I have just read Glenn Reynold’s article on the Gorman affair. What interests me is not this story in and of itself. It is the bigger picture of which it is a part that fascinates me.
There was a time, not so long ago, when someone such as Mr. Gorman could speak with the power of an organization behind him. He could say “WE” instead of “I” on a subject and like it or not, the entirety of his organization’s membership was subsumed into public agreement. A statement was not that of Mr. Gorman, but of “librarians” as a class. If you happened to be a librarian who disagreed, you were out of luck. If you believed, for example, it was good to support dissidents against Castro… you would be pictured as someone who was not in step with their fellow librarians. The same was true of any membership organization. The leadership was your voice.
This does not seem to be true any longer, as you will rapidly discover upon reading the responses by Mr. Gorman’s fellow librarians. The dissident view is as available and as well spoken as the leadership view.
Could we be witnessing the death throes of the non-consensual “WE”? The last nail in the coffin of the involuntary collective?
We will just have to wait and see.