Saturday, August 11, 2007




Apparently the latest tempest in a teapot in the blogosphere is the gap between the number of well-known male, mainly liberal, political bloggers and their female counterparts. At a recent Daily Kos liberal blogger gabfest there was reportedly a heated discussion on ‘being female while blogging’. A number of media commentators have also picked up on this issue for discussion. The gist of the argument is that like other forms of political expression and technologically-driven communications males swamp females in their rates of participation and linkage. Nevertheless, somehow, somewhere someone got the quaint notion that the ‘information superhighway’ was going to be a neutral vehicle that would give all segments of society equal ‘voice’. Well, okay, we are very familiar with the notion that some other forces than the seemingly mundane class struggle form the basis for the political decisions of the liberal intelligentsia and their hangers-on. But why would anyone assume that in a still very sexually discriminatory society that males would not dominate the ether. I do not like it, nor should you, but this society, despite some real gains for women, is still in an affirmative action, special case mode in relationship to woman’s role in society. The liberal political blogosphere merely reflects that unfortunate reality. Needless to say it is one more battle that socialists and others have to fight.

As an aside, this campaign season has seen more than its share of blather about the effects that organized liberal blogging has had on presidential politics. While I obviously appreciate the technology that allows for wide-spread use of the Internet and blogging for a whole variety of reasons this is hardly the lynchpin to social change. A useful tool? Yes. The way to organize social change? No. Call me old-fashioned but from all I see and read on the question of blogging influence I just do not see it. Raising money? Obviously. Getting quick information access to many people? Yes. But the nuts and bolts of political organizing mean that there has to be face to face encounters with real people and real live discussion and polemic. And that does not mean a yearly Kos meeting or its socialist equivalent. Nor does it mean reliance on the average bilious liberal political blog reader. One of the interesting statistics that has come out of this male/female blogger gap is that the average liberal political blog reader, much like his talk radio conservative counterpart, is about 43 years old and has a family income of $80,000 and a chip on his shoulders. I would assume that proportionally the same statistics would be borne out in regard to the average leftist male blog reader. In short ‘blog potatoes’. No revolution will occur based on those kinds of numbers. Where are the youth? They are in iPod/cellphone/video nation. Methinks we may be in a little trouble fighting for a socialist future if these numbers hold up.



Apparently the American military juggernaut is arming both sides in the Iraqi conflict. What? Well, news has recently come out from the General Accounting Office (GAO) that something like 200, 000 AK-47 assault rifles- the most popular (and useful) weapon in the world for the common soldier- are missing along with plenty of other war material. Now a few thousand rifles mislaid in a war is just ‘breakage’ as they say in the shipping business. 200, 000 missing rifles (enough for several divisions in conventional military terms) that are suppose to be in the hands of the Iraqi security forces , however, is quite another matter. The Pollyanna-ish GAO is worried that such quantities might fall into the wrong hands, that is, the various insurgency groups operating in Iraq. Hello! One can be damn well sure that one way or another, through the black market, stealing or by being given them by those selfsame Iraqi security forces that a significant number have found, or will find, their way into insurgent hands. If we needed one more reason to call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq here it is , in living color.




As a professed socialist I know that our ultimate aim is to mix the various peoples of the world, their institutions and the way they look at the world in order to benefit humankind as a whole. In short, we are decidedly in favor of the concept that has entered into the political vocabulary as multiculturalism. With this proviso –we know that the material basis for such solidarities as expressed above require a totally different form of social organization and use of ‘social’ capital than currently exists. Nevertheless we support multilingualism, international acts of solidarity and ‘diversity’ cultural events as steps in the right direction. We have no interest in the ‘superiority’ of one language over another, one race over another, one nation over another or one culture over another.

That said, a recent study concerning this very question of multiculturalism in America has been the subject of some agony by liberals and delight by conservatives. Professor Robert Putnam of Harvard, well-known for his now classic study of the breakdown of civil solidarity in America in “Bowling Alone”, has concluded a massive long time survey that indicates that the more heterogeneous a society (like the United States, for example) the less likely that the various social, ethnic and racial groups that make up that society will coalesce and work together to create a greater unitary civil society. Of course, as a quintessential liberal these conclusions have frightened the good professor and he has been campaigning to lessen the impact of his study. Conservatives, obviously, delight in these conclusions and will use this information to deny the value of affirmative action, immigration, bilingualism, etc.

We, however, will take the study for what it is worth. As a good indicator, for an academic study, of how far we have to go to get to those goals mentioned in the first paragraph. Whether the sociological methodology behind Professor Putnam’s work is politically reliable is an open question. Some of it seems to be the same old academic ‘hat trick’ methodology that, unfortunately for the professor, went astray when confronted with political and social reality. And that is the point. Liberals, through such programs as affirmative action, changes in the educational curriculum and the mere fact of celebrating diversity through recognition of various cultural events formerly neglected, truly believe that these actions would be enough to make a multicultural society. In short, if everyone made 'nice' things would be nice. Even an off hand look at the social composition of most educational institutions in America including those of higher learning, housing patterns and cultural events could have confirmed the professor’s thesis without the paperwork. The only significant place, important for us, where there is mingling is in the workplace. That is to the good. And that is added confirmation about why we have to organize those workplaces for socialism.