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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