I don’t like the implication that there is a flow of things and that it goes in the direction of increasing agglomeration. Why isn’t greater independence and individualism among bloggers a good thing? ~Ann Althouse
I wouldn’t dispute Prof. Althouse’s view that greater independence and individualism among bloggers are good things. As I have said before, there is something bizarre about the way blogging has tended to replicate the fairly predictable and partisan conformity of other kinds of media. Rather than serving as a healthy corrective to the other echo chambers, blogging tends to reinforce the ideological patterns that can prove so stifling to interesting discourse everywhere else. It is almost unavoidable that a blog becomes much less interesting as it becomes a vehicle for political activism, because at that point the blogger stops offering his take and begins repeating someone’s official line. This may be why campaign bloggers are such strange, delicate hybrids that cannot do very well in harsh climates: there is a certain contradiction in being an independent writer of potentially interesting, irreverent and (let’s hope) incisive commentary and being a campaign functionary, whose job it is to write uninteresting, fairly staid and predictable posts that boost the candidate’s tax plan. Whether or not bloggers are actually hired by campaigns, they usually become terribly dreary and sometimes even unreadable once they have started relentlessly pushing a cause. It is possible to advocate for a certain policy without ceasing to be witty, amusing and insightful (indeed, good political satire would not work without all of these qualities), and sometimes these things will help the cause in question. However, it is much harder to maintain the right balance between doing good blogging and staying on message. Happy is the blogger who does not even try to stay “on message.”
I also happen to agree that, as she comments on part of my post, ”general outrage about the state of the world is pretty uninteresting too.” The argument I was trying to advance in the post that Ross cited is not that this outrage is terribly attractive or interesting, but that it helps explain what makes blogs on the left relatively more successful as political activist operations–it also helps explain why some of these blogs, such as Daily Kos, came into existence in the first place. Perpetually outraged people who believe that politics can fix most anything will be more motivated to become activists and they will be more inclined to pursue political activism through any and all means available. In my view, this activist mentality is a kind of impairment or flaw and not something that conservatives should want to imitate. Unfortunately, if Hewitt’s Victory Caucus is any indication, there are many on the blog right who would very much like to try their hand at successfully imitating it.
Prof. Althouse prefers “what Larison seems to mean by “celebrity-blogging.” And I’m quite happy to see that bloggers have trouble succeeding in their collective activities.” As it happens, I don’t like collective blogs and would normally rather read the “celebrity blogs” than wade through reams of Kossack drivel. My point was that “celebrity bloggers” on the right should not be surprised when their attempts to translate their style of blogging to political activism (e.g., Hewitt’s Victory Caucus) fail miserably because they lack the qualities or motivations that make political activist blogs successful.