In this profound discussion, Dr. Joshua Mitchell, professor of political theory at Georgetown University, explores themes from his latest book, American Awakening: Identity Politics and Other Afflictions of Our Time (2020). Referencing the wisdom of Alexis de Tocqueville, Dr. Mitchell raises concerns and offers a constructive way forward.
Dr. Mitchell points out why identity politics is so destructive: it takes the Christian categories of guilt and innocence but rejects the possibility of forgiveness through Christ. Without a saviour, guilt can only be absolved through scapegoating.
Like the French Revolution, which famously “devoured its own children,” the progression of identity politics requires the continual purging of the “irredeemably stained,” until the once-innocent victims become the new guilty oppressors. We also see a kind of societal bipolarity as people become increasingly isolated or disconnected from others.
What is the antidote to the loneliness, addictions, or sense of impotence that so many are experiencing today? Dr. Mitchell urges listeners to invest in their local communities. Rather than being dependent on the state, we need to help the least among us. We need to be careful not to let supplements like social media become substitutes for real relationships !