The gift Of The Divisionists
Following last night’s Channel 4 showing of UKIP 100 Days, I thought it worth reposting a slightly tweaked version of this blog. first posted on Sunday 15 February.
Right now it seems that the news was never more laden with reportage of social division. With outright violent conflict at one end of the spectrum and identity politics, at the other. But whether it is religious fundamentalism, territorial expansion, or the almost daily rhetoric of identity politics. It seems to me, that the route cause is the same. Fear. Fear of losing power. Perceived threat to culture or lifestyle. Fear about loss of face or status. Fear of missing out or not getting our fare share. Fear of change. Irrespective of the particular issue, our instinctive reaction is the same. To seek to protect ourselves and our interests. One way of doing this is by making someone else the target. Someone with whom we share the least in common and can identify as deficient or abnormal in some way. An ‘other’.
It is the easiest thing in the world to yield to fear and be carried along with the clammer against the ‘others’ in society. Be they ‘Islamists’, ‘welfare scroungers’, ‘migrant ‘workers’, ‘the obese, ‘addict’s and alcoholics. ‘. Wanting them to be more like us and conform to the notional ‘mainstream. But speaking as an ‘other’; A blind man, who 75 years ago would have been dealt with in no uncertain terms under the NAZI Eugenic programme, I am very mindful of where divisionist politics can ultimately lead. All it takes is a compelling case from our ‘leaders’, for ordinary people to allow the persecution to unfold. A point proven by Stanley Milgram in his famous experiments of the early 1960s. In which he revealed that ordinary people are likely to follow orders from an authority figure. Even to the extent of killing an innocent human being.
But I’m cheering the divisionists for the gift they are offering. For I believe that by presenting us with their version of politics they gift us a golden opportunity. The opportunity to heed the incontrovertible, undeniable lessons from the past. And as ordinary people, overcome our fears and choose to transcend the politics of division. History has shown that divided we fall, united we stand. Resolving the unprecedented challenges now confronting the world will require us to draw upon the full diversity of perspectives, experience, skills and talents we possess as societies. Accepting each other for who we are, because of our particular beliefs, backgrounds and circumstances. Valuing everyone for our uniqueness, it seems to me, is the only way to release our highest contribution. We must never forget. As ordinary people we outnumber vastly the politicians who would seek to obtain and retain power by dividing us and setting us against each other. Our future lies in our diversity. Not our differences.