Thursday, February 5, 2009

You thought you'd heard the last word on the Culture11 Hindenburg?

Richard Spencer of Taki's Magazine lays the knife deep in the bones of the decaying carcass:
In the end, Culture 11 wasn’t just focused on all the boring non-culture I associated with the late-90s, but had itself become a kind of dot-com company, replete with ill-informed funders, an ill-defined product, massive capital expenditures, and a guru-like CEO who’s in fact naïve and buffoonish.
At last night's CEI open house, I talked to a former Culture11 staffer or three, and one of them was keen to inform me that they had a gut feeling something was badly wrong with the project, but were in no position to fix it.

UPDATE: Scott Payne says farewell, and also does a roundup of reaction at The Moderate Voice. Anyone else who feels the need to throw a shovel-full of dirt on the casket, e-mail me the link. I wouldn't want to miss anything.

UPDATE II: Flame war in the comment field? I've done a series of columns for TakiMag, but nobody's asked me to write about 9/11 Trutherism, and . . . well, I write for money.


  1. Good grief, what an embarrassment by Spencer. I asked him to write for Culture11 once but glad now he never did. The fact that he would pass on a rumor "about “CEO” Kuo, which is so ridiculous it must be true" shows he doesn't possesses much integrity. ( You know I heard a rumor about Takimag being the home for xenophobic neo-confederates and 911 Truthers. Of course that rumor is so ridiculous it must be true, right?)

    And its pretty rich (and just plain dumb) to refer to Kuo as a "guru." (We called Kuo a lot of things -- guru was never on the list.) Perhaps he is thinking of his own boss, Taki Theodoracopulos, a cocaine-snorting, ethnic-slur using, pro-abortion, Pinochet-supporting, rich boy gossip columnist who never wrote a damn thing that was memorable.

    (Seriously, does anyone think that if Taki wasn’t rich anyone in the conservative movement would have paid any attention to him?)

    I don't mind criticisms of C11 (I made them myself) but its a bit hard to stomach from a "webzine" that as inconsequential as Takimag.

  2. Hi Joe,

    I guess you consider Conor Friedersdorf to be of greater "consequence" than Jeffrey Hart, Pat Buchanan, Michael Scheuer, Paul Gottfried, Steve Sailer, David Gordon, John Zmirak and hosts of other who've been published at Takimag. But then, I'm not sure you'll find many who'd agree with you outside the old evangelical outpost.

    The fact that the moribund conservative movement would reject Taki because of his wealth, class, and support for drug legalization and Pinochet is pretty much exactly the reason that we don't want to have anything to do with the conservative movement.

    And by the way, Taki's old ski partner, Bill Buckley (ever heard of him?), agreed with Taki on all the issues you mention.

    Goodbye Joe,

  3. I guess you consider Conor Friedersdorf to be of greater "consequence" than Jeffrey Hart, Pat Buchanan, Michael Scheuer, Paul Gottfried, Steve Sailer, David Gordon, John Zmirak and hosts of other who've been published at Takimag.

    I'm not sure what your point is since I didn't mention Conor. Do I consider him as consequntial as the people you list? To be honest, I suppose that most people have never heard of Conor just as they've never heard of Scheuer, Gottfired, Sailer, Gordon, and Zmirak (nothing against those folk, of course, I'm sure they are fine writers).

    Listen, I don't mind the criticism, even the cheap shots, against C11. But I find it bizarre that your criticism seems to be that we weren't enough like Takimag -- narrow, provincial, Ron Paul-supporting, and with an audience of 12 people.

    C11 was a business and needed to attract a larger audience (which, I admit, our content often failed to do). But if we had launched as another Buchananite site -- arguing how America would be better off if we would have stayed out of WWII and allow everyone to legally smoke crack -- we'd have lasted about a week.

    Unfortunately, we didn't have the luxury of being financed by a rich royalist; we had to find actual business people to back us (even a few "neocons", if you know what I mean -- wink, wink).

