The last week has seen an endless discussion, within the political blogosphere, about the meaning of rhetoric, extremism, and what is acceptable discourse. I'm on break now, so I've been more attentive than usual. I find I can barely express what a profound failure, on balance, the conversation has been. Bloggers fail to have this conversation honestly because they are incapable of seeing or unwilling to admit that the political discourse, in our punditry, lacks a left-wing.
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.
Meanwhile, consider Tim Carney and Mark Levin. Levin has outsized, ugly rhetoric. Carney is, by all impressions, a remarkably sweet and friendly guy. But Carney, in an international and historical context, is a reactionary. Those who sort various forms of extremism differentiate Levin and Carney because Levin's extremism is marked in language, and Carney's extremism is marked in policy. The distinction matters to bloggy taste makers. Meanwhile, Hamsher's extremism in language is considered proof positive of extreme left-wing policy platform. No distinction matters; genuinely left-wing politics are forbidden and as such are a piece with angry vitriol.
Greenwald, meanwhile, might very well have actually left-wing domestic policy preferences. I honestly have no idea; Greenwald blogs almost exclusively about foreign policy and privacy issues. In other words, his voice is permitted into the range of the respectable (when it is permitted at all; ask Joe Klein if Greenwald belongs at the adult table) exactly to the degree that it tracks with libertarian ideology. Someone whose domestic policy might (but might not) represent a coherent left-wing policy platform has entrance into the broader conversation precisely because that domestic policy preference remains unspoken.
I hardly even need to explain the example of Markos Moulitsas. Moulitsas is a blogging pioneer and one with a large audience. But within the establishmentarian blogosphere, the professional blogosphere of magazines, think tanks, and the DC media establishment, he amounts to an exiled figure. See how many times supposedly leftist bloggers within this establishment approvingly quote Moulitsas, compared to those who approvingly quote, say, Will Wilkinson, Ross Douthat, or John Cole. Do some of these bloggers have legitimate beef with Kos? Sure. But the fact that his blog is a no-go zone for so many publications, while bad behavior from those of different ideological persuasions is permitted, ensures that the effects of this will be asymmetrical. I believe that people have to create positive change by changing their own behavior, but I also am aware that the nominal left capitulates to demands that they know the right absolutely will not capitulate to themselves. And so the right wins, again and again.
No, the nominal left of the blogosphere is almost exclusively neoliberal. Ask for a prominent left-wing blogger and people are likely to respond with the names of Matt Yglesias, Jon Chait, Kevin Drum.... Each of them, as I understand it, believe in the general paternalistic neoliberal policy platform, where labor rights are undercut everywhere for the creation of economic growth (that 21st century deity), and then, if things go to plan, wealth is redistributed from the top to those whose earnings and quality of life have been devastated by the attack on labor. That there are deep and cogent criticisms of the analytic, moral, and predictive elements of neoliberalism is an argument for another day. That those criticisms exist, and that they emanate from a genuine left-wing position, is a point I find perfectly banal but largely undiscussed in political blogs. And that's the problem. Whatever those bloggers are, they are not left-wing, and the fact that they are the best people can generally come up with is indicative of the great imbalance.
There are two axes of neoliberalism. The first, substantive neoliberalism, means fidelity to the economic policy platform of globalization in the elimination of tariff walls and other impediments to the "free market," incredible antipathy towards organized labor (and, effectively if not intentionally, towards workers in general), resistance to the regulatory apparatus that has protected workers for decades, and the general belief that the way to ameliorate the moral outrages of capitalism is to pursue more capitalism.
The second axis of neoliberalism, constitutional neoliberalism, is the reflexive antileftism within the ideology. This is the tendency of the neoliberal to assume the superior seriousness of the man to his right and the utter moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the man to his left. This is the sneering, superior neoliberalism, the neoliberalism obsessed with status and authority, the neoliberalism that is utterly in thrall to the idea of Intellectually Seriousness and the notion that possessing it means falling all over yourself to dismiss the actual, historical, socialist left. This is Peter Beinart calling for culls in liberalism to ostracize and silence anyone who dares question American aggression. This is Mickey Kaus doing his elaborate dance, calling himself a Democrat and liberal while he mouths every anti-leftist screed possible, calling unions the cause of all of our problems while unions are a dessicated, impotent shell of what they once were. This is the Atlantic publishing a post full of faux-concern over the fate of the labor movement as if its leadership hadn't spent decades, secure in their upper-middle class comfort, attacking the ability of working people to provide for their own interests. This is Tom Friedman and Michael Kinsley and the whole crew of careerists at The New Republic, all of them possessed of the notion that their real enemies are not the people who create the conditions of poverty and inequity in the world but the ones most vocal and dedicated to fighting those conditions by attacking the root cause.
