Friday, February 6

Henry Farrell, Partisanship, Ideology and Loyalty:

The second problem that Brink points to is real again, but is similarly more general than partisanship. It isn't only partisans who have incentives to shade the truth to protect comrades, or to avoid punishment by their peers. It's anyone who works within an organization or coalition. The New Republic — a magazine which has on occasion criticized leftwing bloggers for their over-eagerness to toe the party line is a good example. I suspect that many people who write for the New Republic believe that their editor-in-chief, Martin Peretz, is both nasty and crazy. Yet (perhaps with a couple of exceptions) they aren't going to say this in public places, because they don't want to be fired or blacklisted. Loyalty and compromises are again, not a specific problem of parties.

I feel like it's self-evident that there are enormous problems with political parties, particularly in America, where thousands of people routinely use a term like "bipartisan" while somehow keeping a straight face. Regardless, this is well worth reading. It clicks in my head a bit with ideas stirring around in the first couple hundred pages of Stephenson's Anathem, which I was (naturally) reading until about 4am.