Identity is of importance to most people. It’s how we describe and define our experiences and relationships with the wider environment. Some may argue that it is how we relate ourselves to the world, I would argue that it is the visible surface of deep metaphysical structures within our conscious being.
The rise of social justice and civil rights movements has created a great many identities. You can be Gay, Straight, Bi, Pan, Ace. Black, white, indigenous. Autistic, neurotypical, neurodivergent. This is far from an exhaustive list of some of the identities that we commonly find in our wonderfully intersectional communities.
The problem is that identity has become a tool to politicise existential matters. In order to establish your identity, one must first distinguish between those like you and those different to you. To give you an example, neurodivergent people know they are neurodivergent by relating themselves to others who share that identity and seeing difference with those who identify as neurotypical.
So now we have not just the Self, but the Other.
Having outsiders as a prerequisite for identity is problematic. When one identifies someone as different, there is a risk of dehumanising that person who is the Other. Perhaps it may not go that far, but there is usually an element of moral judgement. Humans seem to be intrinsically drawn to the belief that they hold a moral high ground.
Fundamentally, we are all linked. At a primal level, we are one in the same. Not just as humans but as facets of the same universe. We are all made of the same matter, the same basic building blocks. Yet, we are drawn to differentiation.
This has given rise to significant power imbalances in our world. The belief that one group or another is somehow in possession of higher morality means that the outsiders of the dominant identity are experiencing oppression. The fact that some have access to epistemological control of the population means that most people are expected to conform to a reality that is subjectively painful.
This control of knowledge production and dissemination results in a great deal of epistemic injustice.
In moving towards a post-normal society, we must start to consider ways of describing our relationship to the world that does not empower the idea of gatekeeping and structural oppression. It is vital that we expand our identities in a way that does not uphold the robust power imbalances that already exist within our world.