Is Blogging Dangerous?

Here’s my brief, contrarian question: are we, as a representative democracy, well-served by allowing just anyone to blog about anything they want?

Take the (mal-named) War on Terror: to win this war we need — as opposed to a conventional war where winning just means killing more of them than they kill of us — to eradicate the very source that give rises to the mujaheddin and Al Qaeda. To simplistic thinkers on the Right (Michelle Malkin, Robert Spencer, Ann Coulter) the source of terrorism is the ideology inculcated by Islam. To simplistic thinkers on the Left (Michael Moore, too-smart-for-his-own-good Noam Chomsky) the source of terror is purely economic in origin — usually viewed as a shallow story about us exploiting them for oil.

But the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. To defeat Al Qaeda, to solve the Palestinian crisis, to bring stability to Iraq, to convince Iran to act like a grow-up country rather than a spoiled, impetuous teenager — all of these require a nuanced, wonkish approach, sensitive to the subtle interplay of the forces involved. Which means we need leaders capable of being sensitive and nuanced.

But the Internet fosters political polarization. People can use Google searches and blogrolls to find their political fellow travelers; and this reduces the amount of cross-ideological debate between different world-views. Finding their like-minded comrades means people aren’t required to justify the fundaments of their belief to people with whom they disagree. And this means that people are less likely to choose leaders capable of nuance, subtle thinking and negotiating the compromise the real world requires between rigid political positions — as evidenced by some of the events in the current primary races.

Which means that — if my simplistic analysis is correct in outline — that the netroots movement is bad and (at least partially) responsible for our current mess. Perhaps the new power of the net and political bloggers, more than Karl Rove, can be blamed for electing a President incapable of the fluidity of thought required by the modern world.

So this is certainly an argument against blogging. But it’s not just an argument against my blogging, but against anyone blogging. So it doesn’t really help me with my decision; after all, being more subtle and nuanced than the average, perhaps adding my voice to the din might be a net benefit.

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