The Cost of Dissent

Source: Quillette
by Robert C Thornett

“Dissent is essential to societies, if they are to develop and move forward. It has been the engine of some of the most important episodes in recent history, including the American Revolution, the Civil Rights Movement, and the fall of communism. But there are other virtues besides courage required to stand up and disagree with the prevailing power or wisdom. Virtues like prudence and humility enable us to acknowledge when we are not sufficiently knowledgeable to dissent productively, and to understand that misguided or misinformed dissent has the potential to hurt society. Wherever possible, dissent should proceed from wisdom, which follows dialogue and deliberation. Uninformed dissent inhibits or destroys the very innovation and progress that diversity of opinion is meant to bring about, turning a society into a Tower of Babel, in which atomized individuals spout mutually unintelligible opinions.” (05/15/23)