Why I’m not Boycotting Total Politics’ Top Blogs Poll

Paul and Dave have called for a boycott of The Total Politics Top Blogs Poll.  Iain Dale is interviewing the Nick Griffin and they do not want their names associated with a magazine which associates with him.

The arguments for and against No Platform have been well worn. I personally wouldn’t share a platform with a Fascist but I’m not convinced that no one should. For example, I considered Griffin’s appearance on Question Time a success. I thought he looked like a fool and everyone I spoke to thought he looked like a fool. I don’t move in particularly “right on” circles, people just hated the odious man all the more for having seen him. [1]

This call has ignited much discussion in the blogosphere with Harpy Marx, Paul Sagar, The Provisional BBC and Stephen Newton all joining the boycott. However, I like Dr Phil will not be joining.

A boycott can be a very effective tactic. The threat of one seemed to work when trying to keep Liddle out of the Independent. Unfortunately I think employed against Iain Dale and Total Politics a boycott is bound to fail.

The man would never back down to left wing bloggers, in his latest comments he seems to be positively revelling in it. Paul explains why he shouldn’t be here, but the point remains that I don’t think this boycott would ever be effective. Although I don’t uniformly support a No Platform policy I do condemn Iain’s decision to interview him.

So tactically I disagree with the threat of boycott. On the other hand, I commend their efforts to expand as sense of solidarity in the left wing blogosphere. I think it is necessary and desirable.

Giles argues against solidarity in blogging saying:

I think solidarity in the blogosphere is a mistake. In fact, I would even question whether outfits like LibCon – which I love – actually advance their causes, because you end up reading it thinking “they would say that wouldn’t they”. Do any of you think the existence of the IEA or ASI actually furthers the acceptance of right wing ideas? For every post I read that convinces me of something new, I read 10 that convince me that they are blinkered nutjobs.

When birds of a feather flock together, all you get is the impression of an echo-chamber, of all of you subjecting yourselves to the very rigorous and searching criticisms of, um, yourselves and other likeminded thinkers.

Giles is wrong for a number of reasons. I already think there is a greater degree of solidarity and cohesion on the blogosphere than he recognises, and that this is a good thing.

For example I think there is a clear sense of community created by bloggers entirely justified disdain for the mainstream media.

Criticising the mainstream media – and attacking its ineffectual watchdog/poodle – are key signals that you are “one of us.”

This signalling reduces the opportunity cost of working out who our allies are. There’s a lot of information out there and its rational to be ignorant of most of it, this behaviour  makes it cheaper to work out friend from foe.

[…]

We’re just great apes, the ticks we pick are called The Sun, The Mail and The Express, but in the end we just sit around, plucking out vermin. We do this not only because its essential for everyone’s health and sanity but also because it binds us together.

This solidarity needs to be built on if we are going to hold the press to account.

Likewise with an election this year, blogging solidarity is going to aid the dissection of each party’s manifesto.

I’m not asking for “freedom of discussion, unity of action” because there will always be disagreement between people opinionated enough to be bloggers.

What I think is necessary is a recognition in speech and action that bloggers, especially those on the left, are working together and can be stronger and more effective together.

[1] I have little faith in the intelligence of BNP members and I do think that a combination of No Platforms and people calmly and repeatedly refuting their arguments is too much for them, a pincer movement they can’t counter.

Advertisements