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Identity Crisis

I’m reading a book by Ezra Klein about the structural and psychological forces behind why American politics has become so polarized. He makes an interesting point that ever since we began to identify that a human’s Big 5 personality traits are key indicators of political preferences, humans in turn have begun to think of politics as part of his/her/their personal identity. He notes that this is dangerous, because political opinions — instead of being a pure thought experiment in public policy — are now becoming thought of as a part of one’s identity.

Psychological sorting, in other words, is a powerful driver of identity politics. If you care enough about politics to connect it to your core psychological outlook, then politics becomes part of your psychological self-expression.

Humans who are more open are identifying as “liberals”. Humans who are more fearful of novel change are identifying as “conservatives”. I believe that any form of identification with a dualistic structure (liberal-conservative, good-evil) is very dangerous because it is fundamentally an illusion. I think that if humans can break away from identifying with these dualistic categories in general, and instead identify with Spirit, or Self, in a wholistic and complete sense, then he/she/they will see that he/she/they possess both “liberalness” and “conservativeness”, both “goodness” and “evilness” inside of themselves.

If a human identifies with these dualistic, sub-categories that are unavoidable if one wishes to exist as a modern individual, then that human will forever be confused, because he/she/they possess a limited understanding of what it means to be human. Our language and categories and symbols are clearly useful in making sense of the territory — or reality. However, our language and categories and symbols are merely a map of the territory, not the territory itself.

Therefore if we fall into the trap of identifying ourselves with the map (“I’m a conservative,” “I’m a liberal,”) instead of with the territory (“I am Divine human with abstract thinking capabilities”) we end up with a political landscape similar to the one that is seen in the U.S.A today (early 21st century).

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