The Taser's Edge

Playing the Field (er, Politically Speaking)

I don’t know where I first heard about the concept, but it was very likely NPR (which might inform how you read the rest of this post).  A number of people have begun to talk of the trend of polarization in politics, and specifically of the way that the change to Internet news has allowed us to control our intake of opposing views more than ever before.  I would say that polarized media has also had a major part to play, with the rapid rise of choose-your-favorite-24-hour-newschannelism.

For some reason, when I again read about the trend yesterday, I thought of the opposite possibility.  With Google Reader, it is true that I can limit myself to only those people and sources with whom I tend to agree.  Or I can purposely bring opposing views together.

Under my new “Politics” tab: National Review Online, The Corner on National Review, The New Republic, The Weekly Standard, The Huffington Post, Drudge Report, Sojourners: God’s Politics, First Things: On the Square.  Those last two are sometimes labeled as the left and right voices of Christianity-and-politics debates, if you’re wondering what they are.  And while it is slightly stacked on the conservative side, my main news sources are the New York Times/International Herald Tribune, BBC News, and NPR, so some might say I’m still skewed toward the left.  Let me know if you have any suggestions for replacements/additions/subtractions.

The experiment is already bearing some fruit.  I would never have seen The National Review’s “International Law v. the United States”, in which Andy McCarthy writes, “Battle lines are being drawn regarding whether the United States is going to be a sovereign nation ruled by a Constitution voluntarily adopted by our body politic or a satellite in a world government under ‘the rule of law’ as fashioned and evolved by international law professors, human-rights activists and other transnational progressives.”

While his language is certainly rhetorically stacked, McCarthy raises an interesting point.  How does the phrase “by the people” change if “the people” are politicians and political interests on the other side of the world?  Or, a more extreme way of putting the question (one I won’t claim he’s pushing for): is globalization (whether or not capitalistic) necessarily a form of neo-colonialism?

2 Comments so far
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I have been ranting about this to anyone who will listen. This is why Web 2.0 needs to evolve or die.

Comment by Zack J.

Strangely enough, I just read a book that touched on this issue of the Internet and its role in providing viewpoints to the end user. He argued that the Internet is slowly transferring power from those with the most depth of information to those who can most efficiently retrieve information. He also argued that the Internet is creating a warm mush of information: since everyone can look at everyone’s viewpoints, there will come a day when every viewpoint becomes the sum of all viewpoints. Furthermore, “when everything is permitted, Nietzsche said, we have nihilism; likewise, when everything is happening everywhere, it gets harder to care about anything.” I’m not sure I agreed wholeheartedly with the book–but it was an interesting discussion.

Comment by Ben

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