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How to Become a Feisty Leftist Political Blogger

Friends and comrades have often asked how I am able to produce so much crap on a regular basis on this blog.  Clearly my life is not primarily devoted to blogging––I have a job, I do political organizing work, and I have a social life––but it is pretty easy to be on the computer during and between the main aspects of my job, and nothing is usually happening between the hours of 11pm to 3am during the week, so there is always time to write.  Plus, since I spend a lot of time writing, I can crank out blog posts in very short spans because, trained to write academic papers throughout my time spent as an undergraduate to a PhD student, it's pretty much my only marketable skill.  But it's actually not as hard to produce the amount of writing that is on MLM Mayhem in an average month, so I figured I would spend this post, keeping with the semi-serious tone of the last post, providing pointers on how to become a feisty leftist political blogger.

1.  Read

This should be obvious, or at least you would think it would be obvious.  I mean, if you're going to be a bloody left-wing political blogger you should educate yourself on radical theory and history.  And no: wikipedia, cliffs notes on Chomsky, and whatever the bourgeois authorities are touting as truth do not count.  Unfortunately, if you go to Reddit and look at the "socialism"subreddit as an example of left-wing thinking on the interwebs, you'll immediately be inundated by petty-bourgeois champagne socialist ignorance, usually on the part of people who have barely educated themselves on what it means to be an anti-capitalist and who resist such education because their individual theories are so fucking awesome.  Other "leftist" blogs are equally suspect, and it is amazing what people imagine counts as an anti-capitalist and/or socialist position these days.

So maybe begin by reading Capital, at the very least the first volume, if you want to pass yourself off as a leftist political blogger.  Hunt down the classics, and contemporary classics, that are theoretically and historically insightful.  Do not rely on pundits, do not rely on wikipedia (except as a place to mine for potential sources, just remember knowledge is always classed), and definitely do not imagine that mainstream historiographies, the kind that make the bestseller list and are often written by reactionaries, count as "truth."  And please stop imagining that liberal bourgeois economic theory is anti-capitalist: welfare capitalism is not the same as anti-capitalism.
According to the socialism reddit, Keynes is a "socialist"

There once was a time when the left placed a great emphasis on political education––on mass education, on literacy campaigns that would also produce political literacy––but it seems as if it is now trendy for the left in North America to adopt some sort of anti-intellectualism because, hey, that's so working class man.  Ignorance is not proletarian, it's what the bourgeoisie wants for the proletariat.

But don't let the need to read paralyze you: write as you read, don't seek theoretical perfection in your articles: be open to new ideas, using blog posts and commenting as a process of self-education.  You're blogging, not writing the next great work of theory.

2. Polemicize about things that you find politically offensive

Whether it's some reactionary television show, some pro-capitalist policy, the local plutocrat closing down hir factory, a liberal columnist who is a fucking moron, or that self-righteous Trotskyite missionary who shows up at rallies s/he didn't help organize only to piss on the masses… There is so much in everyday life that is worthy of scornful posts.  The most read blog entries aren't the thoughtful ones, unfortunately, but the ranty ones.  It's about bombastic gong-showing and rhetoric and trashing your enemies or enemy ideologies.
One of the obnoxious social democrat capitalists trashed posthumously on this blog

These are also the more fun blog entries to write, especially when you allow yourself to be deluded that your polemic is more important than it actually is: "no one will take this person seriously ever again after they read my skillful assault on hir bourgeois stupidity!"  Unfortunately, however well reasoned and well read your rants might be, good arguments and devastating rhetorical assaults do not change the minds of people committed to a set politics.

3.  Forget about serious editing

I edit each post spuriously as I go and then hit "publish" before rereading: this way I prevent the paralysis of constant revising.  Also, this would explain the numerous typos and structural problems of my posts.  But blog posts are not books or academic essays, and aren't going to be peer-reviewed anytime soon, so why bother to make them perfect?  Nothing is going to be perfect, whatever you write is going to contain mistakes, and your readership will either love or hate what you produce no matter how "perfect" you make it.

As should be obvious to anyone who has read this blog for an extended period of time, the majority of my posts are quickly put together, sometimes start talking about one thing and then end up talking about another, and are prone to tangents.  Sometimes the posts are utterly random!  Eclecticism is a problem for theory and praxis, but not for blogging!  This is because blogging is not really theory and definitely not praxis… though some imagine that WEBSITE = ORGANIZING, but this is not the case though it is important for organizers to have a web presence.

4.  Become a master of quirky political rhetoric

Cultivate a word zoo of jargon and jingo culled from the jungle of the great left polemicists and polemics.  Dialectical is always a good one to use, and never forget the "r-words": revolutionary, rebellion, radical, revisionist, retrograde, reactionary… You can't go wrong with these!

Just remember to use the jargon/jingo properly.  For example, there are many marxist bloggers who feel that, since they are marxists, they should use the word "dialectical" a lot.  Everything becomes "dialectical" in their entries: it just becomes a catch-all phrase to explain relationships that makes such relationships sound cooler than they actually are.  Except if you ask how the thing that is being explained is, precisely, dialectical, you get hums and haws.  If you can't explain, except with a massive amount of sophistry, how the logic of some relationship is the unity of opposites, then don't use the word dialectical as your own personal stamp of approval.  One of my pet peeves about the mainstream and dominant left is its inability to think dialectically; part of this pet peeve is how it proves its lack of understanding of dialectics by using the term for everything under the sun.

The sun is also "dialectical"

In any case, don't throw in conceptual terms unless you know what they mean just because they sound cool––it's not as if it it is especially hard to do the research on a term (see point #1), and don't simply imagine you understand what a term means.  Here's a hint: if you can't explain the concept and its employment to yourself, don't use it.  This way you avoid some asshole troll, who imagines himself more clever than the rest of the world, making asinine comments on your blog.

