Left Outside

Contradictions of the rightwing blogosphere

Sunny Hundal has been running a series of posts on where he wants to take Liberal Conspiracy. Part one was about LibCon becoming part of a left wing infrastructure, not for the next election but ongoing.

Part two is about acting as an insurgency and ensuing that the left does begin to think it is part of the establishment. The latest, part three, is about the new structure Liberal Conspiracy will take to help facilitate this. I’ve simplified far too much but I assure you that the posts themselves are well worth a read.

What has piqued my interest is the response this sort of action draws from the rightwing blogosphere.

Mr Eugenides has commented very even handedly on Sunny’s latest piece and I think it is worth quoting in full.

I think (laying the partisan, lefty-hating hat down for a moment) that this encapsulates one of the differences between the left-blogosphere, and that on the right, which is that – broadly speaking, and with some exceptions – the left tend to look at blogging as explicitly being a means to an end, the end being “organising”, campaigning or otherwise trying to change the world.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the most successful left wing blogs are usually collaborative efforts whereas those on the right – apart, of course, from ConHome – tend to be individual platforms. You seem to see blogging as a launchpad to real-world change, a medium for collective action to get stuff done. A lot of right-wing blogs are just vehicles for peoples’ opinions and little more. We don’t presume to imagine that we can “destroy the Left” by writing blog posts. (Jeez, if we could, believe me, we would.)

Tory blogs have tried to emulate the campaigning style of online leftwing campaigns – #Kerryout, for example – and by and large we don’t do it very well. I myself have taken part in some campaigns – for the Gurkhas, Iraqi interpreters, free speech online – and it’s noticeable that many of them have been organised and pushed from the left – I have sometimes been, if not the token Tory, then at least one of a relative few.

I’m sure there’s a thesis to be written on this somewhere down the line, but I think the bottom line is this; that while a small part of me wishes you luck (and another, much larger part, hopes that all attempts to “destroy the right” end in ignominious failure), I can’t help thinking that a loosely-focused left-wing blog is going to have difficulty making an impact in our politics because – unlike Conservative Home – LC doesn’t represent a recognisable consituency that politicians need to pander to.

First of all, I think there is a constituency Liberal Conspiracy can tap into, and one which has been abandoned since 1997. Perhaps most importantly I there are lots of other small but overlapping constituencies for which LibCon can become a tool allowing them to coordinate.

However, I think the really interesting stuff comes in the first three paragraphs. Because it is an attitude I see repeated on many right wing blogs, they’re just in it for fun and we’re all taking it far too seriously.

Life can be a bitch and much of the work of politics is ameliorating the position of those afflicted by life’s worst excesses.

That is not all politics is by any means but it is a good minimum for what politics should aim for.

The right’s charge against the state is that it makes things worse; it cannot direct an economy without crashing it, it cannot provide benefits without building dependency, it can’t help without pushing out others who would help better.

Its a matter of faith, certainly not evidence, for the right that charities will deal with the needy better than the state ever could.

The people calling for the role back of the state and  the destruction of all our hard earned and recently eroded safety nets are missing the other half of the bargain.

The market does not just provide, people do. They provide by publicising, campaigning and organising but that is not what the right wing blogosphere do.

They moan and bitch and  swearblog entertainingly but without offering a positive alternative and that is why the journey from virtual to physical sees a huge drop in influence. 36 votes in Norwich for LPUK, 36.

There’s a risk that this post will be the spark that sets the right wing blogosphere aflame with activism and alternatives but I doubt it.

Although they’re having a lot of fun I am not sure that they will ever have the impact a smaller (for now) and better (forever) organised left will, and that should worry them if they think their vision of the world is an attractive one.

Filed under: Blogging

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