With some people, there is no room for dissent. They attack anyone they perceive as a threat to them. You are either with them or their extreme enemy.
First published in November 2020.
I am not really sure how to say this without offending people, but it is something which is festering in my head and I kind of just need to get out.
We all have blind spots to our character, we all have innate bigotries and ‘isms’ and we can all be hypocrites in how we think.
There does seem to be a certain subsect of politics though, and we see it on the right, the left and the centre, who take it beyond the pale. Groups who believe in their own righteousness so much that they become nastier than anyone else, and they just cannot see why anyone would complain.
It is a mentality which goes beyond the usual political tribalism which we have seen, and extends into quite a disturbing cultish behaviour. They refuse to see how their own actions work against the very cause which they claim to support. Anyone who disagrees with them, even on the most minor of points – let alone those who actually criticise them, are immediately and vocally targeted, harassed and vilified. There is no room for dissent with these people. You are either with them or an extreme enemy.
Everything is someone else’s fault for not believing strongly enough. They don’t see how just a little bit of self-awareness could make people more inclined to support them. Their actions cause untold harm, but the victims of that harm are portrayed as the fault of it.
Even while blaming others for “undermining” their chances, or aiding the “enemy”, they will do so themselves, with no self-reflection, at a moment’s notice if they feel slighted, yet they will not see how their own actions are the same as those they accuse others of.
I know that some may see this as a direct attack on one particularly vocal group in the UK at the moment, but that group has only made me consider how similar such mentalities, again on the right, the left and the centre, are growing across the world.
The vast majority of people don’t have any particular ‘political allegiance’, and instead will vote in a more ad hoc manner on policies which they believe are right or useful at any one time. Making out that these people are “enemies” isn’t just foolish. It is dangerous.
Purity of thought is never a good way to focus your political agenda. It has a tendency to end badly. Scapegoating others for failings, likewise. I am not saying that everyone should abandon beliefs, just recognise that others may disagree and that it doesn’t make them a bad person.
The issue becomes even worse when people then start to wrap their ideology and sense of self into a fixated belief in one person. Anything which is seen as an attack on that individual is then taken personally and leads to all manner of bad backlashes.
I think on the whole, across the political spectrum, the tone has become increasingly hostile and polarised. Having groups within groups forming such a hardcore clique of individuals who will attack anyone they perceive as a threat to them personally is only making that worse.🔷
Dan Sohege, Human rights advocate, international refugee law specialist, immigration economist, charity fundraising professional and Director of Stand For All.