The Consequences of Like-Minded Societies

We are now reading about the problems that arise in a society with different groups and ideas, a practical concern different from Rousseau’s idea of a people that pretty much agree with each other on most things.

I have found that the “group think” of like-minded societies is actually quite dangerous and limiting.  Every society has some diversity of thought, leaving a majority opinion.  It is only when this group considers their proposed opinion the only opinion, do they cripple the people’s ability to decide what is best for them.  How can a group discuss to come to a consensus if they, from the start, consider the other to be misled or ignorant.

Rousseau cites the most blatant example of this dogmatic mindset, the religious perspective:

“Those who distinguish civil from theological intolerance are, to my mind, mistaken. The two forms are inseparable. It is impossible to live at peace with those we regard as damned; to love them would be to hate God who punishes them: we positively must either reclaim or torment them. Wherever theological intolerance is admitted, it must inevitably have some civil effect;48 and as soon as it has such an effect, the Sovereign is no longer Sovereign even in the temporal sphere: thenceforce priests are the real masters, and kings only their ministers.”

There will always be majority opinion, it is the invented equivalence of majority with rightness that is dangerous.  Can a people overcome this tendency?  Can you be strong enough to hold an opinion on an issue that everyone around you agrees with and still recognize that those who disagree with you are not stupid or deceived?

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1 Response to The Consequences of Like-Minded Societies

  1. peterferry says:

    And even to prefer a diversity of opinion over the universal acceptance of your own?

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