July 12, 2013

Into the Silent Darkness?

Readers who found my blog only in the last few years probably don't know the following history. I began blogging in the fall of 2002. I described myself as a libertarian, and I quoted Ayn Rand. A lot. I had a long history with Ayn Rand and her circle of friends; I worked in the office of Rand's last publication from 1971 through 1976 and had very regular contact with her. I was certainly never friends with her, although we had a very cordial relationship; in fact, Rand told a very good friend of mine that she wanted to help me financially when I moved to Los Angeles in 1978 to try my hand at writing, an offer which my friend thoughtfully managed to deflect since both our views of Rand had already changed significantly, and not for the better. But I did become very close friends with several people in Rand's circle; for close to a decade, my life was Rand 24/7. As I look back on my life now, and when I think about what I would want to change if I could, that is the single item I would alter: I devoutly wish I had never heard of Ayn Rand. (You'll find some of my recent thoughts about Rand in the introductory comments to this piece, along with links to more.)

In any case, my libertarianish-Randian perspective proved to be very popular. I was frequently linked by many bloggers who described themselves as libertarians, and even by many conservatives. Instapundit linked me very often (you can look it up). As you'll see at that link, Instapundit linked me a lot in 2002 and 2003; the links then become rarer and rarer (one or two a year, if that), and the links end in 2009. The links from right-leaning bloggers became rarer and rarer for me because I grew steadily harsher in my criticisms of the Bush administration, the War on Terror, and of conservatism generally. I was engaged in a vigorous, demanding course of self-education. I read many books and articles, and thought very hard about every single one of the beliefs I had accepted. I ended up rejecting most of them, and realized I had been wrong about almost everything in the realms of foreign and domestic policy. I knew what I could write that would keep getting links from Instapundit & Friends -- but I couldn't write those things, because I no longer thought they were true.

My criticisms of Bush and the right became extremely scathing. This proved useful to liberal bloggers. From roughly 2004 through 2006, I was linked very regularly by Atrios, Digby, and quite a few others, and I was linked very often by Crooks and Liars. (You can look that up on our own if you wish.) But as I learned more, my critiques deepened and broadened -- and my targets came to include Democrats more and more regularly. This post just before the 2006 election is representative of that period. There was much more of that to come. My criticisms of the fraudulent Obama began with this essay from 2007 (one of my better ones). In the spring and summer of 2008, I was merciless about Obama (see here and here, follow the links for much more).

Obviously, this turn in my writing meant that my writing was no longer terribly useful to liberal bloggers. Their links to me began drying up in 2007, and by 2008 they were gone altogether. But I was still linked regularly in other places. Antiwar linked me very often for several years; it was not uncommon for Antiwar to link my articles two or three times a week at one point. For several reasons, all of which are singularly unpleasant and which I don't care to revisit, those links began to dry up, as well. The last article of mine that Antiwar linked was this one. Articles like this one, or this one, or, very notably, this one, as well as a number of others appeared to be of no interest to them. I have an opinion about that, and you can probably figure out what it is.

In all of these instances, I knew what I could write (and say to individuals, if I cared to) that would keep the links coming. But I didn't write or say those things, because I didn't think they were true.

And so that brings me to the last couple of years, and my audience of well under a thousand visitors per day. (I was once used to three or four thousand a day, easy.) It also brings me to the response to my posts about my current troubles with the IRS (here and here). I am tremendously grateful to those people who have written to me, and I still have a few responses to get out (which I'll take care of today or over the weekend). So far, 18 people have contacted me about making donations by mail. 18. I may manage to survive for a month or two on that, but surely not much longer. And it may well take longer than that to reach any accommodation with the IRS, if that is even possible, and assuming I'm willing to do what the IRS demands. I'll be exploring those possibilities with the IRS in the next few weeks. I've received two offers of assistance with regard to the IRS; one is very limited, and the other appears to me to be very problematic logistically, but maybe I'm wrong about that. Please don't misunderstand me: I'm very grateful to those two people. I wonder how many offers of help, and how many inquiries about mail donations, I would have received if I had made myself write what would make bloggers of the right or left happy. If I had transformed myself into another mindlessly content, ever-obedient member of the right or left tribe, I would doubtless have far fewer worries today. I might well be in fine shape.

What do I think the lesson is? It's very simple: If you want to survive in this world -- the world of politics and political bloggers as currently practiced in the marvelous US of A -- never mind what you think is true. Learn to lie. There's a broader lesson, too, which I stated here:
The corporatist-authoritarian State is designed to force all of us to become its collaborators. If you wish to survive in such a State, you either collaborate or your life becomes increasingly difficult. In the most extreme case, your non-cooperation means you will die.
I wrote that in December 2010. I knew the risk I was running years earlier. Now the risk is here in full force.

My deteriorating health also means that I've been looking death directly in the eye for over four years. When you know you have a steadily weakening heart, and when you are unable to get any medical care whatsoever (except for calls to 911 when the emergency becomes extreme enough, which I've already done twice -- and think about doing again at least a few times a week), death is your constant companion.

I never learned to lie. I never learned how to convince myself to act in ways which I knew to be wrong, but managed to rationalize with arguments about being "practical" and "getting along." And I'm a stubborn bastard. But you should probably cut a few corners. No one will notice. Hell, most people will reward you for it. As I discussed in that earlier article, if you want to survive, and especially if you want to be successful, you have to collaborate. I never learned the trick of that.

What will finally kill me? My heart, or the IRS? Or both? I suspect we'll find out soon.

Well. Fuck it. I'm not changing now, even if I could. And I can't.