Binary oppositions are an often overlooked factor in the problems afflicting the western world these days. They’re also one of the more subtle ways in which the elites keep us in control. As long as we keep thinking in terms of binary oppositions we don’t realise that we actually have more choices.
Left/right, Republican/Democrat, Labour/Conservative, climate change true believer/climate change sceptic – these are the more obvious examples but binary thinking tends to creep into just about all ideological debates.
All binary oppositions have the effect of closing off options, and closing off debate. If you suggest that democracy is an unworkable mess you’re shut down by the reply that in that case you must be in favour of totalitarian dictatorships. Apparently those are the only two forms of political organisation that human beings have ever been able to devise. Of course what’s really going on is that your opponent doesn’t want to acknowledge that there are many other types of political system.
You’ll get the same response on the subject of capitalism. You can believe in capitalism or you can believe in socialism. Although there are in fact many other alternatives considering those alternatives would require some thought. It’s much easier to see things in either/or terms.
Whenever the world seems to present a binary opposition, or whenever the media and the politicians try to present something in that light, it’s always worth looking into the matter more deeply. It’s amazing how many choices there actually are.