WHAT’S “WRONG” WITH BAJAN NATIONALISM?
“The many xenophobic impulses released in the name of nationalism endanger the future sovereignty of Barbados because it is not a nationalism that speaks of the rights of minorities. Moreover, if the Hegelian dialectic of synthesis lists high autonomy as one of those preconditions that create powerful common mythologies in the art of nation building, then nations are formed through the inclusion of the whole populace and not just the voices of the elites or of the ruling class. In Barbados’s struggle to present to the rest of the Caribbean the picture of a perfect society or the Utopian dream, covert segregation among its own people prevails, denying the ordinary working class the historical legacies that they had overcome since the days of slavery to their present day liberation.” via Rebecca Theodore
A common human condition which from time to time captivates us all to one degree or another is that of ‘Group Think.’
And it is not confined to small groups in society – consider the sad and evil history of Nazism which captivated much of the population of Germany during the 1930s, including the vast majority who were certainly not Nazis, and who were in themselves truly good people, but who ‘turned a blind eye’, and ‘went along with it’, indeed who genuinely believed it was a right path for their nation, little realising the true nature of Nazism. Peer pressure is a powerful motivator for us all. Who was it who said “when good men do nothing, evil will prevail”.
Another prime example of group-think is nationalism. It is the “my country, right or wrong, my country” mentality. It allows no room for logic or reason. When a national leader implies that if a country’s citizens are not totally aligned with his or her policies, they are not patriotic, group-think has come into play on a large scale. While patriotism is good and desirable, blind patriotism is not, and the fallacy is apparent when individual thought is replaced by group-think.
Symptoms of Groupthink:
This is when team members convince themselves that despite evidence to the contrary, the decision or alternative being presented is the best one.
“Those other people don’t agree with us because they haven’t researched the problem as extensively as we have.”
- Peer Pressure:
When a team member expresses an opposing opinion or questions the rationale behind a decision, the rest of the team members work together to pressure or penalize that person into compliance.
“Well if you really feel that we’re making a mistake you can always leave the team.”
After a few successes, the group begins to feel like any decision they make is the right one because there is no disagreement from any source.
“Our track record speaks for itself. We are unstoppable!”
- Moral High Ground:
Each member of the group views him or herself as moral: The combination of moral minds is therefore thought not to be likely to make a poor or immoral decision. When morality is used as a basis for decision-making, the pressure to conform is even greater because no individual wants to be perceived as immoral.
“We all know what is right and wrong, and this is definitely right.”
As the group becomes more uniform in their views, they begin to see outsiders as possessing a different and inferior set of morals and characteristics from themselves. These perceived negative characteristics are then used to discredit the opposition.
“Lawyers will find any excuse to argue, even when the facts are clearly against them.”
Members censor their opinions in order to conform.
“If everyone else agrees then my thoughts to the contrary must be wrong.”
Information that is gathered is censored so that it also conforms to, or supports the chosen decision or alternative.
“Don’t listen to that nonsense, they don’t have a clue about what is really going on.”
- Illusion of Unanimity:
Because no one speaks out, everyone in the group feels the group’s decision is unanimous. This is what feeds the Groupthink and causes it to spiral out of control.
“I see we all agree so it’s decided then.”
To avoid Groupthink, it is important to have a process in place for checking the fundamental assumptions behind important decisions, for validating the decision-making process, and for evaluating the risks involved. For significant decisions, make sure your team does the following in their decision-making process:
Encourages ideas to be challenged without reprisal.
Examines the risks if the preferred choice is chosen.
If necessary, goes back and re-examines initial alternatives that were rejected.
Gathers relevant information from outside sources.
Processes this information objectively.
Have at least one contingency plan.
[Information in this article has been compiled and quoted from outside sources]