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Extremist political figures might say...

You're either With us or Against us

As with Zero Tolerance the bold macho political statement of "You're either WITH us or AGAINST us" is another of these stances which at first sight appear strong or resolute but on closer inspection are quite poor. Despite this, it was surprisingly common to hear politicians in the zero-zeros decade make such extremist fundamentalist statements.

Let's examine the idea a bit more closely and see what is going on. At first glance it seems to be a strong leadership concept which unifies opinion, so that everyone agrees with the person making the speech. It eliminates the mid ground where sensible discussion and reasoning would be allowed, and instead calls for absolute positions. That's a deliberate attempt to polarise opinion. This is in itself an example of unreasonableness, and so in response the instant reaction to hearing anyone pontificating "You're either with us or against us" should instinctively be "Then we are AGAINST you!".

We don't like extremism and absolutism, and it took a lot of doing to defeat it last time there was a problem with it, in the Second World War.

One of the implied notions of "You're either with us or against us" is that even if you agree with most of the stuff being expressed, if you disagree on anything then you're somehow disloyal, a traitor, part of the enemy, etc. This is fundamentalism. If you see it, beware of it and don't get sucked into it. Politicians of any flag preaching that "all or nothing" message, are to be distrusted.

The statement demands that everyone agree absolutely on all points of the dogma, or else they are classed as "against" the doctrine and therefore to be lumped-in with the enemy. The next part of such a speech usually goes on to demand that those who are "with" the speaker should wage some kind of war on all those who dissent. This is sometimes termed "holy war" or "justified war" or "war on [some concept or other]".

Another of the assumptions of the "You're either with us or against us" notion, is that it's likely there is a majority of conformists who will swear absolute obedience. Fortunately for the rest of us, this assumption is likely to be false. Even the people who clap at the end of the speech will contain a substantial element of those who are pretending to agree, and they are only agreeing in part because of peer pressure.

It's important to realise that where you see extremism and fundamentalism being made to appear big, there is a much bigger background in which everyone else doesn't agree. Most of us have the good sense to be able to spot this type of thing and hear the alarm bells ringing. As there are vastly more of us in the classification of "against" than "with", all it would take is for us to unite against the extremist minority and we could overthrow it. We the people who are against the extremist view don't have to all absolutely agree with each other to have an approximate consensus.

Freedom on the Internet results in a wide range of different views to be expressed. You might agree with some of them to some extent, or not, and generally it's best to have your own views which you have devised, and to have a reasonable mix of agreement and disagreement with other people's views where there is some consensus, and a reasonable toleration of other people's views where they are different to your own.

Most people are happy with some mid-range level of agreement and won't insist on polarisation into an all-or-nothing way of thinking.

Other things like this: people don't vote for politicians , zero tolerance , avoiding political problems spoiling your flight , other misconceptions , and the relatively harmless though still unfair Available From All Good Bookshops

Absolutism is seen in some speeches by earthly politicians, especially when addressing an under-educated audience. However, there are also some notable examples in fiction, for example a variant of "You're either with us or against us" is something said by Darth Vader in Star Wars.

(Darth Vader also demonstrates another philosophical principle, which is that people who hold you to ransom by making some monstrous threat will often carry out their threat anyway regardless of whether you comply with their demands).