Archive for November 19th, 2008

Guest post: Is the NZ left on the blogosphere too effete?

November 19, 2008

Often we get comments that are worthy of posts in their own right. I’m upgrading Tom Semmens’ comment on my post on Chris Trotter’s return to the blogosphere, because I agree with the point he’s making, and because it’s important and original. Enjoy!

The reaction to Trotter has been fascinating. The right has reacted hysterically — but given the general paranoid style of the right blogsphere that is hardly a surprise. What has really been interesting has been the left-wing reaction.

To my eyes the comfortably middle-class left-wing toffs of places like Public Address, and the intellectually lofty norightturn or feminist sites have reacted with marked hostility to Trotter’s cloth cap realpolitik. Trotter himself remarked on NatRad that he thought the blogosphere to be a largely irrelevant place to lives of real working class New Zealanders, and at first blush you would have to agree with him. It seems to me that the blogosphere consists of about 10% of the population – the Chardonnay socialists and the ACToid bully boys. However, Trotter in those comments missed the importance of who is on which side of the digital divide when it comes to influencing opinion makers.

When the Labour Party looks at reasons for its defeat this year, the role of Limbaugh-like right-wing attack sites in setting the agenda of the debate has to addressed. It seems any cursory reading of the musing of political editors and op-ed writers in our major daily papers would indicate that they are no longer just interviewing their typewriters – they have web browsers and they often are regurgitating right-wing attack talking points. The use of Cameron Slater and David Farrar’s sites to launder sexual smears and whispering campaigns into the mass media is now documented. David Farrar has managed to use his blog as a launching point to pass himself off as an independent commentator in the wider media, and if the web stats are to be believed the sleazy Slater has one of the most read blogs in the land.

The general online “left-wing” response to all this has been tardy, and a lot of the leftists frankly come across as a lot of intellectually elitist pussies. A good example would be the over-intellectualising tosh served up by Deborah over at “in a strange land” that saw her end up voting for the Maori Party. Another would be the flaccid and half-hearted political energy this time round of Russell Brown over at Public Address.

The left — that is, the left that rolls up its sleeves and gets involved with real workers at trade union and party activist levels — has to develop a far more vigorous and street fighting response online to set the agenda of opinion makers, and that is why I think pseudo-left’s general nose holding reaction to Trotter’s aggressive and thematically cohesive writing is symptomatic of how and why the right came to dominate the op-ed agenda on the internet and onto the mass media.

[Note: the heading is mine.]