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My Last Post

As of this moment in time, it’s my intention that this will be my last post or comment or rant or rave or whatnot on the libertarianoblogophere (or whatever it’s called). I should immediately add that I’m not doing a bit silly Old Holbornesque flouncing out or anything, and it’s certainly nothing to do with the guys here at Counting Cats, who are a fabulous bunch, well, except me, I’m a bit of a twat really, but Cats, Nick and Daphne are wonderful guys.

But I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough of being angry. I’m always angry, angry from the moment I wake to the moment I managed to get back to sleep; angry at the world, angry at society, angry that the only meaningful description left of western society is “a society predicated on being an endless slippery slope”. I’m furious at the progressivist hegemony and its endless, foaming revolution, at peeping fearfully at the news each day wondering what latest horror they have decided to inflict upon us, and being powerless.

That anger in its various forms has led to me being a little bit known in the liberalishblogosphere as a serial commenter, and some people have even paid me some entirely undeserved compliments for that, but after several billions of words and all the letters worn off my keyboard and my fingerprints replaced by enormous calluses from the endless ferocious typing, I have to accept that not only have I achieved nothing, doing so has no hope of ever achieving anything and all it actually does is make me even more angry and then I go and type another one and so on and so on.

That’s not, I hasten to add, meant to imply that the libertysortofstuffofsphere isn’t achieving anything; quite the contrary, it is a fine example of modern pamphleteering. But I’ve also come to recognise, finally, that I’m an oddball, verging on a crank (perhaps beyond verging, in fact) even among liberally libertarianish liberty types. I am at heart a libertine, and the approved dogma of libertarianism, which is largely an economic creed, is something I see merely as a necessary precondition for social and personal liberty. I recognise and heartily support the requirement for a free market and economic liberty in order to have other liberty, but it’s the “other” that motivates me; for me a free society is one in which somebody can smoke a joint in their local boozer without a licence, then pop into their local shop for some gay hobbit porn and a tin of heroin. Anything short of that isn’t liberty, so far as I am concerned, and the latter- the drugs, booze and gay hobbit porn is, even to most libertarians (at least us British types) sort of tangential to the main issues of getting us back on the gold standard, banning fractional reserve banking and finding a pure platonic proof of the anarcho capitalist system. Or whatever.
Even the people on “my side” of things usually seem to see the gay hobbit porn and other social liberties as kind of “something you’d have to tolerate” rather than as something to actively desire to exist. It’s not uncommon to see a stuffy “there is a difference between liberty and licence” kind of argument, which frankly I think is bollocks, but that’s just me. Literally. I seem to be along way out on the leftfield of libertarianism; in fact somewhere outside the stadium in the car park, so far as I can tell.

So, rather than keep expending energy trying to swim against every tide, including the one I’m supposed to be swimming with, I am attempting, in a possibly vain attempt to maintain my sanity, to withdraw, and concentrate on tending my roses, kind of thing.

The other thing is, I feel I’m at the end of my personal journey. Some years ago, back when I still thought I was some kind of Leftie, I began to realise that something was (from my point of view, at least) going terribly terribly wrong. It seemed that the world was adopting, universally, ideas that were quite clearly (to me) mad, and I wanted to understand why. The pursuit of that understanding took me a lot of interesting places intellectually- not least of all towards libertarianism. I wandered down a lot of blind alleys, searching to understand what had got us to this point. Initially, as I began this quest, I imagined announcing some conclusion on a website, hehe, and at other times have even fantasised about writing a book (which is probably an indication of how delusional the whole thing has made me; the idea that people would want to read The Truth, By Ian B, nobody of no reknown, is ridiculous). But I think I now feel that I have my narrative. I know how we got here, at least to my own satisfaction. Unfortunately, that narrative just isn’t one that anybody is going to want. It doesn’t even fit with the traditional “libertarian narrative” and ultimately suggests that the anglosphere (particularly the USA and UK) is the source of the problem, which is the last thing a bunch of people who deify a narrative based on how We Taught The World About Liberty are going to be interested in. The probability of me somehow turning around the oil tankers of belief is a number which pretty precisely approximates zero, especially as marshalling sufficient evidence to prove this narrative (which I admittedly have patched together from insufficient evidence to convince anybody else) is something I just don’t have the time or resources for. One of the bottom lines is, in a kind of a nutshell, that it now seems evident to me that the Western World always had sown within it the seeds of its own destruction (ho ho!) and in all likelihood is going to have to destroy itself, and then there will be some awful thuggish sort of global fascism, and then at some point after I am long dead somebody else will have another crack at liberty and maybe get it right next time. We are nowhere near the end of history; some future society will lump us in with the Middle Ages as a superstitious, mad society they are glad they don’t have to suffer, and will look upon the tyranny of this age in much the same way as we look at the age of the Spanish Inquisition. We aren’t an advanced society yet. We never were. We’re living a lie.

