The "Us v Them" formulation is only one of a number of examples of how polarized positions can represent a fallacy - and pollute argument as a result. It's a characteristic of modern public debate and one which nearly always misleads, politicises unnecessarily or simply confuses. It could be right v left, liberal v conservative, right v wrong, black v white, good v bad..or Us v Them. It's a tactic which allows people to define the opposition in a way that can then be attacked, simplify issues to their most basic constituents, force people to jump one way or another - all with the intention of massing support on one side of an argument. It's a tactic beloved of lobby groups and spin doctors seeking to herd opinion in a particular direction* - and as such I have always felt it is contemptuous of public opinion. It's also, I think, starting to feel like a very tired way of conducting any kind of public debate. I'm certainly tired of others telling me what I stand for and getting it completely wrong. The world is simply more complex and more subtle than the either/or formulation will allow. And solutions lie in the middle, with innovation, adaptation, bridges, adjustments and sometimes compromise, not in stark extremes. Which is why, of course, zealots want to exclude the middle. So I make no apology for occupying the middle ground (for want of a better phrase) uncomfortable, unfashionable or even unattractive as it may sometimes be.
(*I remember once talking to a very successful campaigner who told me he designed campaigns around stark choices. "A black and white photograph may seem to be shades of grey but if you focus right in you will eventually find a black spot sitting next to a white spot - and that's where you mount your campaign", he said. I remember thinking that was undoubtedly a good tactic, but that the real world contained many more colours, greater subtlety and was more interesting as a result).