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Friday, January 25, 2002

Biology 397:Special Topics in Ecology-"Political Ecology of Blogistan"-Will Hester muses:"Is the reason that blogging is largely a "conservative" phenomenon (though I would not argue if you think a better choice would be "neoconservative", "libertarian", "independent") the result of a biased media culture?" I'm writing this at 12:30AM, at least two hours past my bedtime (mind's not slowing down tonight), so adjust for IQ deficit. I'm not sure what to call the ideology of Blogistan. Libertarians will launch the bombers if you call them a "conservative." In Europe, conservative has a aristocratic, undemocratic undertone, hence free-market icon Freidrich Hayek's famous "Why I am not a Conservative" essay. Some purists will go with "Classic Liberal" in the 1800's sense of taking power from the aristocrats and giving it to the people at large. Whitaker Chambers ducked by calling himself a "man of the right." I broke down the standard paleocon, of which Pat Buchanan is a charatature, earlier. The two main strains of "classic liberalism" I'll call neoconservative and libertarian. 20th century liberalism (market socialism?) took power from the individual and gave it to the government; both branches of CL opposed it to varying degrees. Where the two strains differ is on the ability (and desirability) of government to enforce moral discipline on the public. Libertarians will argue against laws on drugs, on sexual issues such as abortion, prostitution or pornography and on safety issues like seat belts. The libertarian will also tend to be more skeptical about government and institutions in general. Virginia Postrel coined the term dynamist to describe people who believe in a dynamic, changeable system. Blogistan is definitely dynamist territory, with a few of us parting company over human biotech, drugs and prostitution. The blog world that I've been exposed to is right-of-center with a strong libertarian leaning. However, you link to who you reading links to, so you will tend to stay in the same philosophical space. I'm not linking to The Nation or The American Prospect since their ideologies are near-polar opposites of mine. Here are some possible explanations for the dynamist tendencies of Blogistan. (1)-Computer users tend to be better educated and wealthier. Geeks have a basic libertarian streak, believing in a free-market meritocracy of which they have a good deal of merit to offer. (2)- A factor in dynamist blogging is that free-market arguments require more intellectual explanation than liberal arguments, which often are based on fears. The free-form blog allows the writer to make a one-paragraph cutter or a two-page essay, neither of which would make a good editorial. (3)-Liberals have more segmented interests. The dynamist community has more things in common. "It's a libertarian thing, you wouldn't understand" wouldn't sell as a T-shirt here. Also, since most bloggers fall into the dreaded "white male" category, there isn't a X studies program to vent on at college. (4)- A lot of blogging is humor, a good hunk of it decidedly non-PC. ("How many feminist does it take to screw in a lightbulb?" "That's not funny") Liberals take themselves and the world too seriously. Dynamists realize that the world's imperfect and will stay that way. We can't save the world, so lighten up. For 1:45 in the morning, not bad.

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