A few brief remarks
Hello there. I recently read some of the meta about what's been going on. One thing that caught my attention was the lamented absence of Hecate, Phoebe Loosinhouse, Dallasdoc and others people miss. I can't speak for them. No one person's reasons for writing or not writing on a blog are the same, even one with as generous a community as this one. But I can talk a little about the reasons for my own infrequent appearances here of late as compared to past years.
First let me tell things that have nothing to do with why I am not writing here as often.
I'm not upset with the community. Far from it. This is one of the most diverse communities of its kind on the internet in terms of opinions, ideology, interests, etc., but also one of the most civil and respectful. Is c99 perfect in this regard? No, but it approaches my ideal community better than any other.
I'm not upset at any of the writers here or the essays I find posted when I drop by. This place has a surfeit of good writers and thought provoking essays. I learn so much from the people here, including, and especially, from those who tend to post mostly in the comments. The conversations are usually a delight and often insightful, even if, at times, as all communities do, we see instances of conflict or combativeness. From my point of view, conflict is impossible to avoid. It comes with being human beings. We are a social species that relies heavily on our ability to communicate. The written word, for all it's power, can be misinterpreted and misunderstood very easily, because of the lack of social cues that we, as humans, rely upon, to understand the intentions of others. It's a problem as old as recorded history, and certainly as old as the first forum established online
So, that aside, why have I been posting less.
1) . I'm getting older. My autoimmune disorder has become more temperamental, shall we say. My ability to think clearly and focus well enough to consistently write well-documented and thoughtful material is limited far more than in the past.
2) . My wife is struggling at present, thanks largely to Medicare having changed its formulary, particularly with respect to certain medications she needs to maximize her cognitive function. For a Type 1 diabetic that has played havoc with her ability to monitor that disease, and added stress for all members of her support network, including me.
My daughter living at home has also added to the time I have to spend offline. She's going through a difficult stage of life right now. Her long term significant other is deployed overseas (he's a member of a National Guard unit he joined to pay for his education). Her job requires her to fly all over the country. She's often alone, and does not do well with solitude. So I try to be as available to her as I can. And my son is also trying to sort out his life, and determine what he should do to get out of his dead end low paying job, which is the best he could find despite his degree.
3) . Some of you know that for the last 5-6 years I have been working on several novels in addition to my political blogging. I finally have one that looks like it may have a chance for publication, but it still needs a lot of work, and I'm working with a writing coach to fine tune the manuscript before seeking an agent and/or publisher. In the past, I had the energy to devote to both online blogging and my other writing, but that is no longer the case.
4) . This really shouldn't shock anyone. Like many of you, I expended a great deal of energy and time in covering the 2016 election, the most significant election year in my life, at least from the standpoint of how much I invested myself in covering the campaign, reporting stories, and playing a role as an activist. The aftermath of that year, the continuing repression of voices on the left, the internecine conflict between the Third Way Democrats and progressives (both in and out of the Democratic party) has been disheartening, to say the least.
In addition, there are many other matters that have caused me dismay. The slow moving crisis triggered by Trump's election, the deep state backlash to it, the increasing control of the two major parties at every level by the rich and powerful, the extension of censorship into the social media arena, the forever wars being fought across the globe by our American empire, and the utter failure of our purported leaders to address the needs of the, for lack of a better word, commonwealth. Add to that all of the contingent realities that have popped up, all with competing narratives, their own facts, and their intransigent and opposing stances towards one another leading to divisiveness and paralysis, which serves the purposes of the oligarchs. All these issues have created in me a sense of helplessness and hopelessness, a depression of mood and a growing pessimism after the brief high I experienced (as many others did as well), which was ignited initially by Bernie Sanders' candidacy two years ago.
In short, I see American society collapsing at an ever faster rate, and I personally do not have an answer to the crisis that has had a stranglehold over our country for at least 30 years, but which became so very apparent, and so blatantly exposed, during and after that critical year of 2016. The signs may have been there for a long time, but for many of us, recognition of the intractability of our situation became apparent too late. Late enough that I fear there is not much anyone can do to change our trajectory. The latest examples of this crisis are too numerous to mention, but let me just toss out a few that are emblematic of our times: Puerto Rico, Russiagate, Syria, Gofundme as our default healthcare option, Rigged Primaries (again), Jeff Bezos and Amazon, the ramping up of propaganda by our corporate media.
It's easy to point out the flaws in our current reality, but much harder to find viable solutions. I came to the point where I no longer was satisfied merely sounding the alarm, when I lacked the ability to propose any alternative that I had any faith would work to right matters. This, more than anything else, has led to me writing less and less long-form essays about the current state of America. I still dabble in short form social media such as twitter, but I lack the conviction to do much more than that. And I don't want to give less than my best anymore.
Fortunately, this site does not depend on me or any one particular writer to remain meaningful, though I would be remiss if I did not mention the huge impact that gjohnsit's essays provide the c99 community, and the importance of seeing his work here almost every day. I wish I could meet his high standard, but I cannot, and besides there are others here, people with points of view that, even if we collectively do not always agree with them, provide a spur to engage in debate or prompt us to action: Big Al, Alligator Ed, Arendt, Cassiodorus, detroitmechworks, EdMass, Can't Stop the Macedonian Signal, Mark From Queens, Linda Wood, Wendy Davis, Amanda Matthews, Aspie, enhydra lutris, Joe (of course), et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
There will always be a certain amount of turnover among the more frequent posters at any community blog such as c99, whether from death (as we have experienced here of late), or other reasons, many of which are personal to the individual and have little to do with the community as a whole. But I'm grateful that as c99 has matured, I have seen a number of voices rise up to replace those no longer here, or here less often. At least that's my glass half full analysis of c99 at present. This is still a vibrant and valuable community and online resource for many, many people. Enjoy it however long it lasts.