Originally Posted by bjkeefe
This bit is also spot-on, in describing the liberal diavloggers as a group, and not just the one he picked on:
Thanks for the link. An interesting read, although I must say that I spent most of the time reading it tilting my head back and forth, +/- few degrees off the vertical axis. I guess I share his general view about the dearth of real leftist voices occupying prominent positions in the blogosphere (and it's even worse concerning the discourse writ large). I also agree with him that just about all prominent bloggers labeled liberal (or "far left," by the wingnutosphere) have views in certain policy realms that aren't very old school liberal/socialist.
However, I felt his argument was not particularly persuasive, and ED Kain's rebuttal (that he linked to) was better, even as I am more aligned, ideologically, with Freddie than ED. (I do admit there are some specific areas where Freddie and I are probably not very much in agreement, where he would no doubt slap the dreaded neoliberal and/or Serious labels on me.)
I just tried to elaborate on this, but it was too boring even to my eyes, so you can all thank me for deleting those half a dozen paragraphs. I guess I'll just say that my reaction to Freddie's piece could be summed up thus: it's all very well to write a long, heartfelt lament, but one-offs are highly unlikely to change things, especially when they concern a wish to change the established order. There is no substitute for hard work and consistent, ongoing effort. This is, to my mind at least, one of the major reasons the fringe right and the glibertarians get more attention than Freddie's sort of leftists do: they stick to it, and they have been since long before blog was a word.
I should also say that I have a sense that there are, in fact, a bunch of quite liberal people who are sticking to it, and have been for years now. So maybe in addition to pitching in and helping, Freddie could realize a bit of patience is also in order. These things take time. A ship of state the size of the US has a lot of inertia.
I didn't know who to respond to, since a few of you were discussing this, but I did finally read the piece from Freddie, and had a few reactions.
In terms of the dearth of "real" liberal voices, I suppose you and Freddy are both right in a global sense of the word, however you define it. There definitely aren't a lot of straight up socialists in the discourse, blogosphere or otherwise. But this is by an international standard. Dredging up the center right nation debate wouldn't be interested or productive, but I think we can agree that America as a whole is at least *somewhere* to the right of a lot of other nations, especially the European nations cited that have thriving Socialist parties. Maybe that's to America's detriment, but the fact remains that America is where it is ideologically, so it shouldn't be a real surprise that we don't see a discourse that mirrors that of Western Europe.
And in agreement with your last line, I think it will take patience. It seems like a lot this stems from remnants of the Cold War, conflating communism with socialism. Distance and time from the Cold War should get people to realize the differences, and simply accept socialism as a set of ideas. It may not entail ideas they agree with, but it's not defined as a Stalinist regime involving gulags. I know you're going to say "that's the fault of your friends11!" and maybe so, but I can't control what they say, and I don't endorse them doing this.
One more thing: I think Freddie makes a good point about how some bloggers get labelled a certain way because of their tone rather than their ideas. But I don't think it necessarily means that *all* left wingers who are bellicose are labelled as extremists, and *all* right wingers who have extreme ideas but are conciliatory are passed off as just fine. Chris Hayes is an eminently reasonable dude, and one of my favorite 'heads, but his ideas are definitely pretty left wing. Maybe I missed it, but I don't see a lot of people complaining about his extremism. Ross Douthat, on the other hand, is probably the epitome of conciliatory, and that doesn't seem to lead to the lefty parts of the blogosphere cutting him a lot of slack; when he was on with Michelle a few days ago, you seemed to insinuate he was an extremist because of his position on abortion. I do think his point is interesting and right in a lot of cases, I just wanted to say I didn't think it was universally true.
I also think a lot of the back and forth between the young wonkosphere has a lot less to do with shutting out more extreme leftists and more to do with a generational cohort. The sort of circular blog exchanges between people like Douthat, Salam, Sanchez, Klein, Yglesias, Hayes, Cowen, and Wilkinson seem to have a lot to do with the fact that a lot of these guys know each other, and genuinely like each other. I'd also point out that while the prominent lefties in this group may be considered "neoliberals", the conservatives considered appropriate for polite company aren't exactly fire-breathers either. I see Ezra engaging with people like Ross a lot more than the crowd at WorldNetDaily. And to be honest, I think this group actually has a net leftward tilt, and this comes back to the generational point, where people this age just tend to be more liberal.
Anyways, this response is increasingly disorganized and rambling, so I should stop, but I just want to make one more point. The part about balance of ideology, and a lack of real leftists is good discussion and a good point. But the part towards the end of the piece that dealt more with tone struck me as a bit silly. This seems to harken back to the "fighting dems" days, and I don't see arguments about how other people should be tone-wise as particularly serious. To each their own, and for my part, I assume that the tone a lot of bloggers take on is a conscious choice on the part of the blogger that in some way reflects their personality. The point about the political establishment dulling the sharper edges of some of the personalities and dragging them towards the middle is well taken, but I think that probably happens on both sides, and not just for liberals.