Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Personal vs. the Political

Annoyed Librarian has yet another must read post on the border between the private and the political. Frankly, I should just give her the $500 I received for the infamous Chronicle article, because she puts things far more eloquently than I could:

How much privacy can we have if the personal and the political (and by extension the professional) are intertwined? Not much. If you value privacy, then you will not believe that the personal is the political. You will specifically believe that the two are not identical, and that there is a separation of the two absolutely necessary for peace and justice. If you believe that the personal is the political, then you believe that what you do in private is the business of politicians. That's exactly what leftists and "progressives" have been arguing since the 1960s, but there's nothing "liberal" about it.

The SRRT types aren't liberals, and they know it. They don't value privacy, because they believe the personal is the political. They value the political, and for them politics is about organizing, controlling, and manipulating people until they get their way. Leftists and "progressives" always value ideology over privacy and individual autonomy.

How does this apply to the ALA and the battles over non-library issues? It's relevant because the ALA is yet one more domain where the radicals and the "progressives" want to collapse the distinction between the personal and the political, and between the professional and the political. For them it doesn't matter that people come together in the ALA as librarians, because librarianship isn't important compared to their own political and ideological struggles. The claim that the personal is the political is never taken to mean that therefore politics is something we confine to the home and not appropriate to discuss in public. No, it always means that the "progressive" political ideology trumps your right to privacy, and that your personal and professional concerns are not important. Only politics is important.

This is an issue that I wrestle with a lot. I have my own political views, and I've chosen to express them not just as a conservative but as a conservative librarian. How do I do it without ending up as a mirror image of Mark Rosenzweig?

The answer lies in the point I tried to make in the Chronicle essay, and that AL makes above: the difference between having political views on the one hand, and injecting those views into every possible venue, no matter how unrelated to politics. It wasn't working with liberals and leftists that inspired me to invest time and energy in a cookie cutter Blogspot site: it was having liberal and left-wing politics shoved in my face in numerous professional venues that did it.

Yes, I have differences with ALA, and am not reluctant to voice them. Yes, I have a somewhat different perspective on where the threats to intellectual freedom in this world truly lie. However, these are issues that are generally considered within the purview of librarianship. Personal opinions on the Iraq War, Supreme Court appointments, etc, have no place in professional forums. If you really feel a need to speak out on these matters, join a group devoted to that purpose; or, get in on the fun and start a blog.


Anonymous Mega said...

I have been shunned at library school because of my more right leaning views... literally laughed at in class when asked to voice an opinion.

I've come to find that this profession is more about politics than it is about librarianship. I refuse to join or support the ALA and take part in their political agenda.

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"How do I do it without ending up as a mirror image of Mark Rosenzweig?"

Well, for starters, you are a decent man who happens to be conservative. If you were the mirror image of M.R. you would be a bully who happens to be conservative.

9:31 PM  

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