So, it seems like there was a hippie punching party and nobody invited me. Two thoughts:
1. The term “hippie punching,” while satisfying in an @OldHossRadbourn “Beat the Irish” kind of way, does not accurately describe the dynamic of internecine strife in Left Blogistan. Freddie gives as good as he gets; for every “I’m still pissed about Nader” post you see at LGM, you’ll see a similar 1500 word anti-liberal rant from Freddie, or from folks with very similar political attitudes as Freddie. Liberals (if we shall call them such) undoubtedly still see some value in harsh critiques of the Left (if we shall refer to it as such), just as the Left often finds liberals to be easier targets of opportunity than conservatives. The “hippie punching” terminology suggests a passivity that does not capture the relationship. It’s for this reason that I find questions like “why can’t liberals make peace with Ace Cockburn?” almost entirely useless; Cockburn hated liberals, targeted them regularly with nasty invective, and didn’t give a damn what they thought about him.
2. Maybe it’s time to drop the pretense that Freddie and Erik (or Freddie and myself) are on the same side of anything. As we know, the institutional structure of American politics makes the persistence and dominance of two large, broad-coalition political parties extremely likely, and given that the development of Left Blogistan during the Bush administration was characterized by accidental coincidence between liberals and leftists, it’s perhaps not surprising that an inappropriate sense of community would take hold. Let’s be frank, though; while I’m certainly on the left of any kind of linear scale of American politics (and probably in the left-most quartile), I don’t give a damn about Freddie’s “socialist pacifism.” It’s not my kind of politics, it doesn’t interest me, and given my druthers I wouldn’t engage in much of any kind of political action to further whatever program Freddie thought necessary to realize his goals.
If we abandon the idea of a Left Blogistan community, then these arguments stop being about strength of ideological commitment (on the one side) or poor strategic decision making (on the other side) and become simple policy arguments. Pluralism is great; people think all kinds of different things, but intra-group dynamics in groups that probably shouldn’t be groups in the first place probably make conflict a good deal more bloody than it needs to be. There is, to my mind, no natural relationship between the group of people on the left side of American politics who are deeply interested in policy detail and believe that such detail (and the elections that modify this detail) is consequential, and those who believe preferences between the policies of Romney and Obama amount to rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic of Late American Imperial Capitalism.
Phrased differently, a world in which Freddie doesn’t have to pretend that he cares about the public option, the Medicare retirement age, or the specifics of the drone campaign and in which I don’t have to pretend that I can about Freddie might be a much better world than the one we have now. Of course, whenever you have borders there’ll be borderline cases, but it seems to me that the intra-group dynamic of Left Blogistan is kinda ugly right now, and might be better served by Partition. There is precedent; the political Blogosphere that existed in 2004 resolved itself into two distinct ideological groups by 2008, with not much conversation taking place between them. If you really valued the blog wars of 2004 this was a sad development, but it seems that almost no one really wants to relieve those days.