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We plan to write one of these posts each time we update the menu text, so it’s easy for recurring readers to see what we’ve changed, rather than giving the impression that we’re trying to sneak changes onto the menu bar.

About

About Us (Collectively)

We’ve used the following as a collective bio on various platforms:

Left-wing politics bloggers trying to make sense of the world. Green, Chomskyite, uncertain, pro-debate, anti-woo, Keynesian, sceptical, angry, hopeful. #PoliticsForBeginners

While there are some values that are generally considered right-wing that we agree with (that hard-working people should be rewarded for their hard work; that wasted resources are bad) we tend more towards values generally considered left-wing (acceptance of global warming as an immediate crisis; preferring a moral and consistent foreign policy over devious realpolitik; favouring a large-scale state investment in research and education).

We are both active members of the Green Party, though at such a low level that we basically have no power or authority, or even the potential to hold power or authority.

We are, to varying degrees, admirers of Noam Chomsky,and believe it’s important to be cynical about official stories given to us by the state, given that the powerful want to control the stories that are told about themselves.

We’re uncertain about a lot of the things we think we believe, and this blog is an attempt to iron out our understanding of some complex questions.

We believe that honest debate, in which all participants try to be open-minded rather than trying to ‘win’ an argument, is one of the most vital parts of a functional democracy. We also believe that social media offers ordinary people around the world an unprecedented opportunity to learn from each other’s experiences, if we could learn to listen more.

We both find it frustrating when legitimate questioning of authority is diverted by anti-vaccine, chemtrail, and 9-11 ‘truther’ nonsense, and find the rejection of western medicine in favour of stupidity like homeopathy terrifying. (It’s probably worth mentioning that we’ve both been pleasantly surprised at the relatively low level of belief in this nonsense amongst Green Party members since joining the party in the last few years.)

We both support the beliefs of the growing ‘anti-austerity’ movement against cuts to the state, and go further, believing in the power of the state to stimulate growth, and be a powerful tool for investment in the future. We believe that this is particularly true in times of low opportunity such as these, in the manner of Keynesian economics.

We think that it’s important to be sceptical and critical of all institutions and authorities, especially those we support.

We’re angry at the unnecessary suffering in a world that seems to see the weak and vulnerable as expendable.

Despite all the above, we are optimistic about the kind of positive changes we could make if we could learn to replace our political culture of disengagement, spin and manipulation with one of mass engagement, open-mindedness and co-operation.

As well as on WordPress, you can also find us at:

Facebook.com/PoliticsForBeginners1

PoliticsForBeginners.Tumblr.com

Twitter: @PoliticsForBeg

Instagram: @PoliticsForBeginners

About Us (Individually)

Mulder sees himself as left-wing, as he’s more drawn towards radical ideas for improving the world. He sees no justification for corporations to exist, and is drawn towards the idea of post-capitalism. He is a member of the Green Party because he believes that they strike the best balance between radical left-wing policies and mainstream appeal.

Scully sees herself as viewing politics from a right-wing conservative perspective, but believes in ideas which are currently seen as left-wing. She prefers policies which have been tried, tested and proven to work rather than radically new and different approaches which, while great in theory, might not work in practice. She has never been tempted to join the Tory Party as she feels they put ideology before evidence, with Cameron’s government being an extension of a pre-existing trend. She is a member of the Green Party because she considers them to have the most evidence-based approach to policy.

‘Dan Ashcroft’ is angry.

About The Blog (PFB)

In very basic terms, this is a way for us to rant to relieve political frustrations, a way for us to clarify some complex ideas in our own minds, and a way to encourage people who aren’t politically engaged to get engaged.

Our Content

Formats of posts

  • Articles – the type of post that would function as content for a typical political magazine or website. Probably somewhere between 500 and 1500 words in total.

  • Essays – these will be longform posts, written with the intent of exploring a topic from multiple angles, placing it in the context of the political moment as well as in a broader historic context. Probably a few thousand words in length.

  • Essay Segments – the essays will be broken up into smaller segments, each covering a particular idea, which should be cohesive on their own. These will be posted on the Tumblr site.

  • Microblogging – short, possibly ranty posts which will be posted to the Facebook page first, but which should make their way to the blog soon after.

    Recommended Reading Order

    At the moment there’s only a handful of posts on the blog. After we’ve got more up we’ll write a ‘recommended reading order’ here, to try and make clear which ideas build on each other.

    Glossary

    One of the hardest parts of political discussion is trying to construct a shared vocabulary. As one of the main aims of this blog is to help beginners get involved in politics, we aim to use this page as a way of explaining some basic terminology, and look at the pieces of terminology that can get confused with each other.

    New additions and changes to this page will also be added as a post to the main body of the blog.

    Commenting

    One of the hardest aspects of political discussion is maintaining a civil and respectful tone – to see things that horrify or scare us and treat our ideological opponents with decency and respect. It’s tempting to fall into the trap of ‘Othering’ the people who we disagree with, and dismissing large groups of people as uniformly nasty or stupid. Lashing out when we’re angry can feel satisfying, but it makes practical engagement harder in the long-term.

    These insults come in a range of flavours – from the relatively polite ‘red Tory’ (used mainly in Scotland to describe Labour politicians); to ‘libtard’ (used by right-wingers to describe left-wingers); to the more basic ‘Tory scum’ (used by left-wingers to refer to Tory politicians and voters).

    You may believe that the Labour Party aren’t the best vehicle to enact leftward political change in Scotland (both of us would agree with you) but it’s best to try and be respectful to those who will, from time to time at least, be potential allies.

    You may see yourself as a sensible, practical right-winger, but drawing a parallel between left-wing views and mental disability… well, it’s just not very classy.

    You may be angry at the Tory Party leadership, but victory in any meaningful sense will involve winning over some of those who voted Tory – using broad insults can very easily end up driving those people away.

    So we believe that keeping a polite tone, and trying to be respectful – even when someone winds us up to the extent that we want to smash something – is important to making any kind of political progress. We’ve thought a bit about how to achieve this in the comment section.

    At the moment we’re thinking that we’ll allow through comments that are abusive in tone, but replacing the term of abusive with ‘smurf’, ‘smurfing’, ‘smurfer’ and so on. That way, the commenter can still say what they want to say, but at the strong risk of looking ridiculous.

    To start with, we’re not going to have a list of banned terms, but please try and be sensible about what is abusive and dismissive, and try to be respectful.

    Further Reading

    At some point soon we’ll put up a blogroll of other political blogs we recommend, along with descriptions of their content.

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Author: Mulder and Scully

Left-wing politics bloggers trying to make sense of the world. Green, Chomskyite, uncertain, pro-debate, anti-woo, Keynesian, sceptical, angry, hopeful. #PoliticsForBeginners

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