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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

the politics of blogging « Previous | |Next »
April 8, 2003

The post media dogs of war at philosophy.com about public reason captures an important aspect of blogging. It is the public debate/ civic conversation side of blogging, which has fallen into a bit of a hole in Australia, due to the partisan nature of the war in Iraq.

The despair "at the almost complete absence of calm, reasoned exchanges on any blogs since the war situation blew up early in the New Year" was expressed well here.'The atmosphere', as Ken Parish puts it, 'has been more unpleasant and acrimonious'since the war with everyone trapped inside their prejudices or biases.

The public philosopher with a Hegelian bent at philosophy.com has usefully connected blogging to the formation of public reason and deliberative democracy. (It has lots of links). The post---sort of philosophy behind the news--suggests that a public reason in such dark times can be critical--cut through the fog of war instead of lefties and rights smashing one another up.

The idea of public reason was tied to the agora, forum or coffee shop. Athenian democracy is what Ken Parish appeals to. Mark Poster questions Ken's Athenian democracy model on the grounds that the Internet instantiates new forms of interaction in the public sphere. He says that the old loci of interaction were:

"...the agora, the New England town hall, the village Church, the coffee house, the tavern, the public square, a convenient barn, a union hall, a park, a factory lunchroom, and even a street corner. Many of these places remain but no longer serve as organizing centers for political discussion and action. It appears that the media, especially television but also other forms of electronic communication isolate citizens from one another and sustitute themselves for older spaces of politics."

To all intents and purposes the media are the new public sphere, and blogging is part of the media. The Internet as a mode of life does away with face-to-face interaction in favour of electronic flickers. So we become electronic beings without bodies who produce photos of ourselves to show that are not cyborgs.

Maybe we need to re-think what we mean by the politics of the Internet?

Some think that the answer is being non-partisian By this is meant ensuring independence of thought:

"A partisan pundit is one whose opinions nearly always break down along party lines. When two people agree on everything, it's pretty certain that only one is doing the thinking. Assuming that it's unlikely that a partisan columnist is actually formulating the party platform, then the partisan columnist's opinions must therefore derive from allegiance to the favored party or hostility to the other party rather than from independent thought. "

Others reckon independence of thought needs to take a critical form to counter the spin and fog. A good account of what is here is provided by the mission statement of Spinsanity. This says:

"Robust political debate is essential to democracy. Our national political discourse is an important part of the democratic process and serves as a critical check on those in power. We are therefore deeply concerned that our public political dialogue, largely expressed through the channels of the mass media, is becoming systematically dominated by sophisticated tactics of manipulation rather than norms of public reason. Despite widespread complaints about spin, no one is adequately documenting the full ramifications of this development to our satisfaction."

So they set themselves the negative task of countering the spin as a way of protecting the norms of public reason. The task they set themselves is to:

"...expose the use and intent of the simulated reason and public relations techniques that dominate political discourse, and to document how they are disseminated through the media. By exposing these tactics and demonstrating their pervasiveness, we hope to create a greater awareness of how spin operates and corrupts, and contribute to a healthy and vibrant political discourse."

Two suggestions for the politics of internet connected to cyberdemocracy. Both see blogging as a politicized place of resistance to corporatized media flows of the culture industry. Is not that a common ground between righties and lefties?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:40 PM | | Comments (4) | TrackBacks (1)
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» Weblogs: just a little stall in the market? from philosophy.com
There is an entry at the UK libertarian Samizdata.net that says webblogs are more a part of the marketplace than the democratic polity. The post says: "Blogs are therefore something which empowers the individual, the blogger, regardless of the wishes, ... [Read More]

 
Comments

Comments

How can it be when blogging needs a symbiotic relationship with the media?

You can resist what you are a part of eg., unions in a factory.

Bloggers would affirm those values that the corporate media say is a part of their ethos (truth, watchdog etc), but then ignore, neglect or dump in their daily practice.

I think you are making too broad a generalisation there, but perhaps that's a story for another time.

I"m working with a Ken Parish conception fo blogging--one linked to democracy.

Not all bloggers fit this of course.