But that’s just my opinion. I don’t believe I have any means at my disposal to change anybody else’s mind on this, and, since I’m pretty much in a minority of one, the chances are anyway that I am some kind of loony crank and everybody else is right. Or, at least, somebody else is right. The probability of it being me alone, an uneducated electrician turned “adult” cartoonist, who discovered The Truth, is infinitesimal. But whatever, in a sense I do feel strangely sated; I’ve reached the end of that personal journey and have the answers I was looking for and feel a little like somebody who has spent most of their life making a perfect model of Bristol out of matchsticks- finished, done, what’s to do with my spare time now? The discussion I engaged in with the massive amount of blog commenting was a means towards finding My Truth, and now I’ve got that. My truth may be no more objectively true than anybody else’s, but it’s what I was looking for. Job done.

So, I’ve had a couple of relapses and commented once or twice in the past couple of weeks, but I’m trying to do cold turkey, and maybe after that my addiction to the sound of my own voice (er, typing) boorishly lecturing everybody else in comment threads about how wrong they are, will subside. Maybe I can learn to use the internet just as God intended it to be used- for porn and LOLcats.

Actually, I was going to do some of this post about how ICANN have gained “independence” from the US government and have thus become a tranzi quango, and that I said this would happen in various comments somewhere or other over the past couple of years, and how this is another step on the road to ruin. How it will now be in the hands of “stakeholder” lobbies who will use their “governance” to scrub the internet of everything they don’t like. How they are itching for instance to shove everything “adult” onto an .xxx top level domain where it can be ghettoised and strangled, and any non kiddie-safe website will be forced to either declare themselves “porn” or censor themselves, and so on, and this is typical centralised corporatism and you know, I’m sick to fucking death of the puritans, but the reality is we live in a puritan society and they’ve won, so there’s fuck all use ranting on about it to a disinterested world. Sex, drugs, rock’n'roll and all the other hedonistic “license” is the barometer of freedom, and suppressing it is the crowbar the enemy use to control everything else. The multifarious narratives of various sexual abuses are the golden goose for the puritan progressives; in the name of protection they extend their control over all things, and are in particular doing so over this brief flowering of a free speech anarchy called the internet. And they will succeed; fifty or even twenty years from now kids won’t believe what was allowed (i.e. not prevented) in the 1990s and 2000s on the internet. These few years of the Wild West we have lived through will be remembered just as the Wild West is now by the majority; as dangerous, violent, unacceptable, rather than a time of pioneering freedom.

But oh, what’s the use? The future is predictable, and probably inevitable. I’ve no means to prevent it, and thus it is logical to instead bugger off and try somehow to live with it, and maybe not get quite so angry about it. That last part might be quite difficult, I suspect. It’s worth a try, though.

Cheerio then Cats, Nick and Daphne, and many thanks for your kindness in hosting my ramblings, even if I never typed as many posts as you perhaps expected. Also, I recognise that posting this self-obsessed last posting all about myself is something of a conceit, but please excuse this small degree of vanity, and anyway with Nick doing such a fine job of keeping the ship afloat virtually single handed I thought I should say something.

Er, that’s it.

27 Comments

  1. A Concerned Student says:

    Gahhh…!

    I hope this is in fact a Old Holborn-esque flip flop and you’ll be back, as your words on a whole variety of subjects have helped me on the path to ‘truth’, as we label it.

    I’m certainly not there yet, but it’s people like you that have helped push me onto the path of Libertarianism and all its multifaceted little branches.

    Anyhow, I’m not one to insist you you do this as some kind of public service, regardless of personal distress. But uh… please reconsider? :) All the good in the world is only done by individuals, no matter how large the fuck-up we’re always in.

  2. Andy H says:

    I hope this is in fact a Old Holborn-esque flip flop and you’ll be back, as your words on a whole variety of subjects have helped me on the path to ‘truth’, as we label it.

    This.

    You’ve certainly got a perspective I haven’t seen elsewhere, though I guess that’s kind of your point.

  3. Heng Sorley says:

    Sweetheart, don’t be too sad, remember ‘tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow …’

  4. daphne says:

    Ian, I am crying right now. I never cry on the internet.

    I have tears streaming down my face because this is one of most bald faced, heartfelt, unpretentious posts I have ever read.

