Bloggers of the left, unite!


by Sunny
29th October, 2007 at 4:11 pm    

[This was published on comment is free today]

One of the characteristics I admire in political commentators on the right is their willingness to repeat a “truth” until it becomes received wisdom for them, and sometimes even for their opponents on the left.

So, we must remember: the BBC is a leftwing institution populated by “metropolitan liberals”; the immigration debate has been suppressed for decades (as the Daily Mail and Telegraph constantly remind us); global warming is fiction; and most problems can be traced back to political correctness.

Did you notice I didn’t mention the phrase conspiracy theorists anywhere?

These aren’t like people who claim 9/11 was carried out by the CIA or that Nasa faked its moon landings. No, these are genuine grievances, dammit, about the abuses perpetuated by a vast liberal conspiracy.

My current favourite “truth” is that the British political blogosphere is dominated by the right. Or so the usual suspects keep telling us. Hell, even Alistair Campbell said it, so it must be true! But is it really?

Iain Dale’s top 500 list was dominated by right-wing blogs at the top, but as Chris Dillow pointed out: “…people who like blogs like Iain Dale’s like blogs like Iain’s – whoda thunk?”

I have nothing against Iain Dale (he even rated me as 72nd most powerful person on the left), so this isn’t a case of sour grapes. This says more about the state of our politics than about the blogosphere.

All of the top political blogs focus specifically on Westminster, rather than taking a broader view of the world. This is not uncoincidental, since national media attention, the real driver of growth for top political blogs, is biased towards viewing politics with a big “P” and is interested in bloggers who disrupt that tightly knit world. For example, Guido Fawkes‘s supposed influence derives almost entirely from the view that he may leak something embarrassing about a politician. Beyond his occasional discovery of a smoking gun, he can effectively be ignored. For example, his concerted attempts to throw mud at the Smith Institute or Lord Levy have yet to bear fruition. He is, in my view, a useful attack dog for those really pulling the strings.

In contrast to this, there is, in fact, quite a vibrant blogging culture on the left; it’s just more spread out over issues ranging from the environment, media, foreign affairs, feminism, civil liberties, race and identity and so on.

None of the popular political blogs on the left obsess about Westminster (unless they are by people in politics) as many do on the right, which explains why Anthony Barnett can’t find them pouring vitriol over the latest government announcement.

Online, the left has occasionally excelled, campaigning for Iraqi Employees or even something as global as Burma. Three thousand people attended a rally in London for Burma, organised almost entirely through Facebook, such is the power of online campaigning.

But here’s the problem.

While the decentralised nature of online left-wing discussion is a good thing, strategically it works out badly for us. The left has always been successful through collective action. In theory, the environmentalists should be campaigning with civil libertarians and feminists, while those with an interest in foreign affairs should be informing the debate on identity politics at home.

Instead, leftwing blogs discuss social issues almost as single-issue groups, focusing on relatively few areas of interest. This means far too little cross-fertilisation of ideas and conversation.

As I’ve said before: blogs are at their best when generating interesting commentary and new ideas, and when campaigning with like-minded people.

The current state of affairs on the left should change, and not just so we’re more strongly represented in future top 100 lists. It should change because left-wing bloggers are fundamentally under-utilising the collaborative power of the internet. C’mon people, get organised!


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  1. Riz — on 29th October, 2007 at 4:31 pm  

    Time for a ‘Left Wing Council of Britain’!

    I joke…more unity and organisation is to be applauded. Individual voices may get heard, but more cohesiveness clearly lends more weight when it comes to the spreading of memes. Indeed, the success of the larger campaigns clearly underscores a non-linearity; the idea that the cumulative strength of blogs is much greater much greater than their individual powers…a bit like the Power Rangers when they get together.

  2. ChrisC — on 29th October, 2007 at 4:36 pm  

    Left / Right.

    Yawn / yawn.

  3. Morgoth — on 29th October, 2007 at 4:38 pm  

    So, we must remember: the BBC is a leftwing institution populated by “metropolitan liberals”

    The BBC have admitted this itself, Sunny.

    As for the left, well…..you’ll never achieve the momentum that the right will achieve because at heart, you’re all too damn wet.

  4. Leon — on 29th October, 2007 at 4:40 pm  

    It should change because left-wing bloggers are fundamentally under-utilising the collaborative power of the internet. C’mon people, get organised!

    Amen to that brother!

  5. Leon — on 29th October, 2007 at 4:45 pm  

    you’ll never achieve the momentum that the right will achieve because at heart, you’re all too damn wet.

    Heheh if the Tories ever get back in power you’ll see just what the full force of the leftist blogosphere will be like. :D

    As for Sunny’s piece I think this is one area left out, the left work best in co-ordination when they have a common narrative or enemy (war for example).

