Defending Identity

Defending Identity

by Natan Sharansky

Those with strong national, religious, ethnic, or tribal identities who accept democracy, or democrats who renounce identity as a kind of divisive prejudice?

Natan Sharansky, building on his personal experience as a dissident, argues that value cosmopolitanism, even in democracies, is dangerous.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Politics
  • Rating: 3.82
  • Pages: 304
  • Publish Date: June 3rd 2008 by PublicAffairs
  • Isbn10: 158648513X
  • Isbn13: 9781586485139

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Defending Identity by Natan Sharansky John Lennon, a fool believed by far too many, one wrote the words: Imagine there's no countries It isn't hard to do Nothing to kill or die for And no religion too Imagine all the people Living life in peace You may say that I'm a dreamer But I'm not the only one I hope someday you'll join us And the world will be as one In his plea for one world dominated by a socialist monster similar to that which dwelt in the Soviet Union, Lennon's fantasy utopia was a living hell for millions of people. The same is of course true throughout the world, whether it is the people in South Korea that want to unite under their Northern Brothers who live in a Concentration camp, those in the Republic of China that want to join Red-China under marshal law, those in Israel that want peace at the ultimate cost, all of these people are losing their identities. Sharansky is a master at the craft of political writing and the warmth and humor found in his books help to dull the pain that he uncovers.This is a book that all should read, as was his books The Case for Democracy and Fear No Evil. Sharansky is a master at the craft of political writing and the warmth and humor found in his books help to dull the pain that he uncovers.

Natan Sharansky alerts us to the urgency of a strong national identity for survival. For example, the eruption of political Islam around the world succeeds to the extent that it is advancing a strong sense of identity. A fact I learned recently that reinforces Sharansky on the point of successive resistance to political Islam is the story put forth in PEPIN'S BASTARD: THE STORY OF CHARLES MARTEL.

All this in a misguided attempt to obliterate differences, ostensibly to achieve "peace." Unfortunately, it is our differences, our histories, our strong identities - things worth fighting for that make us stronger, that keeps extremists at bay. It denies them the things that give life its most profound meaning. By reconciling these two powerful forces and strengthening this indispensable alliance, we can fill our lives with purpose and advance the cause of peace (but without identity, freedom give...s way to totalitarianism and violence)." "Democracies that are ready to compromise identity (transnationalism) for the sake of peace not only weaken their inner strength but encourage in totalitarian forces around them the belief that they can overcome societies that have cut off their roots have disconnected themselves from their histories, and are prepared to watch their values and the qualities that give their lives meaning wither and die." "From Geothe in Faust: Only those who every day fight for life and freedom deserve it. Every person, group, community, and nation can formulate for themselves the values that give life meaning, the values for which they are ready to fight and if necessary die, the things for which they are even willing to sacrifice peace."

Sharanskys thesis is that: the best defense of the free world will come from those who cherish a unique way of life, for they will always have a life truly worth defending. For example, he comes out unequivocally against laws against showing identity in public, such banning headscarves in France to suppress Muslim oppression of women.

Frankly, I think his view of the world being so anti-identity isn't accurate. I don't know the world, obviously, but I found his definition of identity to be problematic.

That is not to say that Sharansky is simply to the right of me, but that he has views that seem to have come from a mind who has broken down and questioned every belief he holds.

What is the relationship between democracy and a strong national identity?

Firstly, the author seems to neglect the economic aspect of life. Even strikes in Poland in 70, 80's against communistic regime that deprived people of freedom were triggered by e.g. meat price increases.

Sharansky shows the importance of a strong identity combined with democratic traditons.

Sharansky beat the world chess champion Garry Kasparov in a simultaneous exhibition in Israel in 1996. In the Soviet Union, his marriage application to Avital was denied by the authorities.citation needed They were married in a Moscow synagogue in a ceremony not recognized by the government.