In the US, the right accuse the media of "liberal" ie. centre-left bias.

JayRosen gets a good discussion of the posited cause of that here :

My assumption would be that the centre-left are often those who believe that power is (or should be) exercised through the transfer of ideas. Whereas the right believe that it's (or that it's equally legitimately) exercised through exchange and therefore money. So leftists go into professions - like teaching and journalism - which are about spreading ideas. And rightists go where the money is.

Actually, you could extend this :

  • the left believe in reason, knowledge and expertise. And power through the cultivation and divulgation thereof.
  • the right believe in power through money (OnMoney), which is itself an expression of power-flow within and wisdom of markets (OnMarkets). And a market is, of course, a kind of non-expert "dumb" information aggregator (TheWisdomOfCrowds).

Thus the real religion of the right is faith in MassivelyParallelProcessing by dumb units. The obsession of the left is the best of individual human reasoning. It's ConnectionismVsGOFAI !!

The above is :

  • a) a good explanation of why smart, well-educated intellectuals tend to be left-wing; and
  • b) possibly an explanation why rightists tend to be more successful at making predictions.

More :

Range of interesting blog posts (which possibly need to be refactored) and lead to thinking about DisputationArena, self-criticism (CriticalRationalism)

  • (disagrees with SarcasmDoesntScale and direct criticism, which I can agree with. I absolutely believe knowledge comes through criticism (ValueOfArguing) but that doesn't mean dumb gainsaying nor straight-up fault-finding. It means understanding and empathizing sufficiently with the opponent's argument to have a working model of it in your head, and then trying to show the opponent the possible ways their argument can be wrong (ie. factual errors, chains of reasoning that might too speculative, compelling counter-examples etc.)

: of course, I'm trying to build that model into TypedThreadedDiscussion. (See also OnRhetoric)

Wikipedia (and the BlogoSphere) are big challenges to the leftist / intellectual. The intellectual believes in the value of reason and ideas. And believes in their truth. But as a democratically inclined leftist, she must also believe that the majority should agree with these ideas. If she doesn't, she isn't really a democrat or egalitarian but an elitist. (Leftists are not, by inclination, elitists but sometimes fall into that position out of despair. Rightist, elitists can simply enjoy the position, of course.)

But the leftist democrat is provided with plenty of examples that the masses don't agree with her analysis or presecriptions. So how can she handle the CognitiveDissonance? By assuming that there are other sorts of power (TypesOfPower) in the world which opposee the general understanding of the issues. In particular, that MarketPower (which controls the media) is going to create false and misleading understanding.

However, when new media forms come along which require orders of magnitude less MarketPower to become involved with; the leftist ought to hope that the new media escapes, to a certain extent, the right-wing bias of the existing media, and promotes a more general leftist understanding.

If it doesn't then how can the leftist explain? :

  • that these new media really are still controlled by (editorially) by the market
  • that these new media are simply reflecting a right-wing momentum built up during the era of market-power
  • that there are subtler forms of right-wing power taking place in society. Blogs are cheaper to get into, but more rapidly embraced by the rich, well educated and succesful (eg. white males) than alternative groups. (Compare WhyAreThereSoFewWomenBloggers)

My diagnosis.

Not saying that the three typical explanations have no reality or relevance, but I think they miss the core issues. The massively parallel, democratic new media like WeblogsAndWikis are further with the "grain" of the "right" than the left emphasis on individual intelligence.

We shouldn't expect people who are embracing the freedom of OnlineWriting without gatekeepers to have much sympathy with attempts at imposing "expertise" (AcademiaVsNewMedia). Nor necessarily expert (government) control of other services (education, health etc.)

The online world is a slippery-slope towards resistence to authority : anarchy, libertarianism.

The question is, what will "left" and "right" mean in this world?

I think we know what the "right" will mean :

  • right-libertarians, socially liberal, but uncompromisingly commited to capital;
  • religious conservatives, increasingly owing loyalty to support and campaigning networks run by churches and mosques
  • corporate fascists, the right with most loyalty to the NationState; however, increasingly subverting the nation state's democratic mandate with corruption. These are people who already have a great deal of MarketPower, and use it to assimilate the nation-state to their ends.

If the leftist has egalitarian, democratic impulses she needs to embrace the grain of decentralization. However this will mean rethinking the status of "expertise" and "academic power". Not eliminating expertise but winning attention for it. In a sense, the next wave of changes coming to the web, in the form of SocialSearch, structured discourse etc. may be optimistic. These might help people identify and pay attention to expertise again. In which case, I'd expect to see a rise in left-power.

What should left "mean" with respect to :

  • commitment to the freedom of internet debate (rather than complaining about it)
  • acceptance of criticism from the right, and willingness to debate it.
  • promotion of hubs of expertise as places to refute right-wing arguments.
  • widescale observation of the right, and alerting the hubs of arguments that need to be refuted.
  • In a sense, the left understand MiddleSpace, the structuration of the network. Some places should be more central.

** but there should still be redundancy

  • fact-checking right-wingers should be welcomed and embraced.
  • models need to be rapidly correctable when our facts turn out to be wrong.

** no-one is immune from error. A visibly faster error-correction process is better than error denial

See also : TriangleOfPower


Although let's not forget the actual vast right-wing conspiracy spin-machine : StateOfTheMedia/2005