A Comment On Commentary

     Back in the heyday of blogging, everyone and his halfwit Uncle Herman had a blog. There were, at peak, over 50 million such sites. Most, of course, were of no broad consequence: little was posted there, and most of that was worthless. However, they gave their “proprietors” a sense that they could be listened to – that their lives and opinions might matter to others.

     Since then blogging has experienced a “consolidation.” Over 95% of those sites have closed, de jure or de facto. Yes, there are a lot of people on “social media” sites who once maintained blogs, but that’s not the same thing. Posting on Facebook or Minds doesn’t have the same potential for a global audience. Indeed, that’s built into the experience.

     Yet among the blogs that survive, only a tiny fraction of them are worth a thinking American’s time and attention. That’s my opinion, of course; but opinion is the greater part of what I write here. Hopefully it’s what brings you here, because we the Co-Conspirators of Liberty’s Torch don’t have much else to offer.

     This is really a special case of a general question:

Why Express Yourself?

     In particular, why go to the time and trouble to:

  1. Establish – possibly pay for – a blog;
  2. Master the software that manages it;
  3. Take time from your daily doings to write something for it;
  4. Post that something where others can see it;
  5. Read the reactions and possibly react to them?

     Think about that for a few seconds while I fetch more coffee.


     Hey, don’t look at me. Everyone knows I’m certifiable. A genuine, hairy-eyed bomb-throwing anarchist who thinks he knows something about the dynamic of power and those who love it above all else. Besides, I like to run on at the mouth keyboard. (It’s all that’s left to me after driving all my friends and acquaintances to earplugs these past seventy years.) Seventeen full-length novels and innumerable…okay, wait a sec…113 short stories should testify more than adequately to that. So my reasons for doing this crap should be considered off-axis.

     A thought on earplugs. Some forty years ago, when I was learning to fly – yes, yes, in an airplane – my instructor taught me something about earplugs: they help you to hear what you want to hear. Good earplugs are like noise-canceling headphones: they mute those sounds you’d rather not hear but let the rest through. That’s a much more valuable thing than merely imposing a condition of silence, especially for the pilot of a light aircraft.

     But of course, want and need express two different concepts. While people will argue endlessly about “what you need to know,” virtually all of us have a sense for it, at least for ourselves. If we’re sensible, we look for what we need before we turn to what we want.

     This applies to the reading of blogs quite as much as to anything else.

     What do blogs offer?

  • Some are informational: they (claim to) purvey facts. Whether you find those facts accurately reported and important determines whether you patronize that blog. A subdivision of informational blogging consists of aggregators: blogs that mainly round up (or provide links to) the offerings of other sources.
  • Some are instructional: they provide lessons in some subject that can be conveyed through the blogging medium. There aren’t as many of those as of the other sorts, but some are quite popular.
  • Some are analytical: they provide analyses of events – usually current events – that they proprietor believes will illuminate the forces behind those events.
  • Some are evangelical: They exhort the reader to look at this or that phenomenon in a certain way, or to form a certain opinion about the motives and causes behind a particular pattern of events. This is the essence of the “op-ed” blog. However, religious blogs, which promote a particular creed, also conform to this pattern.
  • Some are entertaining: they tell stories, or jokes, or offer recordings or videos whose point is merely to divert and amuse the reader.
  • And of course, some are marketing and sales blogs: they try to sell you goods and / or services.

     There are, of course, blogs that combine two or more of the above characteristics. Liberty’s Torch is one such.

     My highly astute Gentle Readers will surely have noticed that I’ve omitted a category: some blogs are self-indulgences. They exist solely to give their proprietor a place to vent, or some similar self-gratifying activity. Quite a lot of blogs that purport to perform one of the other functions are really just self-indulgences.

     You can find blogs of every sort in our sidebar, including a couple of the self-indulgent variety. (They amuse me. That’s all you need to know.) Which ones you prefer, whether you found them here or elsewhere, tells you what sort of material you seek on the Web. You might consider asking yourself whether you need or want what they purvey. That would tell you even more.


     It’s the “evangelical” or “op-ed” blog that piqued my attention this morning. I read widely, and am frequently struck by the obviousness of the opinions some supposedly intelligent op-ed bloggers provide. Quite a few of them hammer the reader with stuff he already knows, and conclusions about causes and motives that would be plain even to a microcephalic. One in particular, which commands the respect of a great many of my blogging colleagues, seems to me to be one such.

     Now, that difference of opinion might proceed from a difference in perspective. Some people do need to be brutally slapped across the face with the obvious. I’ve known a few such. I’ve even done some of the slapping, though I usually leave that chore to other people. So it might come down to audience selection…or taste.

     But just after I’d read the “highly respected” commentator of whom I spoke – and said to myself “Can there really be anyone of driving age who doesn’t already know all this?” – I read another, shorter piece, from a capable and intelligent man who possesses a frequently overlooked and underappreciated skill: the talent for asking the right question. His question was simply this:

We now know what we must do.
How the BLEEP! do we get started?

     His few hundred words struck me as the essence of penetration.

     Again, it might come down to a difference in audience selection, or personal taste, or – dare I say it? – the writer’s assessment of the acuity and intelligence of his readers. A writer who believes himself to be incomparably more observant and penetrating than his readers would be likely to “write down” to them. A writer who holds / expects his readers to be as observant and penetrating as he would not.

     I prefer the latter sort. The former set my teeth on edge.


     A final thought: The power of the “printed word” to move the reader arises from many factors. Thomas Paine, arguably the most important hortatory writer of his day, had mastered the rhythms and resonances of the English language to a degree few since him have equaled. Ayn Rand, an equally important hortatory writer, didn’t possess Paine’s stylistic grace, but did make use of another technique to great advantage: the fictional narrative. Both wrote about moral-ethical imperatives, and both were widely influential – but it is the storyteller who has the greater influence today, because he proves his insights in an entertaining format, with heroes whom the reader can admire.

     “There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story,” says Tyrion Lannister in the Game of Thrones finale, and he was absolutely correct. That’s why the much maligned Mainstream Media have something to teach us. It’s also why the Left has put so much effort into defaming traditional, heroic and Western-values-oriented fiction and denying it to today’s readers, especially young readers. He who shapes the dominant narrative will prevail in the struggle over the direction of the culture and its politics.

     It’s not enough to possess the facts. It’s not enough to grasp the causes behind the events of the day. It’s not even enough to write about them in a graceful and compelling fashion. You must unite your understanding with characters and personalities. Whether real or fictional, people need heroes. When we lack heroes to admire and strive to emulate, the deepest and strongest wellsprings of our passions remain sealed away.

     “Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love… true love never dies. You remember that, boy. You remember that. Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in.” – Hub McCall as played by Robert Duvall in Secondhand Lions

     I leave the implications and their consequences to my Gentle Readers.


    • Mill Tone on September 1, 2021 at 10:01 AM

    Just wanted to say thank you, Francis, for writing as you do, regularly, taking the time, spending the money and overcoming the challenges to put out your own expressions.


    Narrative, as Kaitlyn Johnstone points out, is everything to the mouthpieces of the state.  With this line-  “He who shapes the dominant narrative will prevail in the struggle over the direction of the culture and its politics”-  – well, I found that line wonderfully powerful.





    • Rich on September 2, 2021 at 8:37 PM

    It’s interesting to me that this is the second of my regularly-read blogs to mention Secondhand Lions in the last few days. And that somehow I’ve never seen this film!


    I guess I know the next item I’ll be adding-to-cart!


    Thanks for the inspiration, Fran. I appreciate the reminder to remember the things worth believing in.

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