Finally I've been well and truly rebutted. On Rebutting Andrew Keen, I have an anonymous critic who has nailed me up on her digital cross. What she doesn't like about me is my polemicism. So she's an anti polemical polemicist -- a deliciously subversive way of subverting the original subversion. Here is my rebutter explaining her general rebuttal:
Poor Andrew Keen. All these thoughts coalesced, somewhat arbitrarily,around him. I decided to make his every utterance a study of how we might find a shared cultural dialogue of rationality, a glimpse of how we might live without polemicists.
My dear, I have to disagree. A dialogue of healthy rationality is, by definition, polemical. Thus the great rationalists -- Hobbes, Nietzsche, Arendt, Machiavelli etc etc -- are instrinsically polemical. That doesn't make them rude (although intellectual rudeness certainly isn't a cardinal sin). What I really object to is this social scientific ideal of a "shared cultural dialogue of rationality" magically resulting in a common understanding. If anything, a healthy conversation should lead to the hardening of intellectual positions. Compromise, I'm afraid, is for people who want it both ways and end up in a big puddle of muddle.
My rebutter asks why there is no Socratic dialogue on the Internet. That's an easy one. It's because Socrates doesn't have a blog. And it's also because the Internet is particularly ill suited to Socratic dialogue. Socrates loathed print media. God knows what he would think of the anonymity of the blogosphere. The reason why Socrates' dialogues work is that, in his circle, everyone knew everyone else. It was, in Web 2.0 speak, "full disclosure." Thus the most memorable dialogues -- Socrates' intensely polemical encounter with Thrasymachus in The Republic, for example -- come with the full weight of two lives led in perpetual intellectual disagreement. Could Socrates' conversation with Thrasymachus be replayed on the anonymous blogosphere? I doubt it. A media with no memory creates a culture of forgetting. Just ask my anonymous rebutter. Whoever she is.