Sunday, 17 August 2008

A thought...

We hear a lot about the idea that left and right don't mean anything these days, that politics is becoming more amorphous, shifting: but if you spend any reasonable amount of time on the political blogs you can see that in fact there is a definite hardening of ideological attitudes (particularly of atheists to Xtians, for some reason), a movement of sorts to the kind of genuine contempt for the act of opposing one's views that we thought had been relegated to the 1980s. I think that this sense of mine (and I mean the UK blogosphere here) is probably exacerbated by the fact that the energetic shouting is carried on by relatively few people, compared to the actual millions of people out there who take rather more moderate views when you speak to them about stuff.

I wonder if the two sides (and there are pretty much two, though there are fuzzy lines and overlaps) are gearing up for a bigger confrontation, another battle for the spirit of the hour? My ex-alter ago, Jim Callaghan once said that every thirty years or so the political landscape shifted and you just got caught in it (or something similar): I think this time, with less popular engagement, the activists (including the bloggers) don't need to appear friendly or consolidating. They can fight among themselves with as much ideological purity and logic as they can muster and whoever emerges the more powerful will carry the rest of the country anyway.

Logic is an interesting element of ultra-modern politics: we are seeing it taken to the ends of rational thought, for the development of rational thought; and if a view is not rational, it is harmful, and if it is harmful, it must disappear. I've always been struck by that phrase of Goldstein (via O Brien, via the narrator, via Orwell): "the general hardening of outlook that set in around 1930", and I can't help thinking that we're heading for another one. Not so physically violent, obviously, but with a violence of attitude and treatment of opponents, with simplistic ideas about what is in people's heads, and how the world should be run.

I've always disagreed with the views of some that there is bullying and aggression in the blogosphere...but I am coming round to this view now. Aggression more than bullying perhaps. Ideological aggression. Debate, in the sense of people with differing views, is being elbowed out by shrieking and abuse.

And I've done my little bit to stoke all this rubbish too. I can't complain about that. I suppose I would say I was a little naive, but I've watched with mounting horror recently the consequences of it, and I think it is more than time for me to stop my part in it.

Every so often i wonder if I should change tack: I think I will. I enjoy blogging, that is the sole reason I do it; I sometimes enjoy political discussion, but less and less. I am going to turn TTD back into what it started as: a vehicle for my thoughts, not a platform, and -

believe it if you dare -

I really am fed up with swearing. I've done it too much, too poorly. It does nothing at all.

So expect from NuTTD:

1) randomness
2) silliness
3) Doctor Who
4) cricket
5) fiction
6) fantasy
7) literature
8) whatever else takes my fancy.*

* expressed in varying tones, but without swearing or aggression.**

**Alright. This is a pledge, an aspiration. Not a promise.

Somehow, also, you are going to have to keep me off the computer after a drink. That's probably the biggest key to it all.

But here, as I've said before several times, are 3 blogs one would be doing REALLY well to emulate:

The Joy of Curmudgeonry
An Insomniac
In Search of High Places

I'm sure Alex won't mind my saying this but things are a little quieter on ISoHP nowadays, as he is very busy with his studies, so Matt is kind of running both blogs (it seems).

Also this blog has lots of meat to it, lots of thinking, and with a really excellent comments policy and "system" too:

Crushed By Ingsoc.

There are lots of others too. I might update this post as I think of them, but I'm off for some maths now.

UPDATE MONDAY: Despite tangling briefly with this blog's author a year or so ago, and despite the fact that this blog is incredibly well known I had managed to completely avoid To Miss With Love. In this case the blog itself is wonderful, although the comments boxes aren't always. But it ought to go on or near my list of brilliantly civilised things to read.


Matt M said...

One of the things I really like about the blogosphere is that there are a number of blogs which, despite being stretched across the ideological spectrum, refuse to give in to the tribalist mentality and will happy work together on issues they agree on: Devil's Kitchen, Ministry of Truth, Dizzy Thinks, Chicken Yoghurt, etc. They (mainly) agree or disagree depending purely on the issues involved. (And, as ISOHP hopefully shows, the same can be said about a number of atheist/theist blogs as well).

There are also a large number of twats out there as well, but one of the joys of this here Internet is that you can easily ignore them.

And, sadly, ideological aggression isn't limited to politics and religion - have you read many Doctor Who forums? :-)

Speaking of Doctor Who (I swear this comment was more coherent when I was planning it out), I'm currently fuming at the decision to make certain classic DW episodes available on iTunes... but only to US users!!!

The Tin Drummer said...

Yes Matt, I have and it amazed and horrified me, the violence people could come up with attacking Colin Baker (or whoever). And also how often a discussion that started with "oh how good is Tomb" would degenerate into "you're a racist bastard" or something.

I agree on those blogs and also the reason I go on about ISoHP is how much its regular people like you, Timmo, Rev Dr and so on debate with such fierce intelligence and such politeness. It's a real lesson to the world.

I didn't know that about DW episodes in USA only:why so? bastards! This might call for a sweary blog post (slaps wrist).

Matt M said...

I watched 'Timelash' recently and was surprised by just how good - once you get past the costume - Colin Baker's performance was.

As for 'TotC'... it's one of my favourites, but the character of Toberman is definitely a bit dodgy. Apparently he was written as a more complex character, but a lot of it got dropped for some reason.

And I've no idea why the US store has Doctor Who and we don't. All I know is that they can watch 'Carnival of Monsters' on their iPods and I can't!

The Tin Drummer said...

Well, I do think Baker hams it up a few times, especially in Attack, but he is good in Trial..

Yes Toberman is a problem I suppose but I still love the story and the Cybermen in "Tomb". But the debates on it at Outpost Gallifrey at times were a bit hairy for my liking. I don't really bother with it anymore there. Just go for the news!

Incidentally there is a much better black character in Tenth Planet, though he is locked in a doomed spaceship.

Hmm...I've no desire to see Carnival of Monsters on my Terror of the Autons...well...

Matt M said...

Hmm...I've no desire to see Carnival of Monsters on my Ipod

I think it's one of those stories that might benefit from a tiny screen - minimising any disappointing sets/effects/costumes and allowing you to sit back and enjoy Robert Holmes' dialogue.

"One has no wish to be devoured by alien monstrosities, even in the cause of political progress."