What happened to all the hard-core left bloggers?
Some of you want more comment on this Freddie deBoer piece on why the harder left is underrepresented in the blogosphere. Here is RortyBomb, here is Matt, both good responses. Here is a one-sentence excerpt from the original:
The truth is that almost anything resembling an actual left wing has been systematically written out of the conversation within the political blogosphere, both intentionally and not, while those writing within it congratulate themselves for having answered all left-wing criticism.
My thoughts turn to the market-oriented and right-wing sides of the blogosphere. I see a few approaches out there:
1. Hold strongly to a pure free market line, but not much consider the toughest issues, starting with Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and finishing with the inability of government to precommit to a lot of policies which might work as rules but never can be rules. There are plenty of easy issues to focus on, starting with farm policy and free trade and on those the market-oriented point of view is a slam dunk.
2. Hold forth on the really tough issues, take what is considered an extreme point of view, and not convince anyone who doesn't already agree with you. These bloggers also frequently find that their arguments are sufficiently a priori that a) they don't have much to say about new developments in the world, and b) their arguments end up being repeated and do not evolve much. Even if you think those are good intellectual qualities when truth is on your side, you probably can see that they will not attract the largest or broadest of audiences. A popular blog needs more of a plot.
3. Give ground on the tough issues, honestly and sincerely.
4. Focus on lowering the relative status of people on the other side of the debate. This serves some functions similar to #1 and of course there is a large supply of targets.
If a lot of left-wing bloggers are following #3, that is very good (I don't pretend to judge what is a very large canvas) and we can root for that practice to spread, including of course to non-left-wing bloggers.
Freddie deBoer seems to be very smart. I had never heard of him before, which I suppose means he is not extremely famous as a blogger. So let's see how he evolves when it comes to his critique that "labor rights are undercut everywhere for the creation of economic growth" in an ongoing debate with some people who know more about it than he does. he shows a much better rhetorical skill than he does an understanding of labor economics.
Who exactly are the exiled left-wing (or right-wing) bloggers who deserve more attention? From deBoer, there is a mention of Daily Kos and I checked in there again (I hadn't for years) and I wasn't exactly awestruck at the content. Nor was it obvious to me that it was extremely left-wing.
I will readily grant that points of view can be stronger than they appear in a blogosphere debate and it is worth thinking through the biases here. Arguably the more serious corners of the blogosphere overencourage moderate, "defensible" positions, with few weak spots for obvious bone-crushing attacks, "gotchas," and charges of apparent moral turpitude from onlooking scolders. Still, that incentive is mostly a healthy one. Whether the blogosphere as a whole encourages moderation, I am not sure. But the better corners of it certainly do and that should be counted as one of its virtues.