The two intermingle, of course. The neoliberal economic platform is enforced by the attitude that anyone embracing a left-wing critique of that platform is a Stalinist or a misbehaving adolescent. This is the critique of the Very Serious Person: there is a very narrow slice of opinion that is worthy of being considered reasonable or mature, and that anyone who argues outside of it should not be given a seat at the table of serious discussion. Genuinely left-wing opinion is not to be debated but to be dismissed out of hand. Those who argue for a robust series of labor protections, an unapologetic and proud left, a meaningful alternative to the capture of our economic apparatus by corporate power, or (god forbid) something resembling genuine socialism-- even to speak as if their arguments require rebuttal is too much. Far better to demonstrate true repudiation by assuming away the left-wing critic than to assume that his or her position is at least worthy of attention. In this sense, conservative bloggers and pundits are actually fairer than their neoliberal brethren. I've found that they'll actually debate with me, albeit while usually holding their noses. Many neoliberal bloggers maintain an unspoken but meticulously curated policy of not allowing left-wing criticism to enter their rhetorical space.
All of this sounds merely like an indictment, but I genuinely have a great deal of sympathy for those young rising politicos and bloggers who are constitutionally disposed to be left-wing. What they find, as they rise, is a blogging establishment that delivers the message again and again that to be professionally successful, they must march ever-rightward. That's where the money is, after all. For every Nation or FireDogLake, there is an Atlantic or Slate, buttressed by money from the ruling class whose interests are defended with gusto by the neoliberal order. I have followed more than a few eager young bloggers as they have been steadily pushed to the right by the institutional culture of Washington DC, where professional entitlement and social success come part and parcel with an acceptance that "this is a center-right nation" is God's will. I wish they wouldn't move in that direction, but I don't know what great choice many of them have; blogging is an aspirational culture, and there is an endless number of young strivers, emboldened by unexamined privilege and the kind of confidence that can only come from having money you didn't earn, ready to take the place of those who step out of line.
Those who are already firmly ensconced within the upper reaches of bloggy success have less excuse. Many of the young, upwardly-mobile bloggers out there take their cues from Matt Yglesias and Ezra Klein. I don't begrudge either of them their policy preferences, even while I disagree with them. But each represents, in his own, the corruption and capitulation that comes with prominence and success in this culture. I genuinely don't know what the hell happened to Matt Yglesias. I long called him my favorite blogger. I've never mistaken him for someone who shares my politics. But he was, once, part of the resurgence of pride in leftism. He was one of the voices, in the midst of the Bush-era darkness, making it plain that he was unapologetic about being a creature of the left. In the last year or so, that stand has completely disappeared. He is now one of the most vocal of the neoliberal scolds, forever ready to define the "neoliberal consensus" as the truth of man and to ignore left-wing criticism. Indeed, I'm not sure that you could even understand that he has critics from his left, judging by what he chooses to discuss on his blog. This is a particularly cruel way to erase the left-wing from the discourse: to pretend that it doesn't exist. Look over his archives even briefly and you'll find, time after time, that he asserts that everyone largely agrees with him. This is one example, but this has basically been his jam since Obama took office. When he posts about the sublime rationality of deregulation (which, we must take care to remember, always seems like a good idea to those whose workspace contains nothing more dangerous than a laptop), or when he says (I'm not joking) that American workers are overcompensated, I want to tell him that everyone most certainly does not agree with him.
I don't know what compelled this change. Perhaps the Center for American Progress has influenced him; that kind of run-of-the-mill centrist organization inevitably redounds to the benefit of the moneyed class that makes it possible. Or perhaps it comes from spending too much time in DC, where there is always another party with folks from Cato or Reason. I'm not saying people shouldn't socialize; I am saying that those on the nominal left should take notes from their friends across the aisle who are able to have drinks with someone without moderating their message.
