Debate and dialogue in politics (9/2020)




TODAY, I WROTE A FEW LINES TO CLARIFY THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DEBATE AND DIALOGUE IN POLITICS. The difference is huge. The lack of distinction and the overwhelming focus on debates in politics generate major problems and deadlocks from local to international levels.

Generally, a debate is nothing but the continuation of preexisting conflicts. Each protagonist sticks to its opinion and tries to get the upper hand over the other(s), psychologically, intellectually or otherwise.

By contrast, when you are engaged in a dialogue, you do not seek to dominate or demean others as long as you do not combine dialogue with coercion. In politics, dialogue without coercion means that you accept other peoples’ right to be different; it means that you engage in fair negotiations so that each group could live well in different ways.

You have been able to witness this sad spectacle more than once: more often than not, a political debate expresses spiritual powerlessness, the desire to dominate others and an absence of genuine respect towards ones opponents or enemies.

So, from a political point of view, dialogue without coercion is almost the exact opposite of debate.

We do not need more debates that will generate more chaos, endless economic and social violence and destructions of all kinds. Instead, we do need non-coercive dialogue, which is a manifestation of our power as human beings.

French version of this dream

Nicolas Barbier