I have a stable of blogs that I get to at least every week. I go there for the news, yes, but also for the writing. I’m not sure of the future of blogging, revolutionary or otherwise, but a couple of things coming out of the left blogging world need to be taken note of. The most important consequence is that a kind of regroupment takes place between like-minded bloggers, or bloggers that like each other’s minds. This sometimes happens through reference, but usually just through the linking of sites. Along with reaching past geographical boundaries it also has helped, a little at least, in breaking down some of the false organizational barriers we throw up. Communities can grow on-line around linked blogs creating a scene that our, largely secondary, differences can prevent on the ground. In deed, these communities have helped to create some new dynamics on the ground as well. Not enough, but some.
While most of the discussion on left-wing blogs still tends toward the sectariana, there is reason to be hopeful. I learn a huge amount about the world from both the posts and the comments of comrades. I couldn’t get through a day without clicking through some of my favorites and even though I have never met in person many of these comrades, I look forward to their voices and am proud to engage the enemy, in our own small way, with them from our different vantage points.
One of the reasons I occasionally find it hard to come up with something decent to say on this blog is that there are so many good revolutionary bloggers out there writing compelling posts day in and day out. I am in awe at the output of some bloggers; both quantity and quality. There are so many more deserving blogs than these and no slight is meant by any lack of inclusion. If readers have favorite blogs or know of ones that the Rustbelt should link to, by all means raise your voice. Here then are ten blogs picked almost at random; these are the last ten blogs I looked at.
The Solidarity Webzine (OK, not the best, most original name for a blog) is the blogroll of the US socialist group Solidarity, of which this writer is a proud, if occasionally frustrated, member. In my opinion the site really took off during the events in Madison earlier this year. It was my go-to place for the news of the day regarding the rebellion in Dairy Land. For the latest installment see Andrew’s Wisconsin: Three Months Later. And yes, I should post more on the webzine and comrade, so too should you.
Splintered Sunrise may have taken a different path recently, posting irregularly and often on the internal goings on of Catholicism, upsetting some of his Marxist audience (you can almost hear the cry ‘Judas!’ from some of his readers). I, too, admit to some bewilderment at the politics of the Church, but find myself reading along no matter. Splintered’s writing is splendid and humbling for those of us with pretensions. His run through the north’s constituencies in preparation for the last UK general election set the gold standard. Paid journalists were left in the dust. If there were any justice in the world Splintered would be well paid for his efforts and could devote full-time to his genuine talents. Whether your patron saint be Trotsky or Thomas, Splintered Sunrise has a story to tell. Read his review of Mark Steel’s ‘What’s Going On?’ to get a taste of his talents.
Sometimes the wade through the left blogosphere can be overwhelming. When I want a run down of what some of us are saying from day-to-day I head over to Swiftspeech! whose group of posters keep on eye on things across the spectrum. If you want to be introduced to new writers on the left stop by for the day’s juiciest quotes with links to an ever-expanding chorus of voices.
Madam Miaow, AKA Anna Chen, blogs from London on culture and politics. She is terribly funny, sometimes brutally so. This is no more true than when she is demolishing the male pretense, especially the one wielded by men of the left. Though I would not want to be on the receiving end of one of her eviscerations, I certainly enjoy reading them. Even if not the target, she keeps this male leftist on his toes wondering at his own ridiculous maleness. Anna’s specialty is the Asian experience in Britain and the west’s continued racism, hypocrisy and myopia regarding the Yellow Peril. She has her own, sharp perspective on the journey of the People’s Republic and even when I occasionally disagree with her on China ignoring what she says would be an act of willful ignorance. For a taste of where she’s coming from read Ai Weiwei: the Monkey King goes missing.
Having a hard time figuring out what to read? If it’s left-wing (and more) book reviews, both new and old, you are after look no further than the Resolute Reader. Here’s why taken from the bloggers ‘About’: ‘We all read for many reasons – entertainment or education perhaps. But I have to be clear that I also read to arm myself with knowledge and argument. Fundamentally I believe that we live in a world of vast inequality, a world whose priorities are not those of the people who live therein, but are those of a tiny percentage at the top of society. For me, reading is more than entertainment, it helps to illuminate the world around us and its history – all the more to make it easier to change things for the better. After all, in the words of one famous author “The Philosophers have merely interpreted the world in various ways. The point however, is to change it.” See, for example, a review of a (fantastic) book I just finished this week: William Cronon – Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England.
