Never mind the ‘ism’; it’s the ‘ists’ you need to worry about.

by John Darvall

Whatever the ‘ism’ is, it is never the problem. It is the ‘ists’ that cause the problem. ‘Isms’ explore ideas and principles, promote thought and discussion, make points or reveal injustice and can give reasoning to concepts and ideas. ‘Isms’ give us all greater understanding of others and their beliefs, a chance to understand ideals, ideas, principles and how it works. Or the ‘ism’ affords you an opportunity to consider how it doesn’t. All good so far.

Here is where it goes wrong. ‘Ists’ are advocates for their ‘ism’. They talk about it, believe it to be true (nothing wrong with that) campaign for it, fight for it, die for it, kill for it and, in most cases, they never waver from their ‘ism’ because they believe their ‘ism’ is right regardless of who listens, who cares or who doesn’t. And there is nothing wrong with this either.

It is when the ‘ist’ becomes the ism, when the ‘ist’ believes that only there ‘ism’ is right, the only right way. And this is where it all goes very wrong.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with any ‘ism’; Islamism, feminism, conservatism, radicalism, the list goes on. It is those who become the ‘ist’ to the ‘ism’ that I find increasingly tedious and, in some cases, dangerous. These ‘ists’ don’t seem to want to engage in debate or discussion; they just seem to think they are right. No, they know they are right and if you don’t believe in their ‘ism’, you are wrong. And if you have the temerity challenge the ‘ist’ on their ‘ism’ they attack you. Look at the recent activity on twitter and other social media. All VERY far from social.

Surely if we continue to allow any ‘ist’ to go unchallenged it is freedom of speech that loses. We have a duty to protect the ideal of any ‘ism’ but we also have the duty to robustly challenge the ‘ist’.

They won’t like it but if their principles are sound and their chosen ‘ism’ is true then open, fair and reasoned discussion and debate is the way forward. Any ‘ist’ who can’t or won’t engage is this really needs to explore their own inadequacies and not hide behind the ‘ism’ that is seemingly giving them sucker. They are letting down there ‘ism’, there and beliefs and the others who support them too, and we should ignore them.

The best ‘ist’ is the one open to debate and challenge, or a silent one.