Identity politics – which prioritizes group membership – no longer seeks to change the world, as was the ideal of politics until recently, but instead seeks to make society conform to its own unique image and likeness. But how to achieve a world tailored to each of these groups, which, moreover, because of their closedness, end up facing each other? These identity groups, acting practically as sects, do not understand that differences are essential to support the universal. Diversity and mix maintain the possibility of sanity in society.

Based on impressive documentation and a critical attitude, the thinker Élisabeth Roudinesco deals with these problems in her book The sovereign self: essay on identity drifts (Barcelona: Debate, 2023), concerned that the human being, for these identities, is no longer one who participates in the world , but only one whose group experiences determine his path, as if identities were a straitjacket. Functioning as chapels, the identities resulted in a hypertrophy of the self, in which everyone sees himself as a king rather than part of a broad collective.

Roudinesco questions the “excessive self-assertion”, this “insane desire not to mix with any community other than one’s own”, because at a certain moment everyone turns against everyone in communities defined by identity: homosexuals, natives, feminists, blacks, transgender, postcolonial, subaltern, transsexual, Arab, disabled, white… But each of them can be the bearer of several identities, since the human condition is to be multiple. You are an engineer, but you also have an ideology, social and economic position, family type, etc.

“Everyone is free to cultivate his identity as long as he does not intend to turn it into a principle of domination.”

If we carefully and cautiously ask ourselves the question, who am I?, we will see that it leads us to a sense of mutual connections that we have with others and with the universe itself, which show us at every moment that we are not isolated, that everything is connected to everything in our everyday life. And that life also moves our identities, which are not unique or fixed, but many and changing. For this reason, we must avoid an identity war, in which the welfare of the whole society is not interested – because ‘enemy’ individuals who do not share the same identity prejudice live there – but in achieving the demands of each group.

According to Roudinescu, the concepts that defend these identities, almost always expressed in incomprehensible jargon, become catechisms that lead to certain nonsense in the public sphere, so priority should be given to the promotion of universal civil equality, rather than belonging to a closed community, because you can be who you are without being in an identity group or even without looking at a territory. Each of us is immersed in a culture, not an exclusive tribe: “Everyone is free to cultivate his identity as long as he does not intend to turn it into a principle of domination.” (OR)