Tokyo Damage Report

‘unity’ is gaslighting

THE PROBLEM WITH UNITY

·       “I don’t wanna!”

·       “But unity is good”

·       “But your side is wrong though”

·       “Why do you hate unity?”

·       “Well why don’t YOU unite with US then?”

·       “Because you’re being divisive, and we’re pro-unity.”

·       “Wait, what?”

·       etc.

 

Unity debates (i.e. the kind currently raging within the democratic party) never go anywhere; inevitably devolving into a question of,  Unity under whom? Whose unity?

These debates never go anywhere, because the whole concept of ‘unity’ is actually a cynical blend of 2 totally unrelated and even contradictory things:

1) the kind of amoral strength which a movement gains once one faction has been CRUSHED.  So now everyone works together, single-mindedly pursuing the victorious faction’s goals. Call this aspect the ‘Pax Romana’ aspect of unity.

2) cooperation, compromise, tolerance, seeing both sides, etc – call THIS aspect ‘the Warm Fuzzies’.

 

When you hear the word UNITY out of context, just by itself, you probably associate it with the warm fuzzies.

But when you look at specific historical instances where unity was established (running from family disputes over who controls the remote, all the way up to WWII) , what do you find? You KNOW what you’ll find: one side defeated the other, either with votes or force. How many times was unity accomplished by one side saying, “Whoa, you know what? I was wrong, sorry. I happily withdraw my bullshit point.”

 

So why, despite all historical evidence do we still associate ‘unity’ with the warm fuzzies?

 

Because the ‘warm fuzzy unity’ is such a useful concept for cynical leaders, and it only works for THEM when the two concepts are mixed together.

 

Picture that you’re the leader of one faction (this could be anything from family drama, workplace drama, politics, etc).

By talking in terms of ‘unity!’, you can lure the undecided people in the middle to your side, by painting the OTHER side as the divisive, close-minded ones. Which is handy because if you had to argue based on the merits of your position, the people in the middle would very reasonably ask you for some concessions in return for their support.

 

Plus ‘unity’ makes it sound like the verdict has already been decided (by who?) and rather than yelling DO IT OUR WAY OR ELSE, you’re simply trying to implement the verdict for the good of everyone (if the divisive people would just stop wrecking everything!)

 

So, pretty much anytime in your life you’ve heard ‘unity’ coming out the mouth of a leader, it’s been cynical.

 

But if it’s useful to the leaders (on the winning side) to confuse the two concepts, it’s UN-useful to everyone else: because it leads to these go-nowhere circular arguments!

·       “I don’t wanna!”

·       “But unity is good”

·       “But your side is wrong though”

·       “Why do you hate unity?”

·       “Well why don’t YOU unite with US then?”

·       “Because you’re being divisive, and we’re pro-unity.”

·       “Wait, what?”

·       etc.

It’s a derail: merely by framing an issue in terms of ‘unity,’ it shifts the discussion from the actual issues on to a discussion of WHO is being ‘divisive’ and who is being ‘unifying’. So right away you’re not talking about the issue anymore.

Another reason that these arguments never go anywhere: it’s like trying to do a math problem when you’re missing one variable and don’t even know you’re missing it.  The missing variable is POWER. When someone wins, someone else loses. ‘Unity’ is the booby prize that the people in the middle get, instead of concessions, for siding with the leaders of a faction.

 

Of course, a TRULY good leader would work towards a compromise, where both factions give a little.  But through the magic of ‘unity’, simply ending the partisan bickering is now perceived as a concession in itself.  It’s a way to make a ‘zero-sum game’ FEEL warm and fuzzy.

 

Instead of wasting time with circular debates, it makes more sense to devote our energy to finding a better framework to discuss power and compromise. The ‘unity’ framework is not only cynical but it’s not even practical, since it leads to circular debates which never go anywhere.

 

We need  ANOTHER framework for dealing with factional disputes; one which has at least 3 distinct, clear, and independent sliders: power-struggles, warm fuzzies, and whatever the fuck we’re calling the Pax Romana aspect.

What would this framework look like in practice? What kind of great things could be accomplished as a result?

I have no idea, I’m not your Father!

Go fuck yourself, and thanks for reading.

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