Klein, meanwhile, means well. That is 90% of what people say about Klein; he is smart and means well and has those all-American good looks and dammit, if you can't respect him, you're a bastard or an ideologue. (Mickey Kaus is obsessed with bashing him, if that tells you anything.) I don't doubt that he's a good guy. I don't doubt that almost all of them are good people. I just find him so bloodless and conciliatory that I don't know what good can come of liberalism if it takes its cues from him. This was at its worst during the Journolist imbroglio; everyday, there would be more mean meanies being mean about Journolist members, and there would be more aggrieved sighing from Klein. At his best, he is probing and incisive. At his worst, he does his Saint Ezra routine, where being correct on policy is supposed to flow directly from his moral rectitude. I can't dismiss his preference for a genial globalized social order out of hand, much as I may want to, but I wish he understood that his lack of fire, combined with his considerable access and influence teaches young liberal pundits that there is more to be gained from being a caricature of a Very Reasonable Fellow than there is from sticking to principle.
I don't know what's to be done about all this. On a personal level, I like many of the people I'm critiquing very well. If good intentions were enough this world would be a different place. And I definitely don't enjoy constantly feeling compelled to fight with people with whom I would much rather agree. But I operate within the blogosphere as it is, not as I wish it would be, and unlike people from other ideological stripes I cannot rest in the knowledge that someone out there will forcefully articulate my position. I can expect just opposite, that a genuinely left-wing position-- one from the socialist left, the internationalist left, of the kind that can be found in force in almost every other democracy in the world-- will go unsaid. Worse, the fact that it goes unsaid will be taken by those within the blogosphere that no such position exists.
I was finally driven to write this post by the recent discussions, driven by Chris Beam's article, on libertarianism. I am someone who frequently develops great hope for a hypothetical libertarianism and is consistently disappointed by the actual libertarianism. I'm sorry to say that, if the reaction to Beam's piece is any indication, what libertarians have taken from their tempestuous love affair with movement conservatism is the political salience of constantly complaining about how oppressed you are. I ask, and I wonder, if libertarians ever stop to ponder what it's like to operate from an actually forbidden perspective. I take it that there isn't, actually, a great imbalance in the number of American libertarians (in any sense amenable to the Cato and Reason crowd) and the number of Americans who would consider themselves leftists, or very liberal, or the like. The ranks of American minarchism, after all, are quite small in number. Bush's compassionate conservatism, the inverse of the standard libertarian platform, was a real winner. But while libertarians are tiny in number they are mammoth in influence. This is the case because they've got money, money to fund enterprises like Cato or Reason or smaller outfits. I'm not saying that this is illegitimate. (There's something awfully poetic about libertarianism getting influence by buying it.) I'm just saying that there's no sense in which the lack of a leftist blogosphere is necessarily the product of small demographic representation.
If there was a different libertarianism.... I frequently imagine that an ideology with "liberty" right in the title might be a mad, teeming collection of every flavor of crazy and dreamer, a loose confederation rife with difference and disagreement. Difference so vast that it might, by god, lead some to find common ground with someone like, well, me.
Instead, we have only the libertarianism that exists. And that libertarianism is the America ideology least accepting of difference, most committed to policing orthodoxy. It is, on balance, a model of lockstep adherence to the standard libertarian cause. Who could be a better symbol of today's libertarianism than Matt Welch, the snarling head of Reason, a man notorious for keeping those under Reason's banner within the small grounds of the libertarian reservation? I have searched but found no libertarians particularly amenable to seeing the tension between an ideology dedicated to freedom and an institutional apparatus that enforces orthodoxy. I bring all this up because I have always thought that there is room for libertarians to at once disagree totally with left-wing policy but to support the idea that the left-wing should be given a seat at the table. The reality, I'm sorry to say, is the opposite. I find it so hard to take, when libertarians complain about how misunderstood and oppressed they are, because nobody redbaits like libertarians do. Nobody. Nobody is more eager to excise the dirty commies from the realm of acceptable opinion than your average libertarian, while the similarly berate the powers that be for confining them to the intellectual ghetto of their imagination.
