In The Name Of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong (1998) Amin Maalouf

Underconsumed Knowledge
2 min readJun 9, 2022

This book came to me highly recommended by my mother, who is also a Kahlil Gibran fan. The author is Christian/Lebanese (like Kahlil), but resides in France and writes in French as such. Lebanon is one of the only nations in the Middle East where Christians and Muslims (somewhat) coexist, thus lending the author a unique position to write about identity issues. The West has won the war of the World, and thus, Christianity. Islam is that of the poor countries. Those people who are not the future are asked to abandon their identity in assimilating to those things which the World moves towards. Author raises the idea of victim mentality, which can cause more harm than what the victim was actually hurt by; people, and nations, shut down, leading to extremism. Author points out that throughout the history of time, Islam has frequently been the religion of peace/tolerance, while Christianity was the religion of persecution. It just so happens that in modern times, Christianity is on the side of “democracy” and “freedom,” and Islam, which is on the defense, is on the side of theocracy and extremism. Author thinks it would be nice if people accepted all other cultures, particularly those which are not native to their country, but also thinks migrants should in some way attempt to assimilate to the culture of their adopted nation without forgetting where they came from. The West has nothing to prove; it has won. The Islamic states are told that everything about their culture, way of life, etc., is inferior, and what you get is Ayatollah Khomeini who wants to remove all traces of the West from the globe. They feel they have been violated at a geopolitical level, and they demand respect. The West does not respect the Islamic states, it tells them how they should govern, how they should act, etc. Author idealizes humanity moving towards a more human, global identity. The most basic forms of identity as of now are religion and language, and people in particular cling to religion. Good book at framing how to possibly think individually (“Can’t everyone be a little nicer?”) but short on solutions for what are possibly intractable global problems

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Underconsumed Knowledge

"For the time being I gave up writing -- there is already too much truth in the world -- an overproduction which apparently cannot be consumed!" Otto Rank, 1933