Noun : The act or fact of forming a united whole. The sticking together of particles of the same substance.
Synonyms : Coherence, coherency
Cohesion is the only word that comes to mind when I view the politics in our country. We seem to have very little. Once upon a time there were two viewpoints; one was to look after the people, one was to look after the money. One was categorised as left and one, right.
For years and years, you were funnelled into one or the other depending on your outlook and the role models in history that you admired, because what they did resonated in some way with your ideals. The world turned, life seemed simple and very often an issue would be resolved in a fairly black and white manner.
Then we got centrism – the political philosophy of avoiding the extremes of right and left by taking a moderate position. In theory this sounds like an evolution of politics, an invitation to reason and an indication of an ability to listen to all sides in order to produce a moderate view.
The reality however is that now no one knows what side they’re on and labels are the main course of the day. Am I a centrist left, or a centrist right? Am I a liberal or a neo-liberal? Am I New Labour or old Labour? Am I really a libertarian? Snappy new apps try to help us decide, suggesting we fill in forms, surveys or funky little charts to try to tell us where we lie on the political compass. When debating politically with each other, we call each other ‘Tory toffs’ or ‘Labour scroungers’ – when the truth is a lot more complex than that, because we are individuals made up of complexity and very personal and unique perceptions.
Often policies which are sound in their structure will get hijacked between political parties to the point where no one can remember who introduced it in the first place, but everyone feels the right to criticise it from every angle – even if the overall commonsense of the policy is obvious.
Traditionally in our country, a coalition government would be deemed to be a temporary solution to a parliamentary or national crisis – yet there are many coalition governments in the world today. A successful marriage between two political parties can produce a ‘third mind’ between them if they have cohesion and can be a perfect combination to resolve an issue that needs more than one outlook for the resolution to be truly effective. Because both sides have all angles covered, there is also coherence; a mutual acceptance of the need for resolution and a flexibility in support of it. Everyone works for the sake of the issue, not for the sake of themselves.
Our country needs cohesion; we need it everywhere in fact. We need it with the family unit, we need it with the grand old institutions of our country and we need it in Westminster. There are major issues that are bigger than any party that we need to face for our country and for the world in general – yet the only ‘cohesion’ being witnessed is that of disaffection being experienced by all. These big issues are laid at the door of whichever political party is in power, that party is blamed for them and apathy and cynicism grows at the length of time it takes to resolve them. Meetings about meetings are held. Everyone produces more paperwork and the media, depending on their bias, will pick up on any anomaly and highlight it to the point where the real issue becomes clouded by petty detail. Politicians bicker with each other within their own parties and leadership is tarnished by judgments made from scrutinising masses of conflicting information on the internet. The attitude is almost that of tearing down leadership instead of building it up and supporting it.
With the global banking crisis of 2008, the looming influence of the EU, the world threat of terrorism and the increase of population with inadequate resources to sustain a decent standard of living, we continue to furiously debate with each other on who said what to who in what way and how they said it – when the underlying issue itself gets pushed further and further back down an agenda of ever-growing ‘hot potatoes’ that seem to have defeated themselves in argument. From this then spring the smaller political parties which seize on an underlying big issue and use it as a flagship for their party when in essence, that party should more than likely be a pressure group instead….yet they gain votes because they are single minded about the issues they are promoting and therefore they have an easily recognisable identity.
Is it any wonder then with this mass lack of identity that there is so much bullying in our society? The bully (usually suffering a lack of identity) bullies the victim (whose identity is drowned in insecurity and lack of confidence). This is endemic in schools, businesses and in Westminster.
If our society does not understand the need for cohesion then maybe only a catastrophe will be the vehicle that brings us closer together. And maybe, just maybe, we will deserve it.