Tuesday, December 28, 2004

More Blogger Nationalism

Yesterday I commented on a post by Jesse Taylor where Jesse talks about how, in the blogosphere, the right is better at promoting lesser known voices than the left is. Instapundit, the most widely read right-wing blog, devotes nearly all of its content to links to other blogs while the most popular blogs on the left (Atrios, Kos) sometimes actually look down on this practice. Atrios does a fairly good job of pointing out other people's work, but I never get the sense that Duncan is doing so out of any sense of obligation to elevate those people's opinions. DailyKOS, on the other hand, has gone the community/diary blogging route which has created another layer of incestuous linking (diarists link to each other more than they do to other blogs).

I must confess that I didn't actually read the blog post by Cernig that inspired Jesse's post (how ironic <snerk>). If I had I would have read some really good thoughts on this whole phenomena:

A few days ago, I was reading comments on one of the big liberal blogs that complained about how the largest right-wing bloggers seem to find, groom and promote other right-wing bloggers. The gist of the comments were that it was all a conspiracy to find extra propagandists for the Republicans, extra mouthpieces to spout Bush's agenda. The comments seemed incredibly shortsighted to me. For one, magazines like Capitalism Magazine or Reason are continually publishing new work from new commentators because they, like MichNews online, realise that fresh voices, fresh perspectives, on their shared ideology are a very healthy thing. Without encouraging new blood, a movement can too easily become trapped into incestious back-patting and stagnate - exactly what MoveOn have accused the DNC of doing. Secondly, even if it is all a right-wing plot, why the hell not? It's an incredibly effective tactic to raise up another friendly voice and say "our opinions are not exactly the same on every issue but we recognise our common ground is greater than our differences", far more effective than the faction fighting which may yet become the club which the right will beat the progressive movement to death with. If liberals are elitist amongst themselves, what chance of convincing the man or woman in the street to vote against the right?

I don't want to go so far as to say that the top bloggers on the left really are elitist. But it would be perfectly natural for them to fall into the trap of only linking to each other and less and less often to the "insignificant microbes". That the left blogosphere appears more susceptible to this problem gives rise to the question: is there something inherent in leftist/progressive politics that leads to this kind of self-imposed isolationism?

Like Cernig, I will acknowledge that this kind of post may just be interpreted as sour grapes. But that is really besides the point. I don't want to promote myself (well, I do, but promoting myself is not the point of this post). The point is whether this is a real problem and, if it is, what do we do about it?


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