Monday, February 21, 2005

The Grumbling Hive

(I'm a little busy right now, so I'm posting this a few days late.)

While I have only the most basic understanding of what "organization theory" is, I find Joseph Logan's ongoing discussion of it at PublicOrgTheory to be utterly fascinating.

A recent post discusses "hives" (us) versus "packs" (them) in the blogosphere, in response to a piece that appeared on Tom Maguire's conservative blog Just One Minute. I take issue with Maguire's assertion that the Right comprises a passionate but disorganized "pack" of groupthink-avoiding enthusiasts. Actually, I'll go a bit further and say that this rosy characterization of Conservative Blogistan is about as cynical and creepy as the worst of Soviet "Socialist Realist" artwork. Either that, or it's deluded.

The degree of "hive" organization on the Right is awe-inspiring - as a brief stroll through SourceWatch will demonstrate - and the Left has nothing that can compare to it. The Right's bloggers are often willing or unwitting loudspeakers for a ruthlessly coordinated message; Grover Norquist doesn't hold weekly meetings on framing for nothing. They may think of themselves as a pack, but they take their marching orders from a hive that knows very well how to flatter their egos while exploiting their emotional weaknesses.

In one episode of "The Simpsons," Homer taunts Mr. Burns to release "dogs with bees in their mouths, and when they bark, they shoot bees at you." If we really must have a bee vs. dog metaphor here, that's probably a more accurate one for how the Right operates.

It also struck me, while reading Maguire, how silly a lot of our current debates are. Arguing over legitimate differences of political opinion is something people do in a functioning democracy, and that's not where we are right now. We can resume intelligent debate on the fine points of policy when Bush-fanciers stop supporting an objectively dishonest, anti-democratic, and anti-constitutional administration (as many Republicans have, in fact, done). Until that point, the struggle is not between Right and Left, but between democracy and tyranny. The only meaningful political division in our society is between people who care when Bush lies, and people who don't.

Maguire's views aside, Mr. Logan raises some interesting questions about blogs-as-organization. I recommend it highly, and not just 'cause he throws a couple of bones (ha!) my way. If you prefer a bit more Maguire-bashing, go directly to Metacomments: Do not pass "Go," do not collect two hundred dollars.

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