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Everybody wants to be a star....

... chamber. Or possibly not, actually.

See, e.g., SourceWatch. Just saying.

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selise's picture
Submitted by selise on

lambert, i don't think it would be that much different if it had happened (it being access, insider status, etc) to a group of commenters or c-list bloggers. i expect it would just be a different set of names -- a kind of new boss same as the old boss process.

fwiw, i've spent years thinking about this (doesn't mean i have any good ideas, just that i think this is an important issue for far more than the blogosphere), and especially about how the institutions we create affect how individuals are likely to act. my tentative conclusion is that if we want progressive policy, we have to figure out how to create progressive organizations/institutions. and i don't think we know how to do that (or maybe even that there are not enough who want to try to do that, right now too many people want to either be the new boss or to scapegoat the old boss).

my two cents.

Submitted by lambert on

OTOH, the "interesting times" in which we live are a chance to experiment.

selise's picture
Submitted by selise on

when i first started thinking along these lines, i had to admit to myself that, especially during the bush years, if i had been the target of a serious political seduction without the chance to prepare my defenses i'm pretty sure i would have succumbed at least at first (before i'd gotten my bearings and had a chance to think things through - although may not have been enough to wake me up).

so... re experimenting. does that mean you have some ideas you think worth trying? all i've been doing is trying to prepare my defenses. because there is always someone more on the outside than i am, and how i deal with that is what i can experiment with as an individual. the institutional experimentation requires, imo at least, a group effort.

Submitted by lambert on

My idea is to "flatten the power curve" so that instead of a tiny number of individuals are the top, there are at least an order of magnitude more (10 vs 100 vs 1000). Networks like the internet rapidly produce networks with just a few nodes ("hubs") with massive numbers of connections, with connection counts rapidly tailing off 'til you get the millions of blogs with just a few readers. I don't see a way to abolish this, but I imagine it can be ameliorated. It seems to me that the group dynamics would be better with a larger group at the top, and also the "tall poppy" syndrome would be at least more expensive. Dunno. I also think of direct local to local connections, without running all the communications through Versailles. What are your thoughts?

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

That's why I cited "power corrupts" in my post the other day. It's the way of the world.

But for several reasons, most of us are resistant to thinking that well-known phenomenon applies to our online progressive elites:

* They made their bones by standing up to destructive groupthink and politics (the Iraq War, Bush's assaults on the Constitution)
* We've seen them be feisty and irreverent, and not too many have permanent jobs at big corporations, so we have a hard time thinking of them as part of a stultifying orthodoxy
* They're brand leaders for the ideology, and maybe the party, that we personally affiliate with
* They're all saying roughly the same things, and so are their readers, so we never think twice about where that consensus came from
* Democrats are still scarred by Nader 2000 and a history of party infighting and lethargy, so anything that threatens consensus and tribal feelgood evokes very bad feelings
* Anyone who seriously challenges them is, basically by definition, a marginal figure

IOW, "it can't happen here," as Lambert (I think) noted the other day.

The particular importance of "it" happening in the blogosphere centers on...

1. Its squandered promise as an antidote to a corrupted media and crappy politics
2. Its established and powerful position in determining what agendas are promoted and legitimized

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

they don't appear to have much access.

Sure, Markos and Josh Marshall appear on MSNBC occasionally, and the luminaries get invited to conferences in Washington, but does that really constitute 'access' to the Obama Administration?

When I think of 'access,' I think of what, ironically, Yves Smith over at Naked Capitalism had when she got to join several other econ-bloggers in meeting with officials from the Treasury Department. It seems to me that true access would be direct, privileged access to the executive and legislative branches of the federal government. It is being plugged in to the people who make law. I'm not sure Markos or Chris Bowers really have that.

So it seems to me that the A-list bloggers are cheap dates.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

is the new group think. All scripts all the time.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

why after 5 years of hanging at Eschaton, I was chased away by former friends for supporting Hillary Clinton. I thought any Democrat was okay. I didn't realize that for people like Kos, she is not even a Democrat. (I believe one of the Townhousers referred to her that way - maybe WKJM or Aravosis.)

S Brennan's picture
Submitted by S Brennan on

"They made their bones by standing up to destructive groupthink and politics (the Iraq War, Bush's assaults on the Constitution)"

Ezra, Marshal, Drum et al were Pro-Invasion and repackaged right wing extremism into palatable pre-digested "Progressive Thought".

The fact is when it came to economic thought, today's A-listers are largely "neo-liberals" which is Chicago School, Freshwater, Fiedmanesque/Reaganesque. This right wing economics, along with FISA, his [Race to the bottom - RTTB] trade policy which is protectionist to elites, Pro-War, Private Insured Healthcare votes/statements marks Obama and his blog supporters above as deeply conservative players. Their conservative roots were plainly visible before Obama, which is why they glommed onto the most conservative right wing Democratic candidate in modern times.

Submitted by hipparchia on

than that.

first, ian is right, they're just not that good at policy.

so, whether they get their talking points from an ultra-secret listserv cabal or just from reading the websites of 'progressive' think tanks [center for american progress, campaign for america's future, maybe some others], they're all going to sound alike. the think tanks put out their main points on the websites, and presumably, the kewl kids who also make it into the secret listserv klubz get a few additional goodies, but those same think tanks are putting out essentially the same talking points there as they are in the more public venues.

the a-list bloggers all seem to be operating now in a news cycle that's shorter than cnn's. it's not conducive to detailed policy analysis, or even to taking the time to learn just a modicum of every policy they're commenting on. in contrast, horserace blogging and opining on politics and political process is fairly easy: if you were paying attention out on the playground in kindergarten and later on in the halls during high school, you learned everything you need to know about those subjects.

i was listening to this last night, from netroots nation 2009, on the intersections of blogging, media, and think tanks. the gist seems to be that 'progressive' bloggers exist to push 'progresssive' think tank talking points, and the ones that excel at this will be rewarded with media attention and maybe even a prestigious slot as a think tanker themselves. all of the bloggers seem to be perfectly ok with leaving the thinking to the think tankers. except for a brief of it by matt yglesias, none of the bloggers on the panel thought that maybe bloggers ought to be allowed to influence any of the thinking on policy, rather than just parroting it.

i think jane hamsher's motivation may be a little different. she seems to have tied her blogging success to her activism success, and as such is practically required to limit her activism blogging to something that appears [to her] to be readily achievable. she can't be an activist for single payer because single payer might not be politically achievable soon enough to burnish her cred as a successful [and memorable] activist.

i think your post title hits the nail on the head: everybody wants to be a star. some of them also want to be in the kewl kidz klubz, but they all want to be starz.

Submitted by lambert on

Dear gawd. What vacancy. Lots of coverage of the Indian party crashers. It's as if the media critique never existed. Good points, hipparchia. Party like it's 1999!

Submitted by hipparchia on

i haven't looked at tpm in ages. why did you make me do that?

michaelwb's picture
Submitted by michaelwb on

Gads, you made me look and now I can't wash the stupid off.

Submitted by lambert on

Don't link to the post that makes the argument! Ya know, it's almost like there's a list of bloggers that aren't supposed to get any oxygen..

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

What's the traffic like for Corrente? Can you see it?

I have a feeling this place gets more readers than many people want to admit.

Submitted by lambert on

... SiteMeter. Our numbers are public. They are C list numbers -- but we're still the blog that everybody hates and nobody reads!

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

and his lordship deigned to stroke his attack gerbil's belly.

But interestingly, no denial, just insult.

"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you..."; so you've reached the second phase!