BAD MANNERS, BLOGWAR AND WHY CAN’T WE BE FRIENDS
February 6, 2007
There is a war between the left and right
A war between the black and white
A war between the odd
And the even.
“There is a war”
Sometimes I don’t speak too bright
but yet I know what I’m talking about
Why can’t we be friends?
“Why can’t we be friends?”
I first became aware of blogwar when I received two comments at my blogger site. One was from Iain Hall (whom I’d never heard of) paying me complements on my earlier piece re. cultural studies, the other was from ‘bourbon-boy’ who informed me that Iain’s plug was the ‘kiss of death’.
Now up ‘til that point I’d pretty much ignored the blogsphere. I started this as a way of getting over an entrenched and prolonged block. It never really occurred to me that there were a million blogs out there all expressing political views and that the heat of normal political debate manifested in cyberspace also.
Anyway so I looked up Iain’s blog and was pleasantly surprised to see that he was a conservative. This is because tho’ I’m not I think it important to be able to communicate across the battlelines of the political spectrum. Ideology often acts as an inhibitor to the exchange of ideas. Ideas, ideologically organized, are soldiers in an army. One army fights the other. It doesn’t matter that some ideas are worthy and some not so much so. It matters not likewise that if this army’s idea were combined somehow with the idea from that army good might result. What matters is defeating the enemy?
I think this a problem.
The necessary precursor to accomplishing inter-ideological ceasefire naturally is to get them to listen. If a conservative liked my stuff then I was at least getting them to listen.
I then went to bourbon boy’s site, known as HALLWATCH. This site is dedicated to shitting on Iain Hall!!! I thought this a bit strange as Hall is not a major media figure exactly, he’s a bloke who blogs. Still HALLWATCH is dedicated to tearing old Iain a new arsehole. It’s not so much a debunking of his views (like Boltwatch) but simply an all out effort to humiliate the guy.
An example of the kind of thing you get there is:
This is a good example of just what an arrogant fuckwad Iain is, when I read stuff like this then I feel no guilt about running Hallwatch and focusing on this big mouthed rural jerk off from Queensland (where men are men and women are usually men too.)
According to Bourbon-boy: “HALLWATCH represent a growing trend of decent bloggers who are unhappy with Iain and his actions on the Net.” Bourbon-boy has a small crew who all express the view that the man deserves to be skewered with a scud missile. It’s funny in a playground fashion. But there’s the inevitable hypocrisy. HALLWATCH a site objecting to the bad ethics of one Netizen responds with comparable tactics. For example: Bourbon-boy accuses Iain of being, amongst other things, a stalker however he continually makes reference to Iain’s personal life!
There’s a whole history involving Iain’s crew and Bourbon-boy’s crew going way back to I don’t know. I won’t go into it because I don’t want to get into it. If you guys are reading this I am not taking sides. For others if you want to check it out, check it out.
But I must ask: if Hall is so evil why doesn’t he just write him off, block his commentary ignore him? What is the point?
This sort of stuff’s all over the place. Consider an otherwise sober site (that shall be nameless here). Normally the debate’s quite civilized. But there’s been a running rant/counter-rant between two gentlemen (also to go un-named) who, I guess, purport to be scientists arguing about climate change. The following is a selection of their oratorical eloquence:
Give us one in your own words liar.
“Bird-brain, Have you actually read Lomborg’s book?”
What award are you going for. Jack-ass of the year 2007?
Fuck you, you filthy faggot.
You are blowing hot air out your arse,
Bird-brain. Of course I’ve read Lomborg’s book stoopid, whereas you obviously haven’t. You should learn to shut your fat gob when you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Since you have an intellectual capacity inferior to slime mould it would be pointless providing you with evidence. Now why don’t you go to the gym and shed some more of the disgusting walrus blubber that insulates your repulsive person
Get to it fatso- run, run run! .
Now I suspect that these guys really enjoy shitting on each other. I reckon they look forward to it all day (do Bourbon-Boy, Iain Hall and co?). But as much fun as this is – I have learned nothing from it.
In a recent interview for Esquire biochemist James Watson stated that he’d “turned against the left-wing because they don’t like genetics, because genetics implies that sometimes we’ll fail in life because we have bad genes. They want all failure in life to be due to an evil system.” (Esquire “What I’ve Learned” Jan 2007 p. 90). Indeed this underlies in terms of Watson’s own field the problem many have with the left these days; the dogmatic adherence to allocate a social explanation for everything.
Elsewhere Watson says that “new ideas require new facts.”
But new ideas require more than new facts, they require the capacity to face them. New facts can be unpleasant. Genetics as Watson (a formerly left-leaning Democrat of the libertarian mould) poses facts unpleasant for those of us with egalitarian ideals. But facts are facts. For those of us who enjoy our cars arguments for the necessity of drastically reducing human carbon emissions might also be unpleasant.
Much of that argument at present between scientific camps as between journalists, politicians and others is a wrangling between world-views that select facts to suit themselves. This is potentially disasterous either way. To drastically reduce emissions means reducing growth implying unemployment and the perpetuation of pre-modern lifestyles for much of the world; to do nothing when action is required to avoid catastrophe is likewise potentially lethal.
We need facts and solidarity not devisive point-scoring. The same thing I’d suggest goes for terrorism. The left taking the knee-jerk oppositional stance to the chauvanistic posturings of the US administration take the view that one should side (or at least sympathize) with al-Qaeda. Absurd!! This is an organization which would like to sweep aside most of the social progress that Western leftists have fought for over the last two hundred hears or so.
That’s not to let the right off the hook so easily. There’s a whole catalogue of discourse that vilifies Muslims as barbarian hordes all too eager for war. Ironically enough much of this vitriol is expressed in barbarian war-mongering terms. Either/or. Either kill ‘em or go to bed with ‘em. It never occurs to either side that al-Qaeda might actually piss off a lot of Arabs. For a ‘left-wing’ Palestinian who hates terrorists check this out.
This “Jew-hating terrorist” devotes time and money to the following anti-Semitic endeavours:
I just got off the phone with a good friend of mine that was on my Thesis Committee (A 75 Year Urban City Plan for Jerusalem). He is the Rabbi of the third oldest congregation in America. He liked the idea a lot and is not only willing to help but thinking of coming himself. If anyone else would like to come or help shoot me an email.
Following in the footsteps of a very courageous idea, we are going to begin funding the temporary swap of Arab and Israeli bloggers… Let me explain. Rabbi Belzer is the founder and vp of an organization in Ireland that brings Palestinians and Israelis together to develop understanding… a beautiful objective.
The project’s called “meet your cousin”. What a barbarian!! And being against the death penalty (unusual for a bloodthirsty Palestinian I guess) here’s his reaction to the death of a leading al-Qaeda figure: Burn in Hell: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
You “learned” ladies and gentlemen from either end of the political spectrum in this most “civilized” and Christian Commonwealth of Australia this attitude doesn’t exactly compute. Does it? Here’s a Palestinian (and a critic of Zionism) who doesn’t like terrorists and is friends with Rabbis!
See? The world is not that simple. What makes it simple is people who reach for one piece of information with which to explain a complex issue and then roll it up and spend the rest of their lives beating others ‘round the head with it. To those of you inclined to do this I’d just like to say, quietly, over a quiet afternoon cup (doesn’t have to be latte or even coffee): I’M SICK OF YOUR FUCKING SELF-RIGHTEOUS RANTS!!
The scientist vs. scientist diatribe above concerned the famous “skeptical environmentalist” Bjørn Lomborg who, as I recall was spat upon at Oxford for debunking some environmentalist claims. Lomborg had originally been trying to debunk a conservative assertion that most of the problems cited by ecologists in the 1970s had been favorably dealt with. The environmental lobby had vigorously refuted this. Lomborg suspecting they were right set out to attack the conservative position. He found that it was the environmentalists who were wrong about a lot of things. How much I can’t say because Lomborg’s research has also been questioned. He did as I remember state that global warming was still a major problem.
The veracity of Lomborg’s research is immaterial. What is relevant here is the reaction of environmental activists. They attacked him for disproving their propaganda. My perspective at the time was why? He seems to have shown that we can deal with whatever environmental damage we have caused. Surely this is a good thing.
For many environmentalists (and I wasn’t at the time much concerned with those sorts of things) Lomborg’s book was good news. A lot of the opposition came from people so dedicated to the fight, to the hatred of the other side that they considered him a traitor. This is not to infer that environmentalists are a pack of liars. They aren’t. But there are liars and fools on both sides of the fence: left and right.
Pertinent to twentieth century issues this might pass. But the twenty-first century is potentially both a much more dangerous place and a much better place. Terrorism. Environment. Peace and sustainability. Stakes are high. If we win, we really win and if we lose…
In the process of winning a never-ending rhetorical battle we lose the capacity to absorb the new facts that they might present. I believe the growing rift between the left and right and the corresponding loss in capacity for self-criticism, reflection and old fashioned courteous listening is dangerous, literally. It’s not like we can ever be a big happy circle dancing around to the same tune. Our taste in music is different. But we can endeavour to be a tad more respectful. Surprisingly it doesn’t cost much.
What is required now is a putting aside of the bulky twentieth century dogmas and prejudices. Begin again with basics. What was it you really believed in again. What’s going on? Truly. And, that old and timeless classic…
What is to be done?