Groupthink – Christopher Booker
‚It is becoming more and more obvious that it is not starvation, it is not microbes, it is not cancer but man himself who is his greatest danger: because he has no adequate protection against psychic epidemics, which are infinitely more devastating in their effect than the greatest natural catastrophes’.
This quote from the psychologist C. G. Jung sets the tone for this most important book. Politics has always been coloured by groupthink. Each political party of faction or grouping naturally has its own idea of how it sees the world more clearly than its rivals. Political decisions have ended badly because a little group of powerful men have collectively become so fixated on a single narrow view of what they hoped to achieve that they shut their minds to anything that contradicts it.
Take for example the recklessly obsessive way in which George W. Bush and Tony Blair launched their invasion of Iraq in 2003. The rise of Islamic movements recently such as Al Qaeda or IS. This has shown us the power of groupthink at its ultimate extreme. So contagious was the power of that particular form of groupthink that thousands more would-be jihadists flocked to join the cause so intoxicated by the thought of randomly killing ‚infidels’ that they were happy to commit suicide in pursuit of their fantasy cause.
Global Warming, Political Correctness (the new age of thought-crime) racism, sexism, positive discrimination, hostility to religion and the United States of Europe are all issues investigated. Mr Booker drills down to look at recent examples of groupthink: Charlie Hebdo, the collective emotion on the death of Princess Diana. Here, he argues, emotion is detached from its proper object to become a thing in itself.
It is only by obtaining some sort of insight into the psychology of crowds that it can be understood how powerless they are to hold any opinions other than those that are imposed upon them.