Friday, April 20, 2007

Blogging – and Burke?

Oliver Kamm’s reply to criticism about his post on political blogging is unexceptional and I still can’t agree with his conclusions. Whilst some political blogs are the most unmitigated tosh, I have had enormous pleasure from others and have learnt much. Without political blogging, arguably there would be no Euston Manifesto, no Democratiya and none of the other developments that brought an anti-totalitarian left into the mainstream. Anyone is capable of discrimination and choice and those who choose to read rubbish would do so anyway in other media. The only difference with blogging is that it allows an easier entry into the market place. It certainly does not guarantee readership, let alone any appreciable market share.

I think that too much fuss is being made over the blogosphere, which, like any form of communication, can be used for good or ill, and I didn’t think it was worth a post until one revealing statement made me jump. He wrote,

Bloggers ought not to be listened to, but, like any other lobby (my emphasis), politely discounted.

Wow! Any other lobby? Environmental Scientists? The BMA? Trade Unions? There is a superficial attractiveness to this proposition when we have a government that passes power over policy to focus groups in suburban living rooms, but it is hardly a realistic description of a modern pluralist democracy.

However, it suddenly made everything clear. I can now see where he is coming from. Kamm is advocating a Burkeian notion of disinterested representation. And surely his views on political blogging are not far from Burke’s famous statement that, “Learning will be cast into the mire and trodden down under the hoofs of a swinish multitude”.

Burke is a more interesting thinker than he is often given credit for, but on this I am with the populist Thomas Spence. His periodical, Pigs’ Meat, was, in some ways, a political blog of its day, so called because it was food for the swinish multitude. This ideological difference would always prevent Kamm and I agreeing. So, all I can say is, “Up the Bloggers!”


Graeme said...

See also Oliver Kamm's post on April 26th (

He writes that he is "no great believer in the merits of urging political activism: it's a virtue of deliberative democracy to allow people to choose the good for themselves, including a private life wholly unrelated to civic activity; and it's also a virtue to insulate decision-making from people who dedicate their lives to political activism."

I thought that was a bit odd. It's his prerogative, of course, and it does go a long way in making clear his dislike for political blogging, but it's not a sentiment that I can relate to.

The Plump said...

Nor is it very practical. After all, who are the decision makers if not those who HAVE devoted their lives to political activism?