    I have admired every one of your posts and all of your intelligent, probing and argumentative commentary in the threads. I will miss you and your bright, probing mind, dear Ian.

    You’re a treasure of a man, Ian and your commentary will be sorely missed.

  5. JuliaM says:

    I’d say non illegitimi carborundum, but it seems I’m too late… :(

    Agree with Daphne – you’ll be very much missed on the blogosphere. But only you can know when enough is enough. And you only owe a debt to yourself, not to anyone else.

    I hope you do reconsider, but I can totally understand if you don’t. It does seem like lights are going out all over at the moment…

  6. Angry Exile says:

    IanB, you’re not alone by any stretch. I think I’ve come to libertarianism by a vaguely similar route, though I might be several junctions and one or two crappy motorway services behind you. I can understand the lack of appeal in staying angry at the world and I hope this is just a bad case of blogging fatigue, but if not then it’s the interwebs’ loss. Enjoy your blogging retirement, if that’s what it turns out to be.

  7. Daniel J says:

    As a mostly silent follower of the British “libertysortofstuffofsphere” from abroad, I want to thank IanB for his clear and concise form of argumentation. I’d say I learned a lot from him. I admire his general understanding of politics and I mostly felt he stated good reasons for when his priorities differed from the libertarian consensus. So thank you for the posts and comments over the last couple of years. I would definitely read the book…

  8. Never before have so many calluses been appreciated by so many bloggers. You’ve been a fantastic commentor on my blog for quite a while now and the support and challenge that you’ve given to my views has been enormously appreciated.

    Best wishes,

    A.Tory

  9. rated says:

    This is where the followers of Libertarian thought often slip up. It’s far too commonplace for people to walk away from putting their opinions forward as they see them having no affect on the environment around them. It’s a hell of a shame, especially when one as bright and passionate as yourself decides to call it a day.

    Whilst it is true that you may never live to see Libertarian values fully adopted by a ruling party please do not take that as a reason to cease postings as, believe it or not, they do make a difference. When others ask me about Liberty and ways to make a difference I often pass on several web-links for them to make up their own mind about it, and Counting Cats is one of them. You, no doubt, are aware that one of the key things to restoring liberty within the western world is to actually get the idea into the public consciousness, and with this blog (and within your ‘rantings’) you are helping to do that.

    Granted, I see your point on being constantly angry. It’s very hard to live a happy micro existence when the Macro world is so utterly corrupt, however if you can find a way to do so then I think it’d be such a shame to lose your gleaming comments and blogposts. Please do consider whether this is possible as we need as many to spread the word as possible.

  10. TheBigYin says:

    Bugger, I just find this blog (a month or two ago) and your buggering off Ian.

    I hope you find the solace you seek elswhere…have a bloody good one.

    Can’t think of much more to say, you’ll be missed.

  11. CountingCats says:

    Your account will remain active. When you get bored amongst the roses the wider world will still be open to you.

  12. RAB says:

    I know full well that nothing I can say will change your mind.

    I can only echo Daphne in saying that was the most honest piece of writing I have ever seen on a Blog.

    You obviously need a rest. It is doing your head in, as my generation used to say.

    But please, do me a favour, never stop writing (I dont think you will be able to actually) even if it is just in your own diary, for you possess a talent that many would pay good money to have.

    You write clear and crisp, witty and informatave prose, seemingly effortlessly. That would be a great loss to everybody.

    Have a break and we will all see you later.
    And keep in touch, my friend.

  13. Andrew Duffin says:

    Oh no! Say it ain’t so!

    Why is that whenever I decide someone is a good writer, worth reading, the very next thing he/she posts is “That’s all folks”?

    Please Ian, reconsider this, if only because there are people out here who actually enjoy reading what you write.

    Naturally, this doesn’t go as far as paying you for it, but hey, this is the blogosphere, isn’t it.

  14. Nick M says:

    What everyone else said.

    I’d just add that I think you were getting through to a lot of people. Like you I never saw the cause through the telescope of economics. That I leave to the likes of Paul Marks who actually know about the subject!

    I’ll miss your thoughts and 70+ comment threads.

    Take care of yourself.

  15. Rob Fisher says:

    FWIW, I agree about the gay hobbit porn.

  16. Sam Duncan says:

    What Julia and Daniel said. And RAB. I sincerely hope you change your mind sometime, but if not, what you’ve already written is more than enough to be getting on with. Of all the commenters I’ve read, you and Paul Marks strike me as the two who could most easily switch to “real” journalism: you both have a clear understanding of what you’re writing about, obviously think it through carefully, and can write clearly and engagingly.

    If PM packs it in too, then that’s it. Blogging is officialy over.

