Booklist: Sharansky

Natan Sharansky with Shira Wolsky Weiss, Defending Identity, Its
Indispensible Role in Protecting Democracy
(2008).

Sharansky is famous for arguing that the desire for freedom is universal,
latent in the hearts of the populace even in the blackest despotisms. To
bring down tyrants and defeat terror, the West must act unflinchingly to
support democratic movements in the world’s “difficult places” (The Case for
Democracy, the Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror
(2004).

Now he’s exploring the idea that “identity” makes as strong a claim on the
human heart.

So what does he mean by “identity?” Is he thinking of the individual’s
attachment to family, religious denomination, and ethnic origin? Or is he
thinking of national identity?

Are he and Weiss saying that the desire for freedom and democracy comprises
the “identity” of the nations of the West?

Well, this is one to read!

On this blog I’m in a bit of trouble about “identity.” Alastair Sweeney, a
regular commentator, and the author of George-Etienne Cartier, A Biography
(M & S, 1976), is uneasy about my suggestion that the Fathers of
Confederation broach the idea of identity. I say that they expected the
new nation to have the identity associated with the universal desire for
freedom and democracy, as those desires find expression in parliamentary
government and British common law. I haven’t proved my case, says Alastair.

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