The always provocative Freddie de Boer briefly steps out of bloggy retirement to insist that it does not:
There are many myths within the political blogosphere, but none is so deeply troubling or so highly treasured by mainstream political bloggers than this: that the political blogosphere contains within it the whole range of respectable political opinion, and that once an issue has been thoroughly debated therein, it has had a full and fair hearing. The truth is that almost anything resembling an actual left wing has been systematically written out of the conversation within the political blogosphere, both intentionally and not, while those writing within it congratulate themselves for having answered all left-wing criticism.
That the blogosphere is a flagrantly anti-leftist space should be clear to anyone who has paid a remote amount of attention. Who, exactly, represents the left extreme in the establishment blogosphere? You'd likely hear names like Jane Hamsher or Glenn Greenwald. But these examples are instructive. Is Hamsher a socialist? A revolutionary anti-capitalist? In any historical or international context-- in the context of a country that once had a robust socialist left, and in a world where there are straightforwardly socialist parties in almost every other democracy-- is Hamsher particularly left-wing? Not at all. It's only because her rhetoric is rather inflamed that she is seen as particularly far to the left. This is what makes this whole discourse/extremism conversation such a failure; there is a meticulous sorting of far right-wing rhetoric from far right-wing politics, but no similar sorting on the left. Hamsher says bad words and is mean in print, so she is a far leftist. That her politics are largely mainstream American liberalism that would have been considered moderate for much of the 20th century is immaterial.
Substantial debate has been generated by his thesis, and while it doesn't yet include Matt Yglesias or Ezra Klein, two bloggers he tweaks, his post has already generated enough attention over a long weekend to suggest that he overestimates how difficult it is for the ideas he champions to get a hearing. That's a good thing. Whatever one thinks of his latest, Freddie is as earnest a blogger as you'll find, a quality that more than makes up for occasions when his zeal ends in unfair attacks on other writers.
Here's Will Wilkinson in the comments section:
I think you're right about the full-bore socialist left having almost no place in the public affairs blogosphere. The question is why is that? In particular, why does the institutional left ignore you? I think it's because most bloggy public affairs types want to be politically relevant, but American public opinion tilts so far to the right that any association with real left-wing opinion simply undermines the persuasive authority party-politics-involved liberals. Libertarianism gets a seat because, first, by aligning with the right to fight socialism at home and communism abroad, it made the reactionaries more sympathetic to libertarianism positions than they would have been, and, second, it has a sufficiently authentic claim to some part of the liberal tradition that many liberals compelled to take it seriously. In contrast, conservatives see no reason to treat socialists as anything other than enemies, and liberals mostly just want them to shut up so their team doesn't blow it with the relatively right-wingy American public.
Also, to tenderly bait you, it just might help your cause if socialists ever made compelling arguments about policy.
The Dish has always tried to remain friendly to outsider voices and distance itself from the Inside the Beltway closed conversation. In that sense, the most glaring lack in Freddie's post is a list of who exactly we ought to be reading and engaging but aren't. Isn't that the obvious solution? If we're missing worthy far-left blogospheric voices, who are they?
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