    Also, I'm not the type of person who thinks Bill Buckley could do no wrong. He had too many positions that were libertarian for my taste (and I think libertarianism is often and more banal and childish political philosophy -- if that's possible -- than liberalism. Russel Kirk (and common sense) prejudiced me against libertarians).

    I didn't intend to get into a pissing match with you, Richard. I was just shocked and disappointed by your post. When you said that C11 was likely to be another "neocon" site I invited you to write for us. I don't always agree with the uber-paleocon perspective. But I tried to give it a place on C11 (something that can't be said for most conservative sites). I'm sorry you didn't think we went far enough in denouncing immigration or the Federal Reserve or whatever else it is that didn't meet with your approval.

    If you want to give your ideas a broader hearing you might try being less antagonistic to the people who try to give you a hearing.

  4. Joe,

    I have no brief with Friedersdorf. I simply found it rather absurd for you to be speaking of the magazine I run as being of little consequence when while you were flush with cash for three months you never sought out experienced writers of the calibre of the men I named (I could have added Charles Murray, Leon Hadar, and John Derbyshire to the list). And sorry, people who spend their time reading online opinion websites very much have heard of these writers (even if you haven't or simply don't care.)

    I'd also relate that Takimag's pagesviews are in the 450,000 range according to google-analytics (which is a direct measure, unlike compete, alexa etc). If we only have "12 readers," as you suspect, those guys must be pretty busy clicking. And Takimag is tiny in comparison to alternative right sites that have been around for years; has pageviews in the millions. The "überpaleo" audience is much, much larger than you imagine.

    The point of my piece was not to scold you for not being Ron Paulian enough, and I certainly don't think that all webzines must be the same. My point instead was the kind of work being done at a website as lowly as the Daily Paul has consequences (that word again) in a way that the PG-13 material at C11 simply did not. I'd say the same thing about many lefty sites as well.

    Anyway, I'm getting sleepy, so I'll just go do a line of coke, salute my bronze statue of Generalissimo Pinochet, write out a check to Planned Parenthood, and then go to bed. Good night.

    P.S. "a few 'neocons,' if you know what I mean -- wink, wink" Uhh, what are you implying exactly? Don't get me wrong, I have lots of friends who are neocon...

  5. Reality check. I'd never heard of Culture 11 until its demise was written about here.

    Course, I've not heard of the Takimag, either... Except for here.

    I wonder how true that is of the rest of the conservatives on the Internet.

  6. Richard,

    I wanted to say how sorry I was for making rude comments about you and your webzine in my previous comments. I said some things that were uncharitable, unprofessional, and most importantly, un-Christian.

    I regret writing them and hope you'll accept my apology.



    P.S. I tried to send you an email but your Takimag address bounced back.

  7. Joe,

    We can continue the conversation at

    I, of course, accept your apology, and I'd like to offer you one of my own. I, like you, am a hot-tempered type, and this often results in the kind mean, biting prose that makes you cringe when you read it the next morning. (And thanks to the Internet, it all saved for posterity!)


  8. Doggone it, here I go to all this trouble to stir up a bitter flame-war, and you two end up singing the "Barney" song together. My labors are never properly appreciated.

  9. I agree with Steve in TN. Until reading our humble hosts's essays on them, I never heard of either of these websites (and I have a fairly large list of rss feeds to peruse, many of which include writing by some of the names dropped here).

    The web is a funny place. Before the web, all those devotees of, say, raw rat meat spiced with week-old urine, felt alone, isolated, and similar redundant adjectives. But with the web, they can congregate virtually, and come to realize that despite being scattered in small patches around the globe, they are Many. All several-thousand of them (just guessing--honest) at once, in one virtual place. They begin to feel like it's a Growing Movement because they see what appears to be large numbers of their members. This despite being in fact less than 1/Stimulus (a stimulusth?) of the overall population.

    It's a problem of perspective. If even the aforementioned "devotees" can feel part of a large movement, then the normal folks like you and I (it was only that one time, honest) need to be careful not to be overconfident of their percentage ownership of the 'signal ' part of the S/N ratio.