” with single-focus priorities and a rigid cementing of divisions.”

    “Multicultural education is certainly important, but it should not be about bundling children into preordained faith schools.”

    “The world is not a federation of religious ethnicities. Nor, one hopes, is Britain.”