    Give us a Tory government and I’ll show you a fired up left blogosphere’s that’ll make Iain Dull, Dozzy Thinks and Weirdo Farts look like a bunch of tittering teenagers writing an angry political fanzine.

    One big problem as I see it is having a Labour government and not too many ‘supporters’ having the balls to effectively challenge it.

  6. Morgoth — on 29th October, 2007 at 4:47 pm  

    Actually, I’ve read something on this before, on NRO I think – fundamentally it appears that opposition (as opposed to government) is more of a motivating factor in policy innovation and political motivation*, which may apply to blogs as well

    *Unless you’re Labour circa 1983, when it was a motivating factor in producing the longest suicide note in History.

  7. Morgoth — on 29th October, 2007 at 4:49 pm  

    Heheh if the Tories ever get back in power you’ll see just what the full force of the leftist blogosphere will be like

    Even though I left the Tories a while back (too many people in-hoc to religious throwback types), I’d be more than happy for your wish to come true. :-)

  8. Morgoth — on 29th October, 2007 at 4:52 pm  

    Actually, I’d go further and state that a major difference between the right and the left is the inherent tendancy of the left to indulge in ideological splitterism, and the greater tendancy for the “big tent” approach on the right. Yes, there is a small element of splitterism on the right with UKIP, but can you imagine Monty Python taking the piss out of the right in the way that they did the left with The People’s Front of Judea malarkey? I think that speaks volumes.

  9. Morgoth — on 29th October, 2007 at 4:53 pm  

    In short, the left is very Milton-esque (better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven, etc)

  10. Sunny — on 29th October, 2007 at 5:23 pm  

    Actually, I’d go further and state that a major difference between the right and the left is the inherent tendancy of the left to indulge in ideological splitterism,

    That’s because Trots dominate the lefty blogosphere and it’s frankly pissing me right off.

    Although, you’re not far from that attitude either Morgoth, you’re only interested in denouncing others in the maddest way possible.

  11. Morgoth — on 29th October, 2007 at 5:25 pm  

    Although, you’re not far from that attitude either Morgoth, you’re only interested in denouncing others in the maddest way possible.

    True, but then I’m not interested in setting up my own faction, and I’ll faithfully vote Conservative at the next election.

    But anyway, I’m off. This is a thread for lefties, so I’ll not hang around too much. Have fun with the navel-gazing, lefties!

  12. Old Boyo — on 29th October, 2007 at 5:27 pm  

    If the BBC was a conspiracy of the right, how come Madeleine “Mad” Bunting is on Thought for the Day?

    More seriously, how many Telegraph readers do you know who work for the BBC?

    I don’t really care if the BBC (and C4 – see Britz etc) share the same dinner parties (and no doubt more) as the Farringdon Road Mob, but on the other hand it’s a bit ridiculous to deny it.

  13. Sunny — on 29th October, 2007 at 5:34 pm  

    how come Madeleine “Mad” Bunting is on Thought for the Day?

    People who provide such anecdotal pieces of evidence really annoy me. What about the fact that Mad Mel Phillips is constantly on the Beeb then? And what about the fact that its chief political editor used to head up Young Conservatives?

  14. Morgoth — on 29th October, 2007 at 5:42 pm  

    And what about the fact that its chief political editor used to head up Young Conservatives?

    People who provide such anecdotal pieces of evidence really annoy me.

    *ahem* :-)

  15. soru — on 29th October, 2007 at 6:15 pm  

    Actually, I’d go further and state that a major difference between the right and the left is the inherent tendancy of the left to indulge in ideological splitterism,

    There is a point here where conservatives have a natural advantage, as there are many more ways to change things than there are to let things remain mostly the same.

  16. Rumbold — on 29th October, 2007 at 7:11 pm  

    Lenin’s Tomb is on the left. So is Pickled Politics. Why should they unite? I rather like the fact that there are blogs representing so many different shades of opinions. It is a lot better then two monolithic blocks of opinion. How boring would that be?

    Leon:

    “As for Sunny’s piece I think this is one area left out, the left work best in co-ordination when they have a common narrative or enemy (war for example).

    Give us a Tory government and I’ll show you a fired up left blogosphere’s that’ll make Iain Dull, Dozzy Thinks and Weirdo Farts look like a bunch of tittering teenagers writing an angry political fanzine.”

    Excellent point. I think you have summed it up.

  17. Kits Coty — on 29th October, 2007 at 8:31 pm  

    “One of the characteristics I admire in political commentators on the right is their willingness to repeat a “truth” until it becomes received wisdom for them, and sometimes even for their opponents on the left”

    But the same is true for left wing commentators e.g peak oil theory, gm foods, globalisation. There are some deeply entrenched viewpoints there…

  18. Dave S — on 29th October, 2007 at 10:29 pm  

    Kits Coty: Peak oil THEORY?

