Sunday, June 25, 2006

Martin Peretz Contra Kos

Well, that sums it up fairly well...though I'm a little put off by the condescending tone. TNR is a more well-funded and well-established organization than is DKos, and condescension doesn't become them. And...well...I hate to niggle, but it would make a little more sense if the Peretz had ended his essay by saying that TNR was a heterogeneous institution, rather than a heterodox one...though it's that, too.

Anyway, once people get crossways with each other like this, it's tough for them to make up, so I don't expect this schism to heal quickly. I'll have to go back through the history of the conflict...both sides seem like they're being stupid assholes to me. To make matters worse, TNR revels in its willingness to goad the left (that's one of the reasons I like 'em...they're basically the only major liberal publication that's willing to criticize liberals for anything other than not being liberal enough), and that's made things worse. And the DKos crowd is subject to a host of well-known blogospheric problems. Blogs are in something like their adolescence, and it shows. They and their denizens have a tendency to be petulant, volatile, and tribal. The incentive structure of blogs is a little like that in groups of teenage boys--you'll gain more status for a cleverly vicious comment than for a calm and cogent appeal to reason.

So, anyway, I've mentioned before that I spend a lot of time wondering how liberals will figure out a way to blow '06 and/or '08... This kind of quarrelling may give us a glimpse at part of the answer to that question.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing that I find baffling about your obsession with "frothing" leftist blogs, Winston, is your conviction that frothing bloggers are going to somehow cost the Democrats boatloads of votes come November. Remember, their insularity and fervency, coupled with their status as a nascent medium is exactly what makes them irrelevant to everyone but giant political nerds like us. Nobody outside the internet nerd-mill gives a shit about bloggers or their blogging. Blogs are important for their potential as organizing and fundraising tools; dogmatic insularity helps that cause. What they are not good for is evangelizing the electorate. For that reason, as annoying and creepy as blog cultishness can be, I seriously doubt that potential Democratic voters who don't really read the newspaper, let along hunt through blogs, are going to be turned off by a internecine war that they are completley unaware is even being waged.

3:53 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I actually think that's right. My worries are pretty speculative. These spats are insolated and's not like, say, a blowup between the DLC and the NAACP or something.

Still, it's not like a spat between, say, you and me. Kos has a non-negligible degree of influence. What does he get, like 500,000 hits per day? Many of those folks are activists, so they can exert energy where it counts.

The other thing I worry about is that an attitude about politics is being attitude that usually goes along with extremism, but need not. A you're-with-us-or-you're-against-us attitude. One bit of CW over there is already that civilty is bad. Let's say that attitude sticks and starts to grow... Very bad.

5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand the concern, but it really seems like this whole "us versus them" battle begins and ends as a relatively high-level turf war over influence in the Democratic party. It's the kind of manuevering that has gone on in party politics since its inception, but before the blog-age, we had no inkling of it. Now, thanks to the blessed internets, we can watch the political sausages get made. But, as I point out, the "we" is still a ridiculously small group in a 100 million person electorate.

12:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Martin Peretz loves Joe Lieberman and he can't forgive Kos or anyone else in Blogistan for upending Joe's chance for another six years in the Senate. Going all abstract and meta about this is really silly. It's a manufactured nothing of a dispute through and through.

I can imagine Martin pacing around his office or living room or whatever, clenching his fists, thinking of the meanest things he can say about these philistine upstarts.

And if you think I'm wrong, thing again. The imagery out of Lieberman and Co. is so similar to what the TNR troops are spouting, all this stuff abut terrorizing Joe and purging the party of people with divergent opinions. Jesus, this is a fucking election and guess what, in that context, Joe has one vote. Martin has one vote. Kos has one vote. But they all get to scream loud and long about who they think you and I should vote for. That's not fascism and it's disgusting for TNR or Lee Siegel or whoever to pretend that it is.

It's when politics is at its most polite that the little guys tend to get screwed the most.


1:36 PM  

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