November 20, 2006

Bloggers V. Status Quo: The Spin Is Spun Out

This is hilarious-ish. The BBC talks to Matthew Taylor, Tony Blair's "outgoing" chief strategy advisor. First let's establish exactly who we are dealing with here:
Mr Taylor is Tony Blair's chief adviser on political strategy and the former head of the centre left think tank the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR).

He is leaving Downing Street next week, after three years, to become the chief executive of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts (RSA).
In other words, he is Tony Blair's failed former spin-meister - the UK's version of Karl Rove, if you want to think of it that way - another failed PR rat jumping ship far too late in the day.

Taylor say the Internet is 'fuelling a crisis in politics'! He tries very hard to sound cool and hip, just like Montgomery Burns and T.B. himself, but it doesn't quite work:
The end of deference, the rapid pace of social change and growing diversity were all good things, he argued, but they also meant governments found it increasingly difficult to govern.

"We have a citizenry which can be caricatured as being increasingly unwilling to be governed but not yet capable of self-government," Mr Taylor told the audience...

But rather than work out these dilemmas in partnership with their elected leaders, they were encouraged to regard all politicians as corrupt or "mendacious" by the media, which he described as "a conspiracy to maintain the population in a perpetual state of self-righteous rage".
Careful, dude. Rupert might hear you.

"Conspiracy"? Errr, I thought we were the "conspiracy" theorists, bub. Or are you saying that Rupert's latest reincarnation as an environmental activist with a social conscience is a betrayal of the cause?

And how exactly are people supposed to "work out these dilemmas in partnership with their elected leaders" when their elected leaders never, ever listen to them? There were millions in the streets protesting against war in 2003, if you remember.

Taylor's choice of words reflects his own out-dated mindset:
"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.
"Allowing"? Hello?! Since when has free, democratic communication ever had to be "allowed"? It doesn't need to be allowed, bub, it's just a part of life. Whether it's on the Internet, on the street-corner, or on the floor of your local Stock Exchange, what's the difference?

You can just guess where all this is leading, can't you?
"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.

"The internet is being used as a tool of mobilisation, which is fantastic, but it only adds to the growing, incommensurate nature of the demands being made on government."
Err... dude? Your boss helped launch an illegal, pre-emptive war which killed over half a million people, and he is still in denial about it. But we are the ones who are "hostile"?

If your boss is "venal, stupid, [and] mendacious," and we bloggers dare to point that out, how does that make us "hostile"? HINT: If the truth is "hostile" to you, that probably means you are wrong.

More interesting word choices from Mr "Hip-to-be-sqare" Taylor:
"I want people to have more power, but I want them to have more power in the context of a more mature discourse about the responsibilities of government and the responsibilities of citizens," Mr Taylor told delegates.

Part of the problem, he added, was the "net-head" culture itself, which was rooted in libertarianism and "anti-establishment" attitudes.

He told delegates: "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."
So according to Mr Taylor, anyone who criticizes the established order is not "mature", even though the established order is so far up their own Khyber Passage it's just not funny any more. And it is the all-powerful "net-heads" who are expected to not just bring a stop to any criticism of the poltical elites, but also provide politically convenient solutions to the same politicians' self-generated problems. Again, this demand applies even if establishment politicians never, ever, ever listen to them.

It all sounds a lot like the old "liberal media bias" meme, doesn't it? But now it's a vast left-wing blogger anti-social bias. Even if nobody ever listens to us.

PS: The BBC article above comes via the ever-valuable Daou Report.

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