Sen argues in his new book that conflict and violence are sustained today, no less than the past, by the illusion of a unique identity. Indeed, the world is. Profound and humane, Amartya Sen’s Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny examines some of the most explosive problems of our time. Identity and violence: the illusion of destiny, by Amartya Sen. In , when he was a boy of 11, Amartya Sen witnessed first-hand some of the.
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Book review: “Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny” by Amartya Sen
I can jointly affirm our many common identities, even as the warring singularists howl at the gate. The Illusion of Destiny. Impassioned, eloquent and often moving, Identity and Violence is a sustained attack on the “solitarist” theory which says that human identities are formed by membership of a single social group.
The communal slaughter that accompanied Indian independence is in no way exceptional.
Thinking out of the box
This became obvious in several countries around the world when Nelson Mandela died in Through his seminal studies of famine and his theory of freedom as a positive condition involving the full exercise of human capabilities, he has done more to criticise standard models of economic development than any other living thinker. This book is interested in the question of human identity, its inherent multiplicity, and the choices that we make in regard to aligning ourselves with certain dsstiny over others.
The solitarist view of human identity is plainly false, and it can also be dangerous. Identity and Violence is his attempt to overcome that bewilderment.
Indeed, the world is increasingly taken to be divided between religions or ‘cultures’ or ‘civilizations’ignoring the relevance of other ways in which people see Those who foment global confrontations or local sectarian violence impose such a prechosen and divisive identity on people who are to be recruited as “foot soldiers” of political brutality, slaves of an illusory force. Unfortunately, Sen does not pursue his idea very far so the book is pretty uninteresting.
The rise of the Global South? Indeed, the world is increasingly taken to be divided between religions or ‘cultures’ or ‘civilizations’ignoring the relevance of other ways in which people see themselves through class, gender, profession, language, literature, science, music, morals or politics, and denying the real possibilities of reasoned choices.
In Sen’s view the idea that we can be divided up in this way leads to a “miniaturisation” of humanity, with everyone locked up in tight little boxes from which they emerge only to attack one another. Book reviews, English, Global governance. Their causes are many and tangled, including conflicts of interest, rival power structures and competition for resources. It is not particularly easy for a still bewildered elderly adult.
As Richard Betts writes”even practical policymakers who shun ivory-tower theories” are influenced by Huntington’s ideas. He used to say that the episode gave him a life-long horror of violence, and it undoubtedly bred in him a suspicion of theories that suggested a radiant future could be realised by the use of force. Trapped by the brutal logic of anarchy, they are locked in a battle for survival that could go on for generations.
What does Russia want? Even in its liberal, “civic” varieties, nationalism has spawned violence on a vast scale. The people who knifed the day-labourer in Bengal and who dragged off the man to his death in Petrograd made no error. Here we touch the heart of Sen’s continuing bewilderment. Shia, Sunni and Kurdish communities are not at one another’s throats because they have a mistaken view of human identity.
He tells us “there is a big question about why the cultivation of singularity is so successful, given the extraordinary naivete of the thesis in a world of obviously plural affiliations”. The Illusion of Destiny Issues of our time. While, among others, both Presidents Barack Obama and Dilma Rousseff invited their respective predecessors to join them on the presidential airplane to fly to the memorial service, many citizens in the United States and Brazil found such symbolic outreach “embracing the enemy” reprehensible, as it undermined their ideological convictions.
If he cannot accept this fact it is because it suggests that ridding the world of identity-driven violence is going to be infinitely more difficult than he would like to believe.
Sen refers repeatedly to manipulation by malevolent propagandists. In his new book he writes more as a liberal philosopher than as an economist. In comparison, multiculturalism – the ieentity target of Sen’s critique – is a sideshow. He is the author of IBSA: Sen’s book is both a rejection of Huntington’s civilizational argument and a celebration of the complexity of human identity: What it did was implant in him a deep sense of the fragility of freedom.
Sen’s analysis is a wonderful treatise on the use and abuse of human identity and an admirable call to stop asking people to confine their thoughts to only one identity, may it be “Western” or vioolence, “Muslim”, “Hindu” or “Christian”.
The Illusion of Destiny.
Writing of sectarian conflict in post-Saddam Iraq, Sen observes: Sen argues in his new book that conflict and violence are sustained today, no less than the past, by the illusion of a unique identity. There is a deeper unrealism in Sen’s analysis, which emerges in his inability to account for the powerful appeal of the solitarist view. Still, as sectarian violence and the expectation of clashing civilizations become popular particularly when thinking of the rise of ChinaIdentity and Violence is more important than ever.
You might also like Book review: Penguin Books India- Political Science – pages. Wilsonianism in the 21st Century Book review: Names Index I In Identity and Violence: My library Help Advanced Book Search. In effect, Sen’s alternative to multiculturalism is a species of liberal nationalism. The world, Sen shows, can be made to move towards peace as firmly as it has recently spiralled towards war. Iventity a good point, but rather obvious in identigy world of large scale immigration.
But human divisions are not the result of any simple fallacy. Reason can help us understand this process, but it cannot be reasoned away. As the New York Times wondered last week about India’s energetic Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Is he a Twitter-savvy technocrat obsessed with boosting development for all India by slashing red tape, wooing foreign investors and building a modern digital economy?