All of this bloggertarian business got picked up a bit more than I expected. If you haven't been following it, it started with an exchange of unpleasantries in which right-wing genius Devil's Kitchen called me seven kinds of cunt because I'd written this post arguing that many self-styled libertarians were really just right-wing negativists. It all inspired this post over at the Trots and escalated from there.
Devil's Kitchen offered this by way of response and has now provided some links to his back pages to prove that he is not - in fact - negativist at all. Oh no. Not a negativist. Certainly not.
Item one is a post ('Carnival of Polly Kicking #3') which is 'excoriating' (trans: swearing at) Polly Toynbee ("liar", "fool", "shut the fuck up" and "thieving cunt". Oh - sorry - that last one was aimed at Gordon Brown).
Have a look if you like. Libertarian? Well, it shouts about a few totemic libertarian objectives I suppose, but it's prime motivation appears to be to advance a position that is as far as possible, the direct opposite of anything Polly Toynbee would argue for.
If you can find anything that acknowledges where we are, that understands the various actors and institutions or that offers any recognisable road-map that supporters of his proposals could follow .... well good luck. No-one who really would like to see a smaller government could take any comfort from the fact that so many Bloggertarians are appropriating the word 'libertarianism'.
It's claim to non-negativism seems to rest entirely on a back-of-the-fag-packet outline of how a Citizen's Basic Income could work. It's hardly original (I think I've visited at least a dozen blogs that advocate a CBI - but I've never seen one that offers any advice on how any electable politician would be able to implement it). I'm waiting in hope by the way - I quite like the idea in principle. But - in passing - none of the Bloggertarians ever address the question of how you can have a CBI without ID cards?
And that's it. There are a number of other posts in the list that we're asked to consider as proof that DK isn't a negativist. Check them out.
- Privatise schools!
- Sack all of the civil servants!
- Global warming is all made up by doom-mongers!
- Privatise pensions!
All of them based on an utterly ahistoric assessment of modern institutions and power-structures. Most of them are - in themselves - complete electoral liabilities. No counterfactuals. Not really anything that would pass as argument outside of the semi-religious circle-jerk that crops up in the comments boxes of sites like that.
Instead of there being historical processes that could be altered by recognisable forces, we are offered a list of cunts (teachers, civil servants, politicians, Polly Toynbee), and a list of largely unargued demands for ultra-Thatcherite excesses.
This isn't libertarianism. It is simply numb-skulled Poujadism. The cherished themes that aren't electoral liabilities (leave the EU!) would not be possible to argue without accompanying policies that would be electoral liabilities. No wonder these people's understanding of 'democracy' stretches little beyond a demand for referendums on a variety of cherished stand-alone issues.
And where am I going with this? Well, in the comments under my post at The Trots, things rapidly descended into a slightly asymmetrical argument. A number of the commenters argued that there is no point in bickering with the Bloggertarians because it is a bit like engaging with creationists.
It's a fair point. If your base position is so ignorant of history and your diagnosis of society's problems are so ... weird ... then surely any further reasoning is a waste of time? If you really think that "under New Labour, the UK has become subject to a Sociofascist, Autocratic and borderline Kleptocracy" then you really have (to borrow a phrase from Shuggy) went and done and gone and lost your damn mind.
On the other hand, are lots of complicated know your enemy arguments. On a more civilised level, you learn something when you have a more sober argument with a fairly reasonable Tory (again, here's oneinspired by this spat). The Bloggertarians - whatever they claim - have a gravitational pull on The Conservative Party. In these arguments, Tories will always side with the Bloggertarians. Like UKIP, they are the Tories 'Id'.
Know what they are arguing for today, and you can see where The Stupid Party is heading tomorrow. It's a two way trade, even with the self-styled left-bloggertarians. Allies - or objective allies? Take your pick. My argument for picking these fights is that - if you write about Bloggertarians - your comments box becomes a very good Petri Dish.
But sod that. There's another good reason for picking fights with them. It's like shooting fish in a barrel. It's therapy for people who aren't so ill that they have to write 5 x 1000 word posts calling everyone a cunt every day. It helps you gird your soul and see the enemy for what it is. Anti-democratic. Negativist. A liability to any party stupid enough to regard them as allies or an asset of any kind.
And a complete and utter shower of cunts.
Update: Proof of the Petri dish argument: There are lady-Bloggertarians as well! Now I'd never have believed it possible until I saw this which I found in the comments here. I'm beginning to feel sorry for the Tories.