RIP LP

It’s a sad day in the Aus blogosphere.  Leading left-leaning group blog  Larvatus Prodeo has folded its capacious tent and joined the ranks of ex-parrots blogs.  Supremo senior commissar Mark Bahnisch explains the public rationale:

We collectively feel seven years is enough.

I think LP played a significant role in stimulating political debate over the course of its life, and acted as something of a catalyst for a lot of good things in the spaces of new media and public discourse.

To large degree, though, the caravan has moved on.

There’s no longer the same need for a hub for political discussion, as lively debate has migrated to social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and as the space for opinion and analysis around the shop has widened. The fact that the ‘blogosphere’ in Australia is no longer a term that makes much sense is an indicator of that change.

I don’t want to pick a fight in the circumstances, but the last paragraph doesn’t make a lot of sense.  You can’t develop a meaningful political, social or economic analysis or opinion in 140 characters, and I can’t say I’ve noticed much of it on Facebook either (perhaps I’ve “friended” the wrong people , although to be honest I don’t use Facebook much at all so I really wouldn’t know).

As for “blogosphere” no longer being a meaningful concept, I don’t think it was ever a cohesive, identifiable entity or culture, although there was certainly a greater sense of community among the pioneers in the early days up to (say) 2005-6 or so.  However I still keep up with Australian blog writing and I have no doubt that the depth and breadth of quality material is better than ever.

Anyway, I don’t want this to become a small-minded snipe on a sad occasion.  I hope all the LP crew turn up again somewhere in the blogosphere, because each one of them wrote material from time to time that was thoughtful, different and well worth reading.

Warning – The first commenter who uses the expression “hive mind” will be banished to the naughty corner.

Update – Robert Merkel is now blogging solo at A Bent Ghost while Kim is at the Pirate Queen’s Panopticon.

Update 2 – Maybe Liam and Anna are right that Twitter and FB respectively are where “all the absurd has gone out of the grand old poliblogs”  and where the “socialising/flirting/drunk weekend conversations” have gone.  Legal tweeters have regular social meet-ups at least in Melbourne and Sydney, and I gather the same is true of other focus areas.  Bloggers used to have such functions too but they ceased long ago as far as I know.

Maybe we could revive at least some of the on-blog silliness by deliberately fostering clearly designated silly, snarky and stoushing posts.  I’m not sure I have time to write them except if I have a particular bee in my bonnet, which doesn’t happen very often these days.  I’ve fulminated multiple times over the years on just about every topic in which I’m even marginally interested.  But what about others?  Fyodor, Nabakov etc.  Rex R still occasionally raises the silly banner on high but he needs help (in more ways than one). Calling for volunteers.

Come to think of it, I was looking through the Troppo author lists just now and noted that Sophie Masson is still listed (though without an email contact).  If only Sophie could be tempted into a comeback.  She had a God-given talent for provoking extreme silliness and snark all in the same comment thread.  In fact it was a huge stoush about Sophie that indirectly contributed to Larvatus Prodeo getting started in the first place.  This one about anarchism post-dates LP’s genesis but is a vintage example of Sophie’s talents.  Ah, those were the days …

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic at Charles Darwin University, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law) and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 12 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in he early 1990s.
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21 Responses to RIP LP

  1. Mel says:

    I think Larvatus Prodeo excelled at producing discursive discourses that deconstructed the essentialist and hegemonic nature of gendered binaries and the Othering associated with post-colonial imperialism in the neoliberal era as it is refracted through white male privilege and the Anglosphere imaginary.

    Surely there is still room in the bloggie universe for such vital and enlightening perspectives. Anyway, until this newly created void is filled, I’m going to Occupy Something.

  2. Ken Parish says:

    Cruel but funny …

  3. gilmae says:

    Think the oblique-ish reference to other blogs “space for opinion and analysis around the shop has widened” might be the more relevant part of that paragraph. Someone on Twitter – Jeremy Sear I think – said something about blogs being increasingly irrelevant, but I suspect Grog and Possum, for example, might beg to differ.

    Perhaps Jeremy, if it was him, should have just said it was one particular blog that is increasingly irrelevant.

  4. Ken Parish says:

    Yes it was Jeremy Sear. You’d have to wonder why he bothers to spend all that time writing both for a Crikey blog and his own one “An Onymous Lefty” if he thinks it’s increasingly irrelevant?

  5. TimT says:

    I don’t want to pick a fight in the circumstances, but the last paragraph doesn’t make a lot of sense. You can’t develop a meaningful political, social or economic analysis or opinion in 140 characters, and I can’t say I’ve noticed much of it on Facebook either…

    Agree, Ken. Maybe it’s partly due to a loss of confidence on the part of the left? I have no idea what the stats are but I wouldn’t be surprised if a majority of lefties are defecting to twitter and facebook because those mediums allow them to more effectively moderate conversation.

    There is no other amateur medium on the internet – none – that allows the space for thoughtful, extended commentary (or argument, or humour, or anything extended really) apart from the blogosphere.

  6. TimT says:

    Here’s why blogs are relevant and will remain so. Just yesterday I read this (a response to the dumb protester interrupting an Oxford boat race):

    I know exactly what you were protesting. You were protesting the right of 17 young men and one woman to compete fairly and honorably, to demonstrate their hard work and desire in a proud tradition.

    You were protesting their right to devote years of their lives, their friendships, and their souls to the fair pursuits of the joys and the hardships of sport. You, who would make a mockery of their dedication and their courage, are a mockery of a man.

