No True Leftist
Freddie has a very long post up lamenting the lack of a truly leftist presence in the blogosphere. The vast majority of liberal voices online, he asserts, are part of the broader neoliberal movement, and actual bona fide leftists, socialists and so forth are universally written out of Serious Debate. Ezra Klein, Matt Yglesias and so forth are at best watered-down liberals – not really left-wing. There is nobody voicing truly leftist ideas, and if anyone did they would be ignored anyways. He uses Kos as an example of a major blogger being largely ignored by his colleagues on the left for being too radically to the left.
There is much more – as I said it’s a long post, and you should read it in its entirety to get a better and more complete grasp of Freddie’s complaint.
Now, I agree that a real left-wing – socialists, serious advocates of unionization, etc. – is not terribly well represented at least in the corners of the blogosphere that I haunt. I don’t believe, however, that this is simply due to some larger, concerted effort to ignore and marginalize the left.
First, I think that the left-wing as Freddie wants it to exist represents a very small demographic in this country. It is not surprising, then, that it is less represented in public debate and online.
Second and much more to the point, I’ve seen Freddie make this complaint before – that his arguments and positions were being written out of debate. This makes no sense to me. When we started The League, Freddie was by far the most linked-to among us. Even now that he no longer (or very rarely) blogs, his posts tend to generate links all over the place. Hell, it wasn’t long ago he got a link at The Dish for a comment he made on someone else’s blog post. This is because Freddie is a tremendous writer, and people find his arguments and ideas – and the way he presents them – compelling and interesting. He’s fun to read. And he gets all these links and responses and discussion in spite of the fact that he is a died in the wool leftist.
Indeed, so far as I can tell the greatest threat to Freddie’s ideas receiving no exposure by Very Serious People is Freddie deBoer himself. By removing himself from the debate he has contributed vastly to his own complaint. Because Freddie was getting his ideas out there and then he stopped. Maybe he was frustrated because his ideas weren’t spreading into the liberal blogosphere the way they were getting attention on many conservative and libertarian blogs. That’s fair – it certainly can be frustrating to feel as though you aren’t being taken seriously by the people who matter most. I guess I’d just suggest patience.
Actually patience might not be enough – Freddie should organize. If organized labor in this country is withering it isn’t for lack of money or political influence, it is because those who advocate for its survival are not organizing for its survival. In the age of the internet there is no reason people like Freddie aren’t creating their own publications to push their ideas to the surface. Freddie could do it, and he should. It would be far more beneficial to his cause then posts lamenting the decline of the left-wing in America.
The barrier to entry for ideas is lower than it has ever been – but those last hurdles – the Washington establishment; the Very Serious People and institutional bloggers and so forth – they can be hard to leap, no doubt about it. But I don’t think Freddie is right to stop trying.