Limits of liberal plurality: from political identity to strong recognition
Alvarado Guerra, Mario Alberto
Through the analysis of liberal theories of plurality and diversity –multiculturalism, interculturalism, nationalisms, cosmopolitanism, communitarianism-, I make a series of arguments regarding the positive recognition of difference. I acknowledge the merits and benefits of these theories in providing political recognition to minority groups. However, I introduce the notions of strong identity and recognition that could open the door for solutions to some puzzles left unsolved by the theories that promote political recognition, including claims of essentialism, issues on the categorisation of minorities and majorities, problems related to social cohesion, integration and liberalisation of minorities, and of course issues on recognition of cultural value and identity. Constant with the analysis. I portray the concept of identity from an ontological perspective. I argue that identity mainly refers to what we are. In the strict sense, it is not a property or something we can instrumentally use to deal with the issues of everyday life. Identity also can be understood as membership, belonging, something socially constructed, and the social glue in modern societies while nevertheless being more than that. We do not have multiple identities, but a complex unified identity that includes everything that we are. To develop this part of the argument, I draw on Charles Taylor’s theory of the modern self. Finally, I suggest that strong recognition is pre-dialogical, and does not lead to the direct integration of minorities into the main culture. Further, it fosters internal social change, supports a stronger idea of collective autonomy, and is not mediated by institutions. These notions of strong identity and recognition allow us to move beyond some limitations of the liberal theories, while at the same time valuing the benefits of political recognition. I argue that strong recognition does not contravene political recognition but, in fact, enables it.