Saturday, 2 January 2010

First Casualty of the Year

After only a short period of existence, I regretfully inform people that I won't be updating this blog anymore. I have just moved house and changed by job which will give me less time for it anyway, but the main problem for me is that all I have been doing is mostly reposting articles that I have written for the Socialist and Socialism Today. Occasionally, there have been a few other things, such as the Bangor SP Xmas quiz going up here. But to be honest this blog doesn't have terribly many readers and most of the material on it is available elsewhere. (In the past on I posted my polemics with the sabbs at Bangor Students Union and other things that would have otherwise been unpublished for a wider audience)
In his recent post, Phil BC of AVPS fame, the comment is made that slightly off-beam topics attract more interest. I think this is because blogs offer the ability to do things that you can't do with general agitational and propaganda materials. When you go along to a demo or anything - if you were to give out material it would need to related to whatever was happening there. On the web, you can talk about just about anything and find an audience. It gives the opportunity to discuss things that may not be the most important thing in the world at that moment, but will help deepen our understanding of that issue for the future.
The problem for me is that this blog doesn't really do that. True I may have reported some events that the Socialist Party has been involved in, that I have been along to - but thats more down to my frustration that the Socialist Party website doesn't get updated often enough (although this seems to be changing somewhat).
A further thing that Phil BC highlights in the post's comments section is that
"Where the revolutionary left are concerned they're mostly stuck with thinking about the internet how it used to be before social networking took off. A website and videos are fine. One can control editorial content. A group of supporting bloggers on the other hand are much more problematic. They might go off message. There's the suspicion they will contravene the party line in some way. They might offer their own analyses before a party line has been formulated. In short a blogger offers an alternative and independent portrayal of the party.
I find this attitude curious. If comrades can be trusted to stand in the middle of the street and engage everyday people in conversation,*and* are trusted with the party's reputation in trade unions, campaigns and social movements with real social weight, why the apprehension toward "unofficial" online activities?"
I do think there is definitely a scope for improvement in the online presence of the Socialist Party, and without a doubt I think that a group of supporting bloggers is quite useful.
I'm not entirely convinced that a blogger going 'off message' on something they have tried to analyse themselves is so bad. After all, we want a party full of Marxists who can analyse events, and people are bound to make mistakes from time to time. If there becomes a big divergence between the views of an individual blogger and the party then that person will probably leave, but given that when people leave the Socialist Party they dont tend to be bitter about it, thats not necessarily too bad either. On the otherside, you gain an audience that you probably wouldn't get from an 'official' web presence, who will discuss whatever topics that are posted up in a lot more seriousness than I imagine you would get if those same posts were on an official web presence because they are debating with an individual and not a supposed 'monolith'. (In a similar way that you tend to have a lot better discussion with someone from another group in an informal setting)
That said, I do understand the apprehensions that the leaderships of political parties may have. The difference between being trusted with the party banner on stalls and in trade unions and online - is that in those settings you have to go out there and do things, whereas anyone can set up a blog online and there is a worry that frivilous types may set blogs up and then systematically attack the party. Rumours could potentially spread like wildfire online. But on the other hand anyone could claim to be anything online - I think it would be far better to engage with bloggers than miss out on the benefits of doing so, I would actually say the question is more of how to do this than whether it should be done or not.
And back to this blog. Whilst this blog is going into a potentially long hibernation, my other (and original blog) Leftwing Criminologist, will still keep going. Because that does provide material that wouldn't be published elsewhere at the present time (thats not to say none of it is published), as it can delve into much more depth than is possible elsewhere because of the specialised nature of the blog. Theres a few pieces which are planned to appear, including a guest piece which will hopefully be appearing shortly.
As for other pieces, I will of course be writing for the which I would urge people to buy (or even subscribe to!), including a reply to this letter which completely misunderstands what I wrote in this review, albeit some slight editing of the review has taken some of the subtlety away from what I'd originally written.