As capitalism slowly collapses, the flaws of a system that worships money and creates massive inequality are becoming apparent. This has led to a surge in popularity for the far left and many more people reading Socialist blogs.
Left wing politics has always had a healthy ecosystem of independent media, but recently there has been an explosion of new blogs, podcasts, Twitter feeds and zines exploring issues related to the far left.
With all these sources to choose from, how do you know which ones are good? What makes a quality Socialist blog? After writing this blog for seven years, below is what I think makes a good quality left wing blog.
Being against capitalism
Let's start with the basics: capitalism is the root cause of a lot of society’s current problems, from rising food bank dependence to job loss from deindustrialisation. A good Socialist blog recognises the problems of capitalism, explores these and thinks about what economic system could replace capitalism.
There is a divide on the left between those who want to abolish capitalism and those who just want to make it more humane. A good Socialist blog should be on the abolish side. There is also a divide between Socialists who want to smash capitalism or get rid of it gradually. There are strong cases either way, and this should form the substance of a Socialist blog.
Being in favour of greater equality
It's not enough just to be against capitalism, you need to be in favour of an alternative. Again there is a lot of debate about what form this alternative should take, which is what left wing blogs exist to explore. Socialists should be in favour of an economic system that delivers more equality rather than one that moves vast amounts of wealth into the pockets of a few people.
Being in favour of radical change
What separates Socialists from Liberals is a belief in radical change. This change could come quickly or slowly over time, but the end result is a radically different society. Liberals want to make small changes around the edges, not great reforms.
Some problems can be tackled by small reforms around the edge. The lack of accessible public transport in many cities can be solved by our existing political and economic systems. However, the Liberal approach comes unstuck when faced with the larger problems of society. Climate change cannot be fixed by tinkering around the edge, only by radically rethinking our society.
Recognising that power structures go beyond class and wealth
There's a stereotype of Socialists being old, bearded, white men sitting in the back rooms of community centres, drinking real ale and having rambling discussions about the relationship between capital and the proletariat in Victorian London. Although this certainly does happen, most Socialists I know have a broader interest in the many different power structures and types of inequality in our society, not just economic ones.
Material inequality is a big problem, but so is racial and gender inequality. There are a lot of different types of oppression in society and even if you're not wealthy, but are white and male, you might be less oppressed than other people. It's important to understand this. It's also important to explore not only how economic exploitation happens, but also how gender or racial exploitation happens.
Being willing to challenge your own thinking
Socialist blogs shouldn't be Bible blogs with Das Capital as the holy text. There are no thinkers or ideas that are beyond criticism. As a Socialist it is important to be open to different ideas and different people's opinion. Being a Socialist is about being constantly open to learning more about society.
Socialists and socialist ideas get attacked frequently online or in personal debates, so it can be easy to fall into a bunker mentality where everyone in the bunker is on your side and cannot be wrong. If someone disagrees with you, it doesn't make them a traitor to the cause.
Not everyone has read Das Capital or volumes of Gramsci’s writings. Not everyone is intimately familiar with the concept of worker alienation. Far left politics can be seem strange to people, as if we have our own language. A good Socialist blog should recognise that we all have different levels of technical or theoretical understanding. Socialism is for everyone and it should be accessible.
Many of the people I have met on the far left don't necessarily identify with theory or what is written in books. Their politics is something they feel and experience in their everyday lives. A lot of people who I have met don't haven't the technical language to explain the ideas behind what they feel, but that doesn't make them any less intelligent, thoughtful or compassionate a person and it doesn't make them any less of a Socialist.
That's what I think makes a good socialist blog. I'd be interested which blogs my readers would recommend that meets these requirements. Please post them below so that we can all find new, interesting reading material.
Red flag image used under public domain dedication.