Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Finding our bearings in a new world order

A stunner from Joe Drymala (*) here:
Here's a question that I find myself wrestling with: what marks the end of traditional politics, and the beginning of something else? In other words, at what point do terms like "partisanship" become obsolete with regard to the political circumstances of the day? For instance, at a certain point (here we go again with the Nazis), you were either a Nazi supporter or an enemy of the state. The same with Italian and Spanish fascists, Stalin's Communists and virtually any other ultra-nationalist or ethnic movement (Rwanda, Serbia, etc.). To say that Nazis were being overly partisan would be a gross understatement, and to say that those who resisted the Nazis were overly partisan would just be laughable. At some point, there are lines drawn, and ideas like reason and debate and normal political compromise are themselves relics of an age past. You are either zealously supporting the regime in power, zealously opposing the regime in power, or privately living in fear of the regime in power, terrified to publicly stand against it but fervently praying that it's overthrown.

Some would say that we're at that point already, others would say that we are at the very early stages of such a situation and there's still an opportunity to revive our republican ideals (small "r"). I don't know. I'm not saying that the purpose of this blog should be to aid some kind of political resistance movement; I just want to voice the question of how we'll know when we've, in effect, crossed the Rubicon. And, if and when we reach that moment, a new set of rules and understandings will crop up and be clear.

There's something that's worth noting here as well -- the conservative movement has been operating with this mentality for forty years. They see themselves as a political resistance movement, willing to go beyond the accepted norms of politics and discourse to further their goal of one-party domination. At what point is the tone of sites like Kos and Atrios considered to be the only appropriate response to such a movement?

I concern myself quite a bit with this question; whether the old rules are dead, or just dying. Whether the Enlightenment ideals have come and gone, or are in fact deeper than a mere political fad. Whether our two-party democratic system can ever again be robust and healthy as it was for most of the twentieth century, or whether the die has been cast and the twentieth century was merely an abberation of history.

I don't know the answer. But I'm troubled by the question.
(written as a comment on this post at Unfogged; via Lex)

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