Requiem for a Blog
I began blogging on Labour Members’ Net in the spring of 2007. At first it was a way for me to relieve the interminable boredom of writing and researching essays for my postgrad degree. I hadn’t yet discovered the value of going outside and it brought me into contact with others from the political party I had just joined – the Labour Party. It was a more erudite attempt at the same engagement which came from the OULC events I attended that year.
A year or so later, I moved to this site, picked up some co-contributors and went my merry way. Everything annoyed me, so everything was fair game for comment. I had been known as Mr. Angry on Members’ Net and this soubriquet continues to be applicable, I suspect, but through my blogging the anger was directed at the hypocrisy of our ruling class, the political and moral ineptitude of Labour and no few other bloggers, for one reason or another.
Quite quickly it became apparent that there were limits to blogging. Put simply, it didn’t change anything. Liberal Conspiracy and other agglomerating sites occasionally gathered in commentary from people who organised protests and meetings, though even here there was a tendency for this to be either London-centric (i.e. in a location readily accessible to the disparate network of people who blog and read blogs) or run by and for the commentariat.
I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I loathe this commentariat. The hallmark of the commentariat aristocracy, the Toynbees of the world, were recycled truisms, easily disproved but never admitted. Fashionable writers below this level made do with saying nothing in a stylish manner. Still further into the Stygian depths were the political opportunists, endlessly attempting to cobble together bandwagons of the outright reactionary and the pitiably naive.
The “campaigns” on civil liberties by various media luvvies are foremost in my mind here, though there is hardly a lack of such opportunism, each exponent hiding beneath the exclamation, “Something must be done!”
The great advantage of Marxism is that it prevents naive illusions in the leaders of the Labour movement or the capitalist class. Lenin’s beautifully succinct article, “Three Sources and Three Component Parts of Marxism”:
“People always have been the foolish victims of deception and self-deception in politics, and they always will be until they have learnt to seek out the interests of some class or other behind all moral, religious, political and social phrases, declarations and promises. Champions of reforms and improvements will always be fooled by the defenders of the old order until they realise that every old institution, however barbarous and rotten it may appear to be, is kept going by the forces of certain ruling classes. And there is only one way of smashing the resistance of those classes, and that is to find, in the very society which surrounds us, the forces which can—and, owing to their social position, must—constitute the power capable of sweeping away the old and creating the new, and to enlighten and organise those forces for the struggle.”
No doubt everyone involved found it edifying to listen to so many speeches by so many luminaries, but what did their approach change? The answer was absolutely nothing, and it had the added disadvantage of providing some fig leaves to people I regard as lower than vermin. With respect to Our Nye, one doesn’t have to be descended from the lower nobility or mired in the subjective stink of class privilege to objectively be a poor-bashing Tory lackwit.
If anything stopped me from being absorbed into the commentariat, it was probably less my political views and more my oppositional, anti-social and basely cynical nature. Objectively, whilst I sat idle behind my keyboard, I was little different from them. My equivalent of their dithering-while-Rome-burns was the volume of he-said-she-said articles and daily bemoanings of Westminster events I wrote, and look back on with no little embarrassment.
Hobbies, I suppose, are intrinsically embarrassing because they are personal or milieu-based. Whether it’s building and maintaining train sets, collecting stamps or bird-watching, outside of the groups of people thus involved, these things can look silly. And since what I wrote had no practical purpose, it was nothing more than a hobby. That said, there’s one area which is not so easily dismissed, and which I believe have continuing relevance for the blogosphere.
That is writing which is essentially agitational propaganda. I like to think I did a good job striking down manure Labour and Tory politicians liked to heap on workers. Accounts of industrial disputes, defences of union actions and reports of the meetings I was involved with strike me as being the most salvageable articles, because they provide a socialist response to practical issues of the day and point the way towards actual, physical engagement.
I don’t believe there is any substitute for this. I value the writing of numerous authors active on the internet. Duncan Weldon and Chris Dillow, for example, regularly produce food for thought on matters economic. I find these useful as they help me to process information I acquire elsewhere into a useable format that can inform my political judgment and which then has further practical uses, in discussing with and recruiting people to the Socialist Party.
It was this emphasis which led me from Labour to the Socialist Party in the first place. There are 17 constituency Labour Parties in Kent and two branches of the Socialist Party, and I’m pretty much certain that the campaigning capacity of the SP massively outweighs the much larger Labour Party in this county. The reason is quite simple; Labour is turned in on itself, or else it is focused exclusively on certain institutions such as the press or local councils.
The blogosphere, in large part, provides an easy analogy and is equally ineffective. More worryingly, the blogosphere also seems to have become a method of choice for personal advancement, rather than a means for informing collective struggle. All the internet-based venom in the world won’t actually fix these problems, and that’s why I don’t blog anymore. I leave it to others, whether they are part of that collective struggle or just more hamsters in a particularly public wheel.