8.7. Ideologies and Collective Action

Keeping ourselves small and divided is the surest way to prevent real, positive social change.

Maybe the biggest obstacle to acting collectively and effectively is divisive ideologies.

Even our most trusted sciences, philosophies, political ideologies, and religions just aren’t the magical cure-alls they’re often cracked up to be.

They’re crude, incomplete systems of thoughts and beliefs.

They’re riddled with omissions, oversimplifications, distortions, fallacies, and inaccuracies.

At best, they shed a little bit of light on a little bit of the ultimate reality we live in.

At worst, they totally lead us astray, and encourage us to kill each other.

We need them. And they can be very helpful, useful, and valuable. But they’re ultimately very feeble, finite, and fallible.

We rely far, far too heavily on these imperfect systems that grasp at and inevitably fall short of the truth. And it really disrupts our efforts to come together, and make the world a better place.

Because in the end, ideologies limit who can be part of the solution.

They insist that you have to believe everything they say, in order to be a force for good in the world.

They rely on the “us-versus them” cheat to inspire conformity, passion, and action among their followers—which may produce better results in the short term, but is ultimately counterproductive, due to the number of people it excludes and alienates.

We really need to stop using our ideologies to divide, exclude, and alienate people.

Because the simple fact is: we’re nothing without each other.

Individual people, small groups, and even large groups that have made powerful enemies that fight them every step of the way just don’t have a lot of power in today’s world.

Our greatest strength is our numbers. And yet we waste that potential every single day.

We turn huge swathes of people into our enemies, lash out at uncommitted or disengaged people who refuse to choose a side, and even accuse people who want to be our partners and allies of being sellouts or enablers of the enemy, over silly little details or tactical disagreements.

I’m not trying to tell you not to think for yourself. But the number one requirement for social change is for as many people as possible to be on the same team, working together. So when an ideology tells you that only a small group of true believers can deliver change…you should be really skeptical.

When an ideology tells you it has all the answers, and the way to bring about social change is to browbeat billions of people into believing exactly what you believe…you should be really skeptical.

And even when there are millions of people on your side, if your ideology is telling you some other group of millions that will oppose everything you do and negate all the good work you’re doing needs to be defeated…you should be really skeptical.

Keeping ourselves small and divided is the surest way to prevent real, positive social change.

Being numerous and coordinated, with as few enemies as possible, is the surest way to make it happen.

It’s just simple math. But we forget about it, because we’re too blinded by our ideologies to prioritize this basic, fundamental, absolutely necessary requirement for social change.


This is the 131st in a series of over 150 videos about how to create real, lasting social change. Click here for a list of all titles, videos, and transcripts.

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