So you can imagine why I might be compelled to pull my hair out by something like this Bloggingheads episode with Adam Serwer and Michael Moynihan, where, in a discussion about acceptable rhetoric, Moynihan laments the use of the term "eliminationist" in political dialogue. On the merits, I think he has a point, but perhaps Moynihan would find the term less in use if he wasn't someone who so enthusiastically participated in the behavior that people usually describe as eliminationist. I have a hard time imagining someone less hospitable to far left opinion than Moynihan. He constantly is declaring international thinkers, politicians, and authors communists, and assuming that this terminology alone is enough to dismiss them. Meanwhile, I like Serwer, but he is in many ways exactly the kind of establishmentarian liberal who is least able to rebut someone like Moynihan-- conciliatory rather than aggressive, more likely to look for compromise than to stand his ground. Perhaps that's maturity and strength. But I look around and see a liberal dialogue that is dangerously self-marginalizing because of its refusal to take commitment to ideals as a point of pride in the same way that conservatives and libertarians do. Again, I can't fault Serwer for being who he is, and he is justly successful. But I lament the fact that he operates in a context where there are so few left-wing warriors equivalent to Moynhian, which the right seems to produce in throngs.
I long ago had to come to terms with a political era and a political machine that is not my own and never likely to please me. I do wonder what a critique like this one might accomplish, were it to penetrate the greater bloggy consciousness. It would take someone with publicity and access to bring it into the conversation, and as I've said, very, very few of genuinely left-wing socialist policy preferences are ever allowed into the Club. Even if it got there-- even if, somehow, a critique like this one could puncture the carefully constructed bubble of blogospheric consciousness, the one which limits debate and sets the boundaries of "acceptable" discourse so narrowly-- I can predict a sad response. Many would set out to deny the possibility that political blogs contain anything less than the full panoply of human political opinion, and would do so with exactly the mechanism I'm describing here: the existence of a nominal left-wing that represents merely a slightly different flavor of neoliberal doctrine would provide cover for those not even nominally left-wing. The Matt Yglesiases, the Ezra Kleins, the Jon Chaits, the Kevin Drums-- they would likely support the neoliberal orthodoxy that has captured the debate by denying that any such dynamic could exist. That would give an out to the conservatives and libertarians to say "see, even the Liberal Ezra Klein says...." Every time there is agreement between, say, Yglesias, Ross Douthat, and Will Wilkinson, this is taken as a sign that of a lack of disagreement to their position, rather than as an indicator of the narrow confines of blogger opinion. Once again, the idea that there is some sort of genuine ideological disagreement within the space would paper over the fact that little such disagreement exists.
I'm not a proponent of any kind of a Fairness Doctrine. Yes, it's true; I think the blogosphere would be a truer, more productive, more interesting, more entertaining, more generative, more self-effacing, more American place, were it to permit an actual left-wing. But you couldn't force such a thing and I wouldn't want. People are always permitted to take their ball and go home. But once they do, it would be polite for them to stop pretending that this is the same as winning the game. The blogosphere will go on being what it is, but it could at least have the self-knowledge and the probity to admit its bias and its lack of balance. I often find myself wondering of Matt Yglesias-- when he talks about a world without serious disagreement with his policy preferences, is he talking about just the world of blogs and punditry, or the wider, wilder world of political thought? And is he talking about the way things sadly are, or the way he wishes it to be? The difference means everything.
I'm a lefty. I wish I could pretend that I have the intelligence and the perspective necessary to divide my beliefs from my appraisal of the situation, but I have neither. All I know is that I look out onto an America that seems to me to desperately require a left-wing. American workers have taken it on the chin for thirty years. They have been faced for years with stagnant wages, rising costs, and the hollowing out of the middle class. They are now confronted with that and a cratered job market, where desperate people compete to show how hard they will work in bad conditions for less compensation. Meanwhile, the neoliberal policy apparatus that brought us here refuses even to consider the possibility that it is culpable, so certain of its inherent righteousness and its place in the inevitable march of progress. And the blogosphere protects and parrots that certainty, weeding out left-wing detractors with ruthless efficiency, while around it orbits the gradual extinction of the American dream.
