Chad's departure compounds the disappointment felt in another announcement made earlier this week by irascible libertarian Fred Reed. His internet column, Fred on Everything, is kaput. Like Chad, he cities the economic model of free market amateur editorializing as a contributing cause:
The reasons for this disappearance are several. One is that writing the thing is a lot of work for no remuneration. I don't say this in complaint. Nobody asked me to write FOE, and I have enjoyed doing it. However, the economy being what it is, any writing I do in future will be for money. Crass commercialism has its uses.Chad and Fred get extinguished, while the likes of MPR and the Minnesota Independent burn on. Strikes me as fundamentally, oh I don't know . . . . unfair.
If only we controlled the government, and had the will to manipulate it for our personal benefit, maybe we could come up with some sort of doctrine that would force our ideological competitors to fund us or shut down themselves. Just a dream, I know. Alternately, we conservatives could use a man like George Soros today.
Fred cites a more substantial reason for wrapping things up, also related to the nature of our society and government today:
My reasons for [starting Fred on Everything] were, first, to see whether a web column could work and, second, to get away from the strangling grasp of political correctness. A third reason, common I suppose to most columnists, was the hope that, however minor my voice might be, in combination with thousands of others it might engender pressure for slowing the rush into the high-tech medieval twilight that the culture has undertaken.Fred was as likely to blame Republicans as Democrats for the negative civilizational changes we are experiencing, But, I think the feelings of "onrushing authoritarianism" and the "peasantification" of society are especially foreboding in the age of Obama.
This by now is clearly quixotic. The civilizational changes we now see are both irremediable and beyond control. The peasantrification and empty glitter of society, pervasive hostility to careful thought, onrushing authoritarianism, and distaste for cultivation are now endemic. I do not know where these lead, but we are assuredly going to get there. Fuming buys nothing.
Craig Westover is, thankfully, not hanging things up yet. He's been writing in the Pioneer Press and at the Minnesota Free Market Institute about the implications of Obama-nomics. Some of the local left have been predictably throwing brickbats at him over his excellent commentary. This resulted in a fascinating exchange between Westover and local lefty blogger Dave Mindeman, most of it is captured at the MFMI blog.
The exchange is also depressing, in that Mindeman, I suspect, represents the dominant mindset of the people we've now put in power of federal government during a time of economic crisis. And it may represent the mindset of the growing majority of our fellow Americans in 2009.
Westover summarizes, with echoes of what Freed Reed said earlier. Excerpts:
The exchange nonetheless has value. It highlights a fundamental shift in the political battle lines for the future. Political differences between right and left, conservative and liberal, Republican and Democrat have lost their relevance. A far more fundamental division is coming to the fore -- the classical liberal position with its focus on individual freedom and the progressive vision of a collectivist utopia.UPDATE: For more on the reasons behind Chad the Elder's departure, check out the Nihilist in Golf Pants.
Read between the lines of my exchange with Mr. Mindeman, and you will see the future. My position is argued from the fundamental principles of the primacy of individual sovereignty, the sanctity of private property and the necessity of consistent application of the rule of law. Mr. Mindeman's position necessitates that the collective good takes precedence over the sovereignty of the individual, that private property is subject to the needs of the collective, and the rule of law is subject to the will of the majority.
This is the choice we face in America today: Do we opt for freedom and manage the consequences of imperfection, or do we opt for submission to the collective and punish those that wander off the path to perfection? There is no Kumbaya position. As must come to every generation, we now face our "time to choose."