Dear Chris Bateman,
I am writing in response to your blog post “Prolegomena to Any Future Manifesto“.
What you write resonates with me as I used to be actively involved in electoral politics and had my hand in the formation of a provincial political party. Your post captures the human tension found in all modern organized entities, regardless of sector, human intention is captured in the trio of Principles, Policy, and Practice.
I know this trio through my professional line of work in health care where I help families navigate through a complicated, limited system while trying to address an ever-increasing need. My colleagues and I struggle with the interpretation of Policy, how it is resolved through our Practice, and all under the public scrutiny of the Principles set out by our political and executive masters.
A manifesto’s nature is to set out Principles, which become a movement’s rallying point. Principles, like an artist’s broad paint strokes on a canvas, can capture high-level notions of democracy, free markets, and public healthcare. Meanwhile the Policy level becomes the “devil is in details” that is meant to inform us how to live, essentially being the laws of the land. These laws are forever open to the subjective interpretation of a society’s Practice. This subjectivity is inescapable, dangerous, and is our burden.
Subjectivity and Practice share a critical quality, being they are the default lens that we all must work from! I have witnessed good Policy being ignored by bad Practice and inversely bad Policy being ignored by good Practice. By my logic, it is with people and their Practice where the proverbial rubber hits the road.
Which brings me to your main point that you do not wish to establish a manifesto or set of Principles, but a Practice. It appears that you want to just do and to see where it takes you. A mind open to possibilities. I approve, but do believe that all Practice is informed by Principles whether they are intentionally established or are instinctual. My question to you is: What Principles inform your Practice of Virtuous Discourse?
Even with a commitment to Practice, we can expect mischief as the Trickster is built into our very fiber. The desire to solidify said Practice into a rallying manifesto will likely creep back. I should know since the political animal that is part of me craves this. But I will at present tame my political animal by retrenching our Republic of Bloggers to become a Band of Bloggers. A Band whose loose, flat hierarchy will carry on the business of blogging ideas through the practice of virtuous discourse. Such a plan is good enough.