Beware the dangers of groupthink

Much like Adolf Hitler US President Donald Trump uses the divide and rule maneuver to mobilise people around their fear of losing their identity, the writer says.
Much like Adolf Hitler US President Donald Trump uses the divide and rule maneuver to mobilise people around their fear of losing their identity, the writer says.
Image: REUTERS / Leah Millis / File Photo

People tend to have a natural affinity for their own in the broad sense of the word and that cannot necessarily be faulted. However, when groupthink is weaponised to divide and rule, it becomes a destructive force.

Throughout history demogogues and populist leaders weaponised groupthink to divide and rule with catastrophic consequences. Hitler is a prime example. That was also the root cause of apartheid.

Today populists are again use it as political weapon. In his book Why are we so divided, Ezra Klein explains how Trump mobilises people with groupthink around their fear of losing their identity.

It is deeply grounded in narrow nationalism. That has also been the main driving force behind Brexit. We still experience it in South Africa with an attitude of "us" and "them" in certain circles. Malema also transformed groupthink into an effective political weapon.

The new world order created after World War II and grounded in globalism, tolerance and inclusivity, is now in the aim of nationalist populists. They have a partner in Putin whose aim is also to destroy the new world order and Western unity.

Klein points out that Trump fought a campaign on symbolism in 2016, while Clinton fought on facts. The Democrats will be confronted with that again, also with Putin.

Hopefully they will be better equiped to ensure that their factual approach has a bigger impact, specifically in the current climate of fake news and blatant lies.

Dawie Jacobs, Sterrewag

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