Thursday, August 21, 2008

Egoism and blogging

First things first. Total Politics are running a best blogs series as part of Iain Dale's Guide to Blogging 2008-9 (which will be available at all four party conferences and the TUC shindig). It's all been done on the public vote and Iain is publishing the results. The Best Green Blogs category can be found here. It seems that more people voted for my blog than any other in the category, so rather embarrassingly I've come top of his list.

Obviously this is done rather differently to the best green blog awards that I've organised the last few years (which also originated because of the good Mr Dale), although there's always the "People's Choice" award which I think is a vital component, and a great way to help green bloggers think about blogging, find new places to visit and start talking to each other. I've been keen on fostering an air of a community among green bloggers and it's something I've tried to make a modest contribution to.

Which reminds me - I forgot to thank Andy T, one of the designers of War On Terror - The Board game for quickly knocking up the little top green blogger logo (above) when I was too busy to get it done myself, thanks Andy. People should feel free to pinch it - and do vote in the People's Choice poll, it's good to get the feel of public opinion, and I know it's the award that always leaves a recipient most chuffed.

So the next thing is that this Friday it's my turn to host the Carnival of Socialism and I've given it absolutely no thought up until now. Ah. That means I'd really like it if you sent me left wing posts you've seen over the last week or so that you think deserve to be highlighted. I aim to post the carnival either Friday, or Saturday if things are getting on top of me.

And lastly it brings me on to egoism. Phil over at A Very Public Sociologist, in the process of tagging me with a meme on your ten best posts, says of blogging "Let's strip away all the right-on reasons for blogging and get down to brass tacks. It's all about vanity isn't it?" I actually don't agree, at least for me, although naturally he was being lighthearted.

For me blogging is a different way of having a conversation and political blogging is where you put that method to furthering the cause, as it were. I'm not saying that no blogger is motivated by ego, just as it wouldn't be right to say no activist or politician was motivated by ego - but I don't think that's what the medium itself is about. I think there are real ideas and causes that people tie themselves to and fight for.

When I first got properly politically active in the nineties (rather than going on the occasional demo or just talking politics to my friends) it took me a long time to muster up the courage to speak in a meeting at all or talk to someone when giving out leaflets. I hated the idea of personally standing for election (at this time for student posts at Essex University) but over time I realised that if you believe something should be done there are times when you need to lead by example.

The fact is I'm unbelievably shy and retiring with people I don't know - unless it's a political context in which case you'd never know that, because the politics brain kicks in and it's action stations. The logical conclusion of being an activist is that you have to speak to people from platforms, on the street, in the workplace - everywhere - if you're to effect change. So no matter how painful it was to me I realised you've got to step up to the plate, no one is going to do it for you.

I'm glad I took that decision because I've seen and done things I never could have otherwise, learned skills and have made a positive difference, although nowhere near as often or as profoundly as I would have liked. It doesn't mean I'm not filled with secret horror when I get into a political argument, or just have to talk to strangers. Winning the best blog award is... really uncomfortable. If it was all about ego I'd be delighted - whether or not I wanted to show that. Obviously it's nice to have hard work recognised, I guess, but it's weird when that gaze gets directed this way - because I'm not here for that.

I don't know - perhaps that's just me - but this common cliche that blogging is about barmy people with their hobby horses shouting to the world doesn't stand because it would mean that every political conversation, every time you stood up and called for action, every time you put out the call it's about ego - and it ain't. It can be - but that's not the essence of the medium, or politics, to me.

Anyway. Ten posts I've written that I think were the most tolerable.

I really enjoyed slagging off Brian Haw, and being outraged at Deborah Orr and the anti-Islam fashion police. I had great fun thinking about murder for the common good, workplace bullying, treating the police with respect, and asking is the Green Party Anti-Capitalist? which led on to a fantastic fringe at the last Green Party conference.

I think I'm proudest of posts like this one a version of which became the now infamous leaflet "The Grand Arcade Sucks". I definitely enjoyed denouncing agnosticism, chastity, drugs education, fear, Joan Bakewell on women in prisons, and coming to the defence of Onan, spanking, and childhood sexuality.

Which is precisely five more than I've been asked for. What I'd like to do is ask you what post you've most enjoyed - but I'm concerned this is yet another opening for people to embarrass me. However, I'd be quite interested to hear, think it might be helpful and so give permission this once to say nice things.

1 comment:

Douglas Coker said...

Since everyone else seems to be on holiday ... let me say thank you for reminding me of the GP Anti-Capitalist thread. I should know better and leave this one alone but something needs to be said and after GP conference I'll say it.

On compliments - you will be receiving them so you'd better just get used to it. The trick is, I found some time ago, to accept compliments when given and say thank you. Once you've done this a few times check the feeling. I'll be surprised if you don't feel good. It's called experiential learning. I recommend it.


Douglas Coker
Enfield Green Party