Medicine taking department:
Erik Kain, from my old digs at the League, responds with a post entitled "No True Leftist," suggesting the "No True Scotsman" fallacy. I take the criticism that, if you draw the lines tightly enough, you're never likely to be happy about the representation of your ideas by others. That's true, but I think that there's a lot of space between my ideal theory and a generally more leftist, labor-supporting viewpoint on the blogosphere.
Indeed, so far as I can tell the greatest threat to Freddie’s ideas receiving no exposure by Very Serious People is Freddie deBoer himself. By removing himself from the debate he has contributed vastly to his own complaint. Because Freddie was getting his ideas out there and then he stopped. Maybe he was frustrated because his ideas weren’t spreading into the liberal blogosphere the way they were getting attention on many conservative and libertarian blogs. That’s fair – it certainly can be frustrating to feel as though you aren’t being taken seriously by the people who matter most. I guess I’d just suggest patience.This, actually, is untrue. It's worth saying that I once had the opportunity, not too long ago, to blog for money-- not a lot of money-- for a fairly mainstream progressive enterprise. I turned it down for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is my continuing fear that my blogging will come back to ruin my career in the academy, as it may even without professionalization. In fact, I stopped blogging because my personality is a poor fit with the prerequisites of being a good blogger. That's my fault, not blogging's fault, but there is it. And this is my larger point to Erik and to others: I reserve the right to want more from left-wing blogging and punditry than I am capable of providing myself.
In the comments of that post, Jason Kuznicki writes
I find Freddie’s characterization of Matt Welch quite unfair. When Ron Bailey changed his mind about global warming several years ago, he didn’t get fired. He’s still at Reason, still posting monthly climate updates, still shaming the denialists.This is a fair criticism. I am talking about both things that you hear, the way you hear things, and specific complaints from more specific quarters. But while I do feel that Welch cultivates a certain image as the libertarian police, it's true that I likely shouldn't have trafficked in innuendo, and for that I do apologize. I'm quite sure Welch would tell me to stick my apology up my ass.
The Shatterer of Worlds (really!) writes
But he holds his most delicate yet withering fire for the Young Will Huntings of the lefty Blog world, Matt and Ezra. Freddie takes pains to say that he likes them both, I mean, REALLY LIKES them, but still…
This is a little disappointing-- I was actually really trying to avoid the kiss-and-slap thing, just because it reeks of dishonesty and because it can be part and parcel of the "let's just be friends" attitude where a lot of important differences go unsaid. But, yeah, it's true; I admire them both, as disingenuous as that likely now sounds.
In my own comments, (Clint) writes "Lastly, you may be ignored in the blogosphere but your viewpoint utterly rules the universities (which treat conservative dissenters with overt hostility and intimidation, both socially and institutionally)." As a life-long university brat and grad student, I think this is less true than people think. But, look, yes-- I find the academy far more hospitable to my beliefs than the world of politics. Similarly, I have a lot of lefty friends (many of whom think I'm a squish) who have their own rhetorical spaces and not-inconsiderable soft power. What depresses me is precisely that I could remain in that space, comfortably, for my whole life, and that those who don't like the left-wing could reside in the political blogosphere in the same way. In a sense, this is my point entirely: these ideas do exist, from a small but committed group, and I think that they could have real salience and positive effects for the blogging world. But I would say that, wouldn't I?
TGGP says "I found it odd that initially you complained that Hamsher & Greenwald (the latter is one of my favorite pundits) are considered extreme for their tone rather than policy. So you think we should sort pundits by their actual ideology rather than tone. Then for Ezra Klein you complain about his conciliatory tone." This is fair, and I don't have much in the way of a rebuttal.
Nyetter says, "This entire post can be reduced to 'I didn't get the memo that Communism failed.'" More graciously, (Clint) says " Please consider the role played by tens of millions of victims of state murder in Stalin's Russia, Mao's China, Pol Pot's Cambodia, etc." Here, I am unapologetic: this is bullshit. One of the points on which I am most adamant is that we need to allow people to be more radically redistributive than the American mainstream without immediately accusing them of being communists. There's a discrepancy, I think, in what is allowed in terms of ideal theory here; people on the right, for example, while often teased for them, are allowed to speak their ideal minarchist theories without having to constantly distance themselves from Somalia and Mogadishu. I ask the same of Maoism, Stalinism, the Khmer Rouge, etc.
