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What healthy opposition is

Nov 14,2021 - Last updated at Nov 14,2021

No one can deny the importance of opinion and counteropinion; counteropinions, I would say, as diversity and not binarity is the formula that best fits societies in the postmodern world.

Based on this, all opinions and positions are subject to criticism, objection and rejection. No individual, be it at the personal level or the level of engagement in public affairs, is always 100 per cent correct.

In addition, opinions and positions are also always subject to discussion and to give and take, for rarely any ever reaches the status of the unquestionable truth. In fact, so many scientific truths have been reviewed, amended and even proven incorrect.

As a result of this, we say that the role of opposition in society, be it political, economic, social, educational, or in any other sector, is both essential and complementary, as the more angles from which we look at matters the closer we are to what we consider to be truth.

By contrast, dominance of mono thinking and privileging of one individual’s opinion or that of an individual group over others constitute an unhealthy situation whose harm is greater than any benefits that some may feel emerge.

Ultimately, agreement based on the reconciliation of all diverse opinions is what is in the best interest of any society, as opposed to the imposition of the majority opinion or that of a strong, often dictatorial, minority.

The role of the opposition in any society, then, is essential in principle and should never be negated or marginalised.

But what type of role, and how?

For the opposition to play a constructive and effective role, its style or approach has to have a number of elements, foremost among which are:

One, a precise and deep understanding of the opinions and positions of others, in addition to genuine respect and true appreciation, as well as adequate recognition of their validity and strength; and without any belittling or opposing for the sake of opposition.

Two, a detailed study and thorough analysis of the opinions and positions of others, as well as an expert critique which identifies all weaknesses and gaps for the purpose of crystalising an alternative position that has less weaknesses and gaps.

Three, offering an opinion or position that differs clearly from those of others and providing viable alternatives, based on well-articulated action plans, to opposed prevalent opinions, ideas, or projects.

Does this happen in our society?

Unfortunately, it does not.

What often happens is the rejection of the opinions, positions, or projects of others without ample understanding and analysis of them, and without offering viable alternatives or solution.

Most of the time, it is opposition for opposition’s sake; and much of it is pure derisive or subversive rhetoric.

And this, of course, is easy, for it is generally easier to say than to either think or do; and it is distortive and disorienting to society; in addition to being unconstructive and damaging.

In order for us to move forward, with respect to this very issue, we need to have a mature opposition whose approach is based on the three basic principles above: Deep understanding of the opinions or positions of others, a reliable critique of them and well-thought out alternatives to what is being opposed or rejected.

In the absence of an opposition with such depth and substance, we will continue to be in a vicious circle that is immensely harmful.

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