"It [government] covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting: such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd." ~ Alexis de Tocqueville
About Strike The Root: A Terror and a Wonder
Column by Lawrence M. Ludlow.
Exclusive to STR
I have encountered a range of responses to material that appears on the website Strike-The-Root.com. Some people dislike the vitriol that rises to the surface of some of the columns. Some say the topics are too specialized. Others complain that an article was of poor quality. All of these criticisms can be partially true at times, but there is another side to each of them:
· Vitriol and Personal Attacks. For every person that says they hate vitriol, there are seven readers who like it. Furthermore, people who say they don’t like expressions of anger will admit to enjoying these same expressions when it is a topic about which they agree strongly. Regarding personal attacks, sometimes a loud venting of the spleen attracts readers who are tired of antiseptic writing. H. L. Mencken rarely held his fire. True, he had a great talent for making his attacks humorous and entertaining and pithy, but that is part of the art of good writing. The issue of personal attacks is beside the point in many cases.
· Specialized Topics. What’s your poison? I don’t pretend to have an interest in every topic that appears on STR. Nonetheless, I have been opened up to new areas of interest by reading articles that address topics I never would have considered had they not appeared on STR. If a topic is too specialized for you, maybe it’s just a matter of time or a matter of whose eyes are engaged.
· Quality Writing. Yes, there is uneven quality among the pieces. Some articles don’t get to the point as quickly as we’d like (rarely); perhaps the understanding of the writer or his/her communication skills are not up to par. These are not qualities that afflict STR alone. I challenge anyone to point to a website where every feature demonstrates complete mastery of the material – and that includes academic journals where peer-reviewed articles appear. On the other hand, many of the features demonstrate a terrific mastery of the material or an unexpected insight. I think these instances justify the price exacted by the others.
The Most Important Aspect of STR
More important than any of these criticisms is a characteristic of this website that I find utterly compelling, and it is rare even in the libertarian anarchist community. STR regularly features columns about topics that are deemed “unacceptable” at other libertarian web sites. I do not have to name names. Anyone who has spent enough time in this community understands that there are biases, linkages, longstanding antagonisms, and circles of “insider” friends that exist within it. From my perspective, STR hosts many fine articles that would never see the light of day anywhere else, and for that alone, we should thank the editor, the many volunteers and guest editors, the contributors, and the authors that make it possible.