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Surprise me

Forgive me a brief, personal interlude, but something I've noticed about myself: I enjoy reading conservative writers like David Frum, Conor Friedersdorf, Rod Dreher, and Nicole Gelinas because, frequently, they stray off the reservation. I thought I just appreciated un-orthodoxy, but now I suspect that I enjoy reading them (too) because they sometimes agree with and confirm my own personal biases.

I'm trying to think of any writers I enjoy who might be described as A) liberal and B) unorthodox. No names come to mind. And that worries me about my own writing here, to be frank: I try to be on guard against hackery and tribalism, but it's damned hard to avoid those temptations when writing about politics.

Contrarianism for its own sake is just as lazy as any other unthinking ideological conformity, of course. But who can I read who will surprise me? How can I train myself to surprise myself on occasion?


Chris Tackett said…
Good question. And got me thinking. I like reading Frum and Friedersdorf and often end up splintering off to some new voices via Andrew Sullivan, who also fits in that group for me.

I agree with you, part of the appeal is the pleasure of hearing someone from "the other side" speaking out against what their side is up to, but also find myself agreeing with them occasionally.

This may set me up to be knocked down, but as far as reading people from the left that surprise me, I've found Adbusters to be one of the best resources for this kind of thinking I won't find in most sites I read regularly. They bring a lot of writers and book excerpts into each issue. And their print presentation with the ad remixes and art can definitely rattle or get the gears turning, even when I don't always agree.

Plus, they had their finger on the pulse of what turned into Occupy Wall Street long before anyone else, so that's earned them another year subscription.

Other than that, I would mention Taibbi and Robert Reich. Maybe Chris Hedges? Palast?

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