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2005-07-08

A bit of a political blogger's credo 

I believe that for democratic politics it is important to engage many voices. I also believe that it is important for people to strive very hard to determine what is the good in politics, and in more profane matters, to understand what is the best policy for a particular issue. As a matter of subjective empirical observation, too often do we follow our prejudice with too little self-scepticism and openness of mind when applying ourselves to new political topics.

A political blog is an excellent means to practice such a personal search for the ethical good and for factual truth in politics on a regular basis.

A political blog is an absolute waste of lifetime if it only spells out a fixed worldview time and again. Nobody will ever change the mind of another blogger. That's the kind of people we are.

A political blog is a pointless effort that deserves little sympathy when it merely copies (with hugely inferior resources) what the mainstream media already do more or less well. If you do things similar to massmedia coverage, either 1) find niches that they neglect - stop when the niche is invaded by them (btw a safe recipe to minimise blog readership); or 2) create relevance by adding a truly unusual personal voice to the mountain of public opinion.

Regarding the search for truth and the good in politics, one of the reasons why blogs are such an excellent tool for this is their implied requirement for intersubjectivity, which means that the blogger is inspired by his online status to write in a way that unknown others can understand and relate to. Ideally, this would lead to a whole new dimension of quality as lively debates emerge, where almost every erroneous argument will be corrected by another participant. Unfortunately, the vast majority of political blogs do not receive sufficiently close scrutiny to achieve this. It is getting better, slowly, as more people start to engage in political blogging, but most of us - this blog included - are nowhere close to such intense dialogue yet. Most of the times when I've written rubbish here, nobody bothered to tell me so before I found out myself later. I'm still very fond of the exceptions to this though. The attempt to establish such dialogue is by the way the only, really the only, justification for going to pains to increase one's readership statistics.

Meanwhile, it may be a good idea to try out one's blogging ideas in real life by means of actual political activism. I'm finding that as the group-psychology aspects in such activism absorb more energy than one would expect, having the blog at hand for those individualistic moments and loner-efforts makes for good consolation.


2 comments:

A nice credo George.
I experience similar dilemmas.
The problem behind this (behind the very limited number of comments and visitors I mean) is that to most people it is of little interest to engage in a debate with someone like you or me with no political or media-power at all.
What we need is to pass a treshold in number of links and visitors. The actual numbers are very high I am afraid.

BTW: are you a political blogger or a blogging politician?
 

Frans, thanks for your sympathetic comment :-). Yes on all points. To be completely open, there's also this: since many of us do this to satisfy our personal interests, we tend to focus on idiosyncracies - and very legitimately so. For example Edward Hugh on demographics, Alex on that plane-story ;-), you on representative democracy, I on Albania. For readers, such a focus on something that doesn't convince them personally can be a reason not to visit regularly... However I just visited your site and found some high-intensity coverage on a wide range of topics, so I'll try to come by more frequently now. BTW: I'm not a politician, since I haven't been elected for anything at all - I guess I consider myself a blogger and low-impact political activist, but no longer a mere commentator.
 
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