On Political Oppression

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I learned about political oppression in my classes in political science. That is the way democracy is suffocated: No freedom of speech and whoever speaks against the approved line of thought, dictated by the oppressing government, might end up in jail;  You have to follow the official narrative.

Democracy is supposed to be different. Freedom of speech. Freedom of expression.  Freedom to dissent.  But it appears to me this freedom is getting increasingly under attack. Not formally. No laws. No education on what is right and what is wrong. No official censors. 

It is a new type of oppression. I think it is called crowd oppression or political correctness oppression.  Heavy social pressure. Interrupting you when you speak, not letting you finish your argument. Being ostracized. Threatened to lose your source of economic well-being if you dare to speak up your mind and differ from the mainstream.

In this kind of oppression, there is no manual on what is right or wrong to say. There is no announcement from the government as to what is permitted or not permitted to express. You identify it by how you get rejected, by people you love or relate to. 

For me, it started with the heated debates between the pro and con Trump people. Then the confrontative debates on women’s rights and on racial injustice. Then came the heated debate to take or not to take the Covid vaccine. Now it is the war in Ukraine.

It is normal and to be expected and even desired to have differences of opinion. That is how we learn, confronted by someone who disagrees with us. They have a different point of view and thus, there is an opportunity to learn something new we did not think or know about before. 

The problem is not the differences of opinion. It is in how they are expressed. 

When we have no tolerance to listen to what the other party who disagrees with us says, when we have no patience to hear to the end their argument, when we are not willing to understand the basic assumptions the other party has, the exchange of opinions becomes a heated shouting match. All speak at the same time, and no one listens. We learn nothing and only develop a strong antipathy for each other.

When there is no mutual respect, when we do not honor and accept the right of the other party to have a different opinion, the pressure to go with the general line of thinking is almost as oppressive as dictatorial oppression. There the villain is the oppressive government.  In political correctness, it is your neighbor, your own brother, or your friend. To me,  it is emotionally more painful than dictatorial oppression.

Lack of mutual respect is one of the major threats to democracy as we know it.

Written by
Dr. Ichak Adizes
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