Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Blog bits: Interview with A Very Public Sociologist

Phil, whose been blogging away at AVPS for some time now, is one of those old school socialists that show you can have a good theoretical grounding and talk like a human being at the same time. He writes on a wide range of subjects from sci-fi to wild cat strikes, he can entertain on them all.

In the second of a short series of interviews with fellow bloggers we discuss trolls, George Galloway and the Committee for a Workers' International.

  • What are the highs and lows of blogging for you?
Highs: Occasionally managing to bash out a post that gets very appreciative comments and plugs from across the blogosphere - it reminds you why blogging can be very worthwhile. It also gives me a platform to foist my music taste on the world.

Lows: Trolls can be incredibly annoying if you let them get under your skin. And then there's blogger's block which can be frustrating - back in 2007 I remember it lasting for half a year.
  • How does blogging fit into your general political activity?
I suppose in one sense it doesn't. It appears to have very little impact on my trade union activities or the other work I do as a Socialist Party activist. If I wasn't a blogger I'd still be doing the same political work as I am now.

But on the other hand it does effect my activity, or rather how I reflect on that activity. For me blogging is more than mouthing off. Among other things, it's an opportunity to test arguments, clarify my thoughts about political and theoretical issues and think through what me and my comrades do. So blogging is an extension of my activism.

For example I often blog about the discussions that take place in my local party branch and regional get togethers, and nine times out of ten I attend a demo or a meeting with an eye to writing about it later on. A number of readers have told me this gives them a different view of the SP than what they can expect from our publications and website - so I've inadvertently fell into another way of plugging my organisation, but this wouldn't be possible if I was an inactive member. My blogging then is parasitic on my activism.
  • If you could imagine a perfect blog - what would it look like?
That's a tough one! I don't know if I can answer it! To be honest it would probably be an amalgam of all my favourite left blogs plus a shit hot lay out.
  • Traditionally hard left organisations have liked to keep quite a tight control over their propaganda... has your blogging ever got you into trouble?
No, not trouble. The only time there was an issue was last year when I wrote a piece about the Committee for a Workers' International's strategy in Germany and Greece. One of our comrades talked about the strategic debates taking place in those respective groups, which I blogged about in perhaps too much detail. A comrade asked if I could amend it so it was treated in more general terms, which I did.

There's been other times when comrades - and not just SP comrades - have asked me not to mention something.. But that's very rare now. Everyone I work with knows I don't mention sensitive things such as membership figures, financial details, the specifics of what we're planning locally, behind the scenes talks with other organisations and what have you.

I do think some might wonder why I churn out loads for my blog but very little for party publications. But on the other hand I think most comrades can see the positives of having a number of CWI-aligned blogs.
  • The print media seems to have a wary relationship with online publications - do you think they're right to be scared of us?
I think this is overhyped. The press know they'll be able to buy in popular bloggers as columnists if needs be, so the Telegraph has nothing real to fear from the scores of identikit Tory bloggers out there. But as for *left* bloggers, print will only start fearing us when our movement starts meaning something.
Quick fire round:
  1. Tory government better, worse or same as Labour? Marginally worse
  2. George Galloway or John Rees? Galloway
  3. Fourth Plinth - hot or not? Hot
  4. Lenin or Taafe? Taaffe (never shared a urinal with Lenin)
  5. Opera or Oprah? Jerry
  6. Caroline Lucas or John McDonnell? McDonnell
  7. Buffy or firefly? Buffy - not keen on Westerns in space!
  8. Max Weber: marks out of ten? Eight
  9. Obama: super smooth or mad dog imperialist? Ever so smooth
  10. Newspaper or magazine? Blog

1 comment:

TGRWorzel said...

It is interesting to read about one of my Twitmates in this way, even if we're not from quite the same part of the political spectrum. I always enjoy reading Phil's blog postings and hopefully I am not a Troll !