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So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast takes an uncensored look at the world of free expression through personal stories and candid conversations.
New episodes post every other Thursday.

Sep 27, 2023

Writer and academic Yascha Mounk argues that a new set of ideas about race, gender, and sexual orientation have overtaken society, giving rise to a rigid focus on identity in our national debate. In his new book, “The Identity Trap: A Story of Ideas and Power in Our Time,” Yascha seeks to take these ideas seriously, understand their origin, dissect their merits and failings, and offer a path forward to avoid what he calls “the identity trap.”

On today’s show, Mounk previews his book and explains how the identity trap harms freedom of speech.

Mounk is known for his work on the rise of populism and the crisis of liberal democracy. He is a professor of the practice of international affairs at Johns Hopkins University and the author of five books. He is also the founder of the digital magazine Persuasion, a contributing editor at The Atlantic, and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.



  • 0:00 - Introduction
  • 1:35 - Origins of “the identity trap”
  • 8:48 - What is “identity synthesis?”
  • 12:26 - Is “cultural Marxism” a thing? / The intellectual history of identity synthesis
  • 27:47 - Critical race theory
  • 32:30 - Free speech culture
  • 40:22 - Speech and violence
  • 47:58 - The Law of Group Polarization 
  • 52:27 - How to escape the identity trap

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