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A note to readers.
13 AUGUST—It has been just about three years now since we published our first commentary at The Scrum, our brand new Substack newsletter. My records indicate it was a piece we headlined “Our eternal present,” which appeared on 9 November 2020. It had to do with Joe Biden’s election six days earlier and what was to come in consequence of it—the stagnation, the broken promises, the corruption. I will take credit for a modest measure of prescience, though I cannot say it was the most difficult of calls.
Much has happened since then, here at The Scrum and in the wider world beyond our walls. And much more is about to happen—again, at our publication and in all the things we think and write about. It is time to share a few remarks about these matters—the inside and the outside, so to say. They are, at the horizon, related.
The alert among our readers will have noted by now that we have changed our logo. The intertwined “TS” of The Scrum is now a “TF.” This is because our name is about to change. And our name is about to change because who we are has changed.
When we launched The Scrum, at a dining table in a Greenwich Village apartment, there were three of us sharing pasta and wine of an evening. And it was a pleasure thereafter to work with Marshall Auerback, our resident economics correspondent, and James Carden, our man in Washington. I served as commentator and executive editor, in addition to publisher, C.F.O., and in various other time-devouring capacities. First James Carden, and lately Marshall, have departed for other pastures, and may they be green. So there is no longer a Scrum to speak of. There is I, and there is Cara Marianna, who has long served as nearly everything one can think of—managing editor, photo editor, art director, site manager, and of late as a new contributor.
A name change has been in order for some time. We are now getting around to it. This will be our last offering as The Scrum. We will henceforth publish as The Floutist.
Among our intentions as The Scrum turns into The Floutist is to bring in other writers. We will be eager to run the bylines of those whose work is up to our standard—and yours—and brings breadth and depth to what we publish. This will be a matter of gradual accretion, surely. But we will do our best to offer our readers a diversity of topics covered in a diversity of voices and styles.
Bringing in new bylines is one part, an important part, of our plans to re-energize our publication, getting it out there more visibly, keeping it fresh, keeping it original. Yes, we will continue to reproduce pieces I have run elsewhere—in Consortium News, in ScheerPost—when we think they merit republication. But The Floutist will have its own recognizable and singular identity to the fullest extent we can give it one.
Some readers may recognize The Floutist as deriving from @thefloutist, the name on my Twitter account until it was censored in the spring of 2021. There seems to me a smidge of poetic justice in this: The banned is not the banished. I also have in mind the kind of publications that carried the work of Ambrose Bierce in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The great iconoclast appeared in journals with names such as The Argonaut and The Wasp. They were sharp-edged, often satiric, they often had a sting to them, and were sometimes merciless. I have long admired Bierce for his bite and insight, and this was his scene. We rename our publication, as I named the old Twitter account, in part inspired by the American tradition he represented.
Our shared circumstances, writing as an American but with others much in mind, have not been as dire as we have them now at any point in my lifetime. Le Carré once said, either directly or through one of his characters, “Wherever in the world you find a mess, you can be sure the Americans have been there.” How dreadfully true this proves as the policy cliques in Washington attempt desperately to avoid the imperium’s obvious, inevitable decline. The resulting international disorder, it seems to us, will get worse before it begins to get better. We will be watching and writing about this best we can.
On the domestic side, the Biden regime, with the Democratic leadership in tow—or is it the other way around?—have brought us to the point of perilous institutional failure. It reaches the point now we begin to conclude there will be no coming back from this: The common, exceptionalist assumption that America will always mend itself, self-correcting when it errs, comes to seem more ridiculous by the day.
As to the media, I have made my view plain many times: The corporate press and broadcasters have in the past… what?… twenty or so years lied to, misinformed, and disinformed their readers and viewers to the point they, too, are beyond self-correction. If our media have a future—and they damn well better for all of our sakes—it rests in independent media.
It is in these circumstances that we conceive of our project to grow The Floutist beyond what we achieved as The Scrum. Believing in the responsibilities that now fall to independent media, we will continue to be a consequential presence among them. Viewing our political, social, and economic condition as extreme, we will analyze, interpret, and write of it even more intently than we managed during our Scrum days. With an especially consequential election cycle in prospect, we will be watching events in Washington closely in the coming months.
As much energy as we will need to get this new phase going, The Floutist will also need to do better on the revenue side. Getting this done requires more money—there is no other way to put this, as there is no revenue model yet for independent journalism. We have been aware of this for some time and, the good part here, see plenty of room for growth. To those readers who already subscribe, we thank you, ask you to stay with us, and to bear with us as we shake the bowl as we must.
To those readers who have not subscribed, we ask that you please consider doing so. If our troubled republic and our world are sailing in a narrow strait, it means among much else that independent publications such as this one must assume greater responsibility—to those alive now who read us, and to those who will write the history of our time. Please bear this reality in mind. Our moment will surely warrant chapters in the histories yet to be written. It is that significant. It is time we all chip in to make those chapters read as we think they should.
New subscribers can make use of the red “Subscribe” button included in this post. Alternatively, newcomers can support the work via my Patreon account, which is, you will not be surprised, www.patreon.com/thefloutist. Patreon supporters, I must add right away, are automatically subscribed. I will add in closing that, in the interest of maximum visibility and impact, we intend to appeal the cancellation of @thefloutist with the gatekeepers at what is now called “X.” Let us see.
Thank you, should you decide to become a paid subscriber to The Floutist.