Red Tribes, Blue Tribes

This was the com­ment I put up over at the Dai­lyKos about one of the SXSW ses­sions:

Some­one not­ed (I think it was Copeland) that there are few open forum blogs like Dai­lyKos on the right, and many of the big con­ser­v­a­tive blogs don’t even take com­ments. (Author­i­tar­i­an­ism, don’t talk back, the dia­logue isn’t impor­tant, only the dic­tat and the dis­ci­pline of lin­ing up)

Krem­pasky com­ments about Repub­li­cans rejoic­ing every time Democ­rats get togeth­er and a drum cir­cle breaks out (because it means Dems aren’t out knock­ing on doors) and ques­tions whether cre­at­ing social lob­bies for peo­ple to hang out in and exchange views real­ly accom­plish­es any­thing. (Nur­tur­ing, open debate, process as impor­tant as out­come)

Ruby notes that at the small-scale local lev­el, com­mu­ni­ty out­weighs par­ti­san­ship, and throws an open-end­ed zinger at Krem­pasky that he only thinks those drum cir­cles aren’t accom­plish­ing any­thing.

Echo­ing between the­se points I sat there won­der­ing what this says about Tribes and the dif­fer­ing way peo­ple iden­ti­fy with those they agree with on the left and the right.

It’s some­thing about Hive ver­sus Work­er Ants — the left val­ues the mem­ber­ship in the tribe intrin­si­cal­ly. The right seems to val­ue the tribe only for what it can achieve. 

I got a chance to talk to Ruby Sin­re­ich quite a bit after this, and she elab­o­rat­ed a bit about the pow­er that those “drum cir­cles” build in com­mu­ni­ty terms, cre­at­ing bonds between peo­ple, cre­at­ing shared resolve, cre­at­ing infor­ma­tion net­works.

And that’s real­ly it, isn’t it? When I think about what a great expe­ri­ence SXSW was for me in net­work­ing terms: I met Gra­ham from Tree­hug­ger, Japhet from Rain­forest Action Net­work and a bunch of his possie of web saavies who used to work with the Dean Cam­paign, Bruce Ster­ling, the good folks at Blo­gads who had some rock­in ideas about advo­ca­cy adver­tis­ing, Aman­da Con­g­don (ok, ok, she’s not an activist but hey (hair flip) yuh nev­er know…), the Net­centrics and the Net­squareds and the oth­er folks look­ing to help NGOs be smarter about tech­nol­o­gy. Now sure, there’s a Repub­li­can in me (albeit a very, very small rat­faced crea­ture) who sees that net­work mere­ly for how I can use it. But there’s a democ­rat in me (and he is vast, he con­tains mul­ti­tudes) who enjoyed the par­ties as much as the pan­els, would open my house to any of the­se char­ac­ters, and who knows that we’ll all be hand­ing out vir­tu­al mbi­ras and bon­gos around the elec­tron­ic cam­pire.

It’s not just that I don’t want to be a part of any rev­o­lu­tion I can’t dance to, it’s this: the rev­o­lu­tion you can’t dance to just ain’t a rev­o­lu­tion.

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