Pensée unique

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The expression "pensée unique" (French for "single thought") describes any kind of mainstream conformist thinking.

Concept and background understanding[edit]

"Pensée unique" is a pejorative expression referring to mainstream ideological conformism of any kind, almost always opposed to that of the speaker. Originally, it is a French expression and referred to claims that neoliberalism is the only correct way to structure society. The phrase implies that mainstream discussion is limited by ideological assumptions of what is possible. One example of pensée unique given by critics was the motto of Margaret Thatcher (former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom): TINA ("There is no alternative"), which was picked up word-for-word in translation by Gerhard Schröder (former Chancellor of Germany) as "Es gibt keine Alternative...".[1]

The expression was coined by Jean-François Kahn, editor-in-chief of L'Evenement du Jeudi,[2] in an editorial in January 1992. The phrase pensée unique is often used by political parties and organisations and in criticism.

The term has been used regarding prohibitionism of marijuana, with some commenters saying that pensée unique is a barrier to legalization.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ de:TINA-Prinzip
  2. ^ Jean-François Kahn, Les Risques de la pensée unique. L'Événement du Jeudi, 30th January 1992, page 6
  3. ^ ONU condena a Uruguay por violar convenios con la marihuana legal quotation:

    "Este es un tema que por primera vez rompe el pensamiento único. Acá se cayó otro muro, el muro del pensamiento único. Las convenciones no son una Biblia, son convenciones y no es el pensamiento único", afirmó Romani.

Further reading[edit]