If You’re Going to Criticize ‘Blogs’ For Being Shallow…

Carl Malamud wants us to re-think web logs with the sort of jargon-filled nonsense usually preferred by academics (it is interesting that he urges web loggers to be socially responsible and then links to an interview that denounces consumer culture — sorry Carl, I like the stuff they stock at K-Mart).

According to Malamud, “Rather than being a revolution, blogging as practiced seems to resemble a fraternity: lots of people dressing alike, banding together for comfort against outsiders, and preaching lofty goals of brotherhood while practicing digital toga parties.”

I.e. those of us who blog are shallow, isolated individuals, who at the same time use roughtly the same format (again, the idea that this is contradictory seems the sort of thing that belong in academic treatises). Perhaps true, but at least I’ve never said (or read) nonsense like this on a web log:

Throughout history, revolutions and movements have rarely resulted in peaceful resolution, even among the parties who represented unification at the outset. The Russian Revolution started with many splintered sects all moving towards a general goal, then unified under the banner of Lenin to overthrow the Czar. The unity did not last as communism split into a bewildering mass of Socialists, Communists, Socialist Democrats, Trotskyites, Marxists, Leninists, Marxist-Leninists, and Maoists.

Beyond the sheer absurdity of comparing the Russian revolution with the so-called Blogging revolution (Malamud likes to quote from his dictionary a lot, maybe he should look up “equivocation,”) this is historically inaccurate beyond belief. Russians communists unified behind Lenin to overthrow the Czar? Hardly. The Czar abdicated to a democratic government of which the Bolsheviks were only one faction. The Bolsheviks in fact had to overthrow that government in order to have any chance at power in the new Russian state.

Communists didn’t split into many factions after the revolution, most of those groups had existed for decades prior to the Bolshevik revolution. Is the division bewildering? Perhaps to someone like Malamud who has never actually studies the Russian revolution and subsequent communist actions, but for people who want to learn the differences are not quite so confusing.

Finally, it should be pointed out that the thing that really separated the Bolsheviks from their contemporaries was their pointed refusal to cooperate with other socialist parties. When famine hit Russia during the late 19th century, for example, and most socialist parties activitely worked to alleviate the famine, the Bolshevik’s refused to help on the theory that hunger would quicken the fall of the Czar (which turned out not to be the case). Which is why once they illegally seized power from the provisional government, the Bolsheviks had little problem quickly relegating other factions to jail or extrajudicial exeuction.

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