Two articles and pieces of emailed advice from someone I know, though not too well, have led me to first close down my Facebook privacy settings relating to future posts, and second to stop microblogging in a political context.
I’m not going to show you the emails; suffice it to say they were, I am pretty sure, well meaning.
I can link to the posts though, complete with comments which show how I have changed my position in a matter of forty-eight hours. The first one, by Ben Mitchell, is on leaving the Labour Party. The second, by Neil Monnery, can also be found at Speaker’s Chair, though it was originally published here. Both express a considerable frustration I answered in two very different ways, demonstrating a chasm of thought in the process. First, in this way:
This is sad – and I understand a lot of what you say; perhaps all of it. I can’t bring myself to agree any more, though – perhaps I see this as taking on the dynamics of a kind of low-level civil war. Time to choose sides for me – however lacking in intellectual coherence this may eventually be. After all, the heat of battle doesn’t leave much space for considered thought … 😦
And the second, after having received the emailed advice which suggested I stop tweeting for a while, went as follows:
I’m just puzzled why politics seems to be so immune to the changes happening in a wider society and business. It seems that a set of Machiavellian-type rules, written in tablets of stone we all have to take, mean that tribalism, point-scoring and underhand dynamics of all sorts replace rational thought, problem-identification and problem-solving. Why *does* politics with this medieval approach to human relations dominate our society to the extent it seems to be doing – at least from the tenor of Neil and Ben’s posts? What forces us to go along with these behaviours – to vote on them and give them space? As a comparison, I’ve had experience of working in a huge company – and although frustrating on many occasions, and ultimately disastrous for the company (not me), it still seemed far more planned, even-handed and productive than our politics appears to have been for a long time.
I suppose my question has to be (maybe yours as well): is there any alternative to a process of disengagement for people like Neil and Ben – and perhaps that’s me, now, too? And one more question: if not, what are the implications for our society in the future?
For that, I suppose, is my greatest unhappiness. To have to disengage with politics when politics claims the right – maintains the right – to lord incessantly over one is the mark of an abusive relationship; the mark of abusive dynamics.
I wonder, then, if it will always be so. I wonder if politics can never learn/can never be allowed to learn from the lessons any other field of endeavour already, in 21st century terms we should treasure, sees as perfectly rational.