Many blogs seem to have fallen on their swords over the Summer. Vengeance and Fashion is not one of them, and will be returning to normal service now. But although it is well known that most blogs that are started never get past the first couple of posts, the death of more established ones seems less common.
The main blog to have ceased trading over the Summer is the excellent Left Luggage. In a statement on the site announcing that there will be no more posts, the authors outline the three main reasons why they are not continuing, which I reproduce below:
1) The amount of time and energy needed for a small number of people to maintain a regular supply of high-quality content (many of our pieces have been lengthy compared to other blogs). Clearly we have limited time outside of work and we therefore felt that in the long term this could compromise the local political initiatives the group is involved with individually, simply because of the time we were tending to devote to Left Luggage. Obviously this would contradict the key strategic direction we have been advocating. In addition, one of the two editors of the site is planning to launch a new project with young people in London this autumn, which will even further squeeze the time available to update Left Lugagge.
2) While we had established a regular readership of about 100 unique users per day, we seemed to have plateaued despite some peaks when we had content posted on other website or articles of especial interest to a wider readership. Most of the people posting on the website seemed to be (largely) receptive to what we have been argued; they were generally broadly in accord with our analysis of the Left, its limitations and key elements of a future strategy. Therefore, if we were mainly reaching the same people using similar same arguments, with which they generally agreed, it raised the question as to how much use Left Luggage could be in promoting this perspective.
3) Additionally, we felt at the risk of repeating ourselves. In the 75 articles we have published since March, we have covered a lot of ground and an enormous variety of issues. But fundamentally we are addressing ourselves to the same cluster of problems and proposing a modest set of strategic solutions. From the beginning we set ourselves the task of covering a specific central issue: why is the Left so weak and out of touch with the vast majority of working class people. We never sought to cover every international or even national issue, and do not propose to offer a detailed political theory, just some simple strategic points.
I have a great deal of sympathy with each of these points. As regular readers of the blog will be aware, I have been far too busy to post properly for a few weeks, life and work being what it is. Even when I can spare the time, I can usually only muster enough for one proper post a week. I also get the impression from the comments that those who read the blog are largely sympathetic already to what I am saying. I’m also aware of the need to say something new, which is quite difficult when the fundamental arguments I put forward are that the Left – as Left Luggage put it more eloquently than I can – needs to continually be:
Speaking to the concerns of working class people; proving itself to be the best fighters for the immediate interests of that class; engaging in long-term political work to rebuild working class self-organisation and political culture.
Left Luggage was different in that it presented itself as an arena for debate amongst the Left over strategy. I, like most bloggers, wear my prejudices and biases openly. I am sympathetic to the politics and strategy of groups such as the Commune, the IWCA and the Socialist Party, and generally hostile to the pernicious influence of the Stalinist left (the CPB), the middle-class radical left (the SWP) and the ultra-left (the CPGB).
This website is no replacement for Left Luggage, but I would hope that a similar site establishes itself in the near future. Vengeance and Fashion is no place for it, though I would hope that more people who disagree with me would comment here and spark up a productive debate. I wish the contributors to Left Luggage all the best in their current and future activism, and thank them for the wealth of material and insight that will continue to exist on that site.