Reblogged from Peter Greene’s CURMUDGUCATION

Unity is hard.

When leaders of a group start by saying, “We need to be sure we have total unity on this,” the rest of the sentence is almost never “and so we are going to sit down with you and really listen to your concerns and ideas.” No, generally a call for unity within a group comes with some diplomatically-worded version of “so shut up and get in line.”

It’s understandable. Groups, particularly groups that are focused on activism and Getting Things Done and Standing Up To The Man on Behalf of Our Members, really do accomplish more when they present a united front. The easiest way to render your opposition ineffective is to get them busy fighting with each other (like, say, getting people who might be unhappy with crooked rich people to focus their attention on teacher pension costs instead).  

It’s another example of the seduction of means that seem justified by the ends. “If we can get all the members lined up behind these goals,” the reasoning goes, “then we will accomplish great things for them. So anything we do to get them lined up is okay.” And that is how union leaders end up lying to their own members. “If we let a few outliers stir things up, it will distract from our mission,” is how we get to the ironic spectacle of a group dedicated to giving teachers a voice in the ed reforms debate telling some teachers to shut up. Continue reading>>