To be clear: anyone with radically redistributive policy preferences has to wrestle with the history of those things, which represent one of the most profound moral, intellectual, humanitarian, practical, and political failures of world history. What I object to is the idea that we have to constantly tell people that we have wrestled with them, forsake Stalin and communism, etc. That itself is a form of marginalization, constantly asking people to define themselves in relation to an extreme they never endorsed.
Update II: Michael Brendan Dougherty tweets: "@ayjay shorter freddie: Tim Carney may be addressing day to day policy questions, but really I think he is as extreme as I am. Extremer even." Well, no. Dougherty is a guy who perpetually can't decide if he wants to be in the Cool Kid Squad or not, so I don't begrudge him the dig.
But this is a part of the larger point. Certainly, people within the American Conservative, right-wing apostate crowd know better than anyone what I'm talking about. But you'll find that they lack any particular sense of solidarity with me or those like me. I think the reason is because they remain tempted by the edifice of the institutions of right-wing thinking that largely don't exist for the genuinely left-wing. And this is one of the quiet virtues of being a leftist on the Internet; I approach every situation assuming that most people despise my positions and don't take me seriously. There's strength, in that. Dougherty knows that, sometimes.
Update III: Hard to believe I left this one off. Will Wilkinson, in comments:
I must say, though-- Will is himself a man with some radical views, and I think, if pressed, he would admit that this vision of incrementalism is often used to dismiss those who genuinely believe that radical change is desperately needed. "Care" is a tough word. I think both Ezra Klein and the uncompromising radical care. But sometimes, caring can mean so little....
Ezra Klein is a man with a robust sense of the process by which institutional change actually occurs, and he's inserted himself into the heart of that process. It's a hell of a lot of work for so little payoff, but there's a very plausible argument that the little he is able to help achieve is far more than uncompromising radicals could hope to. Maybe that's an indictment of universe or maybe it just means Ezra, unlike uncompromising radicals, cares enough to actually get SOMETHING done for justice.
Update IV: Kevin Drum:
I plead guilty to some general neoliberal instincts, of course, but I plead guilty with (at least) one big exception: I am very decidedly not in favor of undercutting labor rights in order to stimulate economic growth, and I'm decidedly not in favor of relying solely on the tax code to redistribute wealth from the super rich to the rest of us. What's more, the older I get and the more obvious the devastating effects of the demise of the American labor movement become, the less neoliberal I get. The events of the past two years, in which the massed forces of capital came within a hair's breadth of destroying the world economy, and yet, phoenix-like, have come out richer and more powerful than before, ought to have convinced nearly everyone that business interests and the rich are now almost literally out of control. If they haven't, what would?Some people have pointed out that I am making my case less clear by using, at times, left-wing and socialist interchangeably. This is certainly true, so to be clear, what I think is lacking is a dedicated pro-labor union presence online. I take it that such a presence would have it's own extremes, one of which would be genuinely socialist. Sorry for my lack of clarity there.
Update V: Finally-- there's a lot of conservatives mocking this post and saying it's not to be taken seriously on Twitter. Alex Massie, for example, pronounces it crap and says "Perhaps. I thought it was more like SDS 40 years on. And even less convincing." You see, this Very Serious conservative person doesn't know why he should take a silly socialist seriously. There's no argument, of course, but who would need such a thing?
Tim Carney-- who really is quite nice, I think-- goes the "who is this guy, anyway?" route. Just a dude. Just some dude.
Guys, as far as rebuttal of this piece's point... you're doing it wrong. Believe it or not, you are not the cosmos.
Update VI: Last one, for real this time. What's amazing, really, is how abjectly sensitive these people are. Again, I'm not kidding-- it really does cultivate a certain strength, I guess, to not have a cadre of connected people to complain to when you get smacked a little. I've been arguing on blogs for years, and I get smacked every day. Who cares? But I think Michael Brendan Dougherty is about to cry over this. Weeping to each other on Twitter is exactly the kind of cult of the savvy bullshit I'm criticizing.
They can all email me. I always respond, and usually will update in response. But they don't; they keep it to Twitter. You know, like real men do.