Boorstin discusses the distinction between dissent and disagreement, and deems one to be a dangerous cancer, and the other to be the life blood of social commentary. Despite Boorstin’s claim that dissent is the ugly mutation of disagreement, dissent is actually the more powerful, radical predecessor to disagreement. Dissent is the opposition based off of an unpopular opinion, whereas disagreement is an opposition to more socially explored issue. Disagreement is the safe way to bring about change, a passive and fast moving path as you have support behind you.
In the beginning of the women’s suffrage movement, the challenge they proposed to society wasn’t a simple disagreement, but a radical dissention. Until it became a popularized notion, women’s suffragettes were considered to be out for their own personal amusement, and not for the betterment of a society. Once enough support had been gathered behind the movement, the ideas that had once been considered dangerous were no longer all that socially unacceptable. This is not to say, however, that disagreement is not a worthwhile pursuit, it is in that the seed of dissention must be continued to be carried out, but it is the safer method.
The argument against dissention is, a minority opinion should not be supported so as not to disturb the social waters. However, it is necessary for dissent to occur for disagreement to develop and for society to change. Without radical opposition to the current social norms, society will never move beyond its current state. Progress is necessary in human society. In other words, rather than being a cancer of argument, dissention is the necessary struggle before the art of disagreement. It is a necessary part of the social plotting process.
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