So what’s a LetsGetAlongerist, and what’s not?

It’s been a while since we added anything new to the Slugger glossary of terms. Even the entries we already have can do with refining, as Colm O Mongain did this morning on Twitter with Whataboutery:

After a few years in currency on Slugger and other blogs, it seems to me that FitzJamesHorse‘s LetGetAlongerism ought to get the Slugger glossary treatment.

Before I do, I’d like to open it up for the ‘Slugger house’. But first a few thoughts of my own on the matter.

One difficulty with LetsGetAlongerism in the context of post conflict Northern Ireland is its ambiguity. For a start it invites the awkward question of what its twin, LetsNotGetAlongerism might look like.

So when I ask myself, are you a LetsGetAlongerist, or LetsNotGetAlongerist? I feel at liberty to choose to answer either way, or even both. In terms of building a new inclusive society, as opposed to blasting hell out of each other, what’s not to like about ‘getting along’?

That’s a non trivial measure of the term. Even today, more of the ongoing bridging between Northern Ireland’s communities takes place despite our politics rather than because of it. In fact much of our politics is, by default, recreating the fault lines of the conflict albeit in mostly civil formats. Much else is PR or Marketing without delivery.

If not getting along is raised to a platform it drives more functional politics of change out of the system, such that the whole point of not getting along becomes, erm, just not getting along.

And, in fact, the same applies the other way around.

If getting along is the only thing that matters, like ecumenism before it, it drives initiative and political purpose out of the system. So that actions A or B are offered as the only means of ‘getting along’, therefore we must do it.

And yet, surely getting along sufficiently well in order to allow combative and divergent political aims and content to take the field should not be classed as pure and egregious LetsGetAlongerism: one, because it’s a minimum bottomline rather than topline standard; it’s a means to the more proper end of repoliticising our deadening political space?

It becomes egregious when certain forms of political action are seen as compulsory in order to serve the greater good. Thus, as I see it, top down instructions over contentious issues like parades, segregated education or OTRs must be dealt with only in a specific given way for the sake of peace, can be construed as LetsGetAlongerism.

For LetsGetAlongerism to be both a meaningful and useful definition I’d argue that it must allow the possibility of advocating some form of getting along without the danger of become a full blown LetsGetAlonerist by default? That there is a distinction between advocacy of the democratic space and seeking to control its precise content.

I default to the poet for a possible clue:

On the one hand, I’m interested in how we avoid tearing one another to pieces. Peace is not that, peace is the absence of that, peace is the absence of war: the opposite of war is custom, customs, and civilization. Civilization is custom and manners and ceremony, the things that Yeats says in “A Prayer for My Daughter.” We have a vocabulary of how to deal with one another and how to behave, a vocabulary of behavior, as well as things to say to one another . . . and out of that come laws and agreed ways of doing things . . .

So, let’s have your thoughts, and your own concise definitions we can draw upon to use in the Glossary for LetsGetAlongerist?

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty