This post was written by Edie, who writes one of my all time favorite blogs Annotated Life. Her post deals with a question we all ask ourselves. I started my blog because I was angry about the Terry Schiavo affair. I thought science and rationality was under attack. Please visit Edie's blog. She is a great writer, whether she writes about art, current politics or history. Edie is associated with World Socialist Web Site, the most widely read socialist news site.
Why blog? This question is inevitably broached, at least privately, by every serious-minded blogger seeking to clarify or justify the activity.
Many intelligent people take a cynical view of the blogging phenomenon, saying that the reality of the situation is that most bloggers are simply ignorant and shallow. I have been confronted with this position from personal acquaintances who consider themselves to be very leftist, very realistic, very objective about the political climate. Let's face it, they say, bloggers can barely snap their gum and linkjack at the same time.
I think that it is in fact impossible to be realistic with the attitude that most people are just irrecoverably stupid. Far from realistic or objective, it is entirely subjective. One must look at mass activities objectively in order to understand them and recognize their full potential.
So let's be realistic. Blogs are inlets and outlets. Blogs are non-profits or infinitesimal business ventures. They are diaries or megaphones for confessions, creative and political expressions, individualism and romance. Blogs are powerful communication and social networking tools. A blog is a place to work through personal thoughts or dilemmas, often seeking the collaboration, understanding, and disinterested friendship of strangers.
But beyond these explanations, there is the larger trend. Regardless of the rationale for or content of individual blogs, the act of blogging is representative of a trend toward expression and interaction and discussion beyond established media--even as the governing body and structure of our society constricts against this. The Internet is a medium unparalleled in history for the exercise and transmission of free speech.
Currently Technorati tracks around 58 million blogs. MySpace lists more than 105 million blogs. Most of these are no doubt deeply personal. However, a great majority of these, never mind the content, are intricately linked personal forums, and this lends itself to free speech in times of political crisis.
This is why the political and media establishment perpetuates the cynical view of bloggers and more generally, youth, as irretrievably shallow, stupid, consumed by consumerism. It is behavior condemned out of one side of the mouth and encouraged out of the other.
And, more importantly, because social networking has flourished to an extent that was almost inconceivable even a decade ago, the military establishment has expressed concern over what it has termed the "uncontrolled networking" of "the Information Battlespace." Information flows through like a sieve, unapproved in its content and its carriers, unauthorized, instantaneous.
Blogs and user-submitted news sites have proven time after time that they have the capacity to cover world-shaping events with more rapidity and humanity than the embedded media outlets--from riots to tsunamis, elections to hurricanes, war crimes to military coups. Videos and photographs that have surfaced on file-sharing networks have changed public opinion virtually overnight, and have the power to destabilize governments anywhere in the world.
Attempts to rein in this networking have so far focused on corporatizing--buying out, bullying with lawsuits, constructing monolithic rip-offs. The next step, tiering the Internet, is an effort to cede web supremacy to military traffic whenever a crisis is declared. Corporate traffic would get second "tier," and the rest of us could conceivably be cut off altogether if it is deemed necessary for security purposes. Given the political climate of the endless "War on Terror," it almost goes without saying that security purposes for the military can mean the opposite of security for us.
Yet, for all the tough talk, shutting down the Internet is not really a practical option for the government in any circumstance. This is because the integration and simultaneity of global financial markets are also by-products of the telecommunications system, and without it, world capitalism--so overwhelmingly inflated by speculation in the place of real productive power--would collapse.
Why does the political establishment, the government as well as the mainstream media, detest the blog? Why blog?
Blogging is oppositional because it is an alternative vehicle for the dissemination of information. It represents a small but significant cultural evolution of the working class without the sanction of the ruling elite. The establishment fears and dismisses it because the system at large has reached such a state of decay and is now so sclerotic that alternative modes of communication are now recognized as threats.
Similarly, such modest alternatives as third parties and public free speech areas--historically the safety valves of capitalist democracy--are now being suppressed, not because the government is in a position of strength, but because it is vulnerable. The threat of terrorism is invoked, terrorist plots are concocted by the intelligence agencies and heralded by the media as often as necessary not because the position of the ruling elite is stable but precisely the opposite, because the power structure has deteriorated to such an extent that an informed population, living without fear, now represents a threat to capitalism rather than a bulwark of democracy. Capitalism and democracy have been revealed to be incompatible.
Giving legal sanction for torture, information operations including Internet and phone surveillance, development of weaponry intended for domestic crowd control, and record funding for military and police forces are also direct symptoms of this decay.
Why blog? The most politically developed within the working class have a tremendous responsibility set out by history to lead society in a new direction. The Internet offers us a wealth of potential which would be foolish and even tragic to forgo. This is why I blog.RENEGADE EYE