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Liberty Island on Hiatus While I’m in Painful Double Mourning

This is just to inform everyone that further books and website content here at Liberty Island are going to be on hiatus for the next couple weeks while I mourn the deaths of my friends Tamara Wilhite and Jack Saltzberg and figure out what I am morally required to do in response to their unexpected passings.

I am in a lot of pain, exacerbated to an unimaginable level over the weekend because of the cruelty of many people in this right-wing media movement – a cause which I have dedicated myself since 2009 at significant personal cost – who seem to believe that they are so right in their political ideology it makes them morally entitled to harass random strangers who are in mourning. I could not have expected this level of abuse from people in my own movement under these circumstances. This has been a real wake up call to me and I’m now going to have to add this new painful experience to what I must consider as I try and figure out how to move forward and what I’m going to do with the rest of my life now.

September 20, 2021 update: Liberty Island’s Associate Editor Jamie Wilson has now been promoted to Vice President and Managing Editor to assist with developing plans for moving the company forward.

Faith or Moralism?

Is your spiritual life based on genuine faith in God, or are you coasting on believing you’re a good person?

I’m going through the book of Romans with a friend of mine, and the first two chapters offer an interesting contrast. The second half of the first chapter talks about people who wallow in their sins and deny their need for repentance and salvation – and God – while chapter two talks about how religious people need the Gospel too.

The first half of the chapter warns against judging others. This isn’t in the sense that the world claims – that we don’t have the right to call out sin. It’s judgment in the sense of looking down on others whom we don’t perceive as being as “good” as we think we are. It’s an easy human tendency, and not just in religious and moral circles, to give the side-eye to people we deem as less worthy of love and attention as we think we are.

Why Is Liberty Island ‘Ideological’?

ide·​ol·​o·​gy | \ ˌī-dē-ˈä-lə-jē: a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture.

All stories are, on some level, ideological. Countless assumptions about how people should act are hard-wired into every narrative. They have to be, otherwise the story would fail to resonate.

To illustrate the concept, picture an emaciated cat, helpless and stranded on a tree limb high above the ground. Our radiant heroine hears plaintive yowling outside her house, flies out of the front door and, suppressing her innate fear of heights, climbs the tree and saves the cat. You feel good about our heroine, right?

Now reset the scene. This time, our annoyed heroine stomps into the living room, plucks her trusty shotgun from its prominent position above the fireplace, strolls outside, and unloads both barrels into the animal, which drops to the ground with a wet, sickening thud.

How do you feel about her now?

4 Reasons I Decided to Launch Liberty Island Books 4.0

A New Era of Publishing Begins for Counterculture Conservatism

There are 4 main reasons why I decided to accept the opportunity to lead Liberty Island, relaunching it in this, its now fourth publishing arrangement…

Revealing ‘The Great Amputation’ of Postmodernism’s Triumph

I Wanna Get Anagogical

The most important piece of writing of the past decade to me is an article written last year in Modern Age by Ewa Thompson, “The Great Amputation: Language in a Postmodern Era.” It is important because it identifies the key to our modern stupidity.

This stupidity is increasingly irksome in the way that it has seeped into political decisions that affect our lives. Thompson’s discovery is even more profound, however. She explains one of my great frustrations: when we have literally at our fingertips the entire record of the greatest thoughts of human history, why do we not use them to help solve our problems, understand each other better, or merely delight in the play of genius? Why, furthermore, do we in general not contribute to them? Why are we becoming sub-literate? As Thompson writes: “words are losing their power to convince, console, and elicit joy.” As someone who takes literally Faulkner’s injunction that man is immortal because he alone among animals has an inexhaustible voice, the disempowering of the word is a matter of grave significance.

Welcome to Hegel’s Apartment

A new series of essays on culture and philosophy from Liberty Island literary novelist Scott Seward Smith

Nietzsche mocked Hegel by saying that the latter thought Western civilization had reached its pinnacle in his Berlin apartment. Being forced to spend more time of late than usual in my New York apartment, I’m kind of with Hegel. My wife and I, regrettably, have no children. Our apartment is spacious enough for us. We are not only comfortable but happy in the space we have created. I am surrounded by my books, photographs, some works of art. A few months ago I bought a CD player in part to listen to a Great Courses set of CD’s on understanding classical music. Western civilization may not be at its pinnacle in my apartment but I get what Hegel felt and what Nietzsche mocked.

Taking Ramy Youssef to Task for His Depressing Hulu Sitcom

Most of my writing these days focuses on Islamist groups in Southern California and the country at large, however sometimes it intersects with popular culture, as it does with my newest piece, published yesterday at PJ Media, Golden Globe-Winner Ramy Youssef’s Muslim Family Sitcom More Tragedy than Comedy

Pulling Your Cosmic Trigger: Why July 23 Is Robert Anton Wilson Day

An Overview of the Unique Sci-Fi Novelist and Occult Explorer Who Made Contact With *Something* Today in 1973

If I had to pick a single author who has influenced me more than any other it would be the counterculture godfather Robert Anton Wilson whose books, speeches, and ideas have influenced generations of oddball individualists since the 1970s.

 

Exploring LeftTube, Part 2: BadMouse Productions

Why I like Extremists

In his brilliant column on the future of sex robots (trust me, it’s really good), Ross Douthat opens with a line that I think is often true: “Sometimes the extremists and the radicals and the weirdos see the world more clearly than the respectable and moderate and sane.” I say this in light of today’s leftist YouTuber, BadMouse Productions, the most radical YouTuber I’ll be covering on a series on the rise of the YouTube Left (otherwise known as “LeftTube”).

Compared to other leftist YouTubers, BadMouse may not have the most views or subscribers, but what marks him out from his comrades is just how much he embraces his leftism. He’s no champagne-sipping socialist. More like a, East Germany wasn’t so bad, maybe we should rethink Stalin’s legacy, it’s not so bad if protestors attack cops, blood of the bourgeoisie sipping socialist!

Exploring LeftTube, Part 1: PhilosophyTube

I watch a lot of YouTube. Like… a lot of YouTube… So much YouTube in fact, that I get a good bulk of my political commentary from watching YouTubers. Since about 2015, YouTube’s political content has exploded, with political views from Left, Right, and Center putting in their two cents on the culture wars that are polarizing our nation. As a conservative myself, I’ve been fascinated by the rise of “LeftTube,” a loosely connected group of leftist YouTubers that have formed in response to the rise of right-wing political content on YouTube. These content creators provide good insight into how the Left is responding to the Trump era, and more importantly, where it is going. Over the course of a series of shorter posts, I will be picking a certain prominent Leftist YouTuber, and I will uncover a central point they make that I think is worth exploring.