Personal Publishing Politics

Why are there less overtly political left-wing or centrist weblogs?

Are there less left-wing or centrist political weblogs than right-wing weblogs? And if so… Why? It’s a sentiment I’ve heard a lot in recent months, particularly in relation to the warblogging phenomenon. If it is true, I have some theories as to why it might be the case – but I have little or no evidence to back them up with. And without evidence I have to accept the possibility that a substantial block of personal presumption and prejudice may be behind them too.

One of my theories would be to do with the inherent lack of absolutism and black-and-white ideology in liberal (in the British sense), centrist and left-wing thinking – particularly after most hard-line socialist and communist projects have tended towards failure. I would suggest that a suspicion of one-on-one narratives of cause and effect and a general belief in some kind of cultural relativism makes it very difficult to produce rhetoric of a kind that is most suited to weblog writing (or for that matter political-rally-style speeches). I’d say also that many right-wing weblogs are more than comfortable with the so-called realpolitik approach to politics and the world which looks towards (above everything else) the preservation of friends and family and a certain way of life. Real-politikal approaches never pretend to be considering all the possibilities or possible ramifications of their approaches, generally because (the argument goes, and it’s relatively convincing) the more nuanced and sensitive a policy is, the more it is crippled from accomplishing its stated aim. The Christian right could be seen as an extreme example of this kind of move towards simplicity (rather than pragmatism). For some hardline individuals on a great number of issues there simply is no room for debate or a multiplicity of opinion at all. Could this be one reason why weblogs – with their short, punchy and easily-digestable blocks of rhetoric have been ideally suited to right-wing arguments?

Another argument is purely historical. After the attacks on the World Trade Center, I think it’s fair to say that fear and aggression towards foreigners and some ethnic minorities probably increased in America. I say this only because of the reactions of some of the people who were there at the time and some of the subsequent reports – the Canadian whos parents were Iraqi who was deported from the States to Iraq, the Indian friend of mine who experienced harrassment, the weblogger whose ethnicity was continually in question. If (understandably) the disaster moved popular sentiment to the right (which it seemed to) and if at the same time the disaster was one of the things that pulled people towards weblogging, then it’s hardly surprising that weblog-space suddenly lurched heavily towards the right.

Why this hasn’t self-corrected over time is a more complicated matter, but I can say from personal experience that the sheer number and moral certainty of current right-wing webloggers is intimidating (occasionally terrifying). This in itself would not be a reason to avoid debate, except that (as is often the case with most organisations and affiliations of people) some of its more extreme members are not only vocal (as they should be), but are aggressive and quite prepared to demonise those that don’t disagree with them. I know several people who talked about politics only to find themselves targetted by these people and who now avoid the whole debate.

So is the reason for the lack of left-wing weblogs due to intimidation by the right, is it just a function of recent history or is it simply because those on the left find the medium too narrow for the politics they’d wish to discuss? Or are there other reasons? I’m interested in anyone’s opinions of this matter, so if you post something about it please don’t forget to let me know about it.