A loathsome backhanded compliment in the Brendan O’Neill’s editorial in this week’s Spiked email newsletter:
Bloggers made the news this week instead of simply leaching off it. Thereâ€™s talk of a â€˜code of conductâ€™, â€˜warning signsâ€™ if blogs contain crude content. But blogs arenâ€™t the place to go if you want erudite debate; theyâ€™re the online equivalent of a loudâ€™nâ€™rowdy student bar. Why would you impose codes on something like that?
Bloggers often donâ€™t have much to say of note, but Iâ€™ll defend to the death their right to say it to their three readers.
I’m sure we’re all very grateful for their protection.
For those of you who don’t know, Spiked is the internet successor to Living Marxism, which itself was the mutant spawn of the Revolutionary Communist Party. They are very shy of admitting to this* (unlike, ahem, the successor organisation of the CPGB), but are not very shy about their sense of self-importance:
spiked is an independent online phenomenon dedicated to raising the horizons of humanity by waging a culture war of words against misanthropy, priggishness, prejudice, luddism, illiberalism and irrationalism in all their ancient and modern forms. spiked is endorsed by free-thinkers such as John Stuart Mill and Karl Marx, and hated by the narrow-minded such as Torquemada and Stalin. Or it would be, if they were lucky enough to be around to read it.
I occasionally dip into it because I do think writers like Frank Furedi do speak a lot of sense and are broadly on the side of the angels. But that sophomoric sense of self-importance runs through it like words in a stick of rock and makes it impossible to actually like. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a massive rant about its support for politbureau-style elective dicatorship as an alternative to liberal democracy which my internet connection sadly ate (thank the Lord for WordPress 2.1 and its auto-save function) – maybe I’ll return to this topic another time.
For Spiked to accuse bloggers of leaching off the mass media is a very queeny case of pots and kettles. The entire website is a temple dedicated to the church of print and broadcast journalism. Sure, they spend all their time slagging it off (doesn’t everyone?), but it is quite clear that they are smitten (I could make an incredibly geeky comment about Buffy and, erm, Spike, but that would be intolerable. So I won’t).
But in the meantime, I simply ask this: who, aside from myself and Jonathan Calder, actually reads the thing? Is it really in any position to cast aspersions about the number of people who read weblogs? I don’t have any stats to back up my instincts, but somehow I doubt it, or they wouldn’t whinge every other week about how they need more money.