Mêtêr Politikon - Part I
(Mêtêr Politikon: Political Mother)
I swore up and down to myself that I was not going to do any more posts about blogging. This week, anyway. Between Flickian angst and CHBM-MOW celebrations and Dad-Blogger blogging, it's pretty much been a week of bloggy navel gazing. With an occasional break for sleep-deprived rambling about gods and penises and stories about Zanta sightings.
But I can't help myself. I cannot resist temptation. And, since it is my blog, why should I resist? It's my blog and I'll navel-gaze if I want to.
Both Izzy and Nancy wrote this week about the frustrations of the blogroll. Kristen wrote about the politics of commenting the other week. Scarbie wrote about her frustrations with blog politics some weeks ago. And earlier this week I wrote about my worries about being perceived as a blogger who plays politics. A common theme? That the blogosphere - that corner of it that is occupied by parents, in any case - is political. That it sometimes seems a lot like high school.
It was while reading Izzy's post - and rambling on in an excessively wordy comment to that post - that it suddenly occurred to me what was bothering me about the arguments concerning blog politics: the assumption that politics is a bad thing. Commenters to the above discussions tended to break into two camps: those who are really bothered by blog politics, and those who try to avoid being bothered by blog politics (I situated myself in the latter category.) In both cases, however, the same assumption: politics is a bother. Politics is bad.
I didn't question this assumption (shame on you, political scientist!). I totally empathized with everybody who said that they had had moments of frustration with the norms and mores of the blogging community. I nodded silently when 'high school' and 'cliques' were invoked. I didn't think twice when the word politics was used again. And again. And again. But even as I nodded, I was a little bothered. I understood and appreciated everything that everyone was saying. But I was bothered, discomfited. Was it because it was all hitting too close to home? (My big fear for a few bloggy moments, especially after Scarbie's post: that I was, or would be perceived as, big ass-kissy Tracy Flick of a politicker in the blogosphere. Then, after some self-interrogation and reflection, I confirmed for myself that I was not, and fuck anyone who thought otherwise.) No. So if not that, what?
Then, while commenting on Izzy's post, and wondering again why I was so bothered by the topic (not, I should stress, by Izzy's treatment of it), it hit me. I DISAGREED.
HOLY MARY MOTHER OF GOD.
I do not think that the blogosphere, or our corner of it, is political. Or, to be clearer, I do not think that it is political in the sense that people mean when they use the term 'political.' I think that to whatever extent the blogosphere is truly political, that politics is nothing to be unduly bothered by.
And I do not think that this little community is like high school.
I'll explain why in a sec. Which is to say, in the next post. Tomorrow. (So, if you are, because of wrinkles in blog time, reading this tomorrow: in a sec.)
But first, I need to go all POL 101: Introduction to Politics on your asses. And, once again, sickeningly rah-rah.
Politics on a level with politicians is generally and understandably understood to be somewhat unseemly. Calling someone a politician has never been a compliment. Describing a social situation as political is usually shorthand for 'socially difficult.'
High school, it is often said, is political. There is much jostling for social position and forming of alliances. There is exclusion for the purposes of defining the boundaries of such alliances, the better to demarcate circles of power and identify outsiders. It is competitive. It can be brutal. It is political. But it is only political in the narrow sense of the term, as it refers to the pursuit and maintenance of power, to the practices associated with the acquisition and/or exercise of power within a social body or organization.
(PRETENTIOUS ACADEMIC ALERT.)
The classical understanding of politics is much broader. Man, Aristotle said, is a political animal. (ho anthropos physei politikon zoon, Polit., 1253 a 2). To say that man (and woman) is political is to say that he (or she) requires interaction - rational, discursive interaction - with other human beings in order to fully develop as a human being. Unlike other social animals - ants, bees - human beings make meaning through speech. We reason through speech (the ancient Greek word logos (λογος) refers to both speech and reason.) We require community with others if we are to exercise, and so develop, speech and reason. We do not live in community simply to survive. We live there to thrive.
When we talk about high school being political, we are not thinking of politics in the classical sense, in the sense of that human dynamic by which we - through discourse - thrive. But that is exactly the sense of politics that I think of when I think about the politics of blogging.
I do not think about the exercises associated with the acquisition of status and power. I think about logos.
Tomorrow: why mommy-blogging is not Heathers, with special reference to the incomparable Mrs. Chicky, and blog politics according to HBM. And, a call to Toronto mamas about finally getting the fuck together.
And then, on Tuesday, she will stage a blog-production of Aristophanes' Thesmophoriazusae. In Greek.
My post of yesterday was my 100th post. Was I supposed to attach streamers and balloons to it? Or something?
This week's edition of Mrs. McFeely's Weekly Squeeze will appear as part of the Dad-Blogger Shout-Out, to be posted early next week.
There's another visitor in the Basement tonight. Please go visit with her and offer your support. BYO cookies.