Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What is to be done: Group hugs

Sunny over at Pickled Politics and Comment is Free has written what I think is an excellent post on the leftist blogosphere. He takes on the cliche that the left blogosphere is intrinsically far weaker than that of the right. Partly this is because they have less interest in Parliamentary nooks and crannies and therefore represent a far more diverse, less homogeneous grouping. Their visibility to the Parliamentary focused bloggers will necessarily be lower - but it doesn't mean they are not there.

I think I agree, but am cautious about any argument that implies that the left blogosphere is not pretty weak. It may be diverse, interesting and consistent at times, but when compared to the right-o-sphere the left definitely *is* the junior partner. I suspect part of the problem is that the organised left (I mean that in the looser sense) is smaller than the organised right. The right of the Labour Party, Lib Dems and the Tory Party dominate a far larger space than the Labour left, hard left groupescules, greens and independent left combined. I'm not happy about that, but it seems fairly clear for anyone who's taken time to dig into the full spectrum of political blogdom.

Personally I'm only really concerned with how the left can raise its game on the blogosphere, and for that I think we need to look towards team work. One example of an excellent group blog is stroppyblog which, since a fairly recent turn towards recruiting a small team of new bloggers, has come on leaps and bounds. Key to its success, in my view, is having bloggers from different perspectives, regularly posting (well) on a number of different subjects. They don't have to stay safe or serious, in fact that would probably be a very bad thing if they did.

Pickled Politics itself is a more established example where a group of bloggers can effectively support each other and produce a good read on a regular basis. The team are neither so homogeneous they are dull nor so divergent that coming together makes no sense. Group blogs, which have both a diverse feel without being impossibly at odds with each other, are certainly going to be part of the solution to a better left blogosphere.

The carnival of feminists is one instance where blogs of a similar nature can very much build one another, introducing newer blogs to a wider readership who should, theoretically, be interested in what those bloggers have to say. Personally I'd like to see the Carnival of Socialism make a come back, although possibly without the "themes" which could occasionally drift the carnival into an ideological cul de sac rather than focusing on pulling in all the left's talents.

But what else can leftists do to support each other and improve each other's attempts at blogging? Personally I need to comment more on other left blogs, but as my rss feeds expands the time to debate on those blogs shrinks. But when leftists are not interested at supporting one another and generating interesting debate over the too usual sectarian point scoring then should that part of the left blogosphere survive anyway? Maybe not, unless it can learn to serve a less partisan function.

You can't avoid the fact that the blogging attempts of the left are not going to be entirely separate from the state of the left itself. Much of the Trotskyist left has been totally screwed for some time and so the blogs of their supporters undoubtedly reflect the problems facing that part of the socialist movement. Many anti-capitalist blogs are very interesting to read, but suffer from their lack of cohesion with one another, and lack of co-thinkers in general. Green left blogs are, I think, improving but we have a long long way to go before we have the level of readership and influence that those in the mainstream enjoy.

We do need to think seriously about how we improve the left on the net, and I hope that if we can work together on that it may go someway to producing a healthier, more interesting left in general - as well as just making left blogging that little bit more pleasurable.


John Angliss said...

You may well get your wish re: Carnival of Socialism. I'll update the site when I have more information.

stroppybird said...

Thanks for the mention Jim.

If you know of any other women who might like to do posts on Stroppyblog send me an e-mail. Any Green women?

Jim Jay said...

John: excellent - looking forward to it. I'd be up for doing one at Xmas if you like...

Stroppy: My pleasure - I'll have a think, but in the meantime if you're a lefty woman blogger reading this why not pop over to stroppyblog and see if it's you're cup of tea.

JustAGirl said...

I so agree with you! I recently came across a "far-right" blog that said Hilter was a true socialist and that the "left" has tried to say he was a capitalist. They also said Marx preached the need of a ruling government or ruling class! No wonder people think we are crazy...Get a common agengda and we can accomplish so much!