Research topic: New Heathers and Villagers in the Age of Obama?
These days I'm blogging at the ol' homestead: vastleft.com.
I'm popping my head in here in hopes you'll help shed some light on a topic that just might overarch the ability for America to have better progressive advocacy and activism.
Somewhere along the way, I picked up this wacky theory that power corrupts.
One wonders if the top echelon of online progressives might be somewhat less-than-immune to this putative phenomenon.
If power, indeed, corrupts might this not be a formula that could tempt corruption...?
A clutch of people:
* Achieves a rarefied status, where they're highly praised and rarely meaningfully criticized -- both within and without a small circle -- for their exceptional moral, intellectual, and social fiber
* Increasingly gains access to political and media inner circles
Under such circumstances, it does not take an ill-inclined person to start inhaling his or her own fumes and to become addicted to insider conventional wisdom. To become dismissively and abusively defensive toward challengers of their perfection and the ways of their elite tribe.
So, here's my question: can you point to examples (e.g., blog posts, comments) that might prove or disprove this theory, signs that A-list bloggers have or haven't resisted the temptation to become the New Heathers, the New Villagers in the Age of Obama?
If you're convinced that such corruption has happened or is in progress, what's the best evidence for it? If you're convinced that it hasn't and won't, what's the best evidence for that?
Thank you in advance for any insight you might provide.
Now, why should this matter? Why should we consider whether the finest among us might succumb to unwholesome behaviors that many fine people have before them?
Because they substantially control the progressive debate in America. If they are growing groupthinky and/or too cozy with those we've entrusted them to speak truth to and about, we're in for a world of hurt.
Who knows, it might even cost us the open and transparent process that considered all options on health care that so many Americans voted for in November. Sorry for invoking such a nightmare scenario, but you never know.
In retrospect quite understandably, there's been much discussion here about the word "corruption."
The tail (the loaded word "corruption") is wagging what I'd intended to be the dog (the same-as-the-old-boss behavior, where the gate-crashers have become more like a gated community).
To me, the key words were "Heathers" and "Village," hence they appear in both the title and the body.
But "corruption" is the grabber, and it is what famously befalls the powerful.
FWIW, what most interests me isn't so much that there are some career climbers in the bunch, but that those who seem less-motivated that way are no less-inclined to promote and defend the dumbest and most anti-progressive agendas ratified by the clique, and often in thoughtless and punishing ways.
It seemed physically impossible for virtually any of them to openly say "hey, 'public option' might be the wrong rallying point," in spite of overwhelming evidence that it was a snow job.
Just as it was well-nigh impossible for them to call bullshit on the likes of George Lakoff when he pronounced Obama "deeply progressive" or to speak up about RFK-gate. (To be fair, some made the occasional effort to tamp down expectations about Obama, but standing up to the aggressors in the Blog War was wholly off the table, as learning anything from it stands today).
This behavior fascinates me, because I think many of these folks are genuine idealists. How the tribal orthodoxies get the best of them is both impressive from a social psychology perspective but more importantly perhaps essential to reclaiming the blogosphere and major online activist groups as useful institutions, rather than a roach motel for progressive energies.
Sadly, I can't think of a single reason to expect it's going to get any better. Made men and women are made men and women, and in our culture they don't fuck with the tribe what made them. They'll do almost anything but.