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Thursday, March 23, 2006 

Holding the line

Crooked Timber's Henry Farrell posted a critique yesterday on an essay concerning the formation of a left-wing message machine to counter the GOP's dominance of the American news and political agenda (creating and nurturing the myth of the "Liberal Media" has been a crucial victory in the advance of US wingnuttery, one they are attempting to emulate in going on to crush dissent in American academia).

Farrell's contribution to this internal Democratic debate is a typically well-considered, thoughtful piece which has relevance to those on the centre-left and left of the political spectrum here; especially considering the degree to which the new right in Ireland (and in the the rest of the Anglosphere, too) is a direct child of the post-Goldwater radical US right. A key piece:
"The reason that the right has been so successful in shaping politics over the last twenty years is in part because it successfully constructed an alternative intellectual apparatus of think-tanks, research institutes, journals etc, pushing out endless policy papers and talking points, and, over time, shifting the center of political debate substantially over to the right. This is something that the netroots can’t do if they see an interest in policy questions and ideology as markers that you belong to the corrupt establishment. Ideas and policy are vitally important to politics – they’re a fundamental force structuring the conventional wisdom that Bowers is interested in. It sometimes seems to me that there are two left wing blogospheres – the netroots centered around Kos, MyDD etc, and the wonkosphere centered around Brad DeLong, Kevin Drum, Matt Yglesias and others, with only a few connecting threads between them (Duncan Black serves inter alia as a sometimes grumpy intermediary). One talks mostly about the winning and losing of elections, the other mostly about policy and ideas. This strikes me as a very serious weakness indeed; there’s a lot that these people should be talking about together if they want to construct something real and lasting, but they’re not."
As happened in the US, the political debate within the early Irish blogger population has been dominated by rightwingers feeding off the voluminous propaganda pumped out by the well-funded right-wing wonk apparatus in the US (the ORI is small fry in comprison, and the FI insignificant). The same relative dearth of intellectuals doing the grunt-work of producing research and policy talking-points will inevitably retard the emergence of a response here to the growing rightwing Young Turks within Fine Gael, the PDs and to a lesser extent Fianna Fáil. (Other 'innovations' that have contributed to the GOP success in recent years - such as developing a rapport with militant rightwing Christianity - will inevitably follow as well)

A debate to watch closely and to learn from on this side of the Atlantic.

"Libel"-Richard Waghorne
"Attack blog"-Damien Mulley

About me

  • An early-thirties male Irish technologist living and working in Dublin, I'm a former (recovering) member of both Fianna Fáil and the Roman Catholic Church.

    I'm not a member of any political party these days, but my opinions can be broadly categorised as 'lefty' and republican. I am also a former member of the Irish Defence Forces.

    Please feel free to check out the FI Fie Foe Fum group blog, where I was once a regular contributor, and the Cedar Lounge Revolution, where I can usually be found in the comments.

    (This blog and its contents reflect only my own personal opinions as a private citizen, and not those of any other person or organisation.)



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