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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Monday May 15 2006

One of my favourite blogs at the moment is Jackie‘s (which has an interesting new look), partly because she is a friend, and the Girl Friend of a friend, but only partly.

At present she is writing a lot about how the new social media (tip: when talking blogs with bloggers don’t call it “blogging” - so 2003) and in particular what the social media will do to commerce, partly because that’s what she does for a living.

Here are some vaguely related thoughts, very half-if-that baked, about how blogs etc. - my preferred way of talking about blogging - may impact back upon politics.

The usual way that blogs are supposed to impact on politics is by giving pulpits to a new lot of pulpiteers, who can then assemble their own new congregations and get them to vote differently, thus transforming politics and (when combined with new and cheaper ways of reporting) bankrupting the newspapers as we know them.  True enough, one hopes, as far as it goes.

But consider another angle.  For as long as I can remember, at schools, the tendency has been for intellectualism and left-wing-ism to go together.  Non-left intellectuals have tended to be heretical convert/deserters from this camp.  (That certainly describes me.)

In every American high school movie ever made, the geeky bespectacled ones are, because intellectual, pretty much left wing.  The ones discussing make-up and shopping, etc., are the non-intellectual non-geeks.  The style experts.

Maybe commerce-related and life-related blogging will change that, by giving school geeks something else to read and to be geeky about.  Maybe geeky politics will become, for the geeks, old-school.

The thing about commerce- and life-blogging – writing about the things you do, products you make, want to buy, have bought, etc. - is that it will mostly be done by people who have no intention of changing the political situation, and no power to do that even if they wanted to.  They just want their possessions and pursuits, their cameras, their stockings or back massaging or whatever it is, to be different, or for people to get excited about or amused by their possessions and pursuits, cameras, stockings, back massaging.  But the very fact of using the written word to do this makes it that bit more geeky, so geeks will be drawn to it.

Meanwhile, you definitely notice politics becoming more fashion-driven, certainly in Britain.  New Labour led the way here, but now the Conservatives are following, with their A List of only beautiful people allowed candidates.  The text of the Guido Fawkes blog, just linked to, is who’s in who’s out etc., but the not-very-subtext is how politicians look and feel, rather than how they think and what they will decide or are deciding, the point about Guido (a long-time acquaintance from Alternative Bookshop/Libertarian Alliance days) being that he has always been into style, and has tended to let content sort itself out.

So, will the style tribes at schools eventually decide that politics is their thing, and chase out the geeks?  Will the geeks abandon politics, and leave the space vacant for the stylists?  Or, is this happening/has this happened already, and has geek-me only just noticed?  Perhaps it has always been true.

But no, I don’t think so, although at various times in the past it has been.  One of the big take-overs of politics by style was fascism, Nazism in particular.  Nazi Germany, you could say, and to over-simplify, was a world in which the geeks had been chased out of politics.  (And to satisfy the majority, the gays which style politics inevitably attracted were chased out in their turn.) Now I realise I just broke one of those laws about how you mustn’t argue, but please understand that I am not calling anyone in particular a Nazi, certainly not Guido Fawkes.  I’m just saying.

And the reason I am saying is that, despite that law that I am now breaking, this does seem a better way of getting a handle on how the world may be becoming a bit more fascist than hitherto.  The thing is, it’s not deliberate.  It’s the consequence of the way the world is going, rather than of any one individual or group deliberately doing evil things.  (Just like fascism first time around, for a great many of them.) People are trying to do good stuff, same as ever, but the landscape has changed.

What I hope will happen will be that politics, having gone through its catwalk phase and then once more reverted to its more usual mutton-dressed-as-lamb decrepitude, will become ever more visibly ridiculous as a way of doing things and of organising things, even as things themselves have been getting better and better (see above).  At which point I hope that instead of politics merely being left to rot, an active effort will be made to clear it away.

Notice how I went from non-politics back to politics again.  But then I’m an old-school geek.