Pie Fights and Progress

Originally posted by Nonpartisan on 10/11/06

Part III of a five-part series on the history and future of the blogosphere

Once upon a time, we all used to be friends.

It was the heyday of the Dean movement, and all sorts of people came together to take our country back.  Marisacat, GenF, Bob Brigham, Hamletta, Theoria, Kid Oakland, and Galiel all posted together in harmony at the Deanblog and dKos; the terrific trio of Ezra Klein, Matt Singer, and Joe Rospars rocked the world at Not Geniuses; Kos linked to Tacitus; and the world was good.

And then, with the collapse of the Dean movement and even more so after the demise of Kerry, the blogosphere began to feed upon itself.  Personal rivalries began to take precedence over political unity.  A rift, descending to the lowest orders of pettiness, began between the crowds at Unbossed and Liberal Street Fighter; the pitched battle continues to this day.  (You can read all about it at this tragic thread at the Blogmother.)  Possibly more serious was the infamous “Pie Fight” incident, in which a spat over an ad accepted by Markos led to his famous denunciation of the “sanctimonious women’s studies set” — a move that chased many of the site’s best writers, among them our own Lorraine.

Missing in all this hoopla is the reason most of us are blogging in the first place: to use our words as a catalyst for creating positive change in American governance and, beyond that, in American society.  Also lost is the tragedy that occurs when one person begins to see another as inhuman — particularly when both people should be on the same side.

As the image at left demonstrates, when you can’t see someone’s face, it’s easier to split their skull open with a sword.

This isn’t a “Can’t we all just get along?” post — I hate those, because they treat differences as if they don’t matter.  Differences DO matter, and they should be aired; Lorraine gives us an excellent example of an eloquent and respectful way to do so here.  The only way we can improve as a blogosphere is if people talk intently and intensely about how and what we should be fighting for.

The problem, as I see it, occurs when individuals make their personal problems with one another more important than the issues; when they bully one another into backing down on a deeply-held belief; and when they tolerate individuals whose purpose is only to divide and destroy.  Such individuals, in my opinion, are simply enablers of the right wing that seeks to marginalize and disorganize us.  Our own Eugene argues that this sort of individual has all but destroyed the Blogmother.

The stakes are high here.  Lorraine, as ususal, puts it best:

Politics is not a fucking game. It’s not an academic problem that you get interested in because you read a little Machiavelli or Burke. Politics is life. There are people dying because of our politics.

We can’t afford to cannibalize each other while the people for whom we fight starve, are shot, or become slaves to this progressively less-democratic government.  Let’s put our personal grievances and slights aside and focus on the substantive disagreements we have with our fellow bloggers and with political leaders.

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