the politics of division – or how to have a diverse yet cohesive society
“If a six turned out to be a nine, I don’t mind, I don’t mind.” – Jimi Hendrix (American, 1942-1970)
“Long live Big Brother.” – George Orwell (English, 1903-1950) in (his book) 1984.
Before we begin tonight’s essay, let me just throw out this anecdote. Many years ago, I visited my sister in her apartment. Her then 3 1/2 year old daughter had pulled out the cushions from the living room sofa and was using them as a trampoline. She knocked over a plastic cup full of creme soda from the coffee table, and it spilled its contents on to one of the cushions and on to the carpet. Upon seeing the mortified expression on my face, she said “Don’t worry. Mommy will clean it up.” (What an attitude in one so young.)
Rich versus poor. Black versus white. Men versus women (or, alternatively, women versus men). The young versus the old. Etc. Etc. Differences, conflicts, wrongs committed (real and imagined), and antagonisms are constantly thrown up at us in the public discourse. Such differences and antagonisms shape and define the public debate, to a large degree, on so many current issues in the USA.
Why is this so?
This phenomenon is not an accident, nor a mere coincidence. By exploiting differences and constantly playing upon them, certain political elements (opportunists to be sure) and their operatives are able to divert our attention from their very authoritarian agenda. This is a “divide and conquer” strategy.
This is actually a classic tactic of the Left. If you study the history of the various communist revolutions around the globe, you see that this tactic has been used again and again by the Left in its quest for power. Get people fighting amongst themselves, stoke existing animosities, manufacture incendiary incidents, and play off one group against another (often shifting support from one group to another), while the Left steadily (incrementally at times, rapidly at others) marches on inexorably to power over a weary, distracted, confused, and eventually demoralized populace – that is the Left in action. (Visit the local library. The history corroborates this.) (Tammy Bruce is a local talk show host in Los Angeles. She used to be on the Left and she often speaks about how the Left co-opts the blacks, women, and gays, and uses them and never does anything really substantive for them.)
In the US, the authoritarian leftists are already entrenched in government and they are incessantly working to increase their power at the expense of our freedoms (read “rights”). Ever notice how additional government regulations or new laws are always thrust forth as the (only) solution to all of the challenges and problems we face?! We, the people, are not capable of solving any problems by ourselves. The reality is the more the government puts out laws and bureaucrats issue regulations, the less free we are and the targeted problems usually do not go away and often get even worse.
I dare say that we have more in common as human beings than we have differences. There is more that unites us than divides us (as human beings). We need to stress commonalities, not differences, in order to have social cohesion in a diverse and pluralistic society. If we will choose to continue this childish game of harping on differences and stoking animosity between groups and among individuals (which really ought to have been left behind in the elementary school yard), we will cause even greater social fragmentation in our society and allow the Left to achieve even more of its authoritarian agenda. This “us vs them” nonsense benefits the Left and the more the Left achieves its ends, the more we all lose. As a freedom loving person, who does not want the government (and its bureaucrats) micro-managing our lives, that is repugnant to me.
Senator John Kerry, after failing to unseat incumbent president, George W. Bush, in the election of 2004, lamented that, in the two years he had campaigned and travelled throughout these United States, he had seen so much division among Americans, that there was so much divisiveness in the country. This was a half truth. Yes, there is much division within the country, but much (really most) of this divisiveness is caused by the Left.
Attempting to wear 2 hats tonight – that of social critic and that of idealist philosopher.
Below, is an amusing image.