Monday, April 07, 2003
Ken Parish suffering that old blog ennui too.
Regular readers of Troppo Armadillo will be aware of my vision of blogging as a vehicle for development of a neo-Athenian-style democracy, in which respectful and open-minded civic dialogue sustains a tolerant, engaged and informed citizenry. One part of me has always apprehended that this is an ideal verging on myth, but I'm such a naive optimist by nature that it's only been the entrenched, unyielding prejudice of both sides in the Iraq war issue that has imposed a reluctant acceptance that the real world bears no resemblance to my idealised vision and never will. [...]
I can hardly recall even the barest flicker of open-minded blogospherical debate over the last couple of months. I've tried to convince myself that it's just because the Iraq issue has polarised opinion in a particularly extreme way, but I don't really believe it. While other issues may allow most people to be a bit more superficially polite and diffident, I suspect that they're no more open-minded, no more willing to embrace doubt, uncertainty or ambiguity, or accept even the possibility that neither side might have a monopoly on truth, justice or morality, whatever the issue.
In the last couple of months? That would imply there was open-minded blogospherical debate before that, and if there's one thing I've learned in my year and a bit of blogosphere residence it's that when people have settled into a particular political direction they tend to stay there and not be terribly receptive to ideas coming from the opposite direction. Neither side is better or worse than the other in this—left and right are equally likely to be doctrinaire and unyielding—and I don't exclude myself from this either, of course. I'm sure I've got blind spots of my own. You may well have noticed them.
I just don't remember there ever being such a thing as open-minded blogospherical debate; that would require each side to give ground at some point and respect the other's point of view, and that's not something we're always good at. When was the last time Tim Blair admitted the left might actually have some decent ideas? Similarly, how often does Jim Capozzola cut the right some slack? (Note: these are just examples for the sake of argument. Insert the right/left-wing blogger names of your choice if you desire.) As far as debate in the blogosphere goes, more often it descends to "I'm right, you're a cunt, so there" than rising to "I'm sure I'm right but your points are good" or "I'm wrong, you're right". Personally, I'm just surprised it's taken Ken this long to come to this realisation...