"The first clue to the callous and shallow nitwit psyche is their reluctance to use real names. These courageous chest-thumping paragons of character don’t have the strength of conviction, let alone reason, for honest political discourse." So reads a letter sent to David Horowitz, and reprinted in today's blog. Asks Horowitz, "How about it, HorowitzWatch bloggers. Ready to come out of hiding?"
As the only pseudonymous contributor, I suppose it's incumbent upon me to reply.
Blogs have revived a once-great practice of Western political discourse: the anon- or pseudonymous tract. For centuries, religious, philosophical, economic and political debates centered around anonymous pamphlets that served as incubators for fully-developed ideas. Such pamphlets sparked off revolutions both terrible -- anarchism, Marxism, even the more violent uprisings in Reformation-era Germany -- and great, including America's.
Anonymous pamphlets held a critical place in the development of the United States, from Ben Franklin's innumerable tracts (which led to the creation of the University of Pennsylvania and the adoption of paper currency in Philadelphia, amongst other things.) The most famous anonymous publishers in American history must surely be those of the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers, "Publius," and "Brutus," respectively. Of course, we know the identities of the former's authors, and are pretty sure we know the writer of the latter, but the main purpose -- to focus attention on the arguments, not the authors -- remains intact.
I certainly can't hope to match the above authors, but I appreciate their methods, and can only hope that we'll see a greater attention to close argumentation, not character assassination, in blogdom (or, as only I prefer to call it, the "doxagora"), especially inasmuch as the mass media, with its menagerie of coma-inducing leftists and trauma-inflicting conservatives, has failed to do so. Indeed, the best we seem to do is the typical "two-head" piece consisting of "representative figures" from "both sides" of an issue; hardly a substitute for real and sustained debate. Since, like most people, I don't maintain a weblog for personal aggrandizement, there's no reason not to adopt a (hopefully memorable) nom de blog for public use.
Of course, I suppose I could always call myself "TRB."