Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Political bubbles

There have been fewer entries on my blog in the past week, but I have been writing just as much. I noticed that there is a lot of political preaching in the blogosphere, but very little political debate. On Left-wing blogs, there are left-wingers reinforcing each others' views. On right-wing blogs, there are right-wingers reinforcing each others' views. The way blogging works seems to promote this. Bloggers link to the blogs they like; blogs which broadly agree with their own views. A graph showing the links between the political blogs would produce fascinating patterns. The effect is that I can write things which must be deeply provocative to bloggers of the authoritarian Left, but almost all comments are broadly supportive.

We are all preaching to the choir, when we would presumably like (and have much more fun) converting the heathen!

This should not have surprised me. Guardian readers live in a closed world. They read articles that reinforce the left-wing views that brought them there in the first place. They are an intolerant bunch and write stroppy letters to the editor should he dare to "give a platform" to those whose views are not the current party line. The right wing press reinforces the views of its readers too, though - control of speech and thought being regarded on the right as a bad thing - it is slightly more likely to "give a platform" to people who may cause their readers to choke on their corn flakes.

Despite advancing years and hard lessons in life, I am still enough of an idealist to believe that things can be better. But I can't see how they can get better without engagement between those of different political persuasions. I would like to see the blogosphere become a real forum for debate - to smash the goldfish bowls in which each blogger swims, more or less impressively. So, holding my nose firmly, I have begun to make a conscious effort to visit the blogs of the political left and to comment, critically but politely, on posts with which I disagree.

I will report on the experiment. So far I have only noticed one thing. Leftists delete comments they disagree with. Control of word and thought is required, if society is to be ordered other than by the invisible (and politically-neutral) hand of the market. Whether they acknowledge this - even to themselves - or not, their actions demonstrate clearly that they understand it instinctively! be continued.


Jackart said...

A very Interesting point... I try to read the guardian comment for that very reason - to know my enemy!

Converting the heathen is pointless though. With appologies to Kipling Left is Left and Right is Right and Never the twain shall meet.

It's the undecided who will be swayed by one lot or the other that the Bloggers need to reach.

Matt said...

I have to say I've found this to be the case on a lot of blogs and I'm am quite keen to stir up political debate, whether it is between different strands of the left (because God knows we can argue!) or between the left and the right. What part do you feel you play in all this?

Tom Paine said...

Matt, I don't know. I just know that political discussions are boring (and pointless) if everyone is on the same side.

I am simply trying to identify intelligent left-wing sites and stimulate constructive debate by leaving provocative, but I hope reasoned, posts there. The sites I have tried are in a blogroll in the sidebar. I will add more as I find them.

It's unusual for a blog from one political viewpoint to link to the blogs of opponents. I hope to steer my few readers there to promote debate. It's an experiment. I don't know if it will work. If you have suggestions, let me know.