5.  Informal logic is your hammer!

While arguing a point, or responding to comments, you can up your blogging cred with the knowledge of logical fallacies that: a) might be in your own work; b) is most probably in the comments of your detractors.  Chances are you'll have a few fallacies in your own work if you followed my advice in point #3 [but hey, it's "dialectical" man!], but a lot of detracting commenters and/or trolls will be much more fallacious.

It doesn't help, however, if you use your knowledge of fallacies spuriously.  The problem with most internet "expert" debaters is that they like to imagine they understand argumentation fallacies, and have learned a few names to make them sound learned, but they really don't know what the hell they're talking about and usually employ these fallacies innacurately and/or fallaciously.  So don't fall into this trap, even if you're tempted to appear clever by accusing someone of "straw-personing" your position–-chance are, they might not have been straw-personing your position, and are actually providing a counter-argument you didn't consider.  Hold any fallacy knowledge in reserve, use it precisely.

Since everyone throws up the "straw-person" charge, most often inaccurately, and since I had to study this sort of thing as part of my degree and sometimes even teach it, here are a few useful fallacies of a different sort that you can use that will produce a feisty blog: the fallacy of bifurcation [where someone tries to force an either/or principle out of something that is more nuanced, i.e., "you are either with us or against us"], the red-herring fallacy [where someone, instead of arguing about the actual terms of the debate tries to derail the argument by making it about something that only seems related but actually has nothing to do with the main argument], the category mistake [where an argument conflates ontological categories, making distinct categories of meaning seem as if they are the same and often trying to draw an analogical comparison that is actually logically false], the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy [where people decide to conclude, simply because one thing followed another, that the first thing caused the second].  Try to avoid making up your own fallacy categories: if you do this, chances are you aren't talking about something that is logically fallacious.

Of course, if you prefer to use formal logic rather than informal logic as your hammer of choice, more power to you.  While the interwebs argumentative experts like to imagine they are masters of informal logic, very few of them have even the glimmer of a clue about formal logic––the last time I checked, there weren't many logicians roaming the political blogosphere.  The only problem with relying on formal logic, though, is that no one except another logician is going to know what the fuck you're on about.  Which might be a good thing, because there will be less people available to check your argumentation proofs, but don't expect entries and comments that are reduced to formal logic algorithms to be popular.
Here is my most exciting blog post that will crush my enemies!

Then again, Badiou is currently enjoying a level of popularity despite his reliance on formal logic and mathematics.  And since a lot of people who are crushing on Badiou as the new most awesome theorist generally have no background in formal logic (or even ontology), and sometimes can't even say what the hell he's doing, there is a good chance your retreat into formal logic might provide you with some level of strange popularity.  It seems that the more obtuse and difficult a thinker is, the more profound and brilliant people are willing to imagine s/he is… This principle could work for you!

6.  Just write the bloody thing

As noted in the third point, blogging is not about producing the most brilliant theoretical/analytical entry ever.  The more output, the more readers; the less output, the less chance you're going to find an audience, grow your audience, or keep your original audience.  So if you refuse to write out of fear that you're not going to have the BEST ARTICLE EVER, no one will read you.  Blogging is an act of metaphorical vomiting: just spew it out, hit "publish", and then manically obsess over your traffic.


  1. I enjoyed this post. I'm totally guilty of not reading enough, overediting, and general watering down of my original point with excessive academic arse-covering.

    "The most read blog entries aren't the thoughtful ones, unfortunately, but the ranty ones."

    Ain't that the truth! Today has been our highest traffic day yet, thanks to such a citation-lacking rant. Had I known there'd be so much traffic, I would've done my usual number of falling into point 3 for weeks on end.

    Also cheers to this: "Ignorance is not proletarian, it's what the bourgeoisie wants for the proletariat."

  2. I'm actually a really big fan of your theoretical articles, not so much the ranting and raving.

    I think that you Canadian Maoists, especially this trio of you, BF and the Angry Marxists, have done a really good job synthesizing MLM and various other progressive and revolutionary trends (think Fanon, Samir Amin, Dworking.. you know the drill).

    You are the intellectual guy who knows all about theoretical shit, BF is the guy who knows everything about MLM history while the Angry Marxists are like the quirky, unpredictable wildcard hyenas from Lion King, where in the sea of one liner meme posts there are some really awesome articles.

    There are other really awesome bloggers too, but I've been reading these three blogs the most.

    So.. as an outside observer, I'm really hoping this journal you're working on will be something in that orientation, since I'm seeing something special in the brew here! :)

    lal salaam
    p.s. sorry if I went a bit off-topic

  3. Thanks for the warm regards, mf. The journal is intended to be more academic/theoretical/etc. than a blog, so if it gets off the ground it should be what you intend. Still need more people to submit, though... Meaning, why don't *you* consider submitting something?

  4. Also, I should add, whereas this blog and Workers Dreadnought are based in Canada, the Angry Marxists are based in the US.

  5. I can maybe contribute in future issues when you start dealing with stuff like defending the on-going People's Wars and anti-revisionism, since that's basically what I'm schooled in and the only thing I can write. I don't know shit about organizing.

    Writing like an academic is very uncharted territory for me, though – take note.

    I would gladly help with graphics though, if you want a cool cover or something for the journal. Just drop me a mail if you're interested.

  6. Nice tips! I've never updated my own blog as often as I'd like. Mostly I'll re-post articles I've written for Fightback or some other publication/website. Right now I'm writing articles every day for a small town newspaper, and writing in a leather-bound journal at the end of the day as a release for my own thoughts. But I should get back into blogging seriously. I'm impressed how you're able to produce quality blog posts with such frequency.


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