    You do realise that peak oil is probably already here (if not passed), that depletion of oil reserves is already having a measurable effect, and that the theory is hardly rocket science anyway (what with it following the “normal distribution” and all, it’s somewhat to be expected).

    Peak oil is no longer just a (sound) theory – it is a reality.

    Even the oil companies acknowledge it – albeit perhaps just so they can foist biofuels on us ASAP, before the full horrors of the environmental devastation caused by those are realised.

    As for theories… well, even gravity is only a theory.

  19. Kits Coty — on 29th October, 2007 at 11:00 pm  

    See what I mean…

    Open Minds Unite!!

  20. douglas clark — on 30th October, 2007 at 3:55 am  

    No, Kits Coty, I do not see what you mean. There are minds that are open to new ideas and there are minds that are open to any irrational thought that passes by them. Oh, I don’t know, astrology, homeopathy, post modernism, Devils’ Kitchen, the list is endless.

    The latter group might, controversially, include most religious maniacs.

    See what I mean…..

  21. Kits Coty — on 30th October, 2007 at 7:34 am  

    Ok then Douglas. Peak oil theory is an idea beloved of the deep green and far left wing where it is promoted most strongly but it is also circulates among the extreme right wing. Nick Griffin has orientated current BNP thinking around it – he goes on about it all the time. The point about open minds and that topic (ignoring semantics about what a theory is) is that many people will not entertain alternative viewpoints about the way oil markets work with the wider economy that come from basic economics. Hence we get people who hold a postion that is highly dogmatic and frequently millenarian. Bit like Dave S and his “its the end of the world as we know it”.

  22. ChrisC — on 30th October, 2007 at 8:47 am  

    Sunny – weren’t you going to start a “left wing” equivalent of the Biased BBC blog?
    What happened to that?

    I also remember your assertion that the general population was “to the left” of the BBC on a number of issues. Examples?

  23. Sofi — on 30th October, 2007 at 11:00 am  

    hear hear!

  24. Kismet Hardy — on 30th October, 2007 at 11:07 am  

    “Did you notice I didn’t mention the phrase conspiracy theorists anywhere?”

    This is what happenned. The white fiat swerved on purpose, the driver was spiked and the argument that had they been wearing seatbelts, they’d have lived is redundant because they didn’t care if she died or lived. The important thing was to get rid of the unborn muslim baby she was carrying

  25. Morgoth — on 30th October, 2007 at 11:11 am  

    Have you been drinking again?

  26. Kismet Hardy — on 30th October, 2007 at 11:15 am  

    I never stopped my friend

  27. Morgoth — on 30th October, 2007 at 11:27 am  

    Haha. Make mine a pint of Cider & Black then.

  28. Sofi — on 30th October, 2007 at 12:29 pm  

    >>This is what happenned. The white fiat swerved on purpose, the driver was spiked and the argument that had they been wearing seatbelts, they’d have lived is redundant because they didn’t care if she died or lived. The important thing was to get rid of the unborn muslim baby she was carrying

    no. that cant be. of course not! it was “an accident” and just that. in no time at all, the jury will say the same, surprise surprise. and we can finally lay this thing to rest.

  29. Morgoth — on 30th October, 2007 at 12:40 pm  

    Oh ffs. The silly cow is dead. She was nothing but a inbred spoilt whinging bubble-headed psycho anyway.

    *hates the continuing Cult of Diana*

  30. Kismet Hardy — on 30th October, 2007 at 12:46 pm  

    Morgoth, don’t be so harsh. Won’t someone please think of the poor Daily Express readers?

  31. Morgoth — on 30th October, 2007 at 1:21 pm  

    Fuck the Daily Express Readers!

  32. Kismet Hardy — on 30th October, 2007 at 1:26 pm  

    But who will care for Maddie’s family’s plight without them?

  33. Leon — on 30th October, 2007 at 1:35 pm  

    Those who were paying their mortgage via the slush fund?

  34. Kismet Hardy — on 30th October, 2007 at 1:51 pm  

    They’re the only couple that lost a child this year, you know

  35. sonia — on 30th October, 2007 at 2:01 pm  

    i think there is a good reason why people are interested in collaboration in decentralized ways, which is actually harnessing the power of networks – in ‘new’ ways, rather than just imitating the old’ Politics with a big P ways.

    because we don’t want to repeat the same old cycle. yes we may have less power than the ‘right’ in the traditional understanding of political power, but then, we would be sleazy Prime Ministers in training, and some of us at least, are not interested.

    besides, there is plenty of collaboration happening.

  36. Sunny — on 30th October, 2007 at 2:03 pm  

    Stop talkig about the McCanns!!aaaargh, I hate that news story with a vengance.

