"Zo ben ik dan eindelijk de baan eens op met mensen die volkomen verschillen van de volksgenoten met wie ik gedoemd ben al mijn dagen te slijten, (..) die in ieder geval van onze beroemdste medeburgers nooit hebben gehoord en voor wie onze vorsten en heiligen absoluut niet in tel zijn, dus zeer waarschijnlijk mensen naar mijn hart."
Willem Elsschot, Verzameld Werk, Het Dwaallicht, p. 695, P.N. Van Kampen en Zoon N.V., Amsterdam, 1957.

Amateuristic English translation below.

Group identity is making a come-back that would make many retired athletes very jealous indeed. Undoubtedly, getting to a personal identity (an own self & an own personality) requires some substrate of group identity. It requires at least a sufficiently sophisticated language in use by a group of people and I doubt whether a common language suffices. Hence the claim towards all of the diversity & multiculturalism as somehow foundational to human society.

But does this mean that group identity deserves our absolute respect? Does it mean that we have to endorse ethnicities or religions as essentially good, or - at least - as unavoidable evils? I think not: in fact far from it, most group identities are not just superfluous, boring, besides the point or nauseating - most are downright poisonous, specifically those related to peoples, states & Gods. The easiest & most powerful identities that can be created are such as to exclude others & glorify the likeminded. It is not however so that because the exclusionary identities are most proliferated that all group identity needs to be exclusionary.

In an attempt to argue my assertions: first of all, it is not because I need the tool to make the car that the car needs the tool to continue to function &, on the second point above, it is not required to say what something is not to be clear on what that something is. Put more pragmatically, following Habermas, human beings have a positive common trait: the ability to communicate. This identity is enough to maintain a quite universal notion of self & personality - there is no need to call into play ethnocentric or other diversities. The fact, if fact it proves to be, that the actual creation of selves comes out of an actual range of idiosyncratic cultural diversity is not more foundational than the fact that a new generation comes out of idiosyncratic gene diversity. Maybe, this cultural diversity is aesthetically pleasing to some - as biodiversity is to some others - & this seems good enough a reason not to force it out of existence (although the real reason not to do this lies in the fact that we should never force such issues either way), but it is not good enough a reason to make it an essential thing to be protected. 

The sad fact is that group identities are now only being attacked in order to promote the hegemony of another - stronger, purer, more traditional, more authentic, ... -  obnoxious group identity. Believers in diversity and believers in supremacy of a specific group identity agee essentially agree that group identity is both unavoidable & important whereas it is merely coincidental & utterly trivial. This being said, if ever there is a choice on life or death to be made between diversity thinking & supremacy thinking, there should be no soubt whatsoever that it is the former that is to win if we do not want our own selves to perish under group pressure.

The most straightforward thing is not to chase the Will-o'-the-Wisp of group identity & do as Elsschot does (more succinctly as I ever could): find what is similar between what is seemingly unbridgeably diverse. Diversity, relativism & group identity finally will evaporate for the mere reason that it is true that what counts in humanity is universal.

Over time everybody will be able to make the leap of reason.

"So I find myself finally on the road with people that are entirely different from my people with which I'm doomed to spend the rest of my days, (..) people who in any case have never heard of our celebrities and for whom our kings and saints do not count at all, most probably then people to my liking."

22:21 Gepost door Guido Nius in Liefde | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: identity, self, elsschot |  Facebook |

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