Mike Ely’s Kasama is the most important project coming out of the Maoist movement in some time. Even though my tradition be Trotskyist I constantly find myself challenged by Mike’s thinking. He may not win me over, but he has won me to the discussion. It is also one of the few places that get a lot of traffic where I often find the comments to be really valuable (too often you have to wade through snide point-making in a blogs comment section to get to something of interest). I, frankly, wish we had something like a Kasama project for Trots. For an example of Kasama’s discussion see Perp-walking into the Future: Problems of tankie fantasy.
When the Egyptian masses rose in rebellion there was one voice that I found to be essential in navigating the great events in Cairo and beyond. Egyptian blogger, activist and revolutionary Hossam El’Hamalawy is the most articulate, principled and charismatic voice of the Egyptian left. Finding news in English was difficult, finding leftist analysis from the ground in English almost impossible…until I came to 3arabway. Full of photos and videos, news and analysis this is essential blogging comrades. It has been my primary portal to understanding the Egyptian revolution and the role and position of the working class there. Updated daily and culled from Arab language sources as well as original material this brave revolutionary (recently summoned to the courts for his anti-police activism) represents the best in our tradition, in my opinion; a revolutionary Marxism deeply rooted in the aspirations and conditions of the working class. Check out the photos section (Hossam is also a keen photographer) for a taste of what you might have been missing.
Louis Proyect, former SWPer and Marxmail moderator, has been in the forefront of revolutionary blogging since it’s beginnings. I read Louis every day and, even though I agree with him 83% of the time, the 17% I don’t (often over film) makes me want to tear my hair out. That said, Louis has done more than most to cajole recalcitrant Trots from their pretensions. Even when I find Louis guilty of some of the SWP navel-gazing he derides so well, I find him to be open and, for the most part, genuinely fair. In any case, Louis has stayed true to his calling, pointed a well-deserved finger at the faux Leninist disaster that was the 70s party building movement and has occasions of real brilliance. I wish Louis were more open to the possibilities of youth and had less of a ‘been there, done that’ dismissive attitude towards folks of my generation and younger, but we can all learn a lot from Louis and this blog certainly considers the Unrepentant Marxist a comrade. For a sample of where Proyect is coming from see his The Laurie Penny-SWP dispute.
Not only is Come here to me! the best blog about Dublin, it is the best blog about any city that I know of. It covers the genuine culture and history of the city, it’s working class pubs, its music, its football, its monuments, its posters and much, much more. According to the site ‘‘Come here to me’ is Dublin slang used to mean “Listen to this” or “I’ve something to tell you”. These phrases tend to imply a secretiveness or revelatory importance to the upcoming piece of information.’ Having been to the city just a few times, CHTM! makes me wish I had spent more time there (every time I’ve been to Ireland it seems I am leaving Dublin- not my favorite city) and got in on the secret. Any city with a history as rich as Dublin’s is bound to have a multitude of stories, most invariably get lost along the way. Come here to me! rescues them and redefines the parameters of folk history and folk culture with a ton of vignettes, images and minor postings that add up to such complex, thorough view of the city. Go to the site and wander around, it’s like a visit to the city, the real, working, Dublin. Every city needs their own Come here to me!, but alas, there is only one.
…And finally, perhaps the most esoteric blog I know of is Norn Iron’s own Professor Billy McWilliam’s 1690 an’ all thon. I always thought that Ulster Scots was joke until I came across the good Professor’s site. There McWilliams, who doesn’t bother to translate into English since it is English, takes us on a ruralist journey through ‘Ulster Scots stuff, Culture an’ the like when ah can be arsed.’ If you ever wanted to know the mind of ignorance and bigotry that has made the north of Ireland such a humorous and funny place this is your stop. The only blogger who has actually made me fall from my chair in pains of laughter, the Professor is no better than when explaining the history of Ireland in 14 parts (‘Thus the histerical histry o’ the Ulster Scot gaes back even fairther than the maist o’ us wud imagine til oorselves, and even mair the trueness o’ Ulster Scotsness has been proved by scientific larnin’.) or how a good Orangeman might celebrate the Glorious Twelfth if they happen to be away from the province ‘so that ye can ensure that yer culture an’ heritage dinnae go adrift jist because yer far frae hame.’