Identity Politics and It’s Other

Can Plato tell us something about us Indians today? Have we become more Platonic today? Maybe it is important to raise this question? Our forgetting of plurality and almost getting lost in the binary does seem to indicate that Plato has come to control us more than ever before. We did have dualist models of thought. We can find it in the great work of Mhadava. The dual logic was open to other forms before. Today dualist thinking has become monolithic. It has truly taken center stage to point of pushing our pristine advaita or even the middle path of Buddhists on the margins . This is why we may say that Plato’s dualist thinking that privileges one pole of the thought seems to have come to have an enslaving hold over us.

Plato’s casting aside of art as world of the copy of the copies may indicate how we suddenly have become obsessed with the origina and the copy. The majority community has the claim of being the original while minorities are deemed as impure copies. The original overlaps with the pure. The copy of a copy becomes stained with impurity. Hence, the privilege of the majority community. Unfortunately, the original in our country is defined against the copy. This is required by identity politics. The original is not a copy. It can never be. This is the logic that keeps the pot of identity politics boiling. The other that identity ortherizes and even demonizes becomes the condition of its very possibility. The other that is otherized has to be present as silenced and humiliated. The other cannot be totally exterminated. It is by silencing, marginalising, humiliating that a polarized identity politics thrives. This means the other of identity politics is copy of a copy of the original or the real of identity.

The other of identity politics is a fiction required to give legitimacy to the purity claims of the original. The otherized other becomes the guarantee of the purity of the one that is positioned as the original. The other that is otherized becomes the limit of the experience of being original and pure. It is by not being the other that one becomes the original. This is why identity politics always exists on the edge. It is a boundary politics and always marks its boundary from that which is deemed as the turf of the other. The other is the split-off- part of the original. But it is always disavowed and never acknowledged. This means identity has its life and being in the field of the otherized other.

The other that becomes the limit of indentity or sameness is not outside the play field of identity politics. The other of identity politics remains in dialectical relationship with identity or sameness. It is by opposing or objecting the other that all identity politics flowers and grows. Today our country is standing in the middle of a vicious identity politics. Recognition of this condition is the first step to seek an emancipative response to our precarious condition. But this emancipative respose can only be sought through dialogue and not through the rigor of dailectical logic.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao