Swans sing before they die; ’twere no bad thing
Did cer­tain per­sons die before they sing.

— SAMUEL TAY­LOR COLERIDGE

Accord­ing to a pop­u­lar poetic image, which goes back to the days of ancient Greece and Rome, swans are mute their entire lives and sing one song before they die. We know that’s not true, but the image of a Swan Song remains.

Log​a​rchism​.com, and its pre­de­ces­sors 538refugees​.com and the “old”, pre–New-​​York-​​Times FiveThir­tyEight blog, all gave us an oppor­tu­nity to sing a song about pol­i­tics. We’ve enjoyed the oppor­tu­nity. Every­thing, how­ever, has a sea­son, and the sea­son of Log­a­rchism now draws to a close.

Monotreme

Behind the scenes, Michael Weiss and DC Pet­ter­son and I have been dis­cussing where we want to go with this blog.

We began with four — fil­istro, as was her wont, bowed out qui­etly and with grace some months ago, with her last arti­cle finally being pub­lished this past week­end — and roughly 1,200 posts and 58,000 com­ments later, Log­a­rchism has come to an end.

I will miss work­ing with DC, fil­istro, and Michael. They have been friends, con­fi­dants, my band of brothers.

Every morn­ing at 3 am (Pacific time), a new thought or news snip­pet or obser­va­tion would appear when you typed “log­a­rchism” into a browser win­dow. I’m proud of our track record. After fil­istro down­graded her role as blog author, we divided up the week into Fri­day Open Mic and six remain­ing days. Mon­day and Thurs­day were mine, unless one of us had some­thing more imme­di­ate, or if we had the occa­sional guest author.

I don’t think we missed a sin­gle self-​​imposed dead­line dur­ing the last two years or so. We did scram­ble a few times, but most of the time it was tech­ni­cal glitches that did us in, as well as some mys­te­ri­ous Other Force on the same servers that would occa­sion­ally give us a sort of logis­ti­cal brownout.

We envi­sioned a place where con­ser­v­a­tives and lib­er­als could hang out, smoke a few non-​​hazardous vir­tual cig­ars and sip non-​​alcoholic vir­tual brandy, and dis­cuss the events of the day (mostly) calmly and ratio­nally. Hence the name, which Michael (a word wiz­ard among wiz­ards) coined.

We tried every­thing we knew (short of miss­ing dead­lines) to make such a place. It just wasn’t to be. Our con­ser­v­a­tive com­men­ta­tors are nowhere to be seen (though they still silently visit with reg­u­lar­ity). There is plenty to dis­agree about amongst the lib­er­als who remain, but it’s not what I imag­ined it would be. I will con­tinue to flit between the com­ments sec­tion of polit­i­cal blogs, on the left and right, lib­er­tar­ian and author­i­tar­ian, and sing my song.

I’ve posted under a pseu­do­nym all along because I’m a state employee, and I want to keep a (admit­tedly thin) wall between this and that. But most of you know my “true iden­tity”, and I’d like to stay in touch in what­ever way you feel is appro­pri­ate. Con­tact me.

dcpet­ter­son

I have been hon­ored to work with my fel­low con­trib­u­tors on this blog. Michael and Monotreme and fil­istro are incred­i­bly patient and bright peo­ple. Classy, too. I have fre­quently felt out­matched, like a high school foot­ball player spend­ing time with the Vikings. I have noth­ing but good words and high praise for them all.

Pro­duc­ing two arti­cles a week — as a hobby, not a pro­fes­sion — is more daunt­ing and drain­ing that any­one who hasn’t done it can pos­si­bly appre­ci­ate. What has made it worth­while are you, our Gen­tle Read­ers, who com­ment and debate and chal­lenge, and con­tribute your ideas and your pas­sion and your dis­cov­er­ies. I have grown quite fond of all of you, even the ones with whom I am almost always at log­ger­heads. I am pleased beyond words when­ever a new moniker appears that I don’t rec­og­nize, or when an old friend resur­faces after have been absent from the dis­cus­sions for a few months.

The four of us each have our own areas of exper­tise and par­tic­u­lar top­ics upon which we tend to con­cen­trate. We also each have dis­tinc­tive styles. I think that has added a vari­ety and diver­sity to our exper­i­ment that a blog with a sin­gle colum­nist couldn’t hope to achieve. We’ve tried a num­ber of times to get con­ser­v­a­tive blog­gers to reg­u­larly con­tribute as well. We never found one will­ing to do so, though we have had some excel­lent guest arti­cles from a cou­ple of our con­ser­v­a­tive com­menters. I’m grate­ful to them for their efforts.

Pol­i­tics is a pas­sion­ate activ­ity — and no won­der, for it touches some­times some of the most inti­mate and var­ied aspects of our lives, from the bed­room to the board­room, from the din­ner plate to the col­lec­tion plate, and from voca­tions to vaca­tions. I’m pleased to say I think we had a bet­ter ratio of rea­son to pas­sion than most blogs. I’ve also been awed at the qual­ity and thought­ful­ness behind the com­men­tary from our read­ers. Too many ama­teur blogs con­sist pri­mar­ily of a daily or weekly rant fol­lowed by a series of one-​​liners from rabid fol­low­ers. At least the one-​​liners posted here were almost always clever and informed. I put even those more than a notch above what’s com­monly found else­where on the web.

There are things I meant to do, but didn’t. A series on the Dead Sea Scrolls, or a dis­cus­sion of John Kennedy’s assas­si­na­tion and why I’m con­vinced it was almost cer­tainly not the work of a sin­gle gun­man — those two top­ics rise high on my list. It’s always a judg­ment call, weigh­ing per­sonal inter­est against what may gen­er­ate dis­cus­sion. I’m fas­ci­nated too by the reli­gious and tech­no­log­i­cal impli­ca­tions of pol­i­tics, and the polit­i­cal impli­ca­tions of reli­gion and tech­nol­ogy. Amer­ica is Amer­ica because we approach these issues (and oth­ers) in such unique ways, yet much of that is so instinc­tual that it goes unno­ticed. A light should be shone there.

The end of Log­a­rchism will cer­tainly leave a hole in my life. The most grat­i­fy­ing and hum­bling part of doing this has been that there are those who have found our efforts worth read­ing and dis­cussing. I’d like to find a way to con­tinue some of what we tried here to do. Per­haps I’ll cre­ate an inde­pen­dent blog, less ambi­tious than Log­a­rchism, or an email list through which this com­mu­nity of com­menters can con­tinue to converse.

To what end might we do the things we do, the things we have done, and the things we dare to dream? One can never know how far the rip­ples reach in the pond once you’ve dropped the stone. Some of those rip­ples can long out­live the hand that caused them. If liv­ing has any pur­pose at all, it is in the jour­ney and the effort. This block is a tiny stone in a vast pond; but Mar­garet Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thought­ful, com­mit­ted, cit­i­zens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Wher­ever any of you go next, keep that always in mind. Strive ever toward your high­est ideals. I hope we have helped to enrich your lives, to stim­u­late your minds, and to pro­vide meal for the mills of thought. It has been an honor to know you all. Thank you for read­ing, for writ­ing, and for car­ing, for your pas­sion and your thought and your loy­alty, your ded­i­ca­tion and your hon­esty. Onward to the next challenge!

Michael Weiss

I was blessed, as a late­comer to the group. I was late to FiveThir­tyEight, join­ing as a lurker late in the 2008 Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion sea­son. I was really late as a com­menter, break­ing my silence a mere few weeks before the New York Times han­dover. I made the jump to the now-​​dormant 538refugees, and offered a cou­ple of guest articles.

And I was hon­ored with an offer to become a per­ma­nent con­trib­u­tor, the only one who had yet to be pub­lished in the non-​​blog world. The team I joined was made up of really pow­er­ful writ­ers. The qual­ity of their work pushed me to write bet­ter. And we devel­oped quite the camaraderie.

In the early days, the arti­cle titles were almost entirely mine. I aimed for them to be short, reflec­tive of the arti­cle, and con­tain as many inter­pre­ta­tions as pos­si­ble. It is a tes­ta­ment to the qual­ity of Log­a­rchism’s reg­u­lar writ­ers that I rarely had to come up with a title over the past year. In fact, I dare­say Monotreme has sur­passed me in that arena.