    (PS. I think it probably says something that I’ve put more thought into this comment than most of the ones about that politics nonsense.)

  17. Sam Duncan says:

    Oh, and having just read Nick’s comment, I’ve noticed that somewhere in all the editing and re-editing of mine I lost the part where I commented on what you actually wrote. So for what it’s worth, although I’m not particularly fussed about the gay hobbit porn and heroin for myself (but hey, knock yourself out) I totally agree: it’s about freedom, not simple economics.

  18. bgc says:

    IanB, I’ll be sorry if you go silent, but I understand your feeling tired of being angry all the time and wanting to exit the fray and relax a little. I have certainly felt this and I think many others have as well, although few of us have contributed as much to the debate as you – you have certainly earned a rest.

    I haven’t always agreed with all that you have written (although I agree with much of it – such as your comments on puritanism; we could teach the Victorians a thing or two in this regard) or what many others have written on this and other sites, but when I’ve disagreed your points have at least made me ponder why I disagree. This is one of the things I like about the Libertarian part of the Blogosphere, sites like this and Samizdata. Another is that it has helped break the spiral of silence and let people know that they are not alone and that there are many other people out there who don’t agree with the limited political options that the mass media used to concentrate on to the exclusion of all other views. Without people like yourself writing (and writing more eloquently than many of us could) this would not have been possible.

    I hope you are back, but whatever you decide to do in future – good fortune and happy times.

  19. DavidNcl says:

    I learnt a lot from you Ian.

  20. alison says:

    Didn’t get to read many of your posts. I don’t in the least bit share your world view. I’m decidely not a libertine. Gah! But I admire your brutal honesty and reflection and share your general ‘sense’ of things. There is nothing worse than feeling angry at the world. And fact is we are all going to be feeling a whole lot angrier so may as well switch out of it and enjoy life else we end up taking it way too seriously. Try tweeting when you need to let off steam. It’s like a 70+ comment thread, but more succinct and fun ;)

  21. Ian,

    “I recognise and heartily support the requirement for a free market and economic liberty in order to have other liberty, but it’s the “other” that motivates me; for me a free society is one in which somebody can smoke a joint in their local boozer without a licence, then pop into their local shop for some gay hobbit porn and a tin of heroin.”

    For what it is worth, this is my motivation too. I often concentrate on the economics because numbers can be waved in the faces of Lefties. But the freedom to take good drugs anywhere I like, and live my life as I see fit is my raison d’etre too.

    DK

  22. Darren says:

    Thankyou Ian B for engaging in intelligent discussion and not just branding green ‘lefties’ such as myself as ‘evil’.
    I came to this blog through your bit about home education, very well written.

  23. MichaelV says:

    IanB, come back when you get a break. The drip-drip of common sense that I’ve read from all the great minds here, on Samizdata, and related sites, including many posts by yourself, have made a great amount to the awakening of my own freedom-loving busybody-hating ways.

    But don’t take the fight too literally. I think, honestly, that it’s about changing minds a little bit here and a little bit there. We obviously aren’t going to alter the course of The Great Machine. It’s too big and lumbering. But even so, there are far more individuals than there are components of The Great Machine. And maybe, just maybe, we can throw a few strategic wrenches in the machinations of The Great Machine.

    I look forward to seeing more posts by you when you’ve regained some peace in your soul.

  24. Canon Alberic says:

    Rather long and boring – but you do have an audience

  25. “I’m always angry, angry from the moment I wake to the moment I managed to get back to sleep; angry at the world, angry at society, angry that the only meaningful description left of western society is “a society predicated on being an endless slippery slope”. I’m furious at the progressivist hegemony and its endless, foaming revolution, at peeping fearfully at the news each day wondering what latest horror they have decided to inflict upon us, and being powerless.”

    Me in a nutshell too, Ian. I’ve always been a stubborn bugger, though, even if optimism waxes and wanes at times. So I’ll carry on a while longer.

    Don’t go. Please have a rethink. Or if you have made your final decision – write that book.

    Best of luck whatever, mate, you’ll be sorely missed.

  26. NB. says:

    A shame that one of the most distinctive people on the blogosphere is no longer going to be posting. But also a shame that this last statement sounds so much like the flaccid ranting of the least.

  27. David Gillies says:

    I went from commenter to blogger and back to commenter again. Blogging was too tiring, especially in the face of what I now recognise to have been serious underlying health issues. It does usually have the air of hedgehogs screwing (one prick fighting against thousands). But the illegitimi will stop me ranting in comments sections when they pry my MacBook from my cold, dead, splenetic hands. It gives me a measure of catharsis.

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