Conventional thinking about social, political and economic matters tends to narrow the options available to a set of policies advocated by two, possibly three political parties of scarcely dissimilar ideologies. Any genuinely radical approach concerning these topics is abandoned given that the fundamentals are deemed to be beyond question. Thus, alternatives to these entrenched matters – such as whether the state should have any positive role at all in anything – are seldom given the light of day, let alone the opportunity of being debated.
This phenomenon, presenting a distinct challenge to anyone with radical views, is known as the “false dilemma”: the illusion that the only choice is between a very constricted range of possible options, preserving the status quo in favour of the state and its cronies while at the same time bestowing the illusion of control on a gullible electorate.
One effect of this ossification is to obliterate a very basic, but critical truth: that all humans are able to flourish while co-existing peacefully. For instance, those pundits and politicians claiming to be either “conservative” (or otherwise leaning to “the right”) may believe that business should be “helped” in order to boost “economic growth”; at the same time, they may say that cuts should be made to welfare and to public services in order reduce the government “deficit” while slimming down the cash cow that the benefits system has become to the allegedly lazy and unproductive. Those identifying with “the left”, on the other hand, may believe that a strong welfare state, heavy taxes on the wealthy and increased government spending are needed to end the scourge of poverty.