    An excellent comnent. And it was made on Twitter – meaning that it occured in a bizarre, chopped up form, with the sentences breaking off mid-flow, and having to be read from the bottom to the top. It was an excellent comment for a blog, and was almost-but-not-quite ruined by the medium in which it occured. You just can’t make arguments effectively on Twitter. It’s a silly medium.

  7. Anna Winter says:

    I don’t want to speak for Mark, but I don’t think he’s arguing that blogs are irrelevant, only that the idea of a couple of big blogs as meeting places are increasingly less necessary. I think people are moving to blogs that are smaller, with smaller comments threads, while the socialising/flirting/drunk weekend conversations are happening elsewhere.

  8. Liam says:

    It’s a silly medium.

    Exactly, that’s why I like it so much. It’s where all the absurd has gone out of the grand old poliblogs.

  9. TimT says:

    Yeah but I like the freedom to do just about anything you want on blogger – silly or serious. As you can tell from my blog the bias is firmly towards the silly :)

  10. rog says:

    What Mel said, whatever it was..

  11. Yobbo says:

    I don’t want to pick a fight in the circumstances, but the last paragraph doesn’t make a lot of sense. You can’t develop a meaningful political, social or economic analysis or opinion in 140 characters, and I can’t say I’ve noticed much of it on Facebook either (perhaps I’ve “friended” the wrong people , although to be honest I don’t use Facebook much at all so I really wouldn’t know).

    They come up with this drivel because to admit the truth would harm their worldview irrevocably.

    The truth is that LP was crowded out by taxpayer-funded lefty blogs – The Drum and The Conversation. The endless flow of taxpayer’s money enabled them to come from behind, hire a shitload of good writers, and steal their niche.

  12. murph the surf. says:

    Well LP taught me who Marcuse was and that regardless of my experience and education in life I was a fool and a dupe.
    Blamelessly such but while trying to embrace the lessons being displayed on LP the emphasis on use of their very special and rarified terminology left so many gaps in a reader’s understanding that what lesson ultimately the reader was supposed to learn was often obscured….
    The heavyhanded use of exclusionary terminology always felt to this reader like a barrier to communication but was often defended as being the sort of language any civilised/educated person should use.
    My suspicion has been that if they used plain language their arguments would lose most of their appeal.
    Early on in the piece I think I read on LP that the Bahnischs were subscribers to Wallerstein’s theories and as has been discussed on a few threads about the internet,how the Left ( define as you like )failed to make even a tiny dent in the methods and practice of everyday politics after the GFC must prompt at least a tad of reflection that the analysis and therefore one’s driving belief is flawed.
    So goodbye LP-spawned as a reaction to Howard, feeding for a few years on the frustration of powerlessness and now atomised by the drive for individual outlets for the expression of the various author’s ideas.
    How sadly uncommitted and uncollective.

  13. Patrick says:

    I could just retreat to the naughty corner but instead I’ll give praise to Mel’s brilliant summary of LP’s net contribution to blogging as far as I was ever aware.

    I think blogging has never been more relevant as a medium for serious debate (I put a list of blogs up here a while ago which on any given day would exceed LP’s total intellectual output – here, marginalrevolution, Volokh, opinio juris, skepticlawyer, Krugman’s rants, possum comitatus, interfluidity, the money illusion, the Economist stable, etc) and for that reason the larva rodents made the right call.

    Hell blogging (greenandgoldrugby, sudrugby, too many others) even dominates rugby discussion (well serious non-NSW obsessed rugby discussion)!

  14. Dan says:

    Agree w/[email protected]

    Am reminded of Sokol and Chomsky’s withering analyses of poststructuralism and associated wastes of time and words. Am glad no-one in my masters class bothers trying to pull that guff.

    Submit that I have ripper political conversations/arguments on FB at least once a week with people who range from hardline libertarian to Leninist (and many points in between), and all in English to boot.

  15. I didn’t want to pick a fight either, because I’m sad to see LP go, but I agree with your comments re twitter and facebook, Ken:

    http://skepticlawyer.com.au/2012/04/10/the-debate-platforms-of-the-future-twitter-and-facebook/

  16. Patrick says:

    Since we all love Tom Lehrer lately.

  17. Rob says:

    They wouldn’t even let me in to say say goodbye.

    Bon voyage, Mark & Kim, and bon chance. Thanks for putting up with me for so long.

  18. Chris Lloyd says:

    “The truth is that LP was crowded out by taxpayer-funded lefty blogs – The Drum and The Conversation. The endless flow of taxpayer’s money enabled them to come from behind, hire a shitload of good writers, and steal their niche.”

    TheConversation is not a blog. It is mainly funded by the G8 Universities. They do not pay any of their writers. Any academic can write for them. It turns out that most academics are left but that does not make it a lefty blog.

  19. paul walter says:

    It’s been a beaut site for a long time despite intermittent flaws relating to snottiness.
    LP overwhelmingly dealt with the sort of real political and social issues that even public broadcasting and publishing were too timid to deal with and as Ken said, became a hub for what I’d call broadsheet blogging, as opposed to the Andrew Bolt/ Catalepsy style sites much beloved of some commenting on this thread.
    Seven years of dealing with thread derails and a disillusioning year politically have finished them off, but my respect for them remains huge, despite the occasional stoushes I had with some of them over a moderation policy that was a bit hard and capricious for my tastes.

  20. Dan says:

    Catalepsy! Gold. That’s it exactly.

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