There’s a Better Alternative to Attacking People

Have you noticed how Facebook postings about Donald Trump from both pro- and anti-Trump positions seem to be mirror-images of each other? For example, many of them, on both sides, adopt a tone of triumphalism or superiority.  Or they cite instances where an interviewer on television “demolishes” or “obliterates”  or “devastates” the statements of an interviewee from the opposing camp. This has been called the doppleganger effect. The opposing sides just mirror each other.

After a while, you have to ask what, strategically, is the point of these Facebook postings. No one from the other side is going to be persuaded by them so why bother posting them? One possible answer is that we simply can’t think of anything more constructive to do. They are a way of reassuring ourselves that we are right. They are also, in some ways, a dramatising of our own sense of powerlessness.

There are many people who feel ignored or oppressed who have been persuaded to support divisive, destructive and oppressive policies. Forget about attacking Trump, these are the people we have to think about and try to reach. They will not be reached with negative postings.

Organising against racism, sexism or Islamophobia is very important but it is not enough. We have to offer people an alternative and this is where we often fall short. Instead of wasting time arguing or attacking, let’s focus on holding out an alternative vision that is hopeful, constructive and addresses the struggles they experience in their lives. We could start by reaching out, making friends with people we don’t normally have in our lives and listening to them. This is at the heart of effective organising.

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