Some time ago, Chris Dillow criticised, in Stumbling and Mumbling,
absurdities like Blair’s call to “mobilise the Islamic community” to defeat terrorism. To see the cretinism of this, ask: why doesn’t Polly Toynbee to use her influence to curb the rhetorical excesses of the Devil’s Kitchen? After all, they’re both members of the secular liberal community, of which she’s a prominent leader.
Chris, we all thought, was going in for a bit of the old reductio ad absurdam, but it would seem that the cretins in Blair’s office are immune to such concepts. How else to account for the views of Blair’s outgoing Chief Strategy Advisor, Matthew Taylor, as expressed to the BBC? Mr Taylor apparently ‘stressed he was speaking as a “citizen” not a government spokesman’ but unless he was plastered after his leaving do, we must assume his views are similar to those the benefit of which he’s been paid vast sums of our money to give to the Dear Leader.
Anyway, Mr Taylor — who’s apparently of the opinion that
Mr Blair’s online grilling from voters — and other initiatives such as environment secretary David Miliband’s blog and Downing Street’s new online petition service […] showed the government was making good progress in using the internet to become more open and accountable
so he may well have been plastered — reckons
“The internet has immense potential but we face a real problem if the main way in which that potential expresses itself is through allowing citizens to participate in a shrill discourse of demands.
“If you look at the way in which citizens are using technology and the way that is growing up, there are worrying signs that that is the case.
“What is the big breakthrough, in terms of politics, on the web in the last few years? It’s basically blogs which are, generally speaking, hostile and, generally speaking, basically see their job as every day exposing how venal, stupid, mendacious politicians are. ”
Crikey! Them bloggers are obviously a bad lot, then, aren’t they? I wonder where they get their rum ideas about politicians from.
Part of the problem, he added, was the “net-head” culture itself, which was [Oh, horror!] rooted in libertarianism and “anti-establishment” attitudes.
What are we to do? Can’t have all these libertarians and “anti-establishment” types going round telling folks our politicians are venal, stupid and mendacious. Certainly not.
Fortunately, he has an answer:
He challenged the online community to provide more opportunities for “people to try to understand the real trade-offs that politicians face and the real dilemmas that citizens face”.
That’s just the sort of thing to appeal to someone like me who’s all in favour of Moderate Progress Within the Bounds of the Law; how do I get ‘the online community’ to do this, then? If we’ve got an an online community, then presumably it’s got ‘community leaders’ — moderate bloggers, as opposed to radical, fundamentalist bloggers who go around indoctrinating the young in libertarianism and anti-establishment attitudes. These chaps have a responsibility; in the words of Mr Taylor,
You have to be part of changing that culture. It’s important for
people who understand technology, to move from that frame of mind,
which is about attacking the establishment into one which is about
problem-solving and social enterprise.
Hmm. Tim Worstall’s probably a community leader, since he publishes his Britblog Roundup, and that Iain Dale must be one, since he published a book about UK Political Blogging, so when are they going to sort out this on-line community of theirs and make those wild-eyed jihadis like Mr Eugenides and Devils Kitchen with their Swearblog behave themselves?
For some reason, all this made me think of an observation in the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust’s The Rules of the Game: Terrorism, Community and Human Rights, a propos the Government’s decision to engage more directly with the Muslim communities after the July 2005 bombings;
Central government is not used to or good at participatory politics; the tendency was to identify community leaders and to try and engage with the remarkably diverse, and often divided, communities through them.
I can’t think why reminded me of it, but there you go.
Anyway, as my, admittedly modest, contribution to all responsible behaviour by ‘the online community’, I promise to stop being negative and having a go at politicans for being venal, stupid and mendacious when they give me cause so to do. Fair enough?