    Rumbold: Lenin’s Tomb is on the left. So is Pickled Politics. Why should they unite?

    Well, I wasn’t advocating shacking up with the SWP actually. That alliance would last 5 minutes. Neither do I want to ally myself with someone proudly displaying the Hizballah & Hamas flags.

  37. Rumbold — on 30th October, 2007 at 2:05 pm  

    Sunny:

    “Well, I wasn’t advocating shacking up with the SWP actually. That alliance would last 5 minutes. Neither do I want to ally myself with someone proudly displaying the Hizballah & Hamas flags.”

    Who would you choose then?

  38. Kismet Hardy — on 30th October, 2007 at 2:08 pm  

    “Who would you choose then?”

    Why is everything so ‘this or that’ with you?

    If you don’t agree with this (war) you must agree with that (tyranny)

    There is another way: they’re both wrong. You can only come up with a better solution when you get your head round the fact that you don’t have to side with either

  39. Rumbold — on 30th October, 2007 at 2:12 pm  

    Kismet:

    “Why is everything so ‘this or that’ with you?

    If you don’t agree with this (war) you must agree with that (tyranny).”

  40. Rumbold — on 30th October, 2007 at 2:16 pm  

    Ignore #39.

    Kismet:

    “Why is everything so ‘this or that’ with you?

    If you don’t agree with this (war) you must agree with that (tyranny).”

    My question to Sunny was legitimate, as he had called for the lefties to unite. Lenin’s Tomb is a leftie, so why was the question objectionable?

    I do not have the ‘with us or against us’ mentality. What I have a problem with is your form of relativism, which states that the US are as bad as those who set out to murder civilians then brag about it afterwards.

  41. Sunny — on 30th October, 2007 at 2:29 pm  

    Rumbold, there’s plenty more of bloggers I would unite with. The SWP and the other Trots are only a small part of this (coming) alliance.

  42. Kismet Hardy — on 30th October, 2007 at 2:34 pm  

    Rumbold, yeah, I butted in on your question to Sunny, but there’s no way in hell I’m going to stand for being branded a bragger about the bloodshed caused. I don’t have a Told You So placard to match my Say No To War one. I’m not making excuses like you keep making. I’m expressing my disgust that people have died because people like you said you were going to save them

  43. Sofi — on 30th October, 2007 at 2:37 pm  

    actually, i quite agree that we shouldnt need to side with anybody. nor should we classify everything to be lefties/rightie thinking; it unnecessarily simplifies things at the very least.

  44. Sofi — on 30th October, 2007 at 2:39 pm  

    oh nooo, not that flawed talk of liberal interventionism again..please no!!

  45. Rumbold — on 30th October, 2007 at 2:39 pm  

    Sunny:

    “Rumbold, there’s plenty more of bloggers I would unite with. The SWP and the other Trots are only a small part of this (coming) alliance.”

    Fair enough- thanks for the clarification.

    Kismet:

    “Rumbold, yeah, I butted in on your question to Sunny, but there’s no way in hell I’m going to stand for being branded a bragger about the bloodshed caused.”

    Aargh! For the last time I am not accusing you of supporting terrorists. I know that you think they are evil. What I take issue with is you saying that the US are behaving as badly as terrorists in Iraq.

  46. Sofi — on 30th October, 2007 at 4:56 pm  

    >>What I take issue with is you saying that the US are behaving as badly as terrorists in Iraq

    on what basis do you have issues with this comparison?

  47. Praguetory — on 31st October, 2007 at 7:47 am  

    Having denounced conspiracy theories your article continues with

    “Guido is, in my view, a useful attack dog for those really pulling the strings.”

    You’re beyond parody.

  48. Morgoth — on 31st October, 2007 at 10:20 am  

    on what basis do you have issues with this comparison?

    On the basis of fact, really. Just because the anti-war brigade have created their own fantastical reality in which the US are as bad as the terrorists doesn’t actually mean that its the actualitie. Left-wing views aren’t facts, y’know (an issue the BBC has in spades). You and Kismet are coming across as pale imitations of Scott Beauchamp, y’know.

    But to get back to the point in hand, apart from the Reds, what other left-wing blogs are there? LabourHome is a pale imitation of ConservativeHome, and the various blogs Sunny links to are simple pale nulabour clones who no one actually reads. The most successful left-wing blogs, Harry’s Place and the Popinjays have ditched large chunks of the left (not surprisingly, mind you), and MediaLens is a self-asorbed Chumpsky groupie site. What future for the left in blogging in the UK?

    In the states its the same. Daily Kos is filled with the vilest anti-semitic conspiracy mongering, and that is what passes for leftist blogging in the States. Where is the left-wing equivalent of Instapundit, for example? Or LGF? Or National Review Online?

    Enquiring, well-funded minds want to know.

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