Thursday, May 04, 2006

Canadian Quirk

Those readers who aren't coming in from a mixed up Google search will probably know by now that I've developed an interest in Canadian politics; specifically the Liberal leadership battle. I've already said why, so there's no need to repeat myself.

What's struck me, however, is the extent to which conservatives have infiltrated, and even dominated, commentary on the process in the blogosphere. The kinds of outsider trolls that would be roundly shouted down on, say, Atrios' blog or Digby's blog are not only tolerated, but seem to have a fairly dominant position on sites like Calgary Grit or Cherniak on Politics. These sites are central to the Liberal leadership debate.

I wonder whether it's a function of the commenting system, though; by and large Canadian blogs use the provided Blogger comment system, which (unfortunately) tends to either be flooded with anonymous comments or restricted to commentators with Blogger accounts. I'd like to see Cherniak and CalGrit switch to something like Haloscan, but they might be reluctant to jettison the comments they already have.

In any case, this raises the question: is it like this in other non-American english-language blogging scenes, or is this restricted to the Canadian variant? Do Australians and Brits have this problem? I'm honestly not sure, and I'd be interested in finding out, because I had seen the growing ideological online division in the United States as fulfilment of Cass Sunstein's predictions of exclusive communities that, by and large, keep away from each other, but that clearly isn't happening in Canada.

In the meantime, however, it's somewhat unfortunate, as Canadian conservatives seem to have little place in a discussion about the future of the Liberal party and (as I believe) the future shape of North American liberalism. they don't share the assumptions, they don't share the goals, and they have every reason to disrupt and corrupt the process. While exclusionism seems to be against the basic tenets of liberalism, let's be honest here- when it's those basic tenets that are in question, one can be forgiven for wanting to know that the discussants actually have the prosperity of the philosophy and the movement in mind.

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