The lack of unity across plasma disciplines seems to be 100% true, unfortunately.
Part of the problem is that plasma is fuckin' wicked hard, as you're painfully aware (or, not-so-painfully, because you kinda dig this crap too). People only attack fusion from one angle because that's the way we've incentivized the scientific community, both in our funding architecture and the intertwined systems of repute, and the way we're teaching things to the next batch of kiddos. Fusion is such a complex problem that, by necessity, we must divvy up the tasks, and there are a god-awfully large number of things on the "to do" list. The natural result is self-segregating communities of people afraid to jump across the boundaries of established disciplines for fear of having to learn new skill sets, new social circles, and secure funding all the while. And yep, it's absolutely human nature to take the path of least resistance, especially after grad school milks the snot out of people's souls. Even for once-headstrong kids in tune with the big picture. As if that all of that wasn't bad enough, there seems to be a lot more money in solid-state/QM/AMO research because of the immediate applications in industry, and that sucks up a lot of our best and brightest. It's also increasingly obvious (imho) that fusion will not be solved by theorists; It'll likely be worked out by a hybrid mix of theory and experimentalism, and then perhaps theory will perhaps allow us to understand it or miniaturize it. Something like that. The "shoot first, ask questions later" approach seems to be the way things are proceeding right now, largely. "Proceeding" being a questionable choice of verbiage, here. Yes, more money would unquestionably push things along, but scientists are notoriously poor at public relations and outreach efforts to impact policy in their favor. Especially if it's "WE'RE TOTALLY GOING TO MARS!!" (we're totally not, any time soon) vs. magnetic confinement fusion. And things are getting worse in the general public's perception of science, at least certainly here in the U.S.
Edit: Forgot to mention that most plasma theorists and experimentalists just don't get along, which I think is pathetic. I have seen these old men's disdain for one another... >:(
I'm definitely still working on wrapping my head around the current state of things. I've been given an incredible head start on a lot of the big picture stuff. Most notably networking. It's obvious to me that I'm not going to pull an Einstein and work this mess out myself, with a pencil and paper, while no one bothers me inside of a patent office. But I do stand a chance at assembling a crew of folks that might be able to make a pretty big dent in our path towards fusion. Baby steps, though.
TL;DR - another worthless scientist foolishly trying to save the world attempts to justify his own petty existence.
P.S. someone I respect immensely told me the other day that no one can really learn math past the age of 25. I thought it was pretty sad that they'd limit themselves like that, although the assertion is supported by a large amount of data. My guess is that it's not so much that the brain loses some innate ability to learn complex new ideas past age 25, it's simply that almost everyone loses the motivation right about that time in their lives. For whatever reason. Sucks for them. I'm happy, I'd say, but I'll never be satisfied, so I'll probably try to keep chugging along.