Monday, 8 December 2008

Birthday Blog - Big 2 Today!

Is it two years since I first sat down and wrote my first post for this blog? Yes, it really is! I've already had a celebratory cup of tea with Brother S, and might just treat myself to a flapjack in a bit. To add to the sense of occasion, it's only right and proper I get my stats out.

From December 8th 2007 to December 7th 2008 AVPS has published 230 posts. Of these only 16 passed without any comment, woot! In total 1,758 comments have been left, realising an average of 7.6 per post, which sounds near enough to eight for me! In addition to that, the median number of comments is six. The top five most-commented on (in reverse order) are (joint fifth) Vital Statistics and Solidarity With Harry's Place; SP and SWP Debate the Revolutionary Party (now available to watch online here); Branch Meeting: The Politics of the SWP; the comedy gold that is The Worst Leaflet Ever; and at number one, BNP Members List Leaked (mainly because our friend, The Sentinel, took up unwelcome residence in the comments box). But the most viewed post by a mile remains The Perfect Vagina. This appears to be popular among one handed typists looking to ogle Lisa Rogers sans clothes, or, depressingly, young women with vagina-related hang ups. I hope the latter group will find something in that piece of use. But alas, those engaged in the great internet porn hunt are going to be disappointed. Unless they find the way my font curls my letters a turn on.

From 11th December, 2006 (the day I started using Statcounter) until yesterday there was an average of 143 page loads, 101 unique visitors, and 30 returning visitors. The averages from December 8th last year to yesterday are 218, 157, and 44 respectively (as compared to 67, 45 and 17 for the previous year). So things have come along nicely. There are five posts responsible for the big spikes of interest. The review of Louis Theroux Behind Bars, The Perfect Vagina, the Harry's Place/Jenna Delich row, comment on the BNP membership list farce and, bizarrely, a lot of people wanting to get hold of the worst leaflet ever ... a full six months after it was published here!

Top referrers are consistently Socialist Unity, Dave's Part and the Stokie politics blog, Pits n Pots.

AVPS's second year has been very kind. When I last checked it is linked to by 157 blogs and websites, of whom 128 are active (defined as updated within the last 45 days). Aside from getting a posting gig at Socialist Unity (and I do plan to return posting soon, Andy!), AVPS has variously had material plugged on the Carnival of Socialism, Stumbling and Mumbling, the Britblog Roundup, and Liberal Conspiracy. And this humble vehicle made #17 and #57 in the self-styled King of Blogging's top 100 left blogs and top 100 political blogs. That's not bad for a shameless provincial without metropolitan, media, and Oxbridge connections ;)

The best thing about the blog's second year is not that it's grown into a slightly bigger fish, but rather the pond has got somewhat larger. For instance, if you were to cast your eyes over to the blog roll you will see (under 'The Marxists') the CWI stable has expanded to 11 blogs (if you include this one). And those are the ones I know of. There could be more out there! And despite some blogs falling into inactivity, the number of comrades - mainly independent socialists and Marxists - trying their hands at blogging has increased, giving us a right bright and breezy collective of leftwingers commanding ever greater numbers of readers.

Where now for A Very Public Sociologist? Well, nowhere really! The third year of the blog will offer the same eclectic mix of the sociological, the political, and yes, occasionally the musical too. Cheers to all the regular readers for sticking with my slightly schizophrenic ramblings.


Vicky said...

Happy birthday! Hope your blog continues to grow..

Joseph Dubonnet said...

Congratulations! Blogging for two years is an accomplishment in and of itself... :)

Damon Lord said...

Congratulations on your blogiversary. You're an old hand now in the blogosphere!

Imposs1904 said...

"you will see (under 'The Marxists')"

Phil. for a PhD brainy type your spelling really is atrocious. That is not how you spell Leninists. ;-)

Happy birthday. Keep on, keeping on.

The Sentinel said...

"mainly because our friend, The Sentinel, took up unwelcome residence in the comments box"

Of course, you only want sycophants and mindless "agreer's" swimming in your pool.

A voice of dissent just creates a wave you cannot handle.

Phil said...

You know, in real life, The Sentinel is a very modest and retiring chap ;)

Aren't you going to wish my politically correct race-traitoring Trotskyite blog a happy birthday?

Paul said...

Well personally I think many of your posts have been a bit high on lofty idealism (an extremely kind critique of one who calls himself a Marxist) and low on common sense and realism. Then again that's academia for you. Oh and well done by the way yours was once of the first blogs I linked to. It is also worth noting that whilst I am unashamedly right of centre, I will link to you and not the BNP. Racism is as odious as Marxism both have killed. Well done keep it up, but I bet you don't when you leave university?

The Sentinel said...

Yes, of course - Happy Birthday.

One minor adjustment though, it really should be Brönsteinite rather then Trotskyite.

Just for accuracy.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday from me too. Long may your blog continue and long may it attract more traffic.
As you point out the spikes can to a large extent be attributed to the posts in question being nominated for the Britblog Roundup (I won't give away the names of those who made the nominations, but, suffice it to say, the vast majority of the hosts are not of a left-wing persuasion and a certain amount of subversive pleasure can be derived from redressing the balance).

ModernityBlog said...

you've aged well

good luck :)

Imposs1904 said...


Use of such terminology reveals 'The Sent' to be a Third Period Secret Stalinist, and I thought he was just a Dungeons and Dragons type with an overactive imagination.

Phil said...

You too, Mod. I think you must be one of the oldest left blogs around. Thanks to everyone else too, including The Sentinel(!)

Lol, Paul, we've had this conversation before. Needless to say I was a socialist long before I entered academia and if you knew what its climate was like, even now, it's hardly a hot bed of professorial Marxists and Che wannabes. Besides this, there's nothing more utopian and idealist than the belief capitalism can exist without class struggle!

