During the calendar year 2008, I wrote thirty-three original
essays for The Crisis Papers and the progressive internet. This
year, with this blog entry and essay, I have written only seven.
Clearly, that vacation that I had promised myself last January
has extended far beyond all justification, and it is past time to
get back to some serious work. Either that, or succumb to terminal
laziness and self-indulgence. Like a performing musician or an
athlete, the longer a writer stays away from his work, the more
difficult it is to get back to speed. Eventually, it becomes
Even so, these past nine months have not been wasted. In fact,
they have afforded me some perspective that I found difficult to
obtain during those six years of weekly grind at The Crisis Papers.
During this respite, I have explored hundreds of miles of
California sea coast and Rocky Mountain wild rivers in my kayaks and
canoe, and have become more intimately acquainted with the trails
and wildlife of the San Bernardino mountains. I have caught up on
numerous "building and grounds" projects that were neglected during
those Crisis Papers years. And I have read several books and
hundreds of articles that I couldn't fit into my schedule as the
Co-Editor of this website.
For the past couple of months, I have devoted a considerable
amount of time redesigning my personal website,
The Online Gadfly, and adding to it a considerable number of my papers, both
published and unpublished. With most of that task now behind me, I
am undertaking an overhaul of The Crisis Papers as well.
Much of our work on The Crisis Papers was simple drudgery,
including the reading of hundreds of internet articles each week,
from which CP co-editor Bernard Weiner and I would select about
fifty for our "recommended" lists. Likewise, we would view numerous
video clips in order to pick out a few for the video page. Since we
gave up these chores in January, I can't say that the progressive
internet has suffered much from our departure. There are, of course,
numerous progressive sites, with budgets and staff (unlike CP), that
do this work quite well, and so there is little need for us to add
to their number.
So I have cut my internet reading to about
a quarter of what it was from 2003 through 2008, sacrificing, I have
discovered, remarkably little input of political insight and information.
That loss has been lavishly offset by the insight and information that I
have gained from reading outside the "bubble" of daily progressive
internet blogs and essays -- readings in philosophy, political and
economic theory, etc.
With this reflective distance, I have come to
appreciate that there is a great deal of redundancy among the
publications of the progressive internet. I have acquired the habit
of asking myself, as I read yet another internet essay or blog,
"what is this telling me that I don't already know and already agree
with?" All too often, the answer is "very little" or even "nothing
at all." To be sure, it is constant delight to encounter one's
cherished opinions eloquently expounded by the likes of Michael
Moore, David Sirota, David Swanson, Robert Parry, and those many
others that I encounter at The Smirking Chimp, The Huffington Post,
Common Dreams, Buzzflash, Alternet, etc. But a ratification of one’s
opinions has all the intellectual nourishment of cotton candy. Now
don't get me wrong. I admire these worthies immensely, and they are
doing The Lord's Work by writing, posting, and promulgating their
views to all those who desperately need to read and ponder their
progressive opinions. But I am not one of those in need. I know what
they have to say, and I generally agree with them. Far better, then,
that I read those who have something to teach me, and those who can
intelligently criticize and thus move me to alter and enrich my own
This realization has led me to impose a new discipline upon
myself, as I resume my writing for The Crisis Papers, The Online
Gadfly, and for any websites that might see fit to publish my work.
As I undertake each new essay, I will ask myself: "Do I have
anything to say, that someone else has not already said, and
probably quite as well or even better?" If the answer is
I'll abandon the project at the get-go, and await the advent of a
genuinely original idea or perspective. Relieved at last of the
tyranny of a weekly publishing deadline, and with it the
self-imposed obligation to provide, on average, three new essays a
month, the reduction in quantity should result in an improvement in
quality of my output.
Progressivism, like any flourishing political movement, must
constantly receive nourishment from the outside -- from the
sciences, from the liberal arts, the humanities and the arts, and
from the practical experience and knowledge gained by activists in
the trenches." This essential fact can be well appreciated as we
look upon the impoverished language and intellectual inbreeding of
our political adversaries, the regressives. Accordingly, if I am to
provide a worthy contribution to the conversation within the
progressive community, it should come from my unique personal
experience and my professional expertise in the academic fields of
analytic and moral philosophy, and environmental ethics. And I
should add to this conversation the results of ongoing study beyond
the familiar topics of liberal discourse.
So when I am about to offer yet another essay to the ongoing
conversation, it must first pass the scrutiny of this question: "Do
I have something to say, that has not already been said, perchance
quite often enough?"
Recently, as I have overhauled The Online Gadfly,
reviewing the two-hundred or so essays that have been the product of
my ten years of internet writing (six of those years with The Crisis
Papers), I dare say that I have encountered a few that might be
said to have added useful insights and information from my professional
experience to the ongoing political dialog. For example: When the global
warming deniers say, "Isn't science just another dogma"?,
I offer an answer.
a regressive dismisses the progressives counter argument with "That's just
I propose a few basic rules of critical thinking with which to evaluate opinions. When the creationist repeats that
well-worn dismissal, "Evolution is just a Theory,"
I have a response to that.
the economist insists that public policy be based upon cost-benefit
analysis, or that values can be reduced to prices at the margin,
I believe that I can offer a refutation.
When the libertarian insists that
the unrestricted free market
privatization of all public
institutions of public and higher
are the simple solutions to our economic woes,
or that global warming is a hoax,
I have rebuttals. And I have resumed work on my book,
Conscience of a Progressive -- an extended and systematic refutation of
Libertarianism that is coordinated with an articulation of the moral
foundations of progressivism.
All this has been done, and is continuing, from my perspective as a
teacher and contributing scholar in the fields of analytic
philosophy, moral philosophy, and environmental ethics.
In short, I trust that I might have something to add to the
conversation. And if not, I hope that I will have the simple decency
to shut up.
So "The Gadfly" is back in the game. Stay tuned, and don't
hesitate to let me hear from you. My e-mail is
Ernest Partridge's Internet Publications
Conscience of a Progressive:
Partridge's Scholarly Publications. (The Online Gadfly)
Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field
of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at
the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He
publishes the website, "The Online
Gadfly" and co-edits the progressive website,
"The Crisis Papers".
His e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org .