Friday, January 25, 2008

The creativity of the free mind - Levant on a blogger legal defence fund

Ezra Levant floats what I think is a brilliant idea: a legal defense fund to protect bloggers if they face defamation law suits or the Canadian "human rights" tribunals. As he notes, any such system of mutual aid would require bloggers to live up to some code of conduct or system of mutual observation, in order to protect against the bankruptcy of a mutual insurance system by what is known in the insurance industry as "moral hazard".

But Levant reminds me that much of the strength of classically liberal North American culture was built up in the nineteenth and early twentieth century by people organizing themselves in a myriad of fraternal/sororal and mutual insurance organizations, the architectural remnants of which (buildings now often converted to immigrant churches, here in Vancouver) you can spot in most North American cities. Buried in academic libraries you can find historical reference works listing the many thousands of these institutions. The value of such institutions, which were in large part destroyed by the Depression, World War II, large corporations, and the rise of the welfare and mommy state, is that when people self-organize to meet all variety of mutual insurance needs they also create all variety of social networks that can serve many needs. When scholars abstractly talk about the loss of "social capital" in the postmodern age, it is the loss of mutual insurance covenants, of people working to guarantee each other's freedom, that they are really talking about.

I encourage all bloggers to consider and pursue Levant's idea.


Dag said...

Something possessed me to post about the Gideon Bible Society a few months back. I don't know why it would have appealed to me, but there it is. I wrote about a buddy and me struggling to get by one evening and finally making some money to buy food, at which point we saw a man kill himself in front of us as we ate. The point of my reminiscence was that those who are alone need others anyway, especially if they're alone, and that a Gideons Bible is perhaps one thing that will connect a lost man to the rest of us in a dire time. Someone is determined to rid hotel rooms of such Bibles. But it's more than that: Gideon Societies are whole identities, legal things with people at the heart of them, masses of like-minded individuals working for a common good. Gideon bible Societies are also, perhaps essentially, insurance groups. It's not a simple thing. It's not a Richard Dawkins reduction to absurdity that many simple-minded hippies would have us believe is "all religion."

Mithraism was a burial society for Roman soldiers. If one can trust ones comrade even after death one is in good hands in life. Romans were better organized that we today. They had a fine grasp of reality and the idea that life is something that one lives till it's over, lived with others in a state of co-operation and competition.

We have iPods. I like the whole idea of "mutual insurance." The sense of it is likely lost on a flat screen tv world. One sees the result of that kind of solitariness: flat people, as it were.

By chance, I was walking down the street recently and found a Gideon Bible on the sidewalk. I kept it. I might be one of the last to have one:

Rob Misek said...

Supporting the freedom of speech in the blogger community is essential to the future of democracy.

I have personal experience with the bias and corruption in the liberal controlled media.

Ezra should convince the National Post to modernize it's online section, focussing on bloggers to compete with the liberal biased Globe and Mail that touts itself as the "national" newspaper.

With an efficient design and enough moderating resources to be legal, the Post could refresh itself as the first newspaper of Technological Democracy.

Then after a fresh blogger oriented marketing campaign, Ezra would be in a position to take some of the proceeds from online subscription sales to create a defense fund.

Many people would pay $20.00 month to participate in a popular, public, unbiased international blog.

truepeers said...


I think you're right and interactivity is the wave of the future.

If we put up some advertising on this blog and started selling shares in this blog - at first for mere pennies - so that you could make a cheap investment in the future of this blog and thus have an interest in bringing more readers here and building up the comments section with healthy debate - would that be of interest to you? I'm trying to imagine a future where thousands of blogs can be capitalized as part of the high tech democracy you speak of. Or, when you speak of the National Post, is it that you still want much more of a shared national centre of attention, a single place attracting many thousands of readers, as a central clearing house?

Rob Misek said...

Blog sites like Covenant Zone are the trail blazers for Technological Democracy.

They will also always be required watchdogs for corruption in centralized interactive sources.

A few reasons to centralize:

Centralized, our voices and rights would be as one, stronger and more difficult to silence.

It would be easier to gather democratic and demographic data and share it even with our municiple politicians.

It would act like a co-op, with our money utilizing the legal resources of the news media to establish the defense of speech fund.

Centralizing would directly challenge the established liberal controlled media with immediate credibility.

The Post could advertise and stick to the principle of truth in journalism and let the people comment, as it should be.

Centralized, people would know that all opinions are needed. Without ties to political partisanship they could capture the imagination with marketing slogans like "Justice is blind".

The centralized co-op would rightfully claim the title as the "nations news media".