The Politics of Identity is Undone by the Impracticality of Achieving Recognition

Steven Pittz, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs who specializes in political theory and international relations, writes at Law and Liberty that

…even if we accept the purported goal of recognition (leaving aside the question of whether recognition, as described here, is truly the goal of most identity groups) and if we are conscientious in working towards it, we will not be able to reach it. In short, the imposition of a “duty to listen”, the sheer impracticality of a genuine fusion of horizons, and the extreme vulnerability of negotiations to capture by a self-selected elite combine to render the goal of political recognition a fool’s errand. It seems only practical to reject it.

Put in the theological language of the Church, mutual recognition of individuals coming from different tradition is a moral undertaking predicated on repentance. Recognition of the other in his or her uniqueness isn’t so a matter of empathy but self-emptying (kenosis) by which we make psychic and social room for the other.

And there’s the rub.

Such self-emptying is possible only in and through the sacraments and sustained ascetical effort. Absent these? Then, as Pittz suggests, mutual recognition is a pretense of the elite to bolster their status.

Such bolstering though only comes at the expense of those who don’t have the personal and social resources to invest in understanding (however poorly) others.