As young people, we should constantly be developing new perspectives as we learn more about the world. The nature of our existence is infinitely complex. To think that you have all the answers, when you've barely been alive for a couple of decades is, in my view, very naive. Too often, we do not try to learn and develop as much as we should.
This is an epidemic that reaches across the political spectrum, and it isn't right or left wing, authoritarian or libertarian. In every quadrant of the political compass, us young people get ourselves boxed into echo chambers because we want to hear what pleases us. From my own school in the east of England, to online groups throughout the UK, this problem is prevalent everywhere.
So what exactly do I mean? We need to listen more? To whom? To everyone. I do not care what you think of them, listen to them closely and clearly. Understand what they are saying and think critically of it. Listen to Nazis and Communists. Listen to Fascists and Anarchists. Listen to Liberals and Conservatives. How disgusting and wrong you think their opinions are is not relevant. I want you all to listen to everybody. Perhaps you can comprehend how wrong they maybe are to a deeper extent and concept, or you may have your opinion shifted. If you are seriously interested in politics, you must do this to able to debate and reason your position, and your position should always be malleable.
Never dismiss anybody before you've understood what they are saying. I remember Jordan Peterson mentioning this when referring to how influential and important Dostoevsky's work is. He spoke about how building a 'straw man' and arguing against that is pointless and dangerous. Instead you should create an 'iron man' of your opposing argument and test yours against it. That is then a true, formidable view that is reinforced by logic, data, experience and balance.
If your mind is changed, excellent. If not, at least you can now pick holes in opposing arguments you will be faced with. We cannot head into this development with a closed mind though. Forget all of your bias to whatever political opinion you now prescribe to and revamp your political sense to a better one, and make this a habit for your life.
Listen to the great speakers and writers of every perspective. Many Conservatives will talk loudly about how communism does not work as it has been tried many times and failed 100% of them. How many of them can tell you why it never worked and never will? Certainly much less. The way to combat this is to study history, listen to communist and capitalist speakers, and study both societies equally. I cannot tell you the answers, but I can ask you to do your own research and reach them for yourself.
With recent events of Black Lives Matter protests and media coverage from COVID-19, I have seen many of my peers develop strong political opinions quickly. Even before the outcry after George Floyd's passing, I had arrived at the conclusion that BLM was not the solution to black people's problems in both the UK and USA. Voicing this opinion has had me called many names, a racist too many times, and more than once it has been suggested I am against black people's human rights- this is far from the truth. There are many alternatives to the solutions proposed by Black Lives Matter, and to label them as wrong before considering them is more dangerous to black people, as it is simply neglecting their safety because of stubbornness and a lack of openness. This is what happens when we do not listen and speak freely - we hurt those whom we sought to protect.
You do not have to agree with my stance on this subject to know that opposing a proposed solution to a problem unsolved in the 21st century United Kingdom does not make you a racist. In fact, it decreases the negative value of such prejudices to label those not racist, sexist, etc as such. To simply name call and label is a symptom of a closed mind and poor debater.
In many ways this can link in to the loss of free speech in our nation today. That which is determined 'hate speech' can be criminally prosecuted. If a crime is committed and prejudices are evidently part of the motive, then increasing punishment makes sense. However, a political opinion should never be criminalised. These ideas and people may seem disgusting, but imprisoning them is not the solution.
What is wrong is corrected by forwarding what is right, not by silencing the thoughts of the political fringes. You should want to know exactly what they are thinking, because they will still think their thoughts and spread their ideals whether a Government wants them to or not. Holocaust deniers, National Socialists, Communists. Unless the group advocates for or commits crimes, why should opinions be outlawed? That is the difference between incitement to crime and suggesting that we are doing something terribly wrong in Britain. You shouldn't want the latter to be criminalised, for many reasons.
Firstly, the Government is the one drawing the line, and you should never put that much faith in politicians. It is the cornerstone of any totalitarian regime to censor the dissidents.
The Nazi party had huge support for election in the 1930s, amassing 37% of the vote in 1932 for varying factors. One of the initial policies the Nazis introduced as soon as possible was to throw the Communists along with other religious and political groups in prison and eventually concentration camps.
After the notorious Joseph Stalin came to power in the USSR in 1929, he exiled the Trotskyists and political opposition. Opponents were often sent to the gulag for expressing mere thought. Great Russian philosophers and writers were sent to these camps of which can compare to those constructed by the Third Reich. The death sentence of Fyodor Dostoevsky and the horrors perpetuated in The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn are prime examples of the Soviet torture of thinkers.
The first step to authoritarian rule is clearly to control what people say. If they do not, then the moral and logical faults in their regimes shall be exposed. It is plausible that this can be scaled down to modern day Britain, but it is certain we should always be aware of what it has correlated with when scaled up. That is far more threatening than speech one may find offensive, and that reality cannot be made too close for comfort.
Secondly, you should want people of whom you see as wrong to humiliate themselves in front of the public eye as much as possible. The public have never been convinced by informing them something is bad, you must show them. By far the best way to fight political extremism is with open dialogue, logic and morality. That will always be more effective than violence and censorship. Deconstructing what is incorrect in ideology only requires thoroughly thinking yourself about what other people are saying.
Of course, this requires us all to have the best, most robust thoughts as possible. I urge you all after reading this to research the sides you may oppose with all your heart. And do not research why they are on the wrong side of history, research what they are. To be a profound thinker, you must listen to the thinkers before you and the history they left behind. Use the resources you have at your disposal before trying to predict what side shall be good and the other evil. If it were that simple, said evil would not even exist.
Understand as much as possible and maybe we can have productive discourse with the most important diversity of all, diversity of opinion. That is what creates great people and great societies.