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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another

11/02/2004

2000th Post

It is interesting to me at least that this is the 2000th post I’ve made to this blog.

I started it, back in 2002, largely as a notebook into which I could put the bits of research and links which I thought might be interesting. For quite a long time I has next to no links and virtually never promote it except by my writing.

This blog started at blogspot, moved to a domain of my own, and is now back at the much improved blogspot. It has made me some very good friends, a couple of enemies, and prompted my friend Bob to look me straight in the eye and say, “have you gone insane?”

People blog for a variety of reasons. Vanity, solidarity, a sense of being more intimately involved with the news.Some of my favorite blogs Mirabilis, Ratty’s Ghost, are entirely unpolitical. But if you look at my blogroll you’ll see a fair number of rightish Canadians. Mostly libertarian, a few socons.

These bloggers and the contributors to the Blogs Canada Politics e-Group, the Tyee and the Shotgun are the people I read to get a fix on Canada.

I find, as I blog, that I am not nearly so interested in the nuts and bolts of policy – I get enough of that in the articles which I write – but rather my interest lies in the culture which surround policy debate in Canada, the United States, Great Brittan and the rest of the world.

The norms of that culture were once well understood and accepted – arguments required facts, saying one thing and doing another was unacceptable, calling a man a liar meant you found something objectively incorect in his position which he was misleading people about. Lie was not a synonym for disagree.

Reasonable people took language seriously. Seriously enough that they would read into the phrase “calling a man a liar” the words, “or woman”, without having to belabour the point. Taking language seriously meant people rarely insulted rather than argued, avoided the personal, and took some pains to treat their opponent’s position with respect while disagreeing with it.

At some point this began to change. The hard coin of lauguage was seen as “privileging” logic over feelings, fact over intuition. The culture of political debate became increasingly driven by appeals to emotion and gut instincts, while reason and facts gently slipped behind a screen.

Now we have a public debate which seems to consist of intimations of hidden agendas, dirty tricks, appeals to what ever viscrea happen to be exposed and thirty second ads with the specific intent of scaring the hell out of voters.

However, privately, politicians, their advisors, the think tank mavens, practitioners of the higher journalism, businessmen, bankers, lawyers and the rest of the clerisy have never abandoned reason or the importance of language. Nuance, sounds like nuisance, is the hard coin of a thoudand policy debates around the world. Debates whose outcomes will actually shape our future.

These are private conversations beween men and women who are well read, exquisitely educated, extremely able and, for the most part, content to do their work without the media, and therefore the public, any the wiser.

Implicit in these closed door conversations is the reluctant acceptence of the fact the general public has ceased to be capable of following an argument of more than two propositions. A fact brough home hourly as E-television and the antics of the underwear challenged Miss Hilton, suck the oxygen from the real issues and dilemmas which politicians have to deal with.

As I blogged I realized that this was a medium half way between the dumbed down, disheartened mainstream and the soma of celebrity news and professional sports.

At one level, a blog like mine which is delighted to welcome 5000 readers in a good month, looks a bit like a waste of time. However, many of those readers are bloggers and many who are not are people with a deeply informed interest in politics. Some of the yeast in the Canadian loaf.

2000 posts later many of you are still here.

I have no doubt that there will be another 2000 posts here. But I also have no doubt that the real action will be at Billy Magazine when I kick my low grade flu and Sean is back from his course.

Blogging really is a solitary activity. In your PJs, in a darkened office, having a glass of wine or six, reading what other people are writing and going, a) “Hey, that can’t possibly be true, b) is the cleverest thing I have read in an couple of days, c) Damn, why didn’t I write that. It is a solitary conversation broadcast to an indifferent world.

But what bloggers, left, right and deeply a political have in common is a deep belief that words, language, ideas matter. We retain our right to be outraged, our capacity to be embarassed on behalf of the poor politicians who have to cater to nitwits on both the right and the left: most of all we retain our right to hold opinions and fight our corner.