I can’t stand partisanship. Naturally stating this sentiment means I’m immediately suspect in any coalition except if it is made up exclusively of non-conformists, and even then they will suspect you may prefer to join the pro-conformists.
But not preferring partisanship does not mean I will betray any of the principles a given party ought to adopt. There are after all other thing besides party to believe in, and if the party consistently believes them, there is a good chance I can find a group which agrees with mine. Or at least it should be.
The sophisticated observer (I suppose) will consider this partly a semantic issue, since all people want their parties to represent something beyond party alone, namely some principles. But those principles are designed to use as criteria the interests of some party, be it civil libertarians, kings, or even political parties. That makes it a semantic issue, specifically, one has to define the scope of the partisanship: who are you being loyal to in your “inevitable” partisanship?
In the political context we have:
- political party
Which party shall you be partisan too, that is the question now. The party in question might be any kind really, not just a political party but any private party, individual or group, who has an interest or identity.
Not being politically partisan opens up the possibility of choosing policies which are good for the nation but are bad for the party. Since a party sees itself as doing good, this possibility in itself seems bad. But for the party to do a net good for the nation as it sees itself doing, it cannot choose policy which is bad for the nation, so that assumption should be ignored. We would expect this from a Church for example, to follow it’s principles not it’s personal advantage. But again, who are the principles for? For a progressive it must be some broad group, such as a whole nation, but if so, why not the whole world?
Many progressives will tell you their affiliation is to the whole world, and you will be able to doubt that is even possible, since they are at least incidentally on one side or another of conflicts, even those they have no say in.
Once again, my definition for partisanship is making judgments based on party rather than principle. To think otherwise requires assuming the party acts on all it’s principles even when it hurts the party. Organizations don’t work that way. One argument for partisanship is that they can’t work that way. To survive you have to be willing to fight for survival, and principles come second. Of course, this is true and the excuse of all time, the excuse which the genealogy of all morals has evolved to overcome. It’s true, but by defending all compromise on principle and loyalty to party it justified the worst of human social theory.
Partisanship for the individual as a general concept hits much closer to the mark, especially if it’s taken as an abstraction of an individual member of society. This is not being partisan to an particular individual such yourself, but to the concept of an individual, someone that has their own desires and ideas and need for freedom, among others which are the same in these abstractions but unique in all particulars.
I think such a party could be constructed which respects this and it would not be surprised that it could not command consistent conformity. It would only work to discover any conformity, commanding it would be out of the question.
How can such a party survive and achieve power? That’s what we’d really like to know because progressive parties have usually been the way I’ve described. They are groups of non-conformists. I think the answer lies in “concept work”. We lack more than words, we lack the ideas. This may seem belittling but we have the components and clear visions, we lack only more engineering of these components into true conceptual machines of the type capable of moving social mountains.
We need to discover, not dictate, but discover those principles upon which we agree. Not only that. On the metaphors and narratives upon which we agree. Which history we agree with, which we don’t.
If there were no such concepts to discover then we would not have an alliance to begin with. If you look at the conservative alliance it’s not held together by policy agreement, it’s an identity politic that’s working. It may be the strict father traditional family model, I think that’s a decent approximation at the least. It lacks principles that really generate consistent policy. The progressives have the policy agreement, and need the principle agreement. That cannot come from convincing each other of our principles… only from building new principles.
That means parties must be forced to adopt these new principles, rather than principles forced to adopt these old parties.
Progressives need to find these thread and then imbue that on the party of their choice. We do need parties to run politics at least for the time being, and engineering what we want as a group that needs a party will lead to the engineering that could repair a party itself.