I know Samuel Johnson said that "none but a blockhead ever wrote except for money", but he was a twat. - Chris DillowThis is a very blogospheric thing to write about, but John Rentoul a little while ago wrote a very incisive piece about the decline of blogging. He cited Paul Evans, Stephen Tall, Chris Dillow and mentions the rise of monetised mainstream platforms, the appearance of the "trollemic" and the crowding out of amateur voices. And we can add the rise of other forms of social media. But there are still new blogs appearing, and old ones revived or hanging on. Many of them, echoing Paul's comments on the much missed Norman Geras, are good places for rethinking our orthodoxies and stepping outside our boxes.
A month ago, I published a post entitled "Blog recommendations for homeless leftists", with links to some blogs that are either new or new to me or which I don't link to often enough. I'm going to try and do this as a monthly series. This edition is UK-centric and left-leaning, but I'll try and be more (topically, geographically and politically) eclectic in future, and also to feature some South East London blogs. Feel free to nominate or offer to do a guest edition.
This is a goodbye rather than a recommendation.Sunny Hundal's Liberal Conspiracy is hanging up its boots. I was never a fan of it - too much BDS posturing, not enough thinking outside the box, a bit too oriented to mainstream Westminster politics. On the other hand, it had a good critique of multiculturalism, a good range of opinions, from centrist to more extra-curricular, and it made a better effort than many to be accessible and make a political difference. Among the contributors over the years have been several of my favourite UK political bloggers, including Adam Bienkov, BenSix, Carl Packman, Cath Elliott, Chris Dillow, Dave Osler, Paul Cotterill, Sarah Ditum, Jim Denham, and Sunder Katwala. Here are some sample posts: Darren Johnson on Boris' housing policies; Colin Ethelson on Tommy Robinson's rebrand; Chris Dillow on why we should ignore the papers; Iram Ramzan on Indian rape culture; Paul Cotteril on the Mail's pro-fascism; and Sunny himself on "grooming" and on Sikhs and Muslims, on Indian rape culture, on immigration politics, on Western interventionism, and on George Galloway's brazen porkies.
Sunny notes the following:
Whether amateur (i.e. independent) multi-author publishing is dead wholly depends on how people approach it. Here’s my advice: don’t expect to start an opinion blog and get 100,000 readers a month. The market is over-saturated with opinions on the Guardian, New Statesman, HuffPo and IndyVoices (just on the left). Only the Guardian pays and yet the others have no problems attracting submissions because so many want to make a name for themselves. Worse, most opinion blogging only talks to the already-converted and changes minds only at the margins. It may be cathartic for some but that’s not enough to attract a lot of visitors regularly.That sounds about right. And with that in mind, we move on.
Though Cowards Flinch
And this is less a recommendation than a very belated welcome back. Back in May, Paul Cotteril announced that the group blog Though Cowards Flinch - pro-Labour Party, intellectually ambitious, thoughtful - would close its doors. Then, after just a month, he came back to intervene in some Labour Party politricks. Since then, he's warmed up to more frequent blogging again, and is almost back to the old volume. Particularly interesting, for instance, was one on why London schools do better. Fellow TCFists such as my friend Carl Packman have moved on. So, while I'm here, here's Carl on Russell Brand.
I haven't linked to Jim Jepps for a while, possibly not at all at his current online home. I don't really see eye-to-eye with Jim (a hard left socialist in the Green Party) on lots of issues either, but he has most of the same good points as the previous two blogs: a non-sectarian, accessible approach. I particularly wanted to flag up his post on what he learned when (some years ago) he left the SWP; it's very illuminating. For a while, Jim also had a nice online magazine for Londoners, Big Smoke, but it appears to be sleeping.
I'm not sure why I've never noticed this excellent blog, from a former member of the Socialist Party. It's feminist, critical of identity politics, and genuinely rethinking all the assumptions of the trad left. Here are some sample posts, from over several months: on left-wing idols with feet of clay; on Jewsplaining and class politics; on David Icke's Nazism; on BDS as identity politics; on what's wrong with "trigger warnings" and "safe spaces"; on the oppression Olympics; and on disillusioned Marxism. Categories include "fuck you liberals", "cunts" and "austerity".
A Thousand Flowers
This blog is from a totally different place to me politically, so I won't endorse it the way I'd endorse Disillusioned Marxist. But it's one of the few genuinely enjoyable blogs on the left. It describes itself as "a Scottish blog launched on International Women’s Day 2013 by an unsavoury cabal of queers, feminists and trolls. Your new go-to gaiz for seditious gossip and druggy innuendo." Gratuitous attacks on George Galloway and Tommy Sheridan get extra points with me. Sample posts: on the capitalist pseudo-revolutionaries of the #Millionmaskmarch (by Leon Trollsky); on the Baking Industrial Complex (by Red Spex); on being failed by the left (Tarzan Girl); and a homophobic history of the left (Juan Mac). Categories include "Weekly Wanker". On the other hand, at first I thought this post on Hugo Chavez was a hilarious parody, but as I read on I realised it was deadly serious, and probably one of the worst blog posts I've ever read.
Finally, a credit for the image above. It's issue no.13 of Cosmarxpolitan.