Btw Paul, whenever I read your blog and your comments I have a feeling we may have crossed swords many, many moons ago. Were you ever at Staffs Uni?

Paul said...

'Besides this, there's nothing more utopian and idealist than the belief capitalism can exist without class struggle!'

Well no not really but then I'm bound to say that aren't I? But are you denying that you believe in a utopian ideology? Has that ideology ever worked in practice and how many people has it killed? An approximate figure would be 150million but never mind eh?

As to academia, of course it is no hotbed of sedition and I have never believed or descried it thus. What has always struck me as remarkable though are the numbers of post grads and lecturers, who never having left university stuck rigidly and still do to potty Marxist beliefs. I can never understand that and yet I feel that if they were to actually work in the 'real world' their principles would soon prove to be as flexible as Derek Hatton’s!

Still that's just a slightly jaded observation of mine.

As to Staffs Uni, no not me you're almost right we may have 'crossed swords' or we may not. It depends on who you are and where you are, I am however extremely familiar with the potteries area.

Phil said...

Ah Paul, chances are we haven't. I used to spend many an hour debating with an army officer back in the day over the old email who was in the LibDems. Your names were the same and he used to talk about the same sort of things as you do, including using exactly the same points of argument!

In response to your other points, I dispute your argument that socialism is responsible for however many millions of deaths you care to cite. To say Marxism is responsible for the crimes of Stalin is like blaming Adam Smith for the atrocities of capitalism, or Jesus for the things done in his name. What happened in Russia was the result of the concrete historical circumstances in that country and crucially the failure of socialism to take root outside its borders. You can try all you like to find the genocidal DNA inscribed in Marx's theory of surplus value, but as a materialist, I think it's more rewarding to look at how concrete historical processes play out.

Re: your potty postgrads and lecturers, who are they? Where are they? Seems to me they're a distinct minority among bloggers and activists. Looking around my branch there are two postgrads - me and Brother S - and a smattering of students. The rest are low paid workers and unemployed. Also for your info I'm from a working class family and have worked a series of thankless low-paid jobs. So I think we know what reality is all about, and don't need condecension from someone who makes a cushy living as a free floating consultant, thanks!

Paul said...

'So I think we know what reality is all about, and don't need condescension from someone who makes a cushy living as a free floating consultant, thanks!'

Miaow! Seriously you should consider consulting as you write and argue well. As to the potty post grads and lecturers, well I shall start out by saying that whilst at college myself I frequently enjoyed the company of such people. But for concrete examples just look at the likes of Derek Wall, all he does is propagandise on his blog. He never responds to any questions at all and if you look at the man in a debate I feel he simply can't. Why not? Because he lacks the experience to do so. All he does is pontificate endlessly telling us how Islam is actually peaceful, or Cuba a wonderful utopia where only wonderful things have happened.

Thanks for your comment Re Russia but could you elaborate? I mean if Socialism had taken root outside Russia would everything have been okay in the USSR? I mean all the millions starved in the Ukraine or murdered at Katyn that would never have happened right? Any way how do you explain the killings by Mao or Pol Pot? What about agents of Socialism such as the psychotic Baader-Meinhof gang and others?

I respect your 'democratic socialism', I would never vote for it but then that's my choice. That's assuming you are a democrat and not simply a cheerleader for the USSR/Communist China/Pol Pot/RAF etc etc? Take care anyway; I must get back to my work.

Phil said...

Actually, I've met Derek on a couple of occasions and he isn't that much of a shrinking violet, I assure you! I have seen him debate my comrades way way back at Socialism 2005. Also you do need to have an ability to debate to get yourself voted Green co-speaker, which Derek was until recently. Also, you must remember that a lack of a answer does not necessarily mean a lack of ability to debate. Most socialists have our politics questioned constantly by friends, workmates and what have you. It is nice to have a break from interrogation from time to time!

As for socialism, the way I approach it is not as some kind of utopian blueprint into which reality is forced. It is a tendency already partly present in modern capitalists societies. The large scale planning that takes place on the part of states, companies and other agencies completely penetrate the structures of capitalist societies and without it, the system would come tumbling down. Socialists would like to see these tendencies extended but with an important caveat - that it is done so under the democratic control of working class people, the class that generates the wealth but does not own or control it.

Socialism is about doing away our superfluous ruling class and establishing society that is more planned and more democratic than anything capitalism can aspire to. People who prefer capitalism are of course free to argue for a return to economic chaos, massive inequalities, unsustainable development and mass unemployment, but I would imagine any socialist society would take exception to any group who seeks to violently overthrow it.

It is quite difficult to go into specifics, but I hope you get the general gist of what socialism is about. Let me make it clear, none of us believe such a society would be utopia-perfect, but we think it offers a better starting point for the genuine development of the human race than any existing or preceding social system. As Marx was fond of saying, "the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all".

Re: Russia, the scholarship is huge and there are many arguments put forward to explain its subsequent fate. I would recommend you look at a broad cross section of work from conservative, liberal and Marxist traditions to make your own mind up.

But yes, I would say the USSR would have been a very different place if, say, the German revolution of 1918 had been successful. If socialism is about democratic workers' control over the economy and state, Russia in 1917 was a society too backward for socialism to take root without assistance from the more developed west. Unfortunately that wasn't forthcoming, and the devastation of the war and civil war plus general backwardness plus a (largely necessary) bureaucratisation of the state saw the USSR become a nightmare.

It is hard to say what would have happened if the Russian revolution had overcome its isolation. But what it would have done would be to change the material basis of politics in the 20s and 30s. We may have seen a more aggressive form of fascism take root in and perhaps be victorious in Britain, France and the USA. Maybe the revolutionary wave would have kept on rolling. Who can say?

PS Thanks for the career tip ;)