Why Can't We All Just Get Along

I think James Poulos gets the question of blogger collegiality exactly right:

The big conspiracy here I think is one among people who like a good conversation, and have discovered a consistent set of conversation partners whose content and style best compare and contrast with their own. Professional bloggers are paid conversationalists — or should be, at least. And the good social art of collegiality well understood is an essential part of good conversation — especially good public conversation. People sometimes fear that the blogosphere will close itself off to new talent, but, based on the dynamic I’ve just outlined, that strikes me as impossible. The ‘gold rush’ is probably over, but blogging will probably take on the generational tempo of the music world, with big acts retiring for a while to pursue real lives and then making comeback tours after a suitable hiatus — and with lots and lots of new acts competing for attention. Sometimes attention is won by mere novelty, but more often it’s won by talent.

Collegiality as he describes it is easiest to achieve amongst folks who don’t live and die by their agendas (which is not to say that the people he lists don’t care about enacting particular reforms and agendas). But even amongst outright advocates, I believe that collegiality and respect are worth striving for, and that it’s possible to achieve this without descending into the squishy and compromised realms of Broderistic cocktail-party fraternizing. There are exceptions, of course, but one can still maintain a radical posture and consort with those who disagree with it — even (perhaps especially) radicals of the opposite stripe. I’m not much for sports metaphors, but, in this case, one seems called for: It’s possible to go out on the field every day and play as hard and well as you can, genuinely wanting to win — but at the end of the game, you can still shake hands and grab a beer.