This week saw the departure of two major bloggers, Devil's Kitchen and Tom Harris. The reasons they give make interesting reading, but as you would expect, only the Devil is fully open about it. Another, one of my favourites, Cranmer, very nearly returned to the pile of ashes from which he was temporally resurrected.
So why do they give up and why now?
You can point to some obvious reasons, they were tired of ranting, ran out of ideas, got told off by their employers etc. But I think there is an underlying feeling in the blogosphere of capitulation. We have just had an election which has changed very little in the way our lives are run. No leaving the EU, no big drive to face down Islam, no climb down from the erosion of civil liberties, no major changes in the democratic process, no end to the occupation of Iraq or Afghanistan and no magic wand that will detract from the fact that we are indebted for decades. Politically, we are stagnant. Morally, we are a rotting corpse.
Chris Mounsey, who writes the DK blog had a disastrous outing on the Daily Politics. He did not stand a chance. Guido was similarly torn a new asshole on his first time on Newsnight. The difference is, Guido learned, moved on and is now a pro. The MSM will try to take us down if they can.
So here is what I wrote at Devils Kitchen/Knife in response to his announcement of retirement:
Sorry that you have had enough DK. I can understand ennui. I can understand that sometimes we get frustrated because nothing seems to change.
I have been blogging for over six years now, and have had to take breaks, mainly because it is exhausting and also because most of us have lives to live.
There still is a USP for blogs like yours and mine, and it is this: The mainstream media have given up reporting what is really going on. Or if they do report it, it is reported with deceit. What I am increasingly doing is not simply responding to the sound and fury, but looking around elsewhere to see if there is an alternative narrative, one that is more coruscating and truthful.
You know as well as I do that part of controlling the agenda is to leave out inconvenient truths. What I think we can do, as bloggers, is to make sure those truths are not swept under the carpet.
It is ok to rant, but we are beyond ranting, as you imply. It gets us nowhere. We must move on, we must make the blogosphere come alive with stories the MSM won't touch.
There is, frankly, only one way to do this and it is to cultivate sources (take a leaf out of the enemy's book). I don't mean politicians or pressure groups, but people with a need to tell a story from the inside.
We need to make it clear that the story is not going to come out via the MSM and we need to be trustworthy and discreet - and be seen to be so.
Blogging is or should be the direct progeny of the Samizdat. The Samizdat flew in the face of the official narrative, but it came from people who were trusted and sincere and who were committed to change.
Like many things, the ruling elite, Iain Dale, Tom Harris, Nick Robinson et al have hijacked the term "blogger" and subverted the original intention.
It is time to win it back, not shrink away into the darkness.