Perhaps I was raised in an overly-Confucian manner, but Conor Friedersdorf’s latest sets my head a-buzzing with questions and my stomach a-churning with unease.
Of course, insofar as an administration must work as a team toward common ends, its employees should be loyal so long as they are working under the president . But once their job ends and especially once the president leaves office maintaining loyalty for its own sake does nothing for the country . . .
The most obvious questions with which to start would include:
1) Is Conor really telling us that loyalty to an abstraction (“the people”) is preferable to loyalty to a person (“the President”)? As a conservative, does he think that the former is even a well-defined concept? Possible given human nature? Desirable? Let’s ignore, for now, the fact that “the President” is in some ways just as damnable an abstraction as “the people”, Bennett doesn’t use that language — almost certainly on purpose.
2) I’m assuming that Conor doesn’t use the standard of “loyalty so long as we are on a team” in his private life, so is the change in stance here entirely a result of consequentialist concerns? Does the good of providing future historians with material outweigh the bad of craven betrayal even whilst craven betrayal remains bad, or are we shifting to a whole new set of rules?
3) Conor mentions “maintaining loyalty for its own sake”. I’m curious as to whether he thinks that that’s ever an accurate description of why people are loyal to one another.
I’m curious to hear Conor’s answers. I was on board when, back at Culture 11, he criticized loyalty to the conservative movement. Now that he’s criticizing loyalty to people, I’m about ready to jump off this boat.