At the time that I joined, I knew I had much to say — many things I wanted to get off my chest. More­over, I wanted the chance to see if my ideas were crazy. Could they pass the test of analy­sis by other polit­i­cal thinkers? Could I main­tain inter­nal con­sis­tency, and intel­lec­tual honesty?

Most of all, could I learn some­thing new, and evolve my opin­ions with­out dig­ging in my heels in an act of par­ti­san demagoguery?

I haven’t been per­fect by any means, but I have evolved. I’ve learned new things. I’ve dis­cov­ered a great deal along the way. And I’ve met some remark­able peo­ple. Log­a­rchism got noticed more than many of our read­ers real­ize. I have been con­tacted by mem­bers of the press, a cou­ple of house­hold names, and some who were the sub­jects of arti­cles. None of that would have hap­pened with­out Log­a­rchism.

But I also got tired. As I approached 30 months of writ­ing, medi­at­ing dis­putes, han­dling tech­ni­cal issues — and all as a hobby — I found myself putting off writ­ing. I began to spend more time away from Log­a­rchism. I began to spend more time away from pol­i­tics. This became par­tic­u­larly true as Inau­gu­ra­tion Day passed this year.

Oh, sure, there were Supreme Court cases being argued. More bat­tles in Con­gress. Spe­cial elec­tions. A round of scan­dals, some more man­u­fac­tured than oth­ers. And I wrote about them. But I found that I was writ­ing about them more because I had a dead­line than because I was so enthu­si­as­tic to write about them.

In other words, my hobby had become an unpaid job.

And that’s not fair. It’s not fair to me, because I’m cheat­ing myself out of hobby time that should be used for things that make me excited to do them. It’s not fair to my wife, who has put up with all of the time I spent at Log­a­rchism instead of with her, but did so because she knew it was a hobby that I loved. And it’s not fair to you, our loyal read­ers, who deserve bet­ter. When I’m not excited, I’m not deliv­er­ing my best, and you should get my best if you take the time and trou­ble to visit this cor­ner of the Internet.

The past 30 months have been an amaz­ing ride for me. I’ve met peo­ple I wouldn’t have met oth­er­wise. I’ve grown, and learned so much. Not just about pol­i­tics, but also about people.

It takes an amaz­ing amount of effort to run a blog of this sort. Most blogs con­sist of a sin­gle per­son who throws words onto a page and moves on. Log­a­rchism has always had mul­ti­ple authors. But, more impor­tantly, Log­a­rchism has always had a vibrant social inter­ac­tion among the read­ers. That’s always been my favorite facet of this blog, and one that makes it more engag­ing than most. But that also means that this isn’t a small island dic­ta­tor­ship. Instead, we’ve always had com­plex social inter­ac­tions among peo­ple with dif­fer­ent back­grounds and view­points. Pol­i­tics inspires pas­sion, and pas­sion inspires heated dis­cus­sion, and heated dis­cus­sions can eas­ily get out of hand. It has been extra­or­di­nar­ily dif­fi­cult to achieve the right bal­ance between allow­ing every­one to speak their mind and main­tain­ing respect­ful discourse.

Hav­ing been on both sides, I can assure you that it’s far harder to get the bal­ance right than it ever looks from the other side. It has, in fact, proven to be the most dif­fi­cult chal­lenge of all. More dif­fi­cult than pro­tect­ing the site from spam and mali­cious attacks (both of which hap­pen lit­er­ally thou­sands of times a day). More dif­fi­cult than keep­ing the site avail­able. More dif­fi­cult than writ­ing, edit­ing, and pub­lish­ing the con­tent. It’s among the most dif­fi­cult tasks I’ve ever undertaken.

Also among the most dif­fi­cult tasks is walk­ing away from some­thing into which I’ve put so much time, heart, and soul. But now it’s time for me to step away. My email address here will live for some time to come, though, so you can feel free to reach out to me if you’d like. I’d love to hear from you.


 

And so the time has come for us to wave a col­lec­tive adieu. Thanks to all of you for the thought-​​provoking con­ver­sa­tion, and the laugh­ter, and the (for­tu­nately vir­tual) fisticuffs. We will miss you all.