A parody of democracy
Every day, a great deal of portentous bilge is spewed by all of us, and, yes, I am including Jakartass. My blog offers my opinions: Jakartass is, per se
, 'political' and many (most?) politicians, as we generally know them here, are self-serving. Similar sentiments can be expressed about politicians in other countries.
I don't generally comment on British affairs as my home is now here. However in today's Guardian, Oliver Kamm comments
on a recent lecture by the UK shadow chancellor*, George Osborne, who pointed to the proliferation of blogs and enthused: "In politics and in the media we've both assumed that we do the talking and the people listen. Now the people are talking back. It's exciting, liberating, challenging and frightening too."
OK disagrees: Osborne invoked the notion of the wisdom of crowds: knowledge emerges in a collaborative process rather than being dictated by experts. But political bloggers are not the required type of crowd. They are, by definition, a self-selecting group of the politically motivated who have time on their hands.
Blogs are providers not of news but of comment. This would be a good thing if blogs extended the range of available opinion in the public sphere. But they do not; paradoxically, they narrow it. This happens because blogs typically do not add to the available stock of commentary: they are purely parasitic on the stories and opinions that traditional media provide.
I'd never heard of OK before today, but I presume that he is a political commentator, and a "parasite" as he is feeding on a phenomenon which he purports to scorn. He also proclaims that he is an anti-totalitarianist yet he condemns those who offer the right of reply through a comments feature. (I have since read this wiki entry but see no reason to change my paragraph)The intention of drawing readers into the conversation by means of a facility for adding comments results in an immense volume of abusive material directed - and recorded for posterity - at public figures.
Surely, Politicians, with a capital P, are at the disposal of the public that elects them. (Should 'public' also be capitalised?) Asking to be put on a pedestal invites appraisal, the public's approval or opprobrium. To deny the right to criticise (or praise) is both arrogant and petulant, the mark of a totalitarian.
I'm sorry to burden you with this outburst but where else should I place my "abusive material". You see, Oliver Kamm's blog
does not have a comments facility.
Yet, elsewhere in his blog he offers us an acceptable viewpoint which is at total odds with today's polemic.
(In the UK) we're a free society, in which we may profess whatever we like about origins, eschatology** and the basis of ethics. What binds us is not a set of religious doctrines but common citizenship and democratic rights under the rule of law.
Much like Indonesia then.*Indonesian equivalent: PDI-P 'Shadow' Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy (Kwik Kwan Gie?).
**eschatology does not mean 'using one long obscure word where four short ones would do'. It actually means 'doctrines dealing with death, resurrection, immortality etc.'