This is a repost of a comment from Incognito on the Building Mass Movements post, with some editing. It’s also linked to one of my points on the Fisiani Gets it Right post yesterday; how does the left with it’s vital and diverse components achieve a unity of purpose, while sustaining the integrity of it’s components? Especially for those energised by feminism and race/cultural concerns. RL.
We all seem to be guilty of linear one-dimensional and dichotomous thinking from time to time. The kind of you’re wrong-I’m right black & white thinking. In principle, there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with this.
Do you think it is possible to be Left and Right at the same, politically speaking? This seems like a stupid question, doesn’t it? Of course, you cannot; you’re either on the fence or on either side of the fence, right? However, you could also briefly pause and think about this seemingly simple and straightforward question. You may then come to realise that there may be, or better: could be, more to the question. You may, for example, realise that by simple left-right polarised thinking you limit the number of possible different viewpoints and miss relevant context. In short, it limits your thinking options and thus your decisions & choices.
Again, I think there’s nothing fundamentally ‘wrong’ with this way of ‘viewing’ things but my point is that it is not the only possible way.
Why is it so hard to take different viewpoints and possibilities into consideration? Well, it takes time to think things through, from different angles, and we don’t want spend time on something unless it is really important … But I think another major reason is that we’re not used to this kind of thinking; we haven’t been taught and we have learned it. A third and possibly the biggest reason is that we resist it. We’re attached to our views, we associate with like-minded folks and this defines who we are, our identity; the way we view ourselves and others and how we’re viewed by others. This is not a huge step away from Identity Politics, is it?
Because we tend to limit our viewpoint & thinking it is much harder for us to acknowledge that other people have different views, and respect let alone consider these. In fact, we might fear them, the other views and thus the other people. Or we may fight them because they upset our cosy little world and threaten our identity and fragile little egos that could shatter at the slightest. More often than not we simply swat them away saying that they’re wrong or that something is impossible.
Similarly, we reject ideas about ourselves outright as impossible or ridiculous without really examining them or giving them due consideration. All this can lead to a self-limiting and/or self-defeatist attitude …
A tell-tale sign of this kind of thinking is the use of those nasty ‘sticky labels’ and ‘narrow small boxes’. You know what I mean?
By choosing a single point of view we don’t give ourselves a chance to gain better understanding of or deeper insight into an issue or other person’s thoughts and feelings; there will be much less room also for empathy and compassion and there seems to be a shortage of these while ‘demand’ is rising. And no the price won’t go up because these are already priceless.
I believe this will also hamper calls such as “building a mass movement” or “unite Labour” or “unite the Left” or “a non-partisan approach”, for example, or creating a socio-economic & political system that will provide better outcomes than the current one. It is like herding wild cats. My thesis is that this is largely due to our limited & limiting ways of thinking, about issues, about others, about ourselves. …
… To affect a change we have to change ourselves, start with ourselves, and become more open-minded about other viewpoints. We would not lose our identity, nor would we become spineless or soft, weak, flip-flop or a lesser person or anything else that we might consider negative or ‘bad’. On the contrary, we would become ‘a bigger person’ with much less ‘investment’ in and attachment to personal idiosyncrasies and therefore more free to choose from a smorgasbord of options & possibilities that we would never have known about – because we were blinkered, blind & deaf – or even contemplated previously.
I’d say: try a different viewpoint, look at things from a different angle, literally and figuratively. It doesn’t mean you must or will give up your perspective or your opinions even but I reckon you just might do that occasionally – would that be such a bad thing?
What do you reckon?