Consensus Is General Disagreement among the Citizenry on an Issue

Consensus is General Disagreement Among the Citizenry on an Issue: Understanding the Paradox

Consensus is often considered the ultimate goal of any democratic process. The idea is simple: when people from diverse backgrounds, with different perspectives and interests, can reach an agreement on a particular issue, it is a sign of a healthy and functioning society. However, this simple idea can quickly become complicated when we realize that consensus is also often associated with general disagreement among the citizenry on that very same issue. This paradoxical nature of consensus raises some important questions about its meaning, purpose, and limits.

Defining Consensus

In general, consensus means a general agreement among a group of people, usually reached through some kind of dialogue or negotiation. Consensus is often seen as a desirable outcome because it represents a unified and collective decision-making process that takes into account the different perspectives, interests, and needs of the group. This is especially important in situations where there are high stakes involved, such as in politics, business, or community organizing.

However, consensus is not the same thing as unanimity. Unanimity means complete agreement among all members of the group, without any dissenting voices. Consensus, on the other hand, acknowledges the existence of dissenting views and seeks to find a way to incorporate them into the decision-making process. This means that consensus is not always a perfect or ideal solution, but rather a pragmatic and realistic one.

The Paradox of Consensus

At first glance, the idea of “general disagreement among the citizenry” seems to contradict the very notion of consensus. After all, if there is disagreement, then how can there be consensus? This paradoxical nature of consensus is not only puzzling, but also important to understand if we want to appreciate its complexity and power.

One way to think about the paradox of consensus is to see it as a tension between two competing values: diversity and unity. On the one hand, consensus requires diversity, because it is only by embracing and respecting different perspectives and interests that we can reach a meaningful and legitimate agreement. On the other hand, consensus also requires unity, because it is only by finding common ground and working together that we can achieve a collective goal.

The paradox of consensus arises when these two values come into conflict. When there is disagreement among the citizenry, it means that there is diversity of opinion and interest. This is a good thing, because it means that people are engaged and invested in the issue, and are willing to express their views and fight for their values. However, diversity can also create fragmentation and polarization, because people may be more focused on their own interests and perspectives than on the common good. This is where unity becomes important, because it is only by finding ways to bridge the gaps and build coalitions that we can achieve consensus.


Consensus is a complex and paradoxical concept that reflects the tension between diversity and unity in democratic societies. While consensus is often seen as a desirable outcome of collective decision-making processes, it can also be a challenging and elusive goal when there is general disagreement among the citizenry. By understanding the paradox of consensus, we can appreciate the complexity and power of this concept, and find ways to promote dialogue, cooperation, and compromise in our communities and institutions. As copy editors, it`s important to understand the meaning and nuances of different concepts to effectively communicate them in writing.