Friday, March 20, 2009

What is Pakistan? (With a few added links to show what this is about)

Too much has been made about the uniqueness of Jonathan Krohn, the gifted 14-year-old conservative thinker and talk-show radio orator featured in the NYT a few days ago.

Because there's 24-year-old Ezra Klein, too, who writes:
Sometimes I need to know about Pakistan before the ICG issues its report,
explaining the usefulness of the secret-membership e-mail "JournoList" that he created.

The point being that to the extent you are dealing with superficial airheads, to that degree you have less need of actual conspiring-together in order to produce the kind of lock-step of opinion that afflicts us.

I think it is a point that was missed by some of the commenters at places like this.


One of my woodland friends tells me this is pretty much incomprehensible.

By way of explanation I should have included this link to a piece called Inside the echo chamber, that started the current discussion, such as it is.

And a link to this piece about the equally mysterious Townhouse e-mail list, apparently the predecessor of JournoList, including a number of links in the footnotes.

And maybe a link to this Mother Jones article from 2007.

I started complaining about the lockstep-"expertise" problem in Iraq-blogging back in August 2007 with this post called "How the big blogs mislead you" (or try searching "food-chain" in the search box at the upper left on this page), and the problem now is the same as it was then.

It is a bubble. And by now we should understand what happens in any area when influential groups with their tails in the air are persuaded to take complicated "expertise" on faith, and reproduce it in mass-market forms, when they don't really understand what they are talking about.


Blogger Nell said...

Townhouse and Journolist are very different groups. Townhouse was (is?) election and liberal Democratic strategizing, much more activist in orientation.

Ezra Klein is a smart-but-shallow "policy wonk" (in the detached, abstract, and soulless way that a person who's never lived in poverty or under occupation or really faced any kind of risk or difficulty can be). Journolist, as its name hints, has many more traditional/corporate media people than Townhouse did (does?), and is not nearly so tied to electoral organizing.

The problem with liberal American 'big blogs' (which blogs you rarely specify in your criticisms)is IMO mainly the predictable result of the shallowness of liberal politics generally.

Liberal bloggers mostly aren't interested in events in Iraq seen from the perspective of Iraqis; they're interested because and to the extent that they have an impact on U.S. politics. They're uncomfortable viewing the U.S. as an occupier, or having malign strategic goals; they seize any opportunity to view the situation as one in which U.S. intentions are good even if execution